Economic Opportunities For Black Women And Girls
Policymakers committed to redressing economic oppression have rightly focused on the need to build wealth for Black women. But first, society as a whole must broaden its understanding of what that means and what it requires. Wealth is typically presented in terms of capital, but Black Women Best is more interested in what wealth confers — such as agency and security — than in material wealth accumulation as an end in and of itself. When we look past material wealth, we see everything that wealth provides: autonomy, agency, legacy, and time. What if we leaned into radical imagination in our considerations of Black women’s wealth? What if we allowed Black women to define wealth for themselves, creating an entry point from which the conversation can be built on over time?
Black Women Best centers ensuring economic prosperity for Black women, our families, our communities, and our society. While this includes eliminating the barriers to traditional forms of wealth-building that Black women face, it also means investing in community-based systems and formations that support people and their well-being.
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced H.Res.1050 which addresses the hardships and disparities faced by Black women in order to encourage more inclusive policy making. Specifically, the resolution supports the need for and use of certain policy frameworks to incorporate the experiences of Black women into public policies. Influencing closure between the pay gap between men and women, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke also co-sponsored the resolution Recognizing the significance of Equal Pay Day to illustrate the disparity between wages paid to men and women, and its impact on women, families, and the nation.
Congresswoman Kelly also co-sponsored the Economic Inclusion Civil Rights Act which modifies the prohibition against intentional racial discrimination in the context of economic activity such as employment, contracts, or other commercial transactions.
As a financial asset, wealth provides a buffer against the unpredictability of life, but it also functions as an emotional and physical asset. People use wealth to build intergenerational security and resiliency, investing in education, entrepreneurship, home ownership, and more. They also use it to navigate unexpected circumstances, such as job loss or illness, and to secure literal safety — by leaving an abusive relationship, for example.
However, achieving Black women’s economic well-being will take more than strong policy change — it demands an intentional, long-term narrative shift. From our country’s inception, U.S. politicians and society at large have cultivated, adopted, and perpetuated harmful myths about Black women.
These narratives – our shared cultural understandings, frames of reference, and mental models — play an integral role in both policymaking and public response. Thus, Black Women Best cannot be fully understood nor successfully applied without uprooting the violent worldviews that serve to justify oppressive systems and building liberatory narratives in their stead.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession — and our government’s failure to provide a targeted response — laid bare the ways that structural racism and white supremacist capitalist cis-heternormative patriarchy hurt Black women, people of color, and our society as a whole. We know that inequality is never an outcome of individual behavior; it is always the result of policy and cultural choices. By centering Black women in our economic decisions and rewriting our stories, we can uproot systemic injustice and build toward necessary structural change for everyone. If we make the road by walking it, a guaranteed income is one of the clearest policy pathways we have for demonstrating the collective strength of a Black Women Best legislative agenda.
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