August 7th was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, but if you live in Colorado you probably wouldn’t know.
While the national awareness day was trending on Twitter and written about in publications like Vox and Fortune, nearly every publication in Colorado failed to highlight the importance of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.
It is particularly concerning that the media failed to cover Black Women’s Equal Pay Day while providing ink and airtime for such important holidays as National Donut Day on May 24th, National Hotdog Day on July 18th, National Cheesecake Day on July 27th, and International Cat Day on August 8th. In all seriousness, the pay gap between black women and other peer groups is no joke.
Nationally, women make 80 cents for every dollar white men make. In Colorado, the pay gap is slightly less — 81 cents for every dollar their white male counterparts make. But the pay gap is even more pronounced for women of color — black women make just 63 cents to every dollar white men make, according to the National Women’s Law Center. But what does that actually mean in real dollars?
Given that the median annual income for black women in the United States is $36,227 and $57,925 for white men, black women make nearly $22,000 less per year. In Colorado, the annual pay gap — not accounting for race — is $9,938.
Nearly 80 percent of black mothers are primary breadwinners for their families — just think of the power that extra $10,000 or $20,000 dollars could provide! A black woman could afford the annual in-state tuition and fees at a four year university or a two-year community college in Colorado, at least a year of childcare, or a year’s worth of groceries for a family of four.
It has been 55 years since the United States introduced the Equal Pay Act, but the reality is that a gender pay gap persists — particularly for black women. And as long as it does, black women will continue to struggle. Struggle to provide for their families; struggle to pay for healthcare and housing; and struggle to buy everyday necessities like groceries and medicine. These strong women, many of them friends and family members of mine, go above and beyond to provide for their families. But they shouldn’t have to work harder to make as much as white men and women.
If nothing is done, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research predicts that black women won’t likely see equal pay until 2125.
Women deserve to get equal pay for equal work, regardless of race. But as long as we continue to acknowledge national food days instead of critical issues like equal pay, we may be waiting a lot longer than 2125 for pay equality.
Angela Williams is a Colorado State Senator representing Senate District 33 and Chairwoman of the Black Caucus