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America is going backward on racial and gender pay equity
Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is 7 weeks later this year as the demographic earns just 63 cents for every white man’s dollar. The White House says the burden can’t just be carried by Black women though.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, an awful reminder that the average Black woman has to work almost 21 months to make the same amount of money for the same work.
And we’re headed in the wrong direction too: Last year, Black women earned 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Latino men. This year, it’s 58 cents on the dollar. In other words: It takes many Black women almost 21 months to make the same amount of money that an average white male makes in one year for the same work. The day, which represents when Black women’s earnings catch up with white men, is later this year as a result. (It was on August 3 last year.)
Supercreator asked Black women members of Congress to share their thoughts on what the day means to them. Here’s what five members said:
— Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin: “It’s 2022 and Black women still face a pay gap for performing the same amount of work. On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, I recommit myself to addressing this inequity and continue fighting for equal pay for equal work.”
— Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida: “For too long, Black women have been taken advantage of and marginalized, creating persisting inequality. We must work harder than ever to level the playing field and demand pay equity for Black women professionals to ensure their families can invest in their future and provide them the financial stability they deserve.”
— Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia: “I raised my son Jordan as a single mom during the Great Recession and I know how hard it can be for families to make ends meet. Every American deserves fair and equitable way for the hard work they do and we must continue our efforts to ensure that women across the country can provide for themselves and their families.”
— Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina: “Lower wage jobs rob women of an equal life: The ability to pay for education, for health insurance, for food and for housing. My family lived this struggle: My mother cleaned houses and saved up and pinched every penny so I could be the first person in my family to go to college. I can only imagine what she would have been able to accomplish had she been paid a fair wage and that’s one of many reasons why I am continuing to lead the Black Women’s Equal Pay Day resolution in the House of Representatives — and fight for a higher minimum wage.”
— Rep. Val Demings of Florida: “Over 40 years of full-time work, a Black woman in America stands to lose almost $1 million because she’s not paid the same as her peers. That hurts all of us. It undermines the promise of America: That if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to live the American Dream. This pay inequity destroys so much potential, and it's time we address it once and for all. That’s why I cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act and I’ll keep fighting for equality for all of our daughters. Every Black girl should grow up knowing that she can make it in America and will be paid what she has earned.”
The day is also a reminder that Black women carry too much weight in the pursuit of gender and racial equity and justice in America.
”It is absolutely up to every single person to ensure that we are all in this fight together,” Latifa Lyles, special assistant to President Joe Biden for gender policy, said to Supercreator. “And that means not laying all the burden as it has been for so many, so many centuries on Black women.”
Lyles added that hiring, inclusion and going beyond diversity in the workplace is good for business: “When there is equity, when there is diversity, when there is representation, we all do better. And the prospect of not having equity for the millions of Black women in our economy, who in so many ways are the backbone of our economy, we are not really living to our full potential as an economy overall. And that’s not just for Black women — that’s for all of us.”
The Biden administration is looking at the issue from three angles.
— First, Lyles said the White House is focused on addressing occupational segregation, which occurs when one demographic group is overrepresented or underrepresented among different kinds of work or different types of jobs based on assumptions about the types of work different genders are best suited for.
A White House official pointed to the jobs created from the bipartisan infrastructure law President Biden signed into law last year as an example of the emphasis on racial and gender equity. And House progressives said they were intentional in making sure that the CHIPS and Science Act, a law the president signed this summer that provides billions of dollars in new funding to boost US domestic research and manufacturing of semiconductors, doesn’t leave Black women and girls behind.
— Number two, the government and the private sector have to do more to stem the ongoing onslaught and tide of discrimination that Black women face every day.
2019 research from the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that racism and sexism can stifle leadership opportunities for Black women, all specific forms of sexual harassment to persist and foster pervasive doubts about competence, intelligence and skill that are unrelated to actual performance.
— And finally, Lyles said Black women, especially those who are often carrying the load of families and communities, have the right support — including child care, paid family leave, student loan debt cancelation, affordable housing and reproductive rights. (Congressional Democrats say they’ll attempt to pass many of the social policies that were stripped from the Inflation Reduction Act if they expand their House and Senate majorities in November.)
”We’re basically saying the time has come and we have an opportunity right now in this country to rebuild in an equitable way and that means rebuilding for Black women as well.”
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FED RAISES RATES AGAIN — The Federal Reserve increased interest rates by 75 basis points in its latest attempt to aggressively slow down inflation. The move was expected and follows the latest consumer price numbers that show prices for rent, food and natural gas are still at historically high levels.
“When you have high core inflation, you don’t have what the Fed is really looking to achieve, which is price stability,” Dan Varroney, the CEO of Potomac Core Consulting and author of Reimagining Industry Growth, said to Supercreator. “And in order to get price stability, they’re determined to send a strong message to the markets that they’re going to get inflation under control.”
Varroney added that this is a time to watch how you spend your money.
“Because the Fed is doing its job,” he said. “They are looking to increase rates and increase prices to the point that the economy’s going to slow down.
— What it means for small businesses: This risk is that a downturn would lead to job losses, which are often the last to go in an economic cycle because business owners and managers are going to do everything they can to keep people employed.
Small businesses are also a source of a lot of America’s innovation. But Varroney said they can't pass costs on to consumers as readily as the larger companies.
“So what this means is, as of now, if you look at inflation and you look at their electricity costs, their energy costs and their costs of employment, it’s higher than it’s ever been and small business is taking it on the chin.”
— The reality check: “I'm going to be really blunt: We are all in for a rough ride through a good portion of next year,” Varroney said. “Corporate profits are going to get squeezed. And I think that we're going to see the unemployment number gradually tick up through the end of this year and into next year. So that's the reality of it.”
— The reason for optimism: “We’re fortunate to live in the most innovative and productive economy in the world. And we’ve been through rough patches before — we came through the Great Recession. We got through 9/11. We’re navigating our way past COVID,” Varroney said. “We are a strong people. And we’re going to come out of this on the other side and we’re going to thrive again. Yeah, we’re gonna have some rough, choppy waters, I would say for the next 12 to 18 months, but we’re gonna come through it.”
BIDEN CALLS FOR UNITY AGAINST PUTIN — President Biden this morning addressed the United Nations General Assembly and encouraged US allies to remain united in support of Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin escalates his war in the region.
“This was is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state — plain and simple. That should make your blood run cold,” Biden said. “Like you, the United States wants this war to end on just terms. The only country standing in the way of that is Russia.”
Prior to Biden’s speech, Putin called up 300,000 reservists to join the war and hinted at the possibility of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. He also claimed Russia’s goals in Ukraine remain unchanged — he intends to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure and replace its government with a puppet regime. President Biden has promised to provide Ukraine with security assistance to defend itself; Putin accused the US and its allies of crossing the line by providing Ukraine with sophisticated weapons that have resulted in high casualties for Russian forces.
John Kirby, the spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said during an interview on Wednesday morning with Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos that the administration is monitoring Russia’s strategic posture as best it can so the US can alter ours if necessary.
”We've seen no indication that that's required right now,” Kirby said while adding that Putin would face severe consequences if he used nuclear weapons and be even more of a pariah on the world stage.
BIDEN ANNOUNCES NEW FOOD SECURITY FUNDING — During his UNGA speech, President Biden also announced $2.9 billion in new US government assistance to address global food insecurity.
The White House says the new announcement will save lives through emergency interventions and invest in medium- to long-term food security assistance in order to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food crisis. It builds on the $6.9 billion in US government assistance already committed this year to support the cause.
President Biden next Wednesday will convene the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases here at home.
HOUSE DEMS REACH DEAL ON POLICE FUNDING — The Congressional Progressive Caucus this afternoon announced it reached a deal with moderate Democrats on a package of public safety and policing bills.
House Democrats hope the legislation, titled the Invest to Protect Act, helps blunt soft-on-crime attacks from Republicans, which are expected to intensify the closer candidates get to the midterm elections. (There are 48 days until Election Day, but who’s counting?)
“The research is clear that the safest communities take a comprehensive view of what their communities need and invest in policing as part of a larger whole-of-government approach — funding social services and supports as well, rather than asking police officers to fill every role in the work of keeping our neighbors safe,” CPC Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal and Whip Ilhan Omar said in a statement. “With this package, House Democrats have the opportunity to model a holistic, inclusive approach to public safety and keep our promise to families across the country to address this issue at a federal level.”
As I reported last month, Frontline Democrats in several swing districts had hoped to pass the package before Congress went on its month-long recess in August, but members of the Black and Progressive Caucuses and civil rights leaders have opposed these measures because they lack the accountability provisions that would foster trust between officers and the communities that have historically been overlooked, underserved and targeted by law enforcement.
The package includes provisions that would send unarmed, trained first responders to those experiencing mental health crises and reduce fatal encounters between police and people with mental illness and provide federal grants for communities for evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs. It will also improve the ability of law enforcement to solve gun crimes, support victims, and ensure justice for shooting victims.
The House could vote on the package as soon as tomorrow. But it’s expected to stall in the Senate.
WH AWARDS TWO HBCUs MENTAL-HEALTH FUNDING — The Education Department awarded grants to two Historically Black Colleges and Universities that experienced bomb threats earlier this year.
Fisk University in Nashville received over $130,000 to boost campus safety, including security guard recourses and equipment and for student services.
Coppin State University in Baltimore will use more than $60,000 in funding to hire a full-time counseling psychologist and toward response training for all students, staff and faculty plus resources to cope with the stress and anxiety events like bomb threats can trigger.
The Department said it expects to award additional grants in the coming weeks and is working with additional HBCUs impacted to support them in the grant application process and in expediting applications once received.
Related: The Education Department also awarded grants to 14 state vocational rehabilitation agencies to decrease the use of subminimum wages and increase access to competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities. The program advances the Biden administration’s goal of strengthening the economic security of Americans with disabilities.
POST-ROE AMERICA — Senior White House officials on Tuesday met with state legislative leaders to discuss the steps they’ve taken to expand access to reproductive health care and share proposals under consideration for the 2023 state legislative session.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden this morning spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City before participating in two separate bilateral meetings with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Prime Minister Liz Truss of the United Kingdom. He also spoke at the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference, which brings together governments, civil society, and the private sector to take action against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The president and Dr. Biden this evening will host a reception with heads of state.
Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff this morning attended a ceremony for Queen Elizabeth ad the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The vice president also spoke on a press call with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to provide an update on Emergency Capital Investment Program investments across the country.
Dr. Biden also visited and spoke at the Columbia University Medical Center on cancer research. She was joined by Queen Letizia of Spain, the Honorary President of the Spanish Association Against Cancer, who delivered remarks as well.
The House is in and passed legislation that would allow borrowers to separate federal student loan debt that they once consolidated with a spouse. Members also passed a bill that would reform the law that dictates how electoral votes are counted after a presidential election.
The Senate is in and passed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an international climate treaty.
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