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Serena Williams Reminds Us That The Wage Gap Knows No Bounds


I am extremely glad that Serena Williams has spoken out about the wage gap.

In a recent interview with Melissa Harris Perry for Glamour magazine, the 22-time grand slam tennis champion (damn!) said this:

Harris-Perry: The U.S. women’s soccer team has been challenging inequity in women’s sports, fighting for equal pay. It’s an issue facing NCAA women in multiple fields [including tennis, where women make 80 cents for each dollar men earn]. Want to weigh in on this?

Williams: These sports have a lot of work to do. And I really hope that I can be helpful in that journey because I do believe that women deserve the same pay. We work just as hard as men do. I’ve been working, playing tennis, since I was three years old. And to be paid less just because of my sex—it doesn’t seem fair. Will I have to explain to my daughter that her brother is gonna make more money doing the exact same job because he’s a man? If they both played sports since they were three years old, they both worked just as hard, but because he’s a boy, they’re gonna give him more money? Like, how am I gonna explain that to her? In tennis we’ve had great pioneers that paved the way—including Venus, who fought so hard for Wimbledon to pay women the same prize money they pay men, and Billie Jean King, who is one of the main reasons Title IX exists.”

By the way the New York Times recently ran a report pointing out that female players earn considerably less than their male counterparts. In fact:

“The Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, the biggest event in the weeks before the United States Open, attracts dazzling constellations of top men’s and women’s stars each year to the fourth-largest tennis tournament in the country.

The tournament, in which the United States Tennis Association owns a majority stake, pays the women only 63 cents on the dollar as compared with the men. Last year, Roger Federer received $731,000 for defending his title at the tournament, while Serena Williams received $495,000 for defending hers hours later.”

I know what you’re thinking: who the heck is Federer?

Anyway, the wage gap issue is not just a concern for well-paid athletes. Nor is it concern equally distributed among all women.

According to new data released last week by the Pew Research Center, Black and Hispanic women continue to earn less in equal wages than our White counterparts as well as men of all races and ethnic groups.

As a whole both full and part time, Black workers in the U.S continue to only earn 73 percent of every dollar pulled in by White men. However Black and Hispanic woman earned considerably less – $13 and $12, respectively – than White and Asian women who earn $17 and $18 dollars respectively. They also earn two-dollars less an hour on average than Black and Hispanic men and a whopping $8 to $11 dollars less than White and Asian men.

The study also notes:

“White and Asian women have narrowed the wage gap with white men to a much greater degree than black and Hispanic women. For example, white women narrowed the wage gap in median hourly earnings by 22 cents from 1980 (when they earned, on average, 60 cents for every dollar earned by a white man) to 2015 (when they earned 82 cents). By comparison, black women only narrowed that gap by 9 cents, from earning 56 cents for every dollar earned by a white man in 1980 to 65 cents today. Asian women followed roughly the trajectory of white women (but earned a slightly higher 87 cents per dollar earned by a white man in 2015), whereas Hispanic women fared even worse than black women, narrowing the gap by just 5 cents (earning 58 cents on the dollar in 2015).”

By the way, Maria Sharapova last year out-earned Serena Williams by $10 million, proving that we get it from being Black and for being a woman.

With median wealth for single Black women at just $5, the eviction rates for low-income Black women are on par with incarceration rates for Black men and Black mothers continuing to be heads of households, this issue should be tops on both the mainstream political and Black agenda, along with police brutality.

But is anybody marching for that?

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