State News

EQUALITY IN SOUTH CAROLINA: DOES IT EXIST?

As elections draw near a question has emerged again as it does every year… Does Equality exist in South Carolina?

The question of equality has come down to racial, gender, and monetary equality for the majority of political reasons.

Racial Equality in South Carolina:

South Carolina at the start of the twenty-first century was not the South Carolina of turn-of-the-century Jim Crowism or of the civil rights activities of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Legal barriers that minimized African American participation are disappearing, and many younger blacks and whites do not remember blatant segregation. Because of enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, African Americans today freely register to vote. The NAACP worked successfully to create a “black” congressional district, and in 1992 South Carolinians elected an African American, James Clyburn, to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. These gains, however, have come from enforcement of federal laws, not from white leadership within the state. The civil rights movement in South Carolina and the nation also inspired other groups to demand their rights, including people with disabilities, women, and gays and lesbians, parents and grandparents.

The passage of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 led to the creation of the Legislative Black Caucus in the South Carolina legislature. For the first time since the Reconstruction era, African Americans were elected to political offices in South Carolina. By the end of the 1960s, few African Americans were elected to office. As of 2020, 44 of 172 members of the South Carolina General Assembly were African American, accounting for about 26%.

Although major progress has been achieved for racial equality in the Deep South and in South Carolina, one can argue that racial equality as wanted by civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King has yet to come. African-Americans today still feel as if they are neglected or bypassed in many ways.

Today there are movements like Black Lives Matters, who have been drawn down to two separate practices. One side who practices the believes of peaceful protests and pushing legislation for equality, and the other who have decided to be militant by violent protests, shooting of police officers and destroying businesses.

What is needed here is the mental understanding that times have changed and are still changing for racial equality. The majority of our youths black and white have no remembrance of the struggles of the past. And are taught very little of the events from those times on both sides.

I am left here with a thought… What would such Civil Rights Leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy say about racial equality in South Carolina today?

GENDER EQULITY IN SOUTH CAROLINA:

When it comes to gender equality it can be argued on both sides with extreme points. Are men valued more in the work place, are women held to a lower standard in family courts, are men and women paid equally… There are so many parts to gender equality or inequality that can be viewed from both sides.

Are women paid equally as much as men? Well, according to a National Study done by WalletHub.com South Carolina ranks 26 in Workplace Environment out of the U.S..

This category was comprised of

  • Income Disparity
    Note: “Income” refers to median weekly earnings.
  • Higher-Income Disparity
    Note: “Higher Income” refers to median annual earnings of $100,000 or more.
  • Disparity in Share of Executive Positions
  • Disparity in Share of Minimum-Wage Workers
  • Unemployment-Rate Disparity
  • Entrepreneurship-Rate Disparity
  • Disparity in Average Number of Work Hours
    Note: “Average Number of Work Hours” pertains to full-time workers.
  • Job Security Disparity
  • Economic Security Disparity
    Note: This metric is based on the Basic Economic Security Tables (BEST) Index, which measures how much income working adults of different family types need to be economically secure. Economic security means having “enough income to meet basic monthly expenses—such as housing, food, transportation and child care expenses—and save for emergencies and retirement.”
  • Disparity in Poverty Rate

So from this women for more or less are paid equally in South Carolina. But does this data really reflect the actual numbers in South Carolina? In another report put out by statuesofwomendata.org women in South Carolina are still under paid and underemployed.

On a more personal level South Carolina has for many years always been called a “Mother State”, when it comes to issues of Family Courts. Many Men feel the inequality of the law in this arena as they lose custody of their children and are forced to pay for visitation. Now, this does not mean that this does not also happen to women, but on a much smaller scale. Women are given the majority of custody in these courts simply by being a women.

South Carolina abolished what was known as “The Tender’s Years Doctrine” in 2014. This Legislative Doctrine of law gave custody to the mother based simply on gender. What South Carolina failed to do is replace it with an equal parenting law stating that a father and mother are both equally fit to raise a child. This battle is raging now at the State House, where several Attorney/Legislators are fighting to prevent such a law from equalizing parenthood in South Carolina.

Another such aspect is Domestic Violence in South Carolina, which ranks in the top 5 States for the highest reports. Even though it is known that Domestic Violence occurs equally among men and women, it is still under reported by men who feel they simply will not be believed and over reported by women as a tool for revenge or high standing in Family Courts.

Gender equality is one of the most historic challenges faced by society ranging from the Women’s Suffrage Movement to Shared Parenting Groups.

MONETARY EQUALITY IN SOUTH CAROLINA:

Who earns more in South Carolina Men, Women, Blacks, Whites or others? Business owners, restaurant staffs, County workers? Legislators, Attorney’s, County or City Government Officials?

That question can never really be answered in a plain straight forward answer. Instead, let’s ask are people being paid appropriately for the work they are doing.

Individuals who are listed as State Employees which may surprise some are paid higher than those in the same position in private areas with the same job titles and duties.

You can look State Employees up and their salaries here.

Let’s take a look at some of the salaries that are paid to these individuals:

Marcia Adams who is the agency head at the Department of Administration earns $217,643 a year.

Richard Makla who’s position doesn’t even have a title at the Department of Administration earns $176,868 a year.

Beverly Wood who is a Psychiatrist at the Department of Corrections earns $280,500 a year.

John Taylor who is also a Psychiatrist at the Department of Corrections only earns $132,600.

While Wardens such as Lisa Engram and Jake Gadsden Jr. earn in the average low $80,000 a year range. Even Sports Coaches are listed as State Employees at some colleges such as David Babb at Clemson University who earns $300,000 a year.

Imagine if all these people were paid the same as individuals who work in private sectors such as a High School Athletics Coach, would South Carolina 1. Have more money for the needs of it’s Citizens and 2. Would people feel more at ease for monetary equality?

As the cost of living continues to increase in South Carolina wouldn’t it be nice if money was equal across the board to keep that cost down? How would South Carolina fair if everyone in the state were only paid $10.00 an hour, from State Legislators to McDonald workers? Would it still be fair and equal in everyone’s eyes?

Society has always had a mentality of living beyond ones means. As we have moved away from our needs to our wants in society, equal monetary values have gone out the window.

The Utopian Societies of the likes of Star Trek are a nice fantasy, but could it and monetary equality truly exist in our society?

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