Reasons for Increase In Wage Gap Between Black and White Americans
Racial inequality spreads far wider than just social discrimination and prejudices. Both black men and black women earn significantly less than their white male or white female colleagues. This gap is actually larger now than it was 36 years ago. This large gap in salary can significantly hinder everything from quality of life, ability to provide necessities for one’s family, even one’s happiness and mental health. The first step in solving any problem is navigating to the cause of the problem. There are numerous reasons the wage gap has grown so significantly.
It is well known that a well-respected career is usually the result of a well-respected higher education. It is also well known that racial divides among the educational system still exist. The opportunity for a white student to come from a family of respected lawyers, doctors, teachers or other esteemed careers is extremely high. Therefore, it gives the child a head start onto their own successes in education and their own esteemed career. In comparison, the black community statistics are undeniably high in that students are more often the first of their families to go to or complete college.
There are many more black role models in the academic community than there were previously. Despite this, black college students are still at an unfair disadvantage. Though there is no evidence of a difference betweeen races in intelligence or capability, they are 20% less likely to complete school and graduate. It is extremely difficult to build a career without a proper education or strong heritage of success as a foundation for success. Perhaps most outrageous, even when a black male or female graduates from college, they are not given equal salaries compared to white men and women.
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In fact, black females are paid the least on average. The comparison could be as close as the same degree from the same institution and hired at the same company, and yet, the salaries will differ from white men, white women, black men, and finally black women. There are numerous laws set to protect workers. Minimum wage laws protect workers from being asked to perform duties for less than what is deemed appropriate. Discrimination laws state that a person cannot be fired nor passed over for hire due to their gender, race, age or other self-defining qualities.
Most laws like this are state level, though there are a few that are federal level. These laws prevent discrimination upon hiring or firing, but they do not protect salary injustices. There are very few laws that can protect a person from this kind of prejudice. Even worse, most companies are able to reason their way out of adhering the laws. They cite performance as the cause, even if there is little to no evidence supporting a lack of performance by the worker.
Companies are allowed to discourage their employees from discussing their salaries. However, laws could still be instated to keep individuals privacy intact while still revealing wage differences. Perhaps making this information public knowledge would force companies to cease using race as a factor.
Wage discrimination is a huge social issue, though not just for those affected in the black community. The wage gap only adds to the long list of social issues between the black versus white inequalities, strengthening an already great divide. It creates a discouraging view, in which case no one wins. The United States has made great strides towards excellence, and yet the country is still divided by racial issues and unequal salaries. When people of all races are educated, given fair opportunities in their careers and given fair wages that reflect their worth only good things can come as a result.