I am going to start off this blog post by saying that if what I say does not make sense it is because I heard Charles Mills speak on Friday afternoon and I spent the entire time confused, not to mention mesmerized by his amazing accent (Seriously though, listen to this video and tell me I am wrong). So here goes nothing…
Charles Mills presented the attendees with a thirty plus page article entitled “Racial Equality” that combined different theories regarding racial equality. First he argued that racial equality as a philosophical topic has been largely unearthed until recently. This is due in large part to the misconception that racial equality and egalitarianism are one in the same. That said, “racial equality as a concept and an ideal is indeed worthy of philosophical scrutiny.” Building on that argument, Mills claims that taking racial equality as a possible reality would “dramatically reshape the world.” To give a historical example, he says that at the Paris Peace Conference post-World War I, Japan proposed a racial equality clause to the League of Nations, which was quickly vetoed by the Anglo-Saxon countries.
So that is about as much as I am going to attempt to dissect the Charles Mills discussion. Honestly, the guy is so brilliant I could not keep up. I am instead going to connect the importance of racial equality and the impact it could have on society by looking at the wage gap. I believe a couple weeks ago was dedicated to equal pay for equal work, inspired by the anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Act. As we have talked about in class, the unequal pay that we always hear about is not for all women, but white women. While white women earn seventy-seven cents to the white man’s dollar, black women earn sixty-four cents and Hispanic women earn fifty five cents to the white man’s dollar. Even scarier is that the median income for single white women aged 36-49 is $42,600 while for single black and Hispanic women aged 36-49 the median income is…$5.
Could you imagine if equal pay for equal work actually meant equal for everyone? That would have an immense impact on our country. Single working women of color could do infinitely better for themselves. Another thing to consider is that women of color are less likely to hold positions of management or leadership.
One possibility for the steep pay gap is that women of color are less likely to graduate from high school or college than white women. Moreover, they are severely disadvantaged to begin with. Would an equaling of the pay gap incentivize graduating from high school and college? I am of the opinion that it 100% would.
However, a study used by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows that even with the same education as a white women, women of color are still likely to earn less.
Women of color are faced with what can only be described as a double edged sword; being a women and of color. Clearly the intersection of the two has adversely affected them in employment. Mills’ distinction between racial equality and egalitarianism is evident in this scenario. Egalitarianism allows for women of color to have jobs equal to everyone else, yet they do not and if they do, they are not paid the same amount. This is where women of color experience racial inequality. So when we talk about the wage gap between women and men, it is necessary to think about the other wage gap not discussed nearly as much.