Advocates calling attention to Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:10 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - People don’t go around talking about how much they make. But this is a day when advocates say women...black women, in particular, should.

“We know in Mississippi, black women are making 56 cents to the dollar,” said Cassandra Welchlin, Executive Director of Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable. “Nationally, black women are making 58 cents to the dollar. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is the day that we bring awareness to how far into the new year, a black woman has to work to make the same wages that a white male, the non-Hispanic male made last year.”

That’s nine months.

“[Nearly] a whole nother year to make what a white, not Hispanic male May in the previous year,” added Welchlin. “And that is not okay.”

Up until July 1 of this year, the magnolia state was the only state without an equal pay law on the books.

It got enough bipartisan support.

“Equal pay for equal work for Mississippi women,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch in a video celebrating its passage.

“You have one woman, that is one too many,” noted Rep. Angela Cockerham, author of the bill.

Although Cassandra Welchlin has carried the torch for the issue, she didn’t celebrate House Bill 770′s passage.

“We call it the Mississippi unequal pay equal work act because nothing in the bill is equal,” she said. “And it further discriminates against women in particularly black women and other women of color. "

The main elements missing that advocates had hoped to see included? Race, including part-time workers, and a ban on salary history.

Welchlin says today’s national recognition of not only the gender but racial wage gaps, proves the need for more protections in the law.

“It’s been difficult to drive it home to people who sit in these privileged places and don’t understand racism or sexism,” added Welchlin. “And so we’re saying that it is an issue, and that you must pay attention to it, particularly if you were saying Mississippi is a business-friendly place, as I’ve heard the governor say, businesses want to come here. What? Well, if they come here, we need to make sure that they are doing right by their black women workers.”

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