Tag Archives: salary

White House Council on Women and Girls

President Obama’s creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls is an extraordinary and symbolic move.

Similar to many other civil rights causes, our populace seems to think the Women’s Movement was a static period in history that came, saw, conquered and left to safely reside in history books.  People often cite the number of women who graduate from college to support their claims that nothing more needs to be done to address the issue of women’s rights.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Without economic equality and independence, suffrage and the right to go braless means little.  As even opponents of women’s rights will concede, women simply make less money.  But why?

An anecdote:

revroad

In a conversation with a friend last weekend about “Revolutionary Road,” the issue of the “Lady Macbeth effect” came up, and we agreed that the Shakespearean stereotype still haunts many a loving marriage (ironically Michelle Obama has been compared to Lady Macbeth recently too, both by her supporters and detractors).  Our conversation turned to the state of our respective marriages (from my perspective as a wife, and his as a husband) and those of our same-age friends.  The issues of economic inequality, or lack thereof, were impossible to ignore.  We could not pinpoint males and females who worked the same job and earned different pay, but we did notice many male and female peers in the same industry, in similar “level” positions, and wondered whether their pay was actually equal, or at least equitable, regardless of their gender.  Through a Google search, I found this interesting aggregation of various statistics and data, that might present a somewhat balanced view of the matter.  It also defines the different  and useful ways salary inequalities can be analyzed. 

Salary isn’t the only issue.  And with tabloid news swirling around Rihanna and Chris Brown, it is time more now than ever to ensure that our children are explicitly taught the importance of gender equality.  Might is not right. 

An executive order is not enough.  I like Sarah Granger’s perspective at the Huffington Post.  A council is a good start, but to make change we need an action plan.  What issues will the Council take on, and how will it take action on these issues? 

Here’s to a good start.

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Let Us All Pay Homage

mlk-with-school-children

On this day I didn’t do exactly what my soon-to-be President told me to do, I didn’t paint any houses, or make meals for the poor; but I did spend some time rereading the words of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and consider what he might think of 2009 if he could come visit us here now.  

I studied in particular “A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations,” an address Delivered at St. Louis Freedom Rally (10 April 1957 St. Louis, Mo.).  The full text is available here. In many ways the Reverend Doctor’s address could be delivered today.  

To paraphrase his message I say: should we spend this day in depression that it is the children of people of color in this country who are systematically denied equitable educational opportunities, still, in 2009?  No.  Should we all rejoice in the election and inauguration of America’s first African American president?  Yes.  Should we let either of these emotional poles (depression, rejoicing) lead us to stagnation and fits of inaction?  Absolutely not.  

Yet, let us use this day to become activated to refuse to accept things as they are.  Let us remind ourselves that just as the Reverend Doctor was appalled by the disparity of salary between blacks and whites in “A Realistic Look” so to should we be appalled with our census bureau data from 2008, which reveals that while the “median usual weekly earnings of [White] full-time wage and salary workers” was $739, the “median usual weekly earnings of [Black or African American] full-time wage and salary workers” was $589.  See source here. 

In King’s time he admonished the audience to support the NAACP and told them that the fight for freedom and equality comes at a cost–one with a dollar sign attached.  So, today, why not give money to the NAACP?

King summoned the crowd to Washington to march to persuade the government to enforce civil rights laws.  So, this year, why not organize a march?

As King said, to do so is not to fight for African Americans alone, it is to fight for this nation. 

There is something about America that we like, but we are making it clear in the U.N. and in the other diplomatic circles around the world that beautiful words and extensive handouts cannot be substitutes for the basic simple responsibility of giving freedom and justice to our colored brothers all over the United States. [applause] That is what they are saying around the world. And I say to you my friends, because of our love for America we cannot slow up. (Yes, Yes)

 The final point the Reverend Doctor makes is our need for leaders, leaders who cry out “Love your enemy.  Bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.”

And we can’t solve the problem [of race relations] with misguided emotionalism. (No, no, no) This is a period for sane, sound, rational leadership. (Yes) We must be calm and yet positive at the same time. We must avoid the extremes of hot-headedness and Uncle-Tomism. (Yes, That’s right) Oh, this is a period for leaders. Leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity. (Yes sir) Leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. (Yes) Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause. (Yes, yes, yes) Oh,

God give us leaders. (Yes) 
A time like this demands great leaders. (Yes sir) 
Leaders whom the lust of office does not kill; 
Leaders whom the spoils of life cannot buy (Yes); 
Leaders who possess opinions and will (Yes); 
Leaders who will not lie (Yes); 
Leaders who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking. (Yes) 
Tall leaders (Yes), sun-crowned, who live above the fog in public duty and in private thinking.

And this is the need, my friends, of the hour. This is the need all over the nation. In every community there is a dire need for leaders (Yes) who will lead the people, who stand today amid the wilderness toward the promised land of freedom and justice. God grant that ministers, and lay leaders, and civic leaders, and businessmen, and professional people all over the nation will rise up and use the talent and the finances that God has given them (Yes), and lead the people on toward the promised land of freedom with rational, calm, nonviolent means. This is the great challenge (Yes) of the hour. (Yes) 

[emphasis added]

 

As I sit in the wilderness poised between my depression and rejoicing I know one thing: we have a leader.

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