Front and Center: With Guaranteed Income, “Now I Can Cover My Bills and Do Fun Things for My Son”

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 am 27, born and raised in Jackson. I have a son who is 10; he’ll be 11 in September. He likes to play football and is a quarterback on one of the local Little League teams. Even during the summer he practices three times a week. I was worried about him getting hurt at first, but my mom told me I’ve just got to let him be and so I decided I’d let him try it. It’s only been a few weeks but he loves it so much.

I listen to my mom. She and my son are about all I’ve got. My son’s father was murdered almost seven years ago, so I’ve never really had a big support network.

For work I braid hair, and before that I worked at the VA Center in the dietary department. But I left that job at the end of last year—it was a scary time to be there in the height of COVID but I needed to provide for my son so I just masked up and took the risk. They ended up moving the VA Center to a different location that’s farther away from me, and since I don’t have transportation I wasn’t able to keep working there. 

Even when I worked there, money was tight. I made about $1,000 a month. It’s been a struggle—I was 16 when I had my son and for a long time we were just bouncing around places with no home of our own. It was only a few years ago that I got off the waitlist for subsidized housing and we were finally able to have a spot of our own. 

So after all those tough times, 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—basically the same amount I was making at my old job. It’s helped me so, so much. Now I can cover my bills and do more fun things for my son, like take him to the water park. Before, I didn’t have any resources to just be able to go out and explore with him. There was nothing extra for that since every dime I had was going to bills.

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. … Now I can cover my bills and do more fun things for my son.

While I have the support of the program, I’d like to start taking classes to become a registered nurse. My mom works in the medical field and always encouraged me to get into it while I was growing up.

My goals for my son for this next year of the trust are to keep him busy with activities and to just make sure he’s comfortable. There’s a lot going for kids like him growing up in poverty, and since I’ve had the experience of losing someone to violence and I know that’s something that’s also happening with this younger generation coming up, I want to make sure to protect him from that and just make sure my son doesn’t fall into that life.

I really believe that there should be a program like the Magnolia Mother’s Trust for all the people living in poverty who need it, especially moms. There is just so much need out here. I think the thing that stops the politicians from doing it is that they just don’t want to spend the money on us.

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.


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.
  • If you share republished stories on social media, we’d appreciate being tagged in your posts. You can find Ms. on Twitter @MsMagazine, on Instagram @ms_magazine and on Facebook. Springboard to Opportunities is on Twitter @SpringboardToOp, on Instagram @springboard_to and on Facebook.

Have questions on the series? Read more here, and direct specific questions to Katie Fleischer at [email protected].

About

Jakheya is a member of the fourth cohort of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust and just received her first guaranteed income payment last month. She used it to cover bills, and take her son to a water park.