The first time I worked for a predominately white company, I was young and naive. As a result, I constantly teetered between feeling slighted by overt and covert racism and questioning my own perception of things. In retrospect, my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. Those things were happening. And those things continue to happen to Black women across the country. The numbers prove it.
“According to the most recent data from the National Partnership for Women and Families, Black women in the United States who work full-time, year-round are typically paid just $0.62 for every dollar paid to white non-Hispanic men, and that’s disturbing, said journalist Chandra Thomas Whitfield and host of “In The Gap,” a podcast about the racial pay gap —and other racial inequality experienced by Black women in the workplace. “So to put that in the context, Black men earned about $0.87 for every dollar that white men received. White women receive about $0.79 on the dollar.”
The current pay gap means far more in the long run than when you add up all those missing cents.
“Some researchers estimate that over the course of a 40-year career, the pay gap costs Black women about $946,000 in earnings,” shared Whitfield. “Now, that number changes depending on who’s currently crunching the numbers. I’ve heard some numbers in the four hundred thousands, but when you think about your life as a Black woman, particularly if you have invested in education and training, the idea that you’re only gonna get paid a fraction of what a white man would make for the same work and the idea that you could lose out on over $900,000 over the course of your career just because of your gender and the color of your skin, is disturbing.”
Even more troubling, is the idea that “more than eighty percent or Black women are the head of household,” Whitfield added. “They are the breadwinners of their families. So this is not just a Black woman losing out on money. This is your children, this is cars that you need to buy, homes that you need to buy, college you need to pay for, food you need to pay for and you have to accomplish all of that with theoretically $946,000 less than a white man for doing comparable work.”
In other words, it’s not all in your head. The blatant discrimination against Black women is real and it’s time that we come together as a collective at the proverbial table to have a discussion about these experiences. For this reason, Whitfield, in partnership with In These Times Magazine and the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting, created the “In the Gap” podcast, which premieres today on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.
“It is a podcast that covers how the gender pay gap and, really just gender and race discrimination, affects the lives and the livelihoods of Black women in the American workplace,” Whitfield explained. “And I just really want this podcast to open our eyes to the things that we talk about privately over Moscow mules and martinis about our experiences in the workplace. This is not just your personal experience. This is not just anecdotal or you didn’t fit in at the job. This is a very real systemic problem and we need to understand that this is not just you personally experiencing that.”
While there is no magic bullet that will fix systemic racism, sharing our experiences, and validating one another can help. Hearing the statistics is one thing, but putting names, faces, and stories to those numbers is another.
“Millions of Black women have been experiencing this and it’s time for it to stop. We deserve equal pay. We are leading in entrepreneurship in the country. We have the most gains in educational attainment. We are electing people in elections and we’re not getting that back,” said Whitfield. “We’re not getting our contributions back in the terms of equality and so, that’s what this podcast is about. It’s taking these statistics and these experiences we have and kind of bringing them together to let you know that this is not just a farce. It’s an actual real thing that is documented and is proven to be affecting our careers and our families in America.”
In the first episode titled, “Welcome to In The Gap,” we meet a woman who randomly learned that a white male colleague was earning $40,000 more than her for the very same job.
“She was basically having lunch with a white male coworker and discovers that he is making $40,000 more. They have the same job, same desk, same workload and she’d been there longer. He just kinda casually mentioned that. I love that she was my first interview. I think that sometimes, in the statistics, you forget the emotional, the human toll.”
“In the Gap” will also highlight solutions to this widespread issue and equip listeners with the tools needed to advocate for themselves at work.
“This is not gonna be a situation where you have to prove that you’ve been discriminated against. You don’t need to have videos of discrimination, and pay disparities. We believe you. And we just want to honor your story and we want to use your story to validate the experiences that all of us pretty much have a story to tell.”
You can listen to “In the Gap” on all major podcast listening platforms — including Spotify and Apple Podcasts.