Thursday, March 18, 2010

Colorlines Video: The Single Mother of Color and Economic Recovery

Continuing in a somewhat similar vein...

How has the economy affected our nation's poorest, particularly single mothers of color?

Jobless rate in the U.S. right now: 10%
For single mothers: 13%
For blacks: 15%
(no statistic for black single mothers specifically, but we can guess it's not good)

This Colorlines video follows Tisha, a 29-year-old black woman and single mother of three hovering over poverty. She's an experienced healthcare worker who has struggled not only to find a job but to make life work within the welfare system.

Examples of barriers to Tisha's success, several of which are quite common:
1. The assistance program required her to go to daily workshops. Pretty tough when you've got young kids at home to care for.
2. She was in a domestic violence situation, which added to her struggle to fulfill program requirements. (This is more common than you think--women in poverty experience the highest rates of domestic violence.)
3. After leaving that situation and moving to her mother's, they discovered there was old lead paint in her house and--SURPRISE!--suddenly the authorities were threatening to take away her child if she didn't move out right away. (Ah, the child welfare system--hurry up and get those black kids out of there and into foster care! Sorry. Rant.)

This Colorlines program blames Tisha's distressing situation on the fact that the "Federal Safety Net" was cut under Reagan, who endorsed the cut by planting in the American imagination the myth of the black "welfare queen." I hesitate to say that government funding for social programs regulated by the government are the answer (because look how beautifully the government has served the single mother of color so far), but this video definitely had me thinking there must be a better solution than what we've got now. What I like is their other suggestion: for communities of color, follow the example of San Francisco and Oakland, CA: start community sustainability and greening projects and employ local people to do the work. Again, government funded. But if heavy regulations aren't attached, maybe these individual city projects would actually work? Reminds me again of Van Jones--The Green Collar Economy.

Watch the video below, or go here.

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