On Equal Pay Day

Today is "Equal Pay Day," the day which "symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010."

When you read/hear/think about Equal Pay Day today, remember that it is based on an average: Pay disparities across populations affect women of color, transgender women, women with disabilities, and/or single mothers without parenting help more profoundly.

Last year, the Ms. Foundation for Women, in conjunction with the Center for Community Change, completed a survey (pdf) which found that while four out of five US respondents described themselves "as very or somewhat concerned about the economy," and had been concerned for an average two years, "55% of African American women say they have been worried about it for five years or more" and "Latinas have been particularly hard hit, with two-thirds saying their personal situation has been affected by the country's economic situation and more than half reporting that they or someone in their household has lost a job in the past year."

The survey also found a stark practical effect of the pay disparity: "35% of women say they have $500 or less in savings. Latinas, in particular, report low levels of savings, with more than half saying they have $500 or less."

The reality that Equal Pay Day symbolizes is this: Pay disparity creates a hole out of which it's incredibly difficult to dig—and every intersectional marginalization of one's identity represents the real possibility that hole will be even deeper than average.

Next time someone mentions bootstraps to you, tell them you sold your bootstraps to pay the electrical bill on April 12.

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