Karwai Tang/WireImage
Olivia Bahou
Jul 31, 2017 @ 2:45 pm

While the wage gap has shrunk since 1980, there's still a long way to go before we reach equal pay—and the difference is even more staggering when taking into account both gender and race.

Today, July 31, is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, a day of the year that represents the additional months of work that, on average, a black woman would need for her earnings to be on par with a white man. The average black woman earns 63 cents to the dollar so in order to make what a white male earned in 2016, she would have had to work until summer 2017 to make up for that 37 cent difference.

Serena Williams penned an inspiring essay for Fortune to remind the nation how we can all do our part to narrow the gap.

“I’d like to acknowledge the many realities black women face every day. To recognize that women of color have to work—on average—eight months longer to earn the same as their male counterparts do in one year. To bring attention to the fact that black women earn 17 percent less than their white female counterparts and that black women are paid 63 percent of the dollar men are paid. Even black women who have earned graduate degrees get paid less at every level. This is as true in inner cities as it is in Silicon Valley,” she wrote.

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“Growing up, I was told I couldn’t accomplish my dreams because I was a woman and, more so, because of the color of my skin. In every stage of my life, I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself and speak out. I have been treated unfairly, I’ve been disrespected by my male colleagues and—in the most painful times—I’ve been the subject of racist remarks on and off the tennis court. Luckily, I am blessed with an inner drive and a support system of family and friends that encourage me to move forward. But these injustices still hurt.”

But today isn’t about Williams, something she was quick to acknowledge. “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,” she wrote.

“Changing the status quo will take dedicated action, legislation, employer recognition, and courage for employees to demand more. In short, it’s going to take all of us. Men, women, of all colors, races and creeds to realize this is an injustice. And an injustice to one is an injustice to all.”

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“Let’s get back those 37 cents.” Read her empowering essay in full via Fortune.

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