As Taraji P. Henson said, “The MATH Ain’t Mathing”

Historically, people of color have faced a persistent disparity in earnings compared to their counterparts, coupled with the unsettling notion of being perceived as more “replaceable.” The crux of the issue lies in the illumination of economic theories designed to perpetuate a functional hierarchy in our societal structures. These systemic frameworks inherently breed discrimination and foster an imbalance in bargaining power, with the most profound impact felt by black women – a group shouldering the heaviest burden in this power struggle.

In the workforce, the gender pay gap remains an unsettling reality, affecting over 90 percent of occupations. For every dollar a man earns working full-time in America, a woman earns only 82 cents. The disparities deepen when viewed through a racial lens: Asian American and Pacific Islander women earn 87 cents, while Black women earn a mere 63 cents, Native American women 60 cents, and Hispanic women 55 cents for every dollar a white man earns.

These statistics underscore that pay inequity is not solely a matter of sex discrimination but a deeply intersectional issue. The theories of valuative discrimination emphasize that jobs predominantly performed by women are undervalued due to the cultural devaluation of women, influencing how employers assess job worth.

In Hollywood, where creativity meets commerce, the principles of critical race theory (CRT) transcend their traditional legal and academic associations. CRT becomes a potent tool for dissecting racial dynamics impacting casting decisions, representation, and the overall experiences of actors from diverse backgrounds. Its application prompts essential conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusion in the entertainment industry.

Simultaneously, Human Capital theory plays a pivotal role in shaping discussions about education and training as investments in societal well-being. Recognizing and dismantling imbalances in opportunities for skill development is integral to addressing deeply rooted disparities.

The “Sex-plus” discrimination theory reveals an unsettling gap in speaking roles for women, with men dominating despite a nearly equal gender split in the population. This not only limits opportunities for women but disproportionately affects women of color, with a staggering 67 percent of all female roles going to white actresses, surpassing their representation among U.S. women.

In an industry where decisions often rest in the hands of men, women cannot be expected to bear the weight alone. The gender pay gap, epitomized by Hollywood’s wage disparities, disproportionately impacts actresses of color, magnifying the challenges faced by women across the nation.

The stark reality of wage inequality is particularly pervasive for Black women, often overlooked by society. The intersectionality framework recognizes the inadequacy of existing laws in addressing the combined impact of racial and gender discrimination. This intersection of challenges leads to far-reaching economic, social, and political ramifications that uniquely impact Black women.

It’s time for society to acknowledge and rectify these pervasive inequalities. Let’s challenge outdated economic theories, fostering a Hollywood that embraces diversity and inclusivity. The journey toward equality begins with understanding, discussion, and a commitment to dismantling the barriers that unfairly burden Black women.

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Tephanie Delaney

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