The pandemic has caused millions of men and women to lose their jobs, but a large subset of the population not returning to the American workforce are women. In a tweet shared in September, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris stated that the lack of affordable and quality childcare in our nation inhibits women from returning to work. And the clap back on Twitter was real. Responses to MVP Harris's tweet varied with multiple opinions from both men and women.
Millions of women have dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic. It's a national emergency.
We need to invest in quality, affordable child care to help get working mothers back to work and set our economy up for sustainable, long-term growth.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 16, 2021
Twitter followers pleaded with Madam Vice President Harris to introduce maternity leave or to provide women with the support they need to make their own decisions, whether that is choosing to be a stay-at-home mother or to work. Some suggested for our government to model our healthcare system after our foreign counterparts which allows one parent to stay at home and one parent to work.
Other responses stated the solution is to invest in livable wages for the childcare workforce or implement a mask mandate in schools so parents can feel safe sending their children to school. In the end, Twitter agreed that the factors that contribute to women not returning to the workforce are not entirely due to our poor childcare system alone.
How Childcare Affects Working Black Mothers
Yahoo News reports before the pandemic, Black mothers struggled to access affordable childcare and had lower workplace flexibility. The cost of childcare has increased pressure on Black mothers who were juggling work and childcare responsibilities.
According to the National Women's Law Center, Black women over the age of 20 have faced the largest drop in employment since the start of the pandemic and have an unemployment rate of 7.6% as of July 2021. Black women also experienced more job losses since July 2021, while women overall gained jobs.
According to CNBC, about 3 million women have left the workforce since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. And in September, 300,000 women left the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report. News outlets report that getting women back into the workforce is a key factor in sustaining the U.S. economy. The industries that suffered the most job losses are state and local government, and private education. Combined, this is a total of 676,000 jobs lost before the pandemic.
Not only is childcare expensive, but childcare industries are also suffering a shortage of workers as many are taking jobs with higher pay. U.S. News states the childcare business has operated in a broken market. Low wages for workers and high costs for consumers. Coupled with the pandemic, the lack of affordable childcare limits jobs people can accept and harder for many to climb the corporate ladder.
Since the pandemic, 9% of licensed childcare programs have permanently closed. Between December 2019 and March 2021, roughly 16,000 centers and in-home daycares in 37 states no longer exist. With that said, many women are opting to stay home with their children and accept lower-paying wages rather than spend their entire paycheck on increased daycare tuition.
The Great Resignation
Many women, regardless of color and age are carving their own path. It's not just about the lack of childcare, it's about the quality of life for all women. Single, married, kids, or no kids. We straight up told Uncle Sam, "NO. I am not doing this anymore." And honestly, America needs to catch up to our neighboring countries in achieving a desired work-life balance.
Even though remote work is readily available, the way our workforce is structured and systemized just ain't it. We are still pouring the majority of our time into a job title and not truly living.
In an article by CBS News, the number of job transitions for women has surged to 54% in 2021 compared to a year ago. The pandemic allowed many of us to reassess not just our careers, but our happiness and well-being. We took a moment to sit with the fact that we were burnt out. With infinite time on our hands, we had to realize what is important to us. We had to ask ourselves if our current jobs and salaries are worth the sacrifice. And for many women, the most important thing to us is freedom, time, and flexibility.
Women have begun to bet on themselves and take risks. And why wouldn't we take the risk? Women are resilient. We tend to always land on our feet. It's a movement, not a crisis. We are living authentically, flourishing in our purpose, thriving in our element, and securing the bag. Since the pandemic, women have quit their corporate jobs to pursue their true passion or entrepreneurship.
According to a study by Northwestern Mutual and OnePoll, 10% of Americans have quit their job to pursue their dreams. The study also revealed 50% of women are willing to explore making a bold move like this compared to men at 44%.
Women have fought so hard throughout history for equal rights, status, and pay. Now, there is a call to action to use this newfound power to fix something we didn't break or mismanage? It's not the responsibility of a specific gender, women, to fix this economy. The solution starts with realizing how much our society has changed as a whole, the direction women are moving in, and building a structure and/or system to accommodate those changes. And the reality is, we are moving far away from traditional jobs or careers more and more. I will say the solution is complex and it always will be. When it comes to policy and programs, it's difficult to know where to start without adversely affecting another group of people, budget, economy, and/or industry.
While the majority of people leaving the U.S. workforce are women, it is not without cause. I know because I was one of them. As we entered the pandemic and we navigated a mandated quarantine, I too was faced with the decision of whether or not I was going to reenter the workforce. Once you have experienced the level of freedom and flexibility that most people dream of, it's a hard thing to walk away from let alone give up. You'll do almost anything to protect this level of peace. Once you realize your full potential and that you have the power to create the life you want to live, the possibilities are endless. I mean, we have women moving overseas and converting vans into living spaces now.
For me, the writing was on the wall. I decided I wanted to choose how I show up in the workforce. It was my choice to make regardless of tradition, conditional beliefs, cultural norms, and social standards. I refused to blindly continue to buy into companies that were solely concerned with my performance or my level of profitability. And like many of my sisters, I chose myself. I always will. Now here I am, a published writer, an independent consultant, and a small business owner.
I have to say, what a time to be alive.
And as we begin to close out 2021 and prepare to enter 2022, there is no better time to be a woman.
Featured image by Getty Images
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Camille is a lover of all things skin, curls, music, justice, and wanderlust; oceans and islands are her thing. Her words inspire and her power is her voice. A California native with Trinidadian roots, she has penned personal essays, interviews, and lifestyle pieces for POPSUGAR, FEMI magazine, and SelfishBabe. Camille is currently creating a life she loves through words, self-love, fitness, travel, and empowerment. You can follow her on Instagram @cam_just_living or @written_by_cam.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
Featured image by James Devaney/GC Images