A Problem of Social Justice in World
Multiple people are discriminated for their race, their religion, or their sexuality. The idea of entitlement has been an issue in the United States for centuries. Even before the United States became a country in 1776, racial prejudice existed. At first it was the Native Americans’ who were looked down on and forced to do the new white settlers dirty work. Then it became African Americans. Whites have been seen to be superior to African Americans for many years, more specifically with African American women. African American women are constantly discriminated against in the workplace. This discrimination leads to African American women not having high income jobs, and being paid less than other genders and races. Racial prejudice has been an issue in the United States since the eighteenth century. Racism was the cause for African American slavery, and building the economy of America. Racism created a separation between Blacks and Whites, especially in the workplace.
On eighteenth century plantations in the South, African Americans were the lesser people and whites were running the economy. African Americans were exploited for their work, with black men working in the fields and women worked in the house. Blacks were looked down upon, and had little to no freedom. If a slave ran away to try and find freedom, they were killed or tortured. Whites had an entitled mindset over African Americans. After slavery was abolished in the 1865, racism did not become a thing of the past. They were paid minimum wage, and treated horribly. Women worked as maids, and were not treated as equal people. Whites even created colored bathrooms in their homes separately for African Americans, on the idea that Black people were a source of infection for whites. (Potter, Claire B.) African American maids constantly had fears held over their heads. One of these fears was violence from white men.
They constantly feared being raped by their boss, and mothers warned their daughters who were becoming maids, to stay out of their employers way. Rosa Parks, at the age of eighteen, was raped while working in the house of her white neighbor. Raping became of form of enforcing white supremacy, just like lynching or segregation. (Bush, Ellen C.) In the twentieth century, racial prejudice is still a problem. In the 1960s only one high ranking African American woman was working in the federal government, Frances Harriet Williams. She was involved in leading the Office of Price Administration with a staff of 13 percent black when the rest of government was no more than 1 percent black. (Gooden, Susan)
Even today, after the Civil Rights movements, African Americans are still looking for the freedom they deserve. In the workplace women are constantly discriminated against, and don’t get the pay or the raise they deserve. Discrimination in hiring hasn’t changed for twenty-five years against African Americans. Multiple studies throughout the years have shown this. “Since 1989, whites receive on average 36% more callbacks than blacks. We observe no change in the level of hiring discrimination against African Americans over the past 25 years, although we find modest evidence of a decline in discrimination against Latinos. Accounting for applicant education, applicant gender, study method, occupational groups, and local labor market conditions does little to alter this result. Contrary to claims of declining discrimination in American society, our estimates suggest that levels of discrimination remain largely unchanged, at least at the point of hire.” (Sherman, Eric)
African American Women don’t only get hired less, they also get paid less. In the findings from Lean In 2018 Black Women’s Equal Pay Survey, this is clear to see. “More than 1 in 3 Americans are not aware of the pay gap between Black women and white men. 50% of Americans are not aware of the pay gap between Black women and white women”and hiring managers are similarly unaware. Almost half of white men think that obstacles to advancement for Black women are gone”but only 14% of Black women agree.” Some people assume when African American women go into education, they won’t have to experience this pay gap. Even when factors like education, experience, location, and occupation, the pay gap is still very much alive. “And the gap actually widens for Black women with more education. As early as age 16, Black women are paid less than white men”and the gap only grows from there. 16-24 years experience a 16% wage gap. 25-54 years experience a 32% wage gap. 55+ years experience a 39% wage gap.” When Americans were presented with the data that African American women on average get paid 38% less than white males, 72% saw this as unfair. Americans also believe this is a social justice issue. “‘I can go into my office right now and meet five people, out of that, four will be white,’ described one woman I spoke with. ‘Out of those white, their whole family might be of generational wealth. That one black person they can more than likely identify someone in their family who is living in the projects, living in poverty or doesn’t have education beyond high school level. That is the experience of black people in general ” that we are tied to other people of color who are in poor situations.'” (Cheeks, Maura )
People in the workplace have a preconceived notion on what African American women have to deal with. These women are not exempt to the hardships black people have to deal with or the history between race and access to resources in the United States. Instead, women have to put aside the former when they go into work. Even though women can get some jobs, there are limited high level positions African American women fill. When Fortune 500 started to create the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, a shocking statistic came about. Only one African American women made the list, Ann-Marie Campbell at number eighteen on the list. Finite number of African American Women become CEOs. This year there were a record 32 women in CEO jobs, up from 21 in 2016. However the number has since dropped to 29 women. The cause for this is called “The Black Ceiling”. Women are starting to create cracks in the ceiling, but it has not broken altogether. Burns began to tick off reasons why African American women haven’t stepped up to fill the roles men have ceased to fill.
First, the state which communities and schools are in fails to offer support low-income children children of color and have them graduate ready for the corporate world. Even though African American women are graduating college in greater numbers, “not enough are coming out of the education system to get them all the way through to the C-suite,” states Burns. The African American women who make it through, don’t get the CEO jobs, rather they get the supporting positions. “HR isn’t going to get you there,” Burns says. “Communications and the arts aren’t going to get you there.” The raises and promotions are with those who are closer to the money and the products. “So, now look at the numbers of women we have now. Unless you’re bringing people in from Mars, it’s going to be a while.” (Mcgirt, Ellen) People might say the reason for African American women not getting these high paid jobs is due to the education they receive. African American women have a higher percentage of having degrees versus African American men, they have less education on average then white men, white women, Asian/Pacific Islander men, and Asian/Pacific Islander women. “23% of Black women ages 25-54 have BA degrees or more education, compared with 38% of White women.” These statistics don’t show African American women are lesser people than whites, it is just a statistical fact they get less degrees. “Just over half of 1% of Black women have PhDs, compared with just over 1% of White women ??“ and almost 3% of Asian/PI women. White women are almost twice as likely to have a PhD and Black women, Asian/PI women are more than 5-times as likely.” (“No Black women are not the “most educated” group in the US”) African American women are less likely than any other race to get a degree. This can be due to the lack of resources and support black women have.
This prejudice in the workplace has lots of effects on women in the workplace. “One woman described crying in her hotel bed after reading about a police officer killing a person of color. She had been traveling with coworkers for a business trip and they were all on a text chain to coordinate logistics. That same day a Hollywood couple had also broken up and the conversation on the text chain focused on the Hollywood gossip, never addressing the shooting. She said, ‘I remember watching [a shooting] and crying in my hotel bed. And then having to go to work. And no one checked in for your wellbeing.’ This is the reality for many black women at work in America. They care deeply about the issues affecting the black community but that feeling isn’t generally supported or acknowledged in the workplace.” (Cheeks, Maura). The separation forced between between hardships in the black community and the fact that non-colored Americans don’t have to deal with these hardships can be taxing mentally and make it harder to perform well at work. “Almost every woman I interviewed touched on the idea of needing to find sponsorship in the workplace – the idea of finding someone at your company who can advocate for raises, projects, and promotions on your behalf.” And even beyond the toll on mental health, bias has many career consequences. “Researchers found that when a group is shown photos of different people, black women’s faces were least likely to be recognized out of a group of white men and white women.” Black women are also least likely to be correctly attributed compared to white women, black men, and white men. Black women who are in leadership positions are more likely to be penalized for mistakes they make. (Cheeks, Maura).
Discrimination towards women of color, which leads to them not getting the jobs they deserve, also means they get paid less. Lower earnings, mean less money going towards their life and family. If a women was to get paid equally, they would earn $870,000 more and the extra earnings would pay for more than three years of groceries. A lower income for women of color means less money for their families, especially since “more than 80% of Black mothers are the main breadwinners for their households.” When they are paid less, it inhibits their ability to “buy groceries, pay for childcare, afford rent and tuition… all the costs that go into supporting a family.” (“Data about the pay gap for black women”) The wage gap, and not having enough money is a stressor on African Women. “Data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows that the typical black family has about $11,000 in net worth compared with $134,000 for white families, $91,000 for Asian families, and $14,000 for Hispanic families. Furthermore, between 1992 and 2013, college-educated whites saw their wealth grow 86% while college-educated blacks saw theirs plummet by 55%.” (Mcgirt, Ellen).
“A study by Catalyst, a nonprofit consulting and research organization on women in business, looked at what it called the emotional tax women of color face in the workplace.” Yung-Yi Diana Pan, an assistant sociology professor at the college of Brooklyn College, says she saw this discrimination head-on. “As a woman of color, students often challenge us in a way they don’t challenge their male professors, especially their white male professors.” (Pan, Yung-Yi Diana) These women are constantly on guard in different ways, often trying to not prove the stereotype of them to be false. “Alicia Wallace, an African American, was once told in a performance review that her hair was “too fun” and that it made people question her maturity. “So, I changed it to be more conservative,” she said, “but it just made me feel I wasn’t living authentically.”” The reality is “professional white women is the invisible norm.” African American women, and other women of color, may experience the same hardships as white women, they experience different battles. African American women often face the hardship of being seen as angry black women, and will alter how they look and act to make sure they don’t fulfill this stigma. (Tugend, Alina)
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this social justice issue, but lots of actions can be taken to help dismantle it. If black women were to be paid fairly, “the average Black woman would earn almost $870,000 more in the course of her career and each woman’s extra annual earnings would pay for more than 3 years of groceries.” (The Black Women’s Pay Gap by the Numbers).
A lot of African American women in the workplace talk about “code-switching”. Code switching is adopting the dominant culture of the workplace and the people, like co-workers, and changing to a more bona fide self at home. One women, a successful entrepreneur, excitedly described in her most recent position she reported to a black woman for the first time in her career. She said she, “performed better” and was “a lot more comfortable and confident.” She described what it might have been like if she had to code-switch instead: “Being judged on your work versus mentally performing well would have been more taxing. Your work is judged plus other intangible things. You second-guess yourself and that affects your confidence.” (qtd in How Black Women Describe Navigating Race and Gender in the Workplace).
“We need leadership that truly cares about inclusion ” a lot care about diversity, but how do you foster inclusion?” said Latasha Woods, brand manager at Procter & Gamble. “People spend a lot of time on what they know the boss cares about. If they see the boss cares about inclusion they will too. It’s not about helping women of color handle the hardships,” she said. “It’s about dismantling them.” (Tugend, Alina) For African American women this isn’t just a small issue. Once these women get into the positions they deserve, they need to be able to feel supported in the ways women of color need to be supported. So, even if they are alone, they understand that they are not all alone afterall. (Cheeks, Maura) Lots of jobs and agencies have been trying to fix this affect of inequalities. Gabrielle Bullock, director of global diversity at Perkins + Will, says his company has broadened recruitment teams to represent all genders, ages, and races in order to attract the candidates they want. Bullock said she had just left a meeting with leaders from historically black colleges to address how they can place students in large firms. In addition to this, they have also created “a progress tracker around recruitment, retention, cultural advocacy within offices, learning and development, outreach to K – 12 and to universities,” says Bullock. “We’re serious about what we’re after.” (Raskin, Laura)
Prejudice towards African American women is an international issue. These women don’t get the jobs they lay claim to, the pay they deserve, and the respect they merit. This has a great effect because these women do not have the money they need to pay for groceries, food, education, and lots of other necessities. African American women may try their hardest to give their children, or even themselves, the things they deserve, but do not have the money to get those things. Although this discrimination leads to very negative effects, it can solved. There is hope this discrimination will end due to the practices companies are already putting in place. Soon the workplace will not be determined by the color of your skin, the clothes you wear, or how you style your hair.