By Shelja Touri | For AC JosepH Media

MARLTON — In the United States, women of color have long been subjected to unfair treatment within the education system.

This is especially evident in states like New Jersey, where racial disparities among women of color in education are some of the worst in the nation. According to a report from the National Women’s Law Center, African American women in New Jersey are three times more likely than white women to be attending college while also working full-time.

Latinas are also more likely to face economic barriers when it comes to pursuing higher education. In addition, these same groups of women are less likely to receive financial aid and scholarships that can help cover the costs of tuition and other educational expenses.

This lack of opportunity for women of color within the education system is not only unfair, but it also has far-reaching consequences for both individuals and society as a whole. When women of color are not provided with the opportunities to obtain a higher education, they cannot compete for jobs that require advanced degrees or earn salaries that reflect their true potential.

 This perpetuates a cycle of poverty and inequality that affects not only those individuals but also their families and communities. For example, Black and Hispanic women are more likely than white women to work in low-wage jobs with little opportunity for advancement. They also face barriers to education and homeownership that can make it difficult to build wealth over time.

Not an equal playing field — labor market discrimination against female minorities In the United States, women of color experience greater labor market discrimination than white women or men of color.

In a study of five states, New Jersey had the largest racial disparities for women in terms of unemployment rates. For example, in 2017, the unemployment rate for black women was 9.4%, compared to 4% for white women and 6.7% for Hispanic women. The overall unemployment rate that year was 4%.

According to another report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, over half of black women and nearly two-thirds of Hispanic women in the state live in poverty, compared to just one-third of white women. And while the median net worth for white households was $671,000 in 2016, it was only $14,600 for black households and $20,700 for Hispanic households.

Studies have shown that resumes with “black-sounding” names are less likely to get called back than those with “white-sounding” names. Another reason is segregation in the workforce; jobs tend to be segregated by race, which means that people of color are more likely to work in lower-paying jobs with fewer opportunities for advancement. 

In the United States, women of color experience significant social and economic disadvantages that can lead to poor mental health. This is due in part to systemic racism within the healthcare system itself – from discrimination by providers to a lack of culturally competent care options available for patients of color. 

For example, Black girls as young 12 years old internalize messages about their worthlessness which has been linked to depression in later life. Studies have shown that nearly half of Latinas will develop PTSD in their lifetime thanks largely to violence against them, both personal and public spheres. Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) report some of highest suicide rates of any group in the United States, yet they are regularly left out of conversations about race equity mental health. 

Clearly much improvement is needed to increase awareness and reduce the stigma around getting help for those suffering. However, change starts when understanding how systemic racism and sexism plays into existing inequalities first. 

Photo by Tyriq DeShields

Racism and sexism intersect to create unique challenges for minority women who are trying to enter or advance in the workforce; they may face both gender and racial discrimination simultaneously.

These disparities have serious consequences not just for individuals but also for families and communities as a whole. When people of color can’t find good jobs, it increases poverty and inequality levels within society at large. 

Additionally, policies at the state and federal level often disproportionately impact communities of color. For example, mass incarceration rates have a devastating effect on black families — disrupting relationships and preventing people from accessing jobs or housing once they’re released from prison.

But there is hope that these disparities can be reduced if we take action to address them. One way to do this is by investing in programs and policies that help close the wage gap between men and women — which would have a particularly positive impact on Black and Hispanic women who earn less than their white counterparts even when controlling for education levels.

The need for more pathways into good jobs with family-sustaining wages is needed so that all workers have a chance at economic success regardless of their background or ZIP code

Fortunately, there are organizations working to address these issues head-on. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund works to ensure that everyone has equal access to justice regardless of race or gender identity. They file lawsuits challenging discriminatory practices in schools, workplaces, voting booths, and elsewhere.

The National Women’s Law Center also advocates for laws and policies that help close the gaps facing women of color — including paid leave protections and affordable childcare options

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the disparities that exist for women of color in America. These disparities span a wide range of areas, from education and employment to health care and criminal justice. And while some progress has been made in narrowing these gaps, they remain stubbornly persistent.

In 2018, New Jersey released its first-ever “Racial Disparities Report” which looked at data across a number of different sectors. The report found that while there had been some improvement over time, racial disparities still existed and were often worse for women than men. The report called on state agencies and leaders to take action to address these disparities.

Despite such reports, so much more is needed to support and build up women of color. 


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