Monday, July 24, 2017

2017 ‘Ain’t I A Woman’ Black Women March and Black Women's Equal Pay Day

On July 19, 2017, organizers gathered for the "Ain't I a Woman?" Black Women's March in Sacramento, CA. The name comes from a famous speech by African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, Sojourner Truth (1797-1883). She will debut on the new $10 bill with other leading women suffragists--Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Other prominent African American women heroes who will appear on U.S. currency include Marian Anderson ($5 bill) and Harriet Tubman ($20).

More than 1,500 people gathered on Saturday to participate in a black women’s rights march in Sacramento. he march was organized by Black Women United (BWU), a non-profit organization “dedicated to the education, protection, and advancement of Black women.” BWU, founded in February, came up with the “Ain’t I A Woman” march as a way to include black women more in today’s women’s rights movement. Although the Black Women's Roundtable were among the guest speakers at the January Women's March, many black women felt the event minimized black women's issues. The event was intended to uplift and empower black women while highlighting the multitude of issues affecting them. Organizers created the event to fill a void they felt was left by the Women’s March in January.

Unfortunately, this perception is not uncommon. The mainstream women's movement tends to focus on issues affecting white women--essentially ignoring black women's unique needs and lived experiences. Gender issues often overlook racial disparities that affect black women. The National Domestic Workers Alliance recently released a report, The Status of Black Women in the United States, which stated from its website:
Black women are integral to the well-being of their families, their communities and the nation as a whole. Through their work, entrepreneurship, caregiving, political participation, and more, Black women are creating opportunities for themselves, their loved ones, and improving the our economy and society. They have all the makings of what should be success, yet their contributions are undervalued and under compensated. Black domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because of the ways in which racial disparities, gender discrimination, and immigration status serve to further marginalize and disempower the very people who power our economy and push our democracy to be the best that it can be. Whether one examines Black women’s access to healthcare, earnings, or access to much needed social supports like childcare and eldercare, Black women are getting the short end of the stick, despite having contributed so much to the building of this nation.
In 1619, the first African Americans arrived in the United States on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia. Nearly 400 years later, African Americans have made substantial contributions that have shaped this nation culturally, economically, and politically. Most importantly, black women have been a very resilient and spiritual group in times of crises and setbacks. However, federal and state policymakers have undervalued and ignored the unique experiences of black women who are impacted by the double oppression of racism and sexism. Our efforts have been undervalued and underappreciated for too long. It is time for black women to bring to the forefront the barriers they face in child care and eldercare, education, employment, entrepreneurship, health care, housing, and retirement.

July 31st is Black Women's Equal Pay Day. Many Americans do not realize that the pay gap is even worse for black women. This pivotal event the day when black women catch to men in earnings - a staggering 20 months! According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), when black women earn 63 cents to every dollar a white non-Hispanic man earns. In 2017, the Economic Policy Institute recently updated the statistic to 67 cents on the dollar. Learn more information about the gender pay gap in the United States and how you can join the upcoming Twitter campaign at AAUW.

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