Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. It’s almost September, and black women, who earn just 66 cents to the dollar of white men, have hit the point in the year when their earnings, added to last year’s, match what their white male counterparts made in 2015. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wages of black women compared with white women are falling further behind.
Let’s not forget that our Latina sisters still have to work over two more months before they reach their equal pay day on Nov. 1.
Wage disparities have a negative effect that spans generations, creating a cycle of poverty and inequality. Working just as hard, if not harder, while earning less is not only unjust, it represents another barrier to being able to take care of our families, afford quality child care, pay off student loans and purchase a home or car.
Contrary to what Donald Trump believes, there is a lot to lose this election cycle. Black women vote at higher rates than any other population, making their voice louder and their vote more decisive.
So, politicians, listen up. If you want to earn black women’s votes, you have to address the issues that matter, such as equal pay and a livable wage. Any candidate running for office must put forth an agenda and a plan that will help level the playing field for black women and all women.
In 2012, black women turned out at a higher rate overall. They were responsible for President Barack Obama’s win in three key states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where their support made a difference of 7, 8 and 6 percentage points, respectively.
It’s important that black women not only vote, but vote down ballot. Ignoring smaller races leaves power on the table—power that no woman can afford to give up.