Front and Center is a groundbreaking series of op-eds—published by Ms. and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust—which aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies currently debated at the national level. The series highlights the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing.
What possibilities could open up for low-income families if financial survival weren’t always top of mind? What dreams would these mothers and families be able to pursue? What activism and community leadership might arise? The series will answer these and other questions, by placing one mother’s story front and center every other week. The first-person accounts in this series are available for reprint. Find additional guidelines at the end of this story.
I have three boys—one is 8 (almost 9!), one is 5 and one was just born this year. I really love being a mom; they have brought a different level of joy into my life. They like to prank each other; we like to “roast” each other with little jokes back and forth. They each have their own personalities and I just love it.
I’m currently in between jobs, but I do braid hair to bring in some income. I’m trying to build my clientele with hair braiding because eventually I’d like to be able to make a full career out of that.
In the meantime, I’ve just signed up at the community college to take classes in accounting and hotel/restaurant management. I’ve worked in the food industry before, so that’s why I focused on trying to get more training in that area to help boost my resume more. I don’t have any degree past my high school diploma, so it’s important for me to go back to school so I can have more solid job options and do better for my kids. I just really want them to have a good life, to have a way better life than I did. So I know I have to put in the work to do that.
I just really want them to have a good life, to have a way better life than I did. So I know I have to put in the work to do that.
For me, I’m focused on finding a job so that I can work while I’m going to school and hopefully save some money. I’ve been applying to a lot of jobs and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I haven’t been hearing back from them. Part of it is that a lot of the employers here in Jackson only pay minimum wage, which is just $7.25. And to make sense with child care and bills, I really need to be making at least $9 an hour.
I’ve worked jobs that are $11 or $12 an hour so it doesn’t make sense for me to then have a minimum wage job when I have the experience of higher-paid positions—even $9 is me humbling myself. I know my worth. So I think the fact that I’m not just applying for the minimum wage jobs is part of why it’s been harder to find something steady.
A lot of the employers here in Jackson only pay minimum wage, which is just $7.25. And to make sense with child care and bills, I really need to be making at least $9 an hour. I know my worth.
The struggle with the job hunt makes the child tax credit payments and the guaranteed income I get through the Magnolia Mother’s Trust even more important this year as I work to find a job that pays an even semi-livable wage. It really helped me when I was preparing for my baby to come, I was able to get pretty much everything he needed. At the baby shower all we needed was just a few diapers and things.
So that took a lot of stress off to have that money to turn to. It’s all been going to my kids and my bills, and I hate to disappoint them and tell them, “I don’t have any McDonald’s money,” but these programs have helped make it possible so that I can do better for them and have that little extra for a treat here and there.
The child tax credit and guaranteed income from Magnolia Mother’s Trust have helped make it possible to have that little extra for a treat here and there.
I suffer from depression and anxiety, but I’ve been doing okay handling it this year. I’ve also learned some self care from workshops they offer at Springboard, the organization that runs the Magnolia Mother’s Trust. We did one yesterday on breathing exercises, and I swear it was so relaxing I almost fell asleep in the chair! I practiced it again this morning and want to keep up with that.
My hope for my boys is that they continue to be their own people, and not be influenced by what their peers may be doing to try to fit in. They’re young still so they don’t really know what they want to do, though one is stuck on being a football player. We’ll see. The others have talked about wanting to be a firefighter or a police officer. I want them to focus on whatever it is they want to do, because that means that no matter what they do they will be successful if they’re keeping true to themselves. I just want them to keep being the best “them” they can be.
What’s giving me hope right now is that I have this ability through the money from the trust to provide for my family in a hard time, because before I got that call that I was selected to be part of the program I was really struggling to keep on top of my bills and responsibilities. And now that I’m on this fixed income, it’s helped me get really good at managing my money and making sure I’m staying on top of everything and using this opportunity wisely. I’m hopeful that I can only go up from here.
Front and Center pieces are free to republish, under the following guidelines:
- To ensure context isn’t lost, at the top of your reprint, include a line that reads: “Front and Center is a series of op-eds—published by Ms. magazine and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust—highlighting the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust program, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing. The series aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies currently debated at the national level.” (You can use editorial discretion to alter or shorten the text slightly.)
- You may also republish the photographs included in this story.
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