MADISON, Wis. — Yesterday was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which marks the approximate day that a Black woman must work into the next year to make what a white non-Hispanic man made, on average, at the end of the previous year. This disparity in pay, which is part and parcel of the tremendous racial wealth gap perpetuated by the president’s economic policies, has contributed to deepened inequality in Wisconsin. Black women from across the Badger State joined Opportunity Wisconsin in conversation to share their experiences and underscore the importance of ending the economic inequality Black women face in the United States.
Based on ACS Census data, the 2020 wage gap for Black women compared to non-Hispanic white men is $0.62 (cents). August 13, 2020 marks the 226 extra days that Black women worked to earn what the average man earned the prior year, regardless of their experience or job type. In other words, Black women had to work 591 days to make the same amount of money that a white non-hispanic man would have made in 365 days.
What’s more, especially in a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately impact Black communities, Black women bear the worst of the president’s botched response and Wall Street-first economy, and are being forced to do more than other demographic groups to make ends meet.
Some excerpts from the conversation:
“Black women hold families together. We are generations past when men are the financial stability in the home. We are generations past when men are the main caretakers,” said Elle Halo of Milwaukee. “As a transgender woman, I cannot make it safer for trans woman. There have been 28 transgender people killed in the country this month, and that’s directly related to the financial problems. The time is now. This right here right now what you are seeing in the country is because you have to do something about it. The racism isn’t on us to deal with.”
“This wage gap deeply affects the fact that I can’t help my son go to college, and he’s got to figure out where he’s gonna get the rest of the money he needs to be able go — to be that next generation in my family to not only go to college, but to complete college,” said Charvonne Carlson of Milwaukee. “If I had the money that I would have had if I was being paid equally, it might not be as difficult.”
“At a time when the pandemic hits the African-American community harder than almost any other community, Black women are bearing a large brunt about how we are expected to use finances to help our children, to help our community, to help each other, and we have a wage gap,” said Selika Ducksworth-Lawton of Eau Claire, Opportunity Wisconsin Steering Committee member. “The wage gap is there, in part, because there have been collaborators that undermine our agency.”
“More than 40 million people are unemployed and struggling, but the wealthiest white men are still going strong and still gaining billions of dollars during this pandemic,” said Martha Collins of Milwaukee. “If we get some form of equity, as it relates to us and our pay, we’d bring the other sisters of color along with us. More brown faces that are also disproportionate in this thing.”