Dr. E. Faye Williams
TriceEdney-–One of my good friends who is a White male often says, “If you want to get a job done, give it to a woman.” He quickly adds, “If you really want to get it done, give it to a Black woman.”
Historically, Black women have done all kinds of jobs. Most people know how hard we work, and how reliable we are when we commit to do a job. My mother had no opportunity to get a formal education. Yet, on jobs where she worked, she was heavily relied on to do things that even the professionals couldn’t or wouldn’t do.
Our health challenges, our family responsibilities, our level of education have never been excuses for not getting things done. We’ve never allowed anything to prevent us from learning on our own how to do things that are helpful to our families, our communities and our employers. Unfortunately, we have never been fairly paid for our efforts.
When you think of the fact that we’re far into the year 2016, and it was only a few days ago that is symbolically considered the day when Black women’s wages “catch” up to White men’s wages from the PREVIOUS YEAR, that’s criminal! In other words, we work 8 months more than a White man to earn as much as he earns in one year! Black women are paid 60% of what White males make in the same amount of time.
How would you like to work 8 extra months just to get paid the same amount your co-workers are making? That’s what Black women have to do.
Equal pay for equal work is urgent for Black women. In our wages, we face both race and gender discrimination. It’s time for our votes to mean more than the glory of having the highest percent of votes for candidates who’re more likely to work in our best interest. We need to elect dependable candidates. Every Black woman who has even considered not voting in the coming election and all elections thereafter, I say we must vote. Our families and communities depend upon us. We have to fix this wage gap.
We’re told in a recent Project of the Tides Center report that if current policies remain in place, it will be 228 years for our households to accumulate the same wealth white households have today!
It’s important for us to know the record of candidates who suddenly tell us how happy we’re going to be if they’re elected. Look at their past record on what they’ve done to bring about justice for us. Someone talks about us as though we all live in poverty, have high crime rates, have poor schools, walk down the street and get shot, then expects us to vote for him because as he asks, “What in the hell have you got to lose?”
We deserve more. In states with large numbers of Black women, there’re great disparities in our pay. This means we’re unable to provide our families with a good quality of life.
In the 20 states with the largest number of Black women working fulltime our pay ranges from 48 to 69 cents for every dollar paid to White men. Of the 20 states, Texas and New York have the largest number of Black women working full time. In Texas, they’re paid 59 cents, while in New York it’s just 66 cents on the dollar White men are paid.
In the 20 states with the largest number of Black women working fulltime, Black women in Louisiana and Mississippi are paid just 48 and 56 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to White men.
Something’s wrong with this. Why are we still voting for them without looking at their records?
Dr. E. Faye Williams can be reached at: www.nationalcongressbw.org; or at 202/678-6788