Serena Williams on Underpaid Black Women: “I Would be One of Them”

By Danielle Pope

Serena Williams (Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)
Serena Williams (Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)
The tennis star has penned an essay calling for equal pay for black women

For Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Serena Williams penned an essay outlining how black women can close the pay gap. Published in Fortune magazine, Williams outlined how the gender pay gap hits women of colour the hardest. “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.”

In her essay, Williams acknowledged her own privileges, saying she has been “financially successful beyond [her] imagination.” However she was quick to point out that the story could have been very different, and indeed is very different for so many other black women. “Today isn’t about me,” she wrote. “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.”

Williams outlined the numerous challenges that face women of colour today, including the fact that even college graduates get paid less at every level. “This is as true in inner cities as it is in Silicon Valley,” she wrote.

Williams acknowledged that the current outcome for black women is a result of complex layers of oppression and that change would not be easy. “The cycles of poverty, discrimination and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles,” she said.

Williams has called for “dedicated action, legislation, employer recognition and courage for employees to demand more.” “In short it’s going to take all of us,” she writes.

The essay is the second time Williams has publicly written about gender equality. In December 2016, she wrote an open letter in Porter magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue asking why female athletes were not viewed as equal to their male counterparts.



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