Despite the current era of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, which both seek to create safe and equal environments for women around the globe, Black women continue to remain one of the most largely oppressed and neglected groups in the country. In light of this long-standing marginalization, several celebrities united on social media for Black Women Equal Pay Day on August 7 to lend support to a cause which has gone unrecognized for far too long.
The yearly date of observation is symbolic as it represents the fact that Black women had to work all of 2017 and until this day in 2018 in order to make what white men earned in 2017 alone, according to LeanIn.org. The day similarly signifies that a Black woman would have to work approximately 219 additional days, or 8-plus months, to catch up to the salary of that of a white male counterpart.
While things for women on a whole aren't anywhere near what they should be in terms of equality, the disparity in pay for Black women is reprehensible — to say the least. The Black Career Women’s Network notes that while white women make about 21 percent less than white men on average, Black women make 38 percent less than white men, and about 21 percent less than white women overall. Case in point, the annual observation of Women's Equal Pay Day this year was on April 10, while the date for Black women fell nearly four months later.
With that being said, many celebrities – regardless of color – joined forces on Tuesday to voice their support for the Black Women Equal Pay Day on social media. Many Hollywood powerhouses such as; Ava DuVernay, Elizabeth Banks, Tracee Ellis Ross, Shonda Rhimes, Common, and Kerry Washington used their huge and widely-followed platforms to bring awareness to the social injustice of wage disparity and their unification helped to point out many of the ignored facts which plague women in the Black community.
Tracee Ellis Ross
Golden Globe winning actor Tracee Ellis Ross shared some of the mind-blowing stats that affect women of color.
Joining forces with the Lean In organization's pledge to highlight the injustices of the wage gap, Director Ava DuVernay a video which revealed many alarming facts.
Rapper and actor Common also showed his support for the cause on Twitter.
Sharing that it takes Black women an additional 219 to compete with the earnings of white men, actor Elizabeth Banks also showed her support for Black Women's Equal Pay Day.
Comedian Robin Thede offer up a proposal to put things on a level playing field.
Scandal star Kerry Washington took to Twitter to share statistics on the wage gap for Black women.
Actor Patricia Arquette also shared some sobering realities on how the pay disparity hurts Black women.
Grey's Anatomy producer, Shonda Rhimes also joined the conversation, speaking out on the the equal pay initiative.
Despite the issue being one that has remained prevalent throughout history, a recent survey conducted by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In initiative in partnership with the National Urban League and SurveyMonkey, revealed that one in three Americans completely unaware of the income gap between Black women and white men. More shockingly, the analysis uncovered that half of Americans are not at all aware of the pay gap between white and Black women. It also states that almost half of white men feel that there are no obstacles for the advancement of Black women. The results prompted the Lean In organization to create the #38PercentCounts campaign, a cause which seeks to highlight the egregious wage imbalance in hopes to encourage companies to commit to the goal of providing equal pay for equal work.
While the matter may seem like one that affects just one particular group, racially-motivated occupational gaps are something that prove to be an issue that affects us all. The American University Women points out that paying all workers, no matter their race or gender, fairly allows everyone the opportunity to support themselves and those in their care while also giving them the ability to contribute to and improving the overall economy. Amidst its plea for equality, Lean In shares that making 38 percent less income than white men equates to an approximate $800,000 loss in wages over the course of a woman's career.
The wealth gap in America is something that has become a plague within the Black community due to these types of systematic inequalities which prohibit many Black mothers, who often the sole or primary breadwinners for their households, from being able provide a stable environment for their families, according to AUW.
The statistics revealed in light of this year's Black Women Equal Pay Day are extremely disappointing – to say the least. While social activist continue to commit their lives to making changes for those being oppressed by these harmful disparities, it helps to know that those with public platforms are also willing to step up to speak out on the issue that affects Black women in all walks of life and careers – including themselves.