Serena Williams Urges Black Women to ‘Be Fearless’ and Fight for Equal Pay

Serena Williams’ remarks on #BlackWomensEqualPayDay follow her outspokenness about police brutality. (@serenawilliams/Twitter)

Serena Williams wants Black women to take a stand when it comes to the pay disparities they face in comparison to men.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who Forbes reported is worth $150 million, rattled off statistics in an essay providing Black women with the ammunition they need to advocate for equal pay.

“Black women are 37 cents behind men in the pay gap. In other words, for every dollar a man makes, Black women make 63 cents,” she wrote in the Monday, July 31, article commemorating Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. (The statistic, for a full-time, year-round job, is backed up by the Washington, D.C., non-profit National Partnership For Women and Families.)

“I’d like to acknowledge the many realities Black women face every day, to recognize that women of color have to work — on average — eight months longer to earn the same as their male counterparts do in one year,” Williams continued, referring to a statistic from the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute.

Williams also pointed out the racism and prejudice she’s faced as a tennis player, an example of which happened in 2014 when Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev referred to Williams and her sister Venus as “the Williams brothers.”

“Growing up, I was told I couldn’t accomplish my dreams because I was a woman and, more so, because of the color of my skin,” Williams wrote. “In every stage of my life, I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself and speak out. I have been treated unfairly, I’ve been disrespected by my male colleagues and — in the most painful times — I’ve been the subject of racist remarks on and off the tennis court.

“Luckily, I am blessed with an inner drive and a support system of family and friends that encourage me to move forward. But these injustices still hurt.”

In addition, Williams spoke about her appointment as a board member with online polling platform SurveyMonkey, where she hopes to “give a voice to those who aren’t heard in Silicon Valley, and the workforce as a whole.” Among the data the company released, one stat states 69 percent of Black women perceive a pay gap, while just 44 percent of white men recognize the issue. Another statistic indicates two-thirds of Black women say major obstacles remain for women in the workplace.

“Black women, be fearless. Speak out for equal pay,” Williams concluded. “Every time you do, you’re making it a little easier for a woman behind you.

“Most of all, know that you’re worth it.”

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