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BLACK WOMEN'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE AMERICAN ECONOMY ARE MAGIC By Kim Carter

A

s I sit to write this editorial, the dilemma that

According to statistics gathered by the Economic Policy

plagues me is this: rather than ask why are

Institute, women make up 76% of the essential workers in

Black women important in the workplace,

the health care industry, and 73% of the essential workers in

I am wondering when they haven't been important?

government and community-based services. People of color make up approximately 50% of the essential workers in food

Since the 1600s, Black women have worked harder and,

and agriculture industries, and 53% of the essential workers

according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they have

in the industrial, commercial, and residential facilities and

had the highest labor force participation of any other group

services industries.5 Black women, from Maryland to Rhode

of women at 62.5%.1 Black women’s labor contributions have

Island, make up 23% to 40% of essential service workers.6

set the foundation for and continue to strengthen the U.S. economy, despite a false narrative that Black women do not work hard, they must be pushed to perform well, and that they should be satisfied with any job they are afforded, notwithstanding their talent, worth, or skill set. 2 Clearly, however, race and gender are not determinative factors regarding whether a person contributes to the workforce. Ingrained in the history of this country, Black people have been forced to sacrifice their bodies, lives, cultures, languages, families, and identities to build the U.S. economy. These facts underscore the strength, intellect, and resilience that Black women embody, which set them apart in today's workforce. That embodiment is more colloquially

What do race and gender have to do with a person's work ethic? In truth, neither race nor gender should have any bearing on whether a person is an asset to an employer. Experience has shown us that regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and — in many respects — disability, diverse people improve employers' bottom lines.7 Women, in particular, are stronger in areas of compromise, honesty and ethics, fair pay and benefits, and mentoring.8 The effects of this discrimination are compounded and therefore greater than the sum of gender or race discrimination.9

known as "Black Girl Magic.”3 Black women presently make up a large percentage of the country's essential workforce and small business owners.4 Essential workers, who have risked their lives, facing uncertain danger while they continue to work during a pandemic, are largely led by women and minorities.

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SAN DIEGO LAWYER

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January/February 2021

The Black woman's unique experience Black women excel in resilience. For far too long, Black women have been an invisible, double-minority. Rather than seeing Black women as unique, with their own set of experiences, they are often placed in the same category as

Profile for San Diego County Bar Association

San Diego Lawyer January/February 2021  

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