“Life isn’t fair.” I heard this phrase from my mom hundreds of time over my childhood. Sometimes your little brother will eat the last fruit snacks, sometimes your white, male counterpart will make significantly more money than you for doing the same job. It’s not fair, because life’s not fair.

It’s old news that white men statistically earn significantly more money than minorities, people of color and women. Valid standups against the racist, sexist wage gap of modern Americans are minimized at their core. It’s not fair. Life’s not fair. Does that mean it’s not a problem? Does that mean we shouldn’t say anything about it?

“Among full- and part-time workers in the U.S., blacks in 2015 earned just 75% as much as whites in median hourly earnings and women earned 83% as much as men.” (Pew Research Center, 2016). As companies continue to industrialize their workforces and lower shares of blacks and hispanics are able to obtain a college education, white men continue to ride golden elevators of socio-economic opportunity. “Among adults ages 25 and older, 23% of blacks and 15% of Hispanics have a bachelor’s degree or more education, compared with 36% of whites and 53% of Asians.” (Pew Research Center, 2016).  While biological makeup of the workforce plays a crucial factor in the severity of the modern American wage gap, there are also many other factors.

Think of the socio economic spectrum like a bridge. When you’re born, you’re assigned to a rung somewhere on that bridge. Wherever you land on that bridge from the moment you are born is most likely very near where you’ll be on the day you die. While we know that the rung you land on when you’re born is heavily influenced by the genetic makeup of you and your family (whether it’s “fair” or not), and so is the opportunity to walk up (or down, I guess) that bridge. Where your family lives and the earning potential and living cost in the area are two more incredibly influential factors on where you land.

None of it is fair. The “American Dream,” thriving with opportunity and wealth is a hoax, unless you happen to be of certain race and gender. The power is within those with opportunity, within those who recognize the inequality and are unwilling to accept the statement “Life’s not fair.”

CC BY-SA 4.0 The wage gap is a bummer. by Lucy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Annie 4 months ago

    Lucy, I was told this a lot too when I was little. But often times I, out of the three girls my mom and dad were preaching to, was the only one to disagree with them, and, subsequently, start a loud argument. I hated hearing the fact that life wasn’t fair. I insisted that I could make a fair life for myself if I tried hard enough. In some ways, I still believe that’s true, but I only know that now because I’m aware of how privileged I am. Granted, I am a gay woman, so that has some setbacks, but I have numerous amounts of other privileges. I do agree, however, that for others lacking the privileges that I, and others, benefit from, life can be extremely unfair, and overall harsh. And a lot of that is truly based on the characteristics of that person, not on their work ethic, talent, intelligence, or skills. You gave statistics on the wage gap for ethnic groups and between men and women. Studies have found that gay men earn 10-32% less than straight men in their careers (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/gay-men-women-lesbian-earnings-wage-gap/396074/). Workers today of greater age will earn much less than their younger counterparts (https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/regional-economist/october-2016/breaking-down-the-gender-wage-gap-by-age-and-by-hours-worked). Additionally, workers with disabilities make about 63 cents for every dollar the able worker makes (http://www.air.org/resource/air-index-pay-gap-workers-disabilities). Thank you for your post! It was extremely enlightening!

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