The Debate Over Universal Childcare: What Is Really Going On?

Have you noticed that we keep talking about universal childcare in the United States, but, with the exception of a handful of states and cities, it never happens? Nearly all of the current Democratic candidates for president are promising it, but this has happened before without legislation ever passing at the federal level. We know that the United States is one of the few Western industrialized nations that does not provide subsidized childcare for working parents. Why not?

Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times writes that the reasons are not economic. She notes that substantial research shows that children and parents benefit from access to affordable or free day care:

  • Women being in the workforce helps the economy and is economically beneficial for families.
  • High quality, affordable, easy-to-find childcare and longer school days result in higher levels of employment for women. In Washington, DC, public (free) prekindergarten increased labor participation of women with young children by 10 percent.
  • The economic benefits of good, affordable childcare for low-income children extends for generations, and spending on it more than pays for itself.

Miller notes, though, that conflicting beliefs in US society create resistance to universal childcare. She describes some examples of the conflicts:

  • Both parents work in two-thirds of American families: 93 percent of fathers and 72 percent of mothers with children at home are in the labor force. Yet one-third of Democrats surveyed by the Pew Research Center say that one parent staying at home is ideal. In another study, nearly half of Americans said one parent should stay home. These statistics conflict with the reality of the lives of Americans.
  • A moral question has resurfaced about whether mothers should work at all. Tucker Carlson of Fox News states, “It is more virtuous [for mothers . . .] to raise your own kids”; in other words, the proper place for mothers is at home with their children.
  • However, poor women, especially black women, have always been expected to work from the time of enslavement to the present, and are denied childcare support or required to work for it when support does exist.
  • Research shows that when subsidized childcare and education are available, the participation of women in the labor force expands, showing that women want and need to work. When childcare costs increase, mothers (more so than fathers) drop out of the workforce. Researchers at the Universities of North Carolina and Maryland note that “you’re boxing women out of the labor market” with the high cost of childcare.

As described by Miller, most women and men who are parents of young children work. Yet Christina Caron of the New York Times notes that the lack of affordable childcare creates a significant financial stress for families. A study by NYT Parenting, based on data collected by YouGov, an international polling and market research firm, found these worrying statistics:

  • Almost 60 percent of parents around the country with children enrolled in preschool or day care reported that the costs created a significant financial strain.
  • Some families had to go into debt to pay childcare expenses.
  • Half of Americans live in places with no licensed childcare providers or very limited slots available.

The moral ambivalence in the United States about whether mothers belong in the home rather than in the workforce is still actively blocking progress on achieving universal childcare. Miller notes that “Americans are more likely to believe in gender equality in work and politics than in the home”—but we can’t have one without the other. It’s time to move on from the moral ambivalence embedded in our culture about mothers working.

 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

New Lawsuit for Parental Leave: Forcing Change

In a recent article, I wrote about class-action settlements won by fathers against a handful of large companies that have brought about change. While only a minority of companies offer paid parental leave, a new federal lawsuit filed against Jones Day, one of the nation’s largest law firms, promises more change. This new lawsuit, filed by a couple previously employed at Jones Day, charges discrimination against fathers in parental leave policies, along with other gender-based discrimination. Noam Scheiber of the New York Times writes that this lawsuit joins another suit filed against Jones Day earlier this year by six female lawyers for gender and pregnancy discrimination. Scheiber explains all the charges in the complaint filed by the couple Julia Sheketoff and Mark C. Savignac:

  • The firm unlawfully denied Savignac the full leave he was entitled to.
  • The firm’s policy gives biological mothers eighteen weeks of leave but gives fathers only ten weeks. The plaintiffs submit that this policy “enables [fathers] to prioritize their careers over childcare.” They go on to state that this policy “reflects and reinforces archaic gender roles and sex-based stereotypes.”
  • The firm unlawfully fired Savignac when he complained about the unfair policy. He was, in fact, on approved parental leave when the firm emailed to say he was fired.
  • The couple also contends that the firm paid Sheketoff less than a man because of her gender. She was given a smaller raise in 2017 after a male partner scolded her in her evaluation for being insufficiently deferential to him. This same partner did not scold male associates who failed to defer to him.

The class-action suit filed by the six female lawyers in the firm charges that women who give birth face obstacles to advancement in the firm, and those who have a second child are often fired within a few months of returning to work.

We have made some progress in the United States with offering working women paid parental leave. Some men also have paid leave but usually very little. But clearly, many organizations are still operating in the dark ages of gender discrimination. And most workers do not have access to any paid parental leave at all. We have a long way to go. Let’s hope that the lawsuits keep coming to force much-needed change.

 

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Women and Cross-Generational Friendship

While in my forties, I met a woman, Becky, in her eighties who, like me, had chosen not to have children. I was worried that I would feel lonely in my old age and regret my decision. When I met Becky, I asked her if, now that she was in her eighties, she felt lonely and regretted her decision not to have children. She replied, “I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I’m old, but I’m not lonely yet. The secret is to have younger friends!” That was the most liberating perspective I had ever heard, and I stopped worrying. I have been cultivating, nourishing, and cherishing my friendships with younger women ever since I met Becky, and my life has been enriched in so many ways.

Not surprisingly, I was delighted to read recently of two types of intentional cross-generational groupings gaining momentum in the United States. The first type is intentional cross-generational gatherings in person and online for personal and professional support. The second type is a movement that brings socially active progressive millennials and social activist Roman Catholic nuns together to learn from and nourish each other.

Abby Ellin, writing for the New York Times, reports that intergenerational women’s groups are forming both in-person and online to “share stores, concerns and triumphs” across generations. Meetings take place online and in cities across the country, convened by individuals who recognize a need for personal and professional friendship and support among women. Participants can range from twenty-nine to ninety-three years of age in these meetings, and the topics vary widely:

  • Money issues
  • Blended families
  • Widowhood
  • Invisibility after fifty
  • Problems between mothers and daughters
  • Professional advancements and double binds in the workplace
  • Living and coping in times of political uncertainty
  • Understanding our aging bodies (age thirty to ninety)

The author notes that women of all ages can find it difficult to make new friends as adults. The demands of work and family life can leave women feeling socially isolated. She also notes that millennials and boomers who work together often tend to stick with their same-age cohorts outside of the office. That’s why the purpose of these intergenerational groups is not only to exchange information but to create settings where people can discover common interests and cross-generational friendships can form. These friendships are enriching when wisdom and energy are shared in both directions (younger to older and vice versa). Here is a sample of some of these gatherings:

  • Honey Good and Moxie!—informal gatherings in Palm Springs and Chicago and other cities around the country, convened by Ms. Honey Good
  • Spaghetti Project—a monthly, work-related gathering in Manhattan created by Erica Keswin
  • Generation Women—a monthly reading series in New York and Sidney, Australia, where women from multiple generations read short stories and essays together

The second type of intergenerational group that recently emerged, called Nuns and Nones, is described by Nellie Bowles in the New York Times. The pilot project, launched by a group of millennials (who are the least religious group of people in America), came about when a group of young social activists, who also describe themselves as spiritual but not religious (Nones), went looking for intentional communities of people living radical activist lives with total devotion to their causes. During their search, one of the millennials, a thirty-two-year-old man named Adam Horowitz, realized that the people already living this way are nuns. A six-month pilot project was launched by Horowitz and a group of progressive millennials with the Catholic Sisters of Mercy in Burlington, California. Bowles quotes one of the Nones, Sarah Jane Bradley, as explaining, “These are radical, badass women who have lived lives devoted to social justice. And we can learn from them.” The group moved into the convent for six months for the pilot project, and Nuns and Nones is now running groups in a dozen cities. In each group, sisters and millennials meet regularly and sometimes live together. Each group benefits in some of the following ways:

  • The young people are learning old wisdom traditions that can feed change.
  • The sisters find themselves called back again to a larger vision through discussions with millennials.
  • The young people learn to avoid burnout by studying the sisters who have made social change a lifestyle.
  • The nuns, whose numbers have been declining steadily since the 1960s, get help with holding on to their property by moving young people into convents.
  • The young people get low-income housing in exchange for helping take care of the sisters.

These intergenerational relationships are good for everyone. Just ask Becky!

 

Photo courtesy of Fortune Live Media (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Tips for Creating Equitable Workplaces from the New Rules Summit

On June 12 and 13, 2019, the New York Times sponsored the New Rules Summit on women and leadership. Here are some of the tips for how to create an equitable workplace generated during the summit by participants and reported by the New York Times:

  1. Encourage men to be allies—Companies need to build cultures that bring white men into the conversation about diversity and inclusion. Men should become partners in the conversation about inclusion, and the reward system should incentivize behavior change. “What gets measured gets done,” noted Michael Chamberlain of Catalyst.
  2. Create immersion experiences—By asking men to walk a mile in women’s shoes, men can begin to understand the challenges women face. For example, have men take only 80 percent of their salaries for six months and donate the other 20 percent to women’s advocacy organizations. Another example of an immersion experience is for teams to identify one man whose ideas will be ignored or talked over for three meetings. Then have the team members create agreements for how they will engage in ensuring all team members are heard and included. As noted by Damien Hooper-Campbell, “Policies alone will only get us so far.”
  3. Listen to both women and men—Ask men and women what benefits they want from their employers. Here are some of the ones mentioned at the New Rules Summit:
  4. Make paid family leave truly universal and available for employees at all levels.
  5. Subsidize childcare and let parents choose what works best for them: a stipend, access to backup childcare memberships, or bulk discounts on care.
  6. Make sure parental leave does not set off a financial penalty in hidden costs like lost bonuses, stock vestings, billable hours, and commissions.
  7. Close the gap on the “only” experience—Hire more women at every level, not just a few token women. This can be done by setting targets, mandating diverse slates of candidates for promotion, training to better notice biases, and closely scrutinizing the performance review processes. We have written about recent research on the costs of being an “only” in a previous article.
  8. Recognize the double outsider—Dalana Brand, vice president of people experience at Twitter, reminds us that the impact of unconscious bias is more pronounced for women of color than for white women. Diversity efforts should not be “one size fits all,” and leaders need training to understand how to be a better ally to women of color and others.
  9. Women need to build strategic networks differently—Daisy Auger-Dominguez, president and founder of Auger-Dominguez Ventures, points out that men’s networking practices don’t work for women. She advises that women should build an intentional and diverse network of other women, and develop deep connections to each other so they can effectively advocate for and support each other.
  10. Create an anti-harassment culture—Marianne Cooper, a sociologist at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, notes that “sexual harassment is about the abuse of power, it’s not about sexual desire.” To prevent sexual harassment, organizations need to create cultures where people feel empowered to come forward to report it and are rewarded for doing the right thing. Those accused of sexual harassment need to be consistently held accountable.

What types of strategies are working in your organization to create more inclusive cultures?

 

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

The Issue of Busing in the Democratic Debates

I don’t know about you, but I have been confused about Kamala Harris’s accusation on the debate stage during the first Democratic debate in June that Joe Biden did not support busing during the 1970s and 1980s. I heard Harris accused in the media after the debate of distorting the facts to bolster her political campaign. I also heard Biden deny repeatedly that he had been cozy with Southern segregationists and had not supported busing. He proclaimed over and over again that he had supported civil rights during that period. But something didn’t seem to add up. I am always suspicious about attempts to discredit powerful women. I wondered if Harris was getting the “how dare a woman show ambition and strength” treatment. And, of course, I wondered how race was playing into this whole dynamic. How could it not? As a black woman, was Harris experiencing a double whammy of backlash based on both race and gender?

For all these reasons, I found it very helpful and clarifying to read an article by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times. Hannah-Jones explains that Harris was right and provides helpful history and perspective. For example, Hannah-Jones identifies and explores the following race-neutral myths that have become the story we tell to allow people to pretend that the opposition to school desegregation was about riding a bus. Here are some of these myths:

  • The Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education failed to desegregate schools.
  • Busing was a failed strategy.
  • Busing caused “white flight” in cities.
  • White opposition to busing was not about race but maintaining neighborhood schools.
  • Northern whites thought Brown v. Board of Education applied to only Southern states.

Here are the facts about what really happened, according to Hannah-Jones:

  • Busing became a race-neutral code word for court-ordered school desegregation. School busing has been around since 1920, but only when it became a tool for integration did it become reviled. White communities blamed the act of busing for their resistance to integration, which allowed them to deny the role of racism in their protests.
  • Biden worked with Southern senators to pass a bill to ban busing for integration as part of the systematic anti-integration campaign known as Massive Resistance, waged by the white South against the Supreme Court decision.
  • The federal government got involved in enforcement only when local and state governments openly rebelled against the Supreme Court and refused to take any steps toward desegregation.
  • Busing became a vehicle of integration because, due to residential policies resulting in segregation, black and white people did not live in the same neighborhoods.
  • Biden did originally support busing for integration in 1972 but then flipped his position in 1975 and teamed up with ardent segregationists.
  • Politicians and the media blamed white flight from cities on busing, but studies show that cities with large black populations suffered from white flight whether they instituted busing or not.
  • When Northern states realized that Brown v. Board of Education also applied to them, support for Brown’s integration mandate plummeted.

The truth about integration is not the story we usually hear:

  • Busing as a tool of desegregation was very successful in the South. The South went from the most segregated region of the country for black children to the most integrated—which is still true today.
  • School desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children.
  • Research by Rucker C. Johnson of the University of California, Berkeley, found black children in integrated schools were more likely to graduate from high school, get out of poverty, earn more as adults, not go to jail, and actually live longer.
  • Data from the Education Department shows that still today, the whiter the school, the more resources it has.

In conclusion, busing did not fail and Harris was right. We need to clear away the myths and propaganda we have been fed to see the truth so that we can see the candidates clearly.

 

Photo courtesy of Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office (CC BY 2.0)

Women Still Score Higher in Leadership—New Research from HBR

Groundbreaking research by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of the Zenger/Folkman leadership consultancy reported in 2012 found that women were perceived to be stronger leaders than men in twelve out of sixteen leadership competencies. Zenger and Folkman’s original research was conducted using 360-degree feedback reviews for 7,280 leaders in public, private, government, commercial, domestic, and international organizations. They have now updated this study with striking results—women are now rated more highly than men on 360-degree feedback reviews on seventeen out of nineteen leadership capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones.

The authors note that while for the first time in history several women are running for president of the United States in a major political party, the voters and TV pundits are still asking whether people will vote for a woman for the nation’s highest office. Furthermore, the authors acknowledge that the percentage of women in senior leadership roles in business has remained the same since the original study was done—4.9 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 2 percent of S&P 500 CEOs are women. In addition, these numbers have steadily declined globally.

Despite the fact that women consistently prove themselves to be—and are perceived to be—capable leaders, why do so few women hold senior leadership roles? Zenger and Folkman suggest that many factors probably contribute to the small number of women in senior positions, including in the elected role of president of the United States:

  • For centuries, societies have held onto broad, cultural biases against women being leaders.
  • Lots of research shows that unconscious bias plays a big role in hiring and promotion decisions.
  • Research shows women often don’t apply for jobs unless they feel 100 percent qualified, while men are more likely to assume they can learn what they are missing on the job.

Zenger and Folkman report that their updated study shows that women are perceived by their managers—especially male managers—to be more effective leaders at every hierarchical level and in virtually every functional area, including IT, operations, and legal. Women are rated higher in seventeen out of nineteen capabilities with their highest ratings in the following areas:

  • Taking initiative
  • Acting with resilience
  • Practicing self-development
  • Driving for results
  • Displaying high integrity

In conclusion, the authors state that research shows women make highly competent leaders. What’s holding them back is a lack of opportunity driven by old stereotypes and unconscious bias. We have six women who have declared themselves to be 100 percent confident that they can lead our country. Wouldn’t you like your next president to excel in the competencies above? We need to challenge ourselves to push through old stereotypes to hire, promote, and elect women as leaders. Women are more than up to the task of leading.

 

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Paid Parental Leave for Both Parents: New Research on the Benefits

In a recent conversation, my dear niece, who is about to give birth to her second child, expressed some concern about how she is going to cope once the new baby is born. She has just started a new job as a contract worker and, consequently, is not eligible for paid leave. Her husband is a salaried employee in a new job but has not been employed long enough by his company to be eligible for paid family leave. They must both take leave without pay to care for the new baby, and they cannot afford to go without any income for very long. In addition, because she just started this new job and is a contract worker, she feels she will risk losing her job if she takes leave for more than a short time. And did I mention the high cost of day care for their two-year-old? No wonder she feels worried.

My niece’s situation is a common one for working parents and by itself makes the case for the need for extended parental leave for both parents. New research, however, adds to our understanding of the need for extended parental leave: a new mother’s health and the health of her new baby may depend on the father or other parent being available on a flexible basis to care for both the mother and baby. Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times reports on a new study by researchers Maya Rossin-Slater and Petra Persson, economists at Stanford. Miller notes, “The researchers . . . studied the effects of a 2012 Swedish law that allows fathers to take up to 30 days, as needed, in the year after a birth, while the mother is still on leave.” Miller explains that in the first couple of months after giving birth, often referred to as the fourth trimester, mothers are particularly vulnerable for multiple reasons:

  • Physical and mental recovery from pregnancy and delivery
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Exhaustion from round-the-clock care giving and possibly breast-feeding
  • Potential need to work to earn a living wage during this vulnerable period

The researchers found several positive effects when Sweden changed its law to allow fathers or other parents to take up to thirty paid days on a flexible basis:

  • A 26 percent drop in antianxiety prescriptions
  • A 14 percent reduction in hospitalizations or visits to specialists
  • An 11 percent decrease in antibiotic prescriptions

The key to these changes, according to the researchers, was that “the policy allowed fathers [or other parents] to take intermittent, unplanned days of paid leave” when the mother needed it to sleep, seek preventive care, or get antibiotics early in an infection. In fact, the typical father in Sweden took only an extra couple of days of time off, but his flexibility when it mattered most had a significantly positive impact on the physical and mental health of the mother.

Miller points out that the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have mandated paid leave. Shamefully, this leads to some alarming statistics:

  • American maternal mortality—which includes childbirth-related deaths in the year after a birth—has increased 50 percent in a generation.
  • African American infant and maternal mortality is especially high due to the added stress of dealing with racism.
  • Other developed countries have much lower maternal mortality.
  • Sweden offers sixteen months of paid parental leave for parents to divide between them. In the United States, only seven states offer paid leave for between four and twelve weeks but often only for the mother.

We are actually moving backward in the United States. The United States Department of Labor is reviewing the Family and Medical Leave Act with a goal of reducing “the burden on employers” of being required to offer even unpaid leave. We can do better than this, but we will have to put pressure on our lawmakers at both the state and federal levels to pass laws requiring flexible paid leave for both parents for reasonable periods of time—more than four weeks and probably more than twelve weeks. Research such as this new study reported by Miller can go a long way to help make the case. We must all call and write our legislators and vote for candidates that support paid leave.

 

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More Young Single Mothers in the Workforce

In a surprising change, the number of young single mothers in the workforce has been steadily climbing since 2015. Claire Cain Miller and Ernie Tedeschi, writing for the New York Times, report that the increase is being led by single mothers without college degrees, according to an analysis by the New York Times of Current Population Survey data. These single mothers face many barriers to employment, such as the challenge of finding affordable childcare and the lack of predictable work schedules. The authors note that many safety net programs have been shredded and work requirements have increased. The single mothers tend to be poorer and less educated than other working mothers, and no one has developed new federal policies to help them, so what factors account for this increase in their participation?

One obvious answer is that with a shredded safety net, they have to work. The authors note other factors probably at play:

  • Local state and city policy changes like paid leave, sick leave, and minimum wage increases have made it more feasible for single mothers to work and afford childcare. In fact, areas that raised the minimum wage saw the largest rise in the rate of single mothers who work.
  • The rate of participation in the workforce by young single mothers increased four percentage points more in states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Five states and the District of Columbia enacted or expanded paid family leave since early 2016.
  • Eight states and thirteen cities enacted or expanded paid sick leave. Some companies have also extended paid leave to hourly workers.
  • State spending on public pre-K has significantly increased since 2015, and many cities have begun offering public pre-K. Since the District of Columbia instituted public pre-K, the rate of single mothers in the workforce has increased four percentage points more than the increase for married mothers.
  • The tight labor market may mean that some employers have made an effort to offer more predictable work schedules.
  • The gig economy, such as driving for Uber, also offers opportunities for single mothers to work with a flexible schedule.

No one factor seems to account for the increase of single mothers in the workforce but rather a patchwork of policies. Yet these single moms remain vulnerable to the whims of employers and the winds of economic change. We need federal policies that ensure living wages, paid leave, and subsidized childcare so parents can provide a healthy start for their children.

 

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Bold New Proposal to Close the Gender Pay Gap

As the 2020 presidential contest heats up, exciting proposals to address our nation’s problems are being offered by individual candidates. Astead W. Herndon of the New York Times reports that Senator Kamala Harris of California recently announced a proposal to close the gender pay gap. Harris’s proposal requires larger companies with one hundred or more employees to certify every two years that women and men are paid equally. While similar laws are being passed on the state level, this proposal would combat the problem on the federal level and put teeth into enforcement not always available on the state level. Harris’s plan would fine companies that do not meet pay certification standards, which is 1 percent of their profits for every 1 percent difference in pay between women and men.

Herndon notes that previous federal legislation required employees to report or sue their employer if pay discrepancies existed—but salary information is generally kept secret by employees, and employees struggle to find out whether they are caught up in a gender pay gap. In a previous article, we wrote about a case where employees at Google had to gather pay data voluntarily from colleagues. When they found a gender pay gap, they published their spreadsheet to put pressure on their company to take action to eliminate the pay gap. Harris’s proposal will take the burden off of employees and create transparency and fairness.

Laura M. Holson of the New York Times writes that the myths surrounding secrecy about sharing salary information justify secrecy as protecting individual privacy. In fact, Holson notes, secrecy benefits companies that save money if employees underestimate their value in salary negotiations. She explains, “Managers want to keep salaries down and pay people less. It is easier if they control the information.”

But secrecy is costing women a lot. Holson cites federal statistics that find “a woman working a full-time job earns 80.7 cents for every dollar a man makes.” Herndon notes that this gap adds up to more than $400,000 in missed wages over the course of a woman’s career. She goes on to point out that the numbers are even worse for women who are racial minorities—about $1 million in missed wages over a career, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.

Holson suggests that pay standards should be set and adhered to if we are to have fair and equitable systems. Herndon cited Senator Harris as saying, “For too long, we’ve put the burden entirely on workers to hold corporations accountable for pay discrimination through costly lawsuits. . . . We’ve let corporations hide their wage gaps, but forced women to stand up in court just to get the pay they’ve earned.”

Let’s support a solution at the federal level for this persistent problem.

 

 

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Black Women Lead the Way to Change: Four Strategies That Work

Black feminists in Chicago have been breaking ground as leaders and we can all learn from their strategies and successes. Salamishah Tillet, writing for the New York Times, reports on some of their recent accomplishments:

  • Lori Lightfoot became the first black woman mayor of Chicago in 2019.
  • In 2016, Kim Foxx, a black woman, became the city’s top prosecutor.
  • In May 2015, black feminist activists pushed Chicago to become the first city to award reparations to people who survived police torture in the 1970s and ’80s.
  • Rahm Emanuel, the previous mayor, decided not to seek a third term as mayor after black women organized a citywide campaign against him.
  • Thanks to black feminist activists, Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to approve a path to a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Tillet highlights a four-point model for change used by the black women in Chicago that can be a guide to change for the rest of us:

  1. Blend activism and the academy—Organizers and professors at many universities in Illinois work together to ensure that community activists and young black people work together and listen to each other. Young black people who feel engaged and empowered affect change. Their engagement can make the difference in elections and policy changes.
  2. Work across generations—Older feminists encourage young activists to be at the forefront and utilize their expertise, while older feminist activists provide guidance from the sidelines.
  3. Share power—The black feminists of Chicago encourage many local leaders to emerge rather than allow a single charismatic figure like Louis Farrakhan or Jesse Jackson to set an agenda. People show up for each other’s campaigns rather than align with only one candidate. People show up for each other’s issues as well.
  4. Work on several issues at once—Collaboration that brings focus to the intersection of issues such as low wages, police violence, and the recent murders of black women and girls is a critical strategy. For example, in 2015 after Black Lives Matter of Chicago organized a rally outside of a McDonald’s to stand with food workers striking for a $15 minimum wage, they all marched to a nearby police department to demand the firing of a police officer who shot an unarmed bystander. This last strategy has always been a hallmark of black feminism—a focus on the intersection of sexism, racism, classism, and other forms of oppression.

Potential presidential candidates have a lot of good reasons to court the support and votes of black feminist activists, whose proven track record of successfully organizing for change is formidable.

 

Photo courtesy of Johnny Silvercloud (CC BY-SA 2.0)