Updated Thurs., July 7, at 7:15 a.m. PT.
It’s been just over a year since we launched Front and Center, our series centering the low-income Black women of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust guaranteed income project in Jackson, Miss. In our effort to model the intersectional feminism that is our only path toward true equity, we introduced you to 17 unique stories of recipients in this project that sits at the heart of racial, gender and economic justice. Rather than just focusing on their hardships, the women were able to share their whole selves—their dreams, their joys, their vulnerabilities, their humor, their wisdom.
You met Lakeisha, a mother of one who received her first guaranteed income check two days after losing work to the pandemic. She shared her hopes of becoming an author and counselor, and the steps she was taking to overcome her fear of math in order to turn those hopes into reality.
There was Ebony, who used her year of payments to invest in her salon and create an ongoing stream of income for herself. She now shares her knowledge not only the other moms, but their children too—like she did for Tamika’s daughter, helping to advise her on which colleges to apply to. In addition to helping her daughter save for college, Tamika is working toward her goal of buying her first home.
Moms like Annette told us last summer about the tremendous help provided by the powerful combination of their $1,000 monthly guaranteed income payments with the up to $300 monthly per child they received through the expanded child tax credit (CTC), which started in July of last year. Not only was Annette able to catch up on bills, but she had the funds to purchase school supplies and school uniforms for her two kids instead of worrying whether she could scrape together the resources.
While all the mothers in the program were receiving the expanded CTC, that critical support ended in January of this year after the legislation was blocked by GOP senators and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. This had a devastating effect not just on the mothers in the program, but across the country, with child poverty rates spiking more than 40 percent after just one missed payment. While Front and Center and the Magnolia Mother’s Trust helped to make the case that the expanded CTC should be extended, including a feature in a recent report by the Congressional Black Caucus on Women and Girls suggesting a guaranteed income as a path to gender and racial equity, struggling parents are still waiting for Congress to take action.
We’ve also seen major setbacks since the series started in reproductive rights, as the recent rolling back of Roe v. Wade will hurt low-income Black women in conservative states like Mississippi the most. This is in addition to the cruelty of state legislators who refused to expand postpartum Medicaid access earlier this year. In neighboring Louisiana, Senator Bill Cassidy recently spoke his racism and sexism aloud, saying that the state’s maternal mortality rates are only abysmal if you count Black women (a third of the state’s population is Black).
The recent rolling back of Roe v. Wade will hurt low-income Black women in conservative states like Mississippi the most. This is in addition to the cruelty of state legislators who refused to expand postpartum Medicaid access earlier this year.
This disregard for the well-being of Black women shows us that our work here is not done. That’s why we’re extending this series for another year, featuring the latest cohort of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust along with checking in on recipients of previous years to see how they’re faring. We’ll also be sharing results of the program with you through our ongoing reporting on the subject. While the data for the latest round is being finalized, the early learnings are extremely promising: More than 81 percent of moms say they’re more satisfied with how they are able to take care of their children and are more hopeful for their children’s futures, and nearly 70 percent are more confident in their ability to take care of their own emotional, physical and mental health needs.
With Guaranteed Income, “Now I Can Cover My Bills and Do Fun Things for My Son”
It’s clear in this time of one step forward and two steps back, we need to double down on the important work of this collaboration. Over the next year, we will continue our efforts to center Black women—starting with Jakehya, a member of the fourth cohort of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust who just received her first guaranteed income payment last month. (She used it to cover bills, and take her son to a water park.) Our commitment to lifting up the voices of Black women is not a 12-month project but rather an ongoing commitment.
“It was really unbelievable when I got the call a few months ago that I would be part of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust and start receiving $1,000 each month,” wrote Jakheya. “Now I can cover my bills and do more fun things for my son. … It can be hard to find hope, but I just remember that I am here, I am living. I am able to take care of my son, and right now I’m able to show him more than he’s ever seen.”
Explore the stories of other guaranteed income recipients in the Magnolia Mother’s Trust. In Front and Center, these mothers speak on their struggles, their children, their work, their relationships, and their dreams for the future, and how a federal guaranteed income program could change their lives.