Today, August 22, 2019 marks Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Why does such a day exist? It’s not just another day on the calendar to be lost among the litany of National Siblings Day, National Ice Cream Day or the like.  Black Women’s Equal Pay Day represents the number of days in 2019 that black women in America have had to work to catch up to the 2018 pay of non-Hispanic white men. That means that it takes nearly 20 months for black women to make as much as non-Hispanic white men do in just 12.

Women make an average of $.80 on the dollar compared to white men. However, black women make just $.63 for every dollar that white men earn each year.  If those numbers don’t seem like such a big gap in pay, consider the cumulative impact over the course of a 40 year career – black women stand to lose $946,000 in lifetime earnings as compared to white men. Given that 80% of black women in this country are the primary breadwinners in their families, this has a huge impact on our communities and our country as a whole.

It can feel disheartening that in 2019, it is necessary to mark a day like Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. The good news is that black women are empowering themselves and each other in big and small ways everyday. For example, this week alone Arian Simone and Keshia Knight Pulliam have raised $5 million for The Fearless Fund, a vehicle that will invest in “women of color-led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed level, or series A funding.”

But what can the average person do to help? Don’t be afraid to talk about the pay gap and to call it what it is – discrimination.  Ask questions.  Urge your elected officials to act. The truth is that many Americans aren’t even aware that the gender pay gap is worse for black women than it is for any other women.  The more we talk about these issues and acknowledge that there is work to be done, the more likely that change will be made.

For more statistics on the issue, check out this fact sheet.  And if you feel like you are being unfairly paid less than your male and/or white coworkers, contact a lawyer to discuss whether you may have a claim.