The widening racial wage gap

As America confronts and attempts to make sense of the violent deaths of black men like Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr. and Walter Scott; a spotlight has been shined on the many racial disparities and inequities that exist in the U.S. Recently, the nonprofit advocacy group Women for Equality started a campaign to draw attention to the significant wage disparities that exist between white men and black women.

When discussing the U.S. gender pay gap, the statistic pertaining to the fact that women earn $.078 for every $1.00 earned by a man is often quoted. This statistic, however, only pertains to white men and white women. When looking at gender pay inequities for black women, the pay gap is significantly wider with black women only earning $0.64 for every $1.00 earned by a white man.

Through it campaign, Women for Equality prompted supporters to post to Twitter using the hash tags #clockout4equalpay and #blackwomenequalpay. The campaign gained national media attention and even resulted in U.S. Labor Secretary, Tom Perez, Tweeting the dismal statistic that black women must "work for nearly 19 months to equal what white men make in a year."

To further demonstrate racial pay inequalities, a 2014 study conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that, in 2013, the median net worth of white households in the U.S. was 13 times greater than that of black households. Black women are more likely to work lower-income jobs and also to be single mothers. The inequities they face with regard to pay only serves to perpetuate a cycle of poverty for their children.

What's more, research indicates that the gaps in wealth along racial lines is only widening with, from 2010 to 2013, the median household wealth for non-Hispanic black households falling from $16,000 to $13,700 or nearly 38 percent. During this same timeframe, the median household wealth of non-Hispanic white households increased more than two percent from $138,600 to $141,900.

Black and Hispanic men or women who believe that they are being discriminated against with regard to pay may choose to discuss their concerns with an attorney. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 no only ensures that U.S. workers receive at least minimum wage pay, but also bars employers from discriminating against and paying workers who are racial or gender minorities less.

Source:, "Equal pay: Advocates say 'clock out' for black women," July 28, 2015, "The Equal Pay Act of 1963," Aug. 10, 2015

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