31 July was Black Women's Equal Pay Day.

Serena Williams wants you to remember that fact, as she marked the day by penning an open letter calling for equal pay for Black Women.

The day marks the date from which the average black woman is working for free, compared to the average white man, in terms of annual salary.

Black women earn 37 cents less than white men in terms of full-time pay.

Williams wrote in her essay:

I am in the rare position to be financially successful beyond my imagination.

I had talent, I worked like crazy and I was lucky enough to break through.

But today isn’t about me. It’s about the other 24 million black women in America.

If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them; that is never lost on me.

She also acknowledged the gap in perception of a wage gap between black women and white women, citing data from SurveyMonkey:

  • Sixty-nine percent of black women perceive a pay gap, while just 44 per cent of white men recognize the issue.
  • Nearly two-thirds of black women say that major obstacles remain for women in the workplace.
  • In addition to gender, black women see obstacles to racial equality: three-quarters of black women workers say there are still significant hurdles holding back minorities.
  • Still, some black women remain optimistic: more than 43 per cent of black millennial women believe men and women have equal opportunities for promotion.

The Economic Policy Institute said the gap between white and black women had grown since 1979:

Despite the large gender disadvantage faced by all women, black women were near parity with white women in 1979.

However in 2016, white women’s wages grew to 76% of white men’s, compared to 67 per cent for black women relative to white men – a racial difference of nine percentage points.

The trend is going the wrong way – progress is slowing for black women.

Williams' finished her essay imploring Black women to speak out against inequality for others:

Black women: Be fearless. Speak out for equal pay.

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.

It can take a long time to realize that. It took me a long time to realize it.

But we are all worth it.

I’ve long said, 'You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.'

Let’s get back those 37 cents.

She also tweeted on the day:

You can read the full essay on Fortune.com.

HT Guardian

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