It’s the last day of July which means, thanks to a pesky thing called inequality, that black women are only now catching up to their male counterparts earnings from 2016.
That’s right—according to the Economic Policy Institute, it takes seven months of additional work “in order to be paid the same wages as her white male counterpart was paid last year.”
Because of this, July 31 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Serena Williams is one of the many drawing attention to the dramatic wage gap. The tennis legend shared posts on social media and penned an essay for Fortune where she explained her thoughts on what it would take for the pay gap to close once and for all.
“July 31 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which represents the number of days into 2017 a black woman must work to earn the same pay a white man made in 2016 — that’s nearly eight extra months!,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “Black women are the cornerstone of our communities, they are phenomenal, and they deserve equal pay.”
“Growing up, I was told I couldn’t accomplish my dreams because I was a woman and, more so, because of the color of my skin. In every stage of my life, I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself and speak out. I have been treated unfairly, I’ve been disrespected by my male colleagues and—in the most painful times—I’ve been the subject of racist remarks on and off the tennis court,” she wrote in Fortune.
“But today isn’t about me,” she later explained in the essay. “It’s about the other 24 million black women in America. If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them; that is never lost on me. The cycles of poverty, discrimination, and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles.”
In the essay, she calls upon men and women of every background to dedicate time to shift the inequality through “dedicated action, legislation, employer recognition” and courage,” before sharing information from SurveyMonkey, where she is a new board member.
Actresses Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis, Yara Shahidi, and Gabby Sidibe shared the same messages as Williams, also donning identical ‘phenomenal women’ shirts.
Addressing the pay gap by gender and race sheds an even brighter light on the systematic inequalities facing black women today. Studies have shown that black and hispanic women are impacted the most when it comes to getting paid less…