As you can see in the blog below, the National Women's Law Center posted a correction in the comments. I just cannot stop thinking about it. Like hundreds of others, I signed up to blog on Fair Pay Day about the significance of the day. God knows we need information about the wage gap and, surprisingly, that the day is not a celebration as so many seem to think. It is not a holiday; it is a significator of hard work reaping different values based on sex. It is based on the number 77.8 %. The short hand of it is that a man and woman who start working fulltime on January 1, 2008, it will take the woman working to April 28, 2009 to make the money a man made by December 31, 2008.
I can remember carrying signs that said 59 and 63 cents so, now, to see this increase to 77.8 is slow but growing increase. This has been a real pillar of my talks. I tell college students that they borrow at the same rate but have to pay back with this disparity. And a two adult household of gay men makes 200% but two lesbians make 156%. And that a husband and wife working make 178%, etc. Then I would look around the room and, with shame and alarm, I would say that Black and Latina women make even less with their gender compounded with their race. I thought I was taking responsibility for the racial inequity. But hidden in the top amount of 77.8 is a racism that I cannot stop thinking about.
As I was told yesterday, 77.8 is not what I can make as a white woman. White women make 81%. After all of the years carrying a sign with this all important number I find out that this is the AVERAGE of what women make which, obviously, means that the disparity between the races is not only worse and wider but HIDDEN in this averaging. I am just furious about this. I am just in tears about this - I have participated in this amalgam of obfuscation, not that I think it is intentional but its not clear, not honest and carries a callousness that we, as caring people, have to examine.
As an activist, I often throw around the room the proper axiom that we are only as advanced as our least; how we care for the least is how we care for all; we can be known by how we treat the least among us. There are so many ways to say it that it is attributed to King, Gandhi, Jesus, etc. But how can we ever make this determination if it is all rolled into one? Wouldn't the right thing be to go with the least? Isn't the real wage gap the White men and Latina women = 41 cents? The signs should read 59 cents.
Over the last year I have been giving some of my time to the Marriage Equality Movement, not without some internal conflict. Let's face it the best thing to do would be to delete marriage from governmental lexicon entirely but, in any event, it is about equality and I deeply believe in that. However I am concerned that the masses of men and women, upon winning the right to marry and have unencumbered access to over a thousand rights, will consider the job done and stop participating in the work for equality. The men will go home the victors and the women will still be earning less, under represented, missing from the Constitution and this evasive, all important, equality will still be be needing advocates.
One man who knew this was Harvey Milk. He insisted on including women in politics and society. (memo to Lance Black - what were you thinking??) Just as Gloria Steinem will speak on a panel only if Women of Color are seated also. Over 40 years of carrying signs about the wage gap and today, TODAY, I crack open in seeing that even my sign was racist. I am not guilty. I am not wrong. I am evolving.