Black women are saving the world, and we’re not paying them enough to thrive.
Black women possess a depth and magic that is incalculable. Their strength borne from struggle, and it shines bright in their eyes. Their words empower you to be a better person and see the world in a clearer, distinct way. And even within their mystery and diversity, they speak the truth that you know deep down but often don’t feel brave enough to say. In speaking truth to power, their passion and anger are often misunderstood but never misdirected.
Black women are expert conveners. They bring people together to share, explore, grow, and change. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it hurts. Especially when it’s joy-filled and vibrant. And most importantly, where and when it counts: the voting booth.
Black women are leading the way for our nation to become a more perfect union.
Let me be clear – it’s not their job to save the world at all. In fact, they’ve been telling us for centuries about how to love more, recognize injustice, and right wrongs. They’ve stood arm in arm with Black men to blast a siren’s call for equity. It’s beyond time for us – namely white women and men – to do our part. If the past few months have shown us anything, it’s that we can’t stay silent. We must stand in the gap and act against injustice.
I cannot think of a better example of how to do this than by watching the Black women who have poured into my life.
These magnetic Black women have been more influential in my life than any book, care actually ones who can speak more truth and have taught me more than most people in my life. Ms. Terri helped give me the space to grow as a mom and showed my son to pour love into where there are differences. Lestraundra, whom I feel is my little sis, showed me grace and composure amidst immense struggle. To watch her grow and shine in ways neither of us predicted is one of the joys of my life. Jodi-Ann highlighted where I needed to grow regarding intersectionality. She always teaches me something new and gracefully highlights ways to unlearn and move forward. Kennethia demonstrated how to use direct leadership and honesty to make a lasting impact within organizations. Joi-Marie was steadfast in sharing her history and legacy with others, and she proclaimed it boldly while following her own purpose as a storyteller. Meghan, my incredible Master’s thesis advisor, brought an incredible mix of unbridled optimism and confidence, as well as authentic transparency in her own process of growth. Teri and her work at ICFJ with global health showed how driven she was to see change, not just in this country, but around the world. Jess personified grace under pressure as an executive pushing for change. She was also the first to give me a personal account of how it felt to be a Black mom raising a son in this world. These are just some of the Black women who have opened my eyes to real conversations with grace and understanding. I could go on and on…
The impact these women have on my life is an indelible fingerprint. The role that they play in lifting up their communities is beyond compare. I’m sure that I’ve only experienced a fraction of their strength and wisdom – their communities and families have experienced their exponential, boundless love.
And you know what? They deserve more than 62 cents to every white man’s dollar.
The women who are arguably bringing the immense power, passion and progress to our communities are among those who are paid the least. Not only does that hurt their individual earning potential and impacts the generational wealth, but it directly harms communities.
What could happen if we could close the wage gap for Black women? According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, it could change the direction of our nation. If the wage gap were eliminated for Black women working full time, they could afford:
- 5 years of child care
- More than 16 months of premium health care insurance
- 156 more weeks (3 years!!) of food for her family
- 22 more months of rent
That’s just the statistics for how that could impact their personal finances. But if the Black women in my life have taught me anything, it’s that they don’t keep that kind of wealth to themselves. They share. They give to those who need it. They start businesses at five times the rate and receive a minuscule fraction of the funding to do so. Releasing that financial burden would free them up to pour more into their communities in ways that close Black women are integral to the well-being of their families and communities.
On National Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day in the new year when Black women finally earn what white men made last year alone, take some time to listen, learn and take action to help decrease the pay gap.
Here are a few resources to get started:
- Black Women and the Wage Gap, by National Partnership for Women and Families
- 2019 State of Women in Business Report by American Express
- Lean In’s 2020 report on the impact of the wage gap on families
Feel free to list additional resources in the comments and let me know how you’re going to dive in and take action! It’s easy to say that 62 cents is not enough, and we should demand more for those who give so much to all of us.