Op-Ed: Yes, Minority Moms Have Been Hit Hard By Government Shutdowns - But It's Not Because of Racism

Brittany M. Hughes | December 28, 2020
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USA Today on Monday ran an article that caught my eye.

It was a report meant to reveal shocking new information – or at least, so it seemed. It detailed how Black and Hispanic moms are suffering from unemployment rate far greater than white moms due to the COVID pandemic, with many of them forced to give up their jobs and stay home with their children, largely due to school shutdowns coupled with a lack of childcare.

The report explains that “Since March, Black and Latina moms have stopped working, either voluntarily or due to layoffs, at higher rates than white moms. Many are single moms who need childcare but can’t access it during the pandemic.”

The article then goes on to state, as though it were more than a common sense fact, that, “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, single moms had higher rates of unemployment than their childless counterparts in the second and third quarters of 2020.”

Which, if one were to expend even the minimal amount of brainpower to think it through, only makes sense, and hardly requires a 1,000-word exposé. A single parent whose young children are suddenly forced to remain at home during typical school hours is naturally at a higher risk of having to quit her job, or being laid off due to her inability to work outside the home. On top of that, single moms are more likely to have service jobs like waitressing, house cleaning, and personal care aides - all sectors that have been hit hardest by government shutdowns and social distancing mandates.

And when broken down by race, minority women are statistically more likely to find themselves parenting children alone, and in exactly this situation. In the United States, 62 percent of Black children are growing up in single-parent households, almost exclusively with a mother and no father. Among Hispanics, it’s 42 percent.

By comparison, only 24 percent of white children – far too many, yet statistically fewer – live with only one parent. Among Asian Americans, it’s only 15 percent.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to understand that when an outside influencer – a pandemic, for instance – forces children to remain out of school for any length of time, dual-parent households will fare better, and for any one of a host of reasons. If one working parent is forced to stay home, the other can continue to provide income. If both parents remain at work, it's more likely they'll be able to afford child care with two income streams than a single mother relying on one. Two parents working in tandem from home have a greater ability to trade off the burdens of working and parenting. While not every two-parent household has found it easy to navigate the one-two punch of school shutdowns and workplace upheavals, a family backed by two adults has an understandably better chance of weathering the economic impact of a national disaster over a family relying solely on one breadwinner who’s also attempting to parent - and homeschool - full-time.

Of course, there are other factors that have determined who’s been hardest hit by this pandemic and the government’s response to it – and it hasn’t only been Black and Hispanic women. Workers spanning all ages and races across the restaurant and service industries have been devastated by endless government-mandated shutdowns. Business owners who’d been financially successful before COVID have been left in ruins. Those with savings fared better than those living paycheck to paycheck. Some families with two working parents could afford to shift to one income, while others could not. Some faced double layoffs, and others have kept both their jobs or found other work. The impacts have spanned the gamut.

But when it comes to studying the specific impact on single parents and why they seem to have been disproportionately affected by school shutdowns, the structure of the family is a far more determining factor than race, employer bias, geography, or even income level. And the fact that so many minority women are facing this crisis alone speaks far more to the accepted family structure in minority communities than it does to alleged societal racism or a structural economic bias against Black and brown Americans. If our society had any brains about it at all, we’d be focusing on the larger pre-existing problem of why so many minority children are growing up without dads in the first place, why so many minority mothers are having to shoulder the burden of raising – and affording – children on their own, and how a single-parent setup often creates extreme economic and social vulnerability for mothers and their children, with or without an added pandemic.

But to grapple with this issue would be to demand two things: personal responsibility from able-bodied adults, and a return to valuing the nuclear family – a societal building block that left-wing groups like Black Lives Matter have openly rejected as a foundational part of their platform, dubbing it a “racist” structure built on white values.

Meanwhile, Black and brown mothers must now figure out how to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads with no income, left to struggle on their own by the very progressive ideology that purports to defend them.

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