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 (MMT), 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.
My name is Joneisha and I live in Jackson, Mississippi. I’ve been divorced for almost a year. I have one daughter named Janiya who is about to turn 6.
I just started a new job as a personal care aid and it’s going okay. I don’t know if it’s something I want to stick with so I’m currently looking for better. I used to work in hotel cleaning and in a daycare—but if I could have any job in the world I would be a nurse. I like helping and caring for people. I like giving people the love and attention they need. So many people are dealing with things that they don’t talk about. And that’s what takes them into depression mode. I’ve always been the type of person who wanted to look after people, and make sure everyone was cared for.
What’s stopping me from achieving this goal is that I’m currently on academic probation from college. When I got married, I got distracted and my grades dropped and I lost my financial aid, which I need to afford school. But I believe I can do whatever I put my mind to, I just better be ready to focus. The counselor said I’ll have to go through the process of reapplying and filling out lots of forms to see if I can get financial aid again. Hopefully I’m eligible, because I want to get a college degree.
I’m hoping to take my daughter to Disney World, or Six Flags, or just get out of town. All we know is Jackson.
Before Magnolia Mother’s Trust, if I wasn’t able to cover all my monthly expenses, my grandma would help me out from time to time. But since she retired I want her to enjoy her own money. But the cost of living has been going up and it’s a struggle. I dream about moving out of subsidized housing and buying a house one day. Or even just live in a better, more peaceful environment. Right now rent is my biggest expense.
It feels like the people in power are boosting the cost of everything and it’s making it harder for us to survive, especially when there’s so little help out there. A lot of my family and friends are having to work two or three jobs and beg for help just to make it.
A lot of kids here growing up in the streets are getting killed. We need programs in the community to help these teenagers and young kids. Let them be able to talk to somebody for free who can help them understand that life is challenging for everybody, but they’re gonna be okay. It’s very important to have somebody to talk to instead of feeling like you just have to deal with it on your own.
I was able to pay off my car note last month thanks to the program. Now I’m working on saving and getting out of debt and improving my health and being there for my daughter.
I come from a family who struggled. My mama has three kids and I’m the middle girl. We’ve made our way through life trying to figure out how to overcome our environment, how to make more money, and how to all come together and love each other. Now I make sure I honor and value and take care of everything I have because it’s been a process to get here.
I am so grateful I was selected for the Magnolia Mother’s Trust (MMT). I really need it. I applied last year and wasn’t selected and my homegirl said, “Just keep the faith.” I prayed and prayed about it, and when I found out I was selected, I felt so thankful and blessed. I was able to pay off my car note last month thanks to the program. Now I’m working on saving and getting out of debt and improving my health and being there for my daughter.
MMT is going to allow me to do things I wasn’t able to do before. I’m hoping to take my daughter to Disney World, or Six Flags, or just get out of town. All we know is Jackson. We’ve only been out of town one time to go to Texas.
Right now I’m finding joy in reading my Bible every day, or in taking a walk if I’m not in the gym. In finding something to do that keeps me positive and motivated. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety so I’ve been doing activities lately that keep me at ease, like writing or reading, or doing something to educate my child, or painting her nails and watching TV together. I’m still trying to become better and succeed. I want my daughter to have the life I didn’t have.
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.