raceAhead: Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

Today, August 7, is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. But I’m guessing you knew that already.

The average black working woman makes 63 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes. As a result, she’d have to work all of last year and up to today, to catch up. And she makes 21% less than her white, female counterpart.

The gap starts early and persists, explains my colleague McKenna Moore:

A data analysis of BusyKid’s app’s 10,000 users shows that parents pay boys a weekly allowance twice the size that they pay girls. By 16, black women are earning less than white men and the gap only widens as they age. As black women have families of their own, the gap means less money for their families, which is particularly harmful because more than 80% of black mothers are the main breadwinners for their households, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.

It adds up. According to the National Women’s Law Center, this means that black women earn some $870,000 less than men over a 40-year career.

Yet, despite the best efforts of advocates to get the word out, this wage gap is still a surprise to many.

According to a survey by Survey Monkey, Lean In, and the National Urban League, one in three Americans don’t know about the pay gap between black women and white men, half don’t know about the pay gap between black women and white women; and nearly half of white men think that the barriers to black women’s advancement are gone.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure and you can’t fix what you don’t know is broke. But you knew that, too.

In an op-ed, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org, and Laphonza Butler, the president of SEIU Local 2015 say that there are plenty of ways we can address the system at large:

There’s a lot we can do to close the pay gap—starting with raising the federal minimum wage, which would help increase the incomes of more than one in four black women in the workforce. Several states have taken steps to protect workers from retaliation when they discuss pay; the federal government should follow suit. At a time when labor rights are eroding, we need stronger protections for the millions of women who are proud union members—or want to be. And Congress must pass a national paid and family medical leave law. It would be particularly helpful to black women, too many of whom have to rush back to work after having a baby or put medical care for themselves on the back burner because they can’t afford to go days or weeks without a paycheck.

But there are things everyone can do, every day.

Acknowledging workplace inequality, particularly when it doesn’t directly involve you, is something anyone can do. In fact, it’s one of the simplest, most powerful ways to be an ally.

So today, regardless of your race or gender, share some data, rock a hashtag, raise someone’s profile online, or simply ask a woman of color in your circle what’s she’s working on and how you can help.

You don’t have to pull off a full Jessica Chastain power move to make a difference. (Although it was a good one: Chastain recently insisted that she and her co-star Octavia Spencer, long undervalued in Hollywood, be paid the same salary on an upcoming film project.) All you have to do is cast a little light on someone else’s path. Then, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

On Point

LeBron James is the future king of all mediaThe basketball great already has a scripted drama in development on the life of entrepreneur and activist Madame C.J. Walker. Now, HBO has picked up his unscripted talk series called “The Shop,” which will feature the athlete-businessman talking about sports and the rest of the world in a barber shop setting with his partner Maverick Carter and special guests. But the latest addition to his media portfolio is also an epic troll: He will be executive producing “Shut Up and Dribble,” a three-part docuseries on the changing role of athletes in the public sphere.  The name comes from conservative television’s Laura Ingraham’s rejoinder to James after he criticized President Trump during an ESPN interview.Variety

Four Harvard schools will be led by black women
It’s a first for the storied institution. By next week, four of the university’s fourteen schools – the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the School of Public Health, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the Graduate School of Education – will all be led by African American women. Two years ago, the number was zero. It’s a big change for a school that has long been a predominantly white and male institution. “To now be moving into a phase of Harvard’s life where people who don’t meet that profile are now empowered to advance Harvard, it just signals that Harvard is getting ready for a new future for itself and for the country and for the world,” says John S. Wilson, a diversity adviser for Harvard.
The Crimson

What workplace wellness programs can teach us about outcome measurement
It turns out that workplace wellness programs don’t seem to provide the health and cost savings benefits people had hoped, which is a problem for many reasons. But this piece from Aaron Carroll, a pediatrics professor and health care writer, also doubles as a refresher course in program analysis. It's a helpful reminder that unless you have some version of a controlled trial, observational studies are likely to be beset with selection bias. “When those who participate do better, we tend to think that wellness programs are associated with better outcomes,” he says, of the baseline analysis that many administrators adopted. But to understand the true impact of your program, you have to know if the people who participate in them were already different somehow – perhaps healthier or more active before they joined the initiative.
New York Times

Attitudes about social media activism differ by race
A new study from Pew shows that while most Americans believe that social media is useful in helping to support political aims, some 8 in 10 black Americans believe that online platforms help illuminate issues that aren’t typically discussed. Only about 60% of white or Latinx respondents felt the same. And though some 70% of Americans thought social media activity fooled people into thinking they were making a difference on issues, black and Latinx social media users are more likely than whites to say that the platforms help them find political allies, get involved and express their views.


The Woke Leader

Let your little light shine
"This Little Light of Mine” may be a much-loved children’s song, but it’s also a civil rights anthem with remarkable emotional heft. This wonderful profile of the song from NPR hits all the right notes, showing how it has been a joyous go-to from gospel singers to Bruce Springsteen; there was even a Disney channel movie based on the song. Last year, theologian and recording artist Reverend Osagyefo Sekou led a crowd of Charlottesville counter-protesters in the song, in direct response to white supremacist marchers for the Unite the Right rally. "We had originally said we were going to stand silently," he says. “But the Nazis were marching past us in these various battalions, cursing and yelling — mostly homophobic slurs — at us.” The song defused the tensions. "They didn't know what to do with all that joy. We weren't going to let the darkness have the last word."

Someone keeps shooting Emmett Till’s commemorative marker
I’m re-upping this column from when a similar act of vandalism happened last year because it does such a beautiful job describing the cost of our unwillingness to face our difficult history. As historian and podcaster Jemar Tisby says, “The literal erasure of the Emmett Till sign is an illustration of the ways American culture tries to erase the reality of racism.” While this includes the decades-long terror campaign of lynching and segregation, it obscures other things as well. “Markers for Emmett Till recall not only his unjustified slaying but also the bravery of his mother and other civil rights leaders like Medgar Evers who risked their well-being to expose this crime in the hope that a public sense of righteous outrage might spur positive change.”
Clarion Ledger

Why are U.S. schools resegregating?
This interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones, an award-winning reporter with a focus on school segregation for The New York Times Magazine, starts with her own experience as a kid growing up in a black neighborhood in Waterloo, Iowa, a little black kid bussed into a white school – which gave her a certain confidence to operate in the larger world. But in this conversation with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, she pulls no punches on the reticence of white parents who resist integration. “They're very clear on wanting to hoard these resources. That they understand that going to schools with a certain social class opens doors for their kids,” she says. “That resource hoarding is key to why we ever had segregation in the first place because it ensured that white Americans were getting an inordinate amount of the resources. And it's the same reason why we maintain it today.”
NBC News


What bugs me now, since I’m on welfare, is people saying they give you the money for nothin’. When I think back what we had to come through, up from the South, comin’ here. The hard work we had to do. It really gets me, when I hear people … It do somethin’ to me. I think violence. I think what we had to work for. I used to work for $1.50 a week. This is five days a week, sometimes six. If you live in the servant quarter, your time is never off, because if they decide to have a party at night, you gotta come out. My grandmother, I remember when she used to work, we’d get milk and a pound of butter, I mean this was pay. I’m thinkin’ about what my poor parents worked for, gettin’ nothing. What do the white think about when they think? Do they ever think about what they would do?
Maggie Holmes, as told to Studs Terkel

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