Exceedingly difficult for [white] families who need [Black women ]cooks and laundresses….

Exceedingly difficult for [white] families who need [Black women ]cooks and laundresses….

What proposal will the US construct to force Latina and Black women to take care of white middle-class women’s children during COVID-19?

Probably Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). That would be the perfect program to conscript poor women and then any working-middle-class woman who falls into poverty owing to the United States’ lack of a safety net. 

You can clean for the suburban consultant wife of a CEO, or you can die on the street, your choice. 

Black women have always had the highest labor market participation levels, typically working as an assistant to white women or caregiver to her children. Even in modern day America, Black women are overrepresented in service jobs.

“Domes­tic work is root­ed in the lega­cy of slav­ery. Car­ing for the fam­i­lies of oth­ers often meant that enslaved Black women lacked agency and access to care­giv­ing for their own fam­i­lies.” 

Ali­cia Garza, spe­cial projects direc­tor for Nation­al Domes­tic Work­ers Alliance (NDWA) in an NDWA and Insti­tute for Women’s Pol­i­cy Research report fore­word released in 2017.

Black women are not allowed to NOT work, certainly not to take care of her own children, even during a deadly pandemic. It used to be de jure, but now it is de facto. Black women’s place is to work and make thing easier for others. 

The US has always forced Black women to work. First enslavement, then during post-reconstruction city and town ordinances forced Black women to work as white women’s maids and nannies. They had to force them, because something happened during Reconstruction —Black men got jobs, and Black women could be housewives —just like white women. White women were not happy about that, because the most tedious and exhausting of housework in their households typically fell upon the Black women help.  

White women in the middle and upper middle classes said they were exhausted and were quite upset about having to clean and do laundry and talk to their children (this is not a cheeky joke, that actually happened —kind of similar to right now, owing to the pandemic), so it was made mandatory by ordinance in several counties across the country that Black women watch white women’s children and clean their homes, even if a Black woman’s husband made enough money for her to stay home.  Black women being employed become compulsory across large swaths of the US.

Greenville News, 1918

It makes you wonder if there is a connection between Black men’s unemployment and the need for easily exploitable Black women. Exploitable Black women’s labor is needed to assist more well off white women at nonprofits as assistants, watch the children of the privileged and other working class women doing similar work as daycare workers and nannies (early ed is divided into two parts, childcare warehousing for the poor and preschool enrichment for there rich, even now), and to change white people’s parents’ diapers as home health aides. 

In the later half of the 20th century when Black women were allowed to access the formerly mainly white-only benefit of welfare, a work requirement was added. The jobs provided with tax credits to employers were very low paying. To this day that mandatory job requirement helps in keeping the median wage down and union organization low for women dominated work, hurting working class and poor women of all races. For almost 70 years when welfare was only accessible to predominantly white women, it had no work requirement.

I assume the opportunity will be couched similar to this:

Help for the women who matter, during COVID19

Reporter: Hi, I’m Liz Lord, from Good Morning White America. We’re here in some suburban place just outside of a bigger place to talk to Amy. Amy has started a nonprofit to help those impacted by COVID-19.

Nonprofit Director: Hi Liz.

Reporter: So tell me Amy, how did this start?

Nonprofit Director: Well, Liz. I know women of color are having a hard time, so I decided to help them, help themselves. Keisha, was at home and really, her mind was atrophying. It had to have been a nightmare not having direction. I was so happy to help give her life meaning and direction. I directed her to watch my children. Now my little Bobby and Sally have someone to watch them during my Zoom meetings AND she cooks too! And does laundry. I’m really happy to provide Keisha with this wonderful opportunity to work. She really adds as much to my life as I add to hers.

Reporter So Amy how do other feminists get a Keisha that they can help?

Nonprofit Director: That’s simple Liz, go to my website, Center for Neoliberal Progress dot org and you can choose the kind of Keisha you want to help. We have all kinds and we also have Marias and Jennifers AND the great thing is that this program is connected to their food stamps and rent. We fixed food stamps funding mechanism and turned them into block grant, it’s much more anti-racist than entitlement program funding.

So they get to keep eating if you help them.

It really is a WIN for everyone.

Reporter Amy, you are a genius and a blessing.

Nonprofit Director: Thanks Liz! God Bless America.


If people continue to let the wealthy write the pandemic’s narrative, we will have many horrifying scenario like I painted above. We won’t even notice it and it won’t matter who the President is. Instead of stipends, we’ll have more death. We’ll have the convenience of death.

Black women will die, Filipino women will die, Mexican women will die and it will be viewed as “well….stuff happens.”

We can prevent Native American, Latino, Filipino, Pacific Islander, and Black people from contracting COVID-19 at higher rates and dying of COVID-19 at higher rates. We can slow the harm created due solely to institutional racism embedded in labor and transportation practices. But we must quickly realize that the institution is attempting to normalize non-white people’s death in metropolitan areas for the comfort and convenience of the middle and upper-middle classes. 

Black and Latino people have said loud and clear they DO NOT WANT TO DIE FOR COVID-19, but still the narratives that we want to die for the economy and eugenic flavored achievement gaps AND how it’s antiracist to kill Black and Latino people (so we can pay rich people rent) persist.

Native American, Latino, Filipino, Pacific Islander, and Black dying at higher rates are not foregone conclusions. A policy that prioritizes life over the economy is going to make the difference. We don’t need bars opens; we need stipends. We don’t need gyms open; we need stipends. We don’t need the rent to be delayed; we need it canceled. We also need to watch out for wolves in sheep clothing. The handmaidens of the rich dressed up as liberals, organizations like Center for Progress and NAEYC, have been proudly in the front of the line with the “restarting the economy” on the back of the poorest women chants and hashtags. These organizations say it’s “antiracist” —it is neither antiracist nor is it feminist to sacrifice poor women for the economy.


Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

Black women, Black women, Black women, Black women

Subscribe to Public Intellectuals on Patreon for $5 a month! All donations go directly to creating great content and paying contributors!
Share

Written by:

Discourse on politics, economics, race, labor, socioeconomic class, popular culture, and literature.
View All Posts
Follow Me :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: