The pandemic has forced a national reckoning with this country’s care crisis, as so many are struggling to stay afloat economically while caring for one’s self or loved ones, and record numbers of women are being forced to leave the workforce. As Black History Month comes to a close and we approach Women’s History Month, we want to recognize that the care crisis has long affected Black women especially harshly.
Our nation’s chronic undervaluing of care is deeply rooted in a history of racism and sexism. Black women are more likely to be primary caregivers and breadwinners for their families, while disproportionately working in low wage industries, where they are more likely to lack access to supportive benefits like paid sick time, paid leave, and fair and flexible scheduling, and may have little recourse when they face discrimination and are pushed off the job on the basis of pregnancy or caregiving, especially in the South where there are fewer legal protections.
Our nation’s ongoing failure to provide and enforce what should be fundamental workplace rights means Black women have long been forced to jeopardize their economic security in order to care for themselves and their loved ones, and have been affected especially harshly by the pandemic.
At A Better Balance, we are working everyday to pass fair and supportive workplace policies that will help remedy these systemic inequities, and ensure Black women can stay healthy and attached to the workforce when they need income the most. We believe that by centering the experiences of Black women and valuing the important work of providing care, we can build an infrastructure of workplace policies that works better for all. It is more urgent than ever.
To learn more about Black women’s history, in honor of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, we encourage you to visit the resources at the National Museum of African American History & Culture.