Our Body Politic

How Racism Is at the Root of White Evangelical Power, Why Child Care Is Also Necessary Infrastructure, and Practical Advice for Securing Your Finances

Episode Notes

Farai Chideya talks with Dr. Anthea Butler, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, about the role white evangelical Christians play in maintaining racist systems in the U.S. Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani shares why she started the Marshall Plan For Moms, to support working mothers trapped by poor child care systems and the Covid-19 financial fallout. Documentary filmmaker Loira Limbal talks about her movie “Through the Night,” which profiles families that run and utilize a 24-hour daycare center. And Farai Chideya welcomes Michelle Singletary, personal finance columnist at the Washington Post and author of the new book, "What To Do With Your Money When Crisis Hits,” and Nathalie Molina Niño, managing director at Known Holdings, to Sippin’ the Political Tea, for a roundtable dedicated to securing your finances post-Covid.

1:03 Dr. Anthea Butler on the political power of white evangelical Christians

12:21 Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani on why moms need better child care infrastructure

18:30 Documentarian Loira Limbal shares her poignant film about a 24-hour daycare center and the families that rely on it

29:03 Sippin’ the Political Tea welcomes Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary and impact investor Nathalie Molina Niño for a practical roundtable about securing your finances post-Covid

Episode Transcription

Farai Chideya: Thanks for listening and sharing Our Body Politic. As you know, we’re only a few months into this show, and we’re shaping it with lots of input from listeners like you. So I want to ask you a small favor: after you listen today, please head over to Apple Podcasts on your phone, tablet, laptop, or anywhere you listen, and leave us a review. We read those because your ideas matter to us. Thanks so much.

This is Our Body Politic. I’m the creator, and host, Farai Chideya.Here on Our Body Politic we’re discussing at length the insurrection of January 6th, what led to it, and its aftermath. My next guest has a unique view of what led to the insurrection, based on her expertise studying a key demographic in U.S. politics: the white evangelical Christian.

Anthea Butler is associate professor of religious studies and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her new book is White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America. Welcome Dr. Butler.

Dr. Anthea Butler:

Thank you. So happy to be here, Farai.

Chideya: So, let's just jump right in there. Tell us about why white evangelicals name Donald Trump, King Cyrus? Who was this biblical figure? What do we need to understand about why former President Trump was likened to him by some people?

Butler: Well, I think one of the things we need to understand about this is that the way that evangelicals and especially white evangelicals think about Donald Trump is that they see him as a savior. And King Cyrus was the savior in Hebrew Bible Old Testament world, of the Israelites when they were going through terrible problems. They didn't think that he was an especially holy king, he was just a powerful king who guarded them. And in the particular case of evangelicals, they see Donald Trump as a person who has guarded their interests, who has protected them, who has provided them with over 200 judges and three Supreme Court judges, who has been against abortion. And they could care less about anything that he's done in his personal life, because that really doesn't matter to them anymore.

Chideya: In your book, you talk about how former President Trump used the phrase "American carnage" during his inauguration, as well as other times. What is the belief that America is on the decline? What is the relevance of that belief to what we're talking about?

Butler: Well, it's really important for evangelicals because they always believe that moral decline means moral decay, it also means it's the end times, maybe Jesus is coming back soon, but they also want to save the nation. It's as though they have two competing things, one is, everything is going to hell in a hand basket, but the other side is, we're the only ones who can fix it. And so, this combination of the two things are very potent and powerful force for them. There's a third piece to it too and the third piece is that they like to put themselves as the persecuted party. And so when you have this mix of persecution, decline, and salvation, you have a very powerful mix for evangelicals to be able to reframe the American framework morally and politically the way that they want to, not the way that things are really actually going.

Chideya: Just really go in for the history of conservatism, race and white evangelical Christianity. There's a history to this, isn't there?

Butler: Yes, there is a history. And I think the history is the really important piece of all of this. And you can't get anywhere without talking about slavery and evangelicals. Evangelicals like to cast themselves as being abolitionists, they're the ones who work with Black people they were missionaries all this. But what we have to understand is that they are the ones who supported slavery. They're the ones who had biblical things like the curse of Cain and the curse of Ham and polygenesis, all these things I talk about in my book. But they're also the ones who split up denominations over slavery. So we're talking about the splits between a Baptist or the Presbyterians or the Methodist all over the issue of slavery. And when the Civil War is over and they've lost, what do they create? They create the religion of the Lost Cause that is, basically, the sacralization of Confederacy. And so when you see all the flags, you see the sacralization of the white family, all of this, all of these things that evangelicals do today flow out of this 19th century world of slavery reconstruction and redemption. And it becomes very important to understand that the foundational work and foundational political work of evangelicals is based in slavery and their support of it.

Chideya: What are some white evangelicals trying to do about this? I remember, I mean, there's certainly a number of people within denominations who have moral choices to make. And I remember that in 2006, former President Jimmy Carter left the Southern Baptists over social justice issues, essentially. How are people inside these denominations dealing with it?

Butler: Well, I think some are trying to deal with it by leaving. And I think that's really important. So I'm thinking about Jemar Tisby and this campaign that he has, Leave LOUD, and that's evangelicals of color who are walking out of these evangelical churches that have been very racist. I think on the side of white evangelicals, some of them are leaving too, some of the younger ones. And then some are trying to do these kinds of racial reconciliation things. But as I talk about in my book that these racial reconciliations don't really have a lot of weight and they don't carry a lot of power because basically what they end up being are morality plays about what they think should happen as opposed to dealing with the structural issues of racism in their own denominations and churches. So, I may sound a little pessimistic here, but I don't see this as being some kind of great movement in evangelicalism to change because they are just fine being supported by Republicans and the former President Trump.

Chideya: You also argue that we need to pay more attention to the Black church during times of what you call racial division and domestic terrorism. For someone who may not be either an evangelical conservative and someone who's not in a Black church, why should they listen to Black women?

Butler: Well, you should listen to Black women because black women are usually always the ones who tell you what's coming before it gets here. So, that's the number one and that's the biggest thing. And in this particular case, you should be listening to me because a lot of churches for people of African descent have believed this. I will tell an aside story very quickly about Nigerians, and a lot of Nigerians who embrace Donald Trump. And when I was in Nigeria two years ago, I had a Nigerian pastor tell me that Donald Trump was the best thing that ever happened to America and then I should hope that he's going to win again, because basically if that woman, Hillary Clinton, had won, you just have more abortions and the country would be hell in a hand basket. And I asked him, I said, but he called you all a s-hole country. He's like, oh yeah, we're s-hole country, but Donald Trump, he's great, he's a rich man. And so these are the kinds of things that I think we have to talk to Black churches about too, because Black churches bought into these moral codes and don't realize that these moral codes are being used against them to block their votes, to keep them in the same place that they are, to make sure that they don't step out of their place. And I think that is really important for people to understand right now.

Chideya: Here on Our Body Politic, extremism is essentially one of our beats that we cover with great rigor and seriousness. And we've talked about the storming of the US Capitol a lot. You have studied how white evangelicalism helped some of the insurrectionists justify their actions on January 6. How does it all relate?

Butler: It really does relate because part of what white evangelicals really do think about, and this is where I tell people, this is the intersection between evangelicalism and Pentecostal, is that they believe that Democrats are demonic, basically, that a lot of the people who were there were thinking that they were fighting a spiritual war, that they're fighting a spiritual battle. I think it's really important for people to see this as not simply just about races and not simply just about Donald Trump, but about what they think that they're engaged in, which is spiritual battle against principalities and powers. And I think that's a really important part of a lot of what is happening right now. And if you pair that up with QAnon, then you really get a sense that this is far out kinds of beliefs and conspiracy theories and theologies that these people are grasping onto that lead them into this kind of violent behavior and also anti-civic behavior.

Chideya: Yeah. This may be a question you can't answer, but I'm just putting it out there because this is the question that comes to me a lot, is like, how do we, people who consider ourselves acting in the civic interest, deal with other people who claim to be acting in the civic interest, but are trying to take down the federal government essentially? And how do we weave in understanding of these questions of race, of religion that help determine behavior?

Butler: Yeah. I'm going to be, again, pessimistic and say, I'm not sure you can have a conversation with these folks right now, because it seems that at every turn, whether we're talking about Republicans who don't want to do anything and say that they will obstruct everything that happens in this administration, or you have a belief that everybody on the other side is the devil, then it's how do you have a conversation that is a civil conversation? How do you have a conversation where you sit down and talk to people? And it doesn't even have to be around government, let's just talk about health. Right now, evangelicals are the biggest number of people who don't want to get a vaccine because they believe that that's either the mark of the beast, or you're going to shoot me up with a microchip, or this is aborted fetuses, no. They won't listen to anything. And so, it takes a lot of time to even just talk to people about a vaccine that could help save their lives, let alone anything else. And so, I don't know that the prospects are very good right now for a sustained conversation with people who are so far, A, to the right, and B, so far into conspiracy theories, on top of their Christian faith and on top of their Christian nationalism.

Chideya: And so, this is a little bit of a sidetrack, but there was a lot of anxiety or distress in evangelical circles caused by how they perceive Lil Nas X's music video for Montero, Call Me By Your Name. Is this something that's just in the pop culture sphere or does it have lessons for those of us also studying the political sphere?

Butler: It has lessons for you in the political sphere, because basically what you saw there in response to the Lil NAS X is not simply a cultural response, it's also a response to all the things that you see right now in terms of LGBTQI kinds of issues. So if we start to think about all these trans laws that are coming into the states, Lil Nas X is just one more layer for them to push against this kind of thing and to not have people have the freedoms and the legal freedoms that they're supposed to have in this country. So I think it's really important to understand that the moral issues that they espouse, and when you see them go crazy over Lil Nas X videos, that's how they take these things into the public realm and begin to change them through laws and things like this, because of their fears and their beliefs about what should be the proper way to be and what they believe biblically, that is.

Chideya: Well, Dr. Butler, it was so great talking to you and I hope you'll come back someday.

Butler: Certainly, anytime you'd have me.

Chideya: That was Anthea Butler, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of White Evangelical Racism, out now.

Chideya: Child care is unaffordable for many families in the US. During the pandemic, with jobs and schools going remote, and many daycare centers closed because of infection risks, working mothers found themselves in a crisis. Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code and now leads an effort to support working mothers and build up childcare infrastructure in the US, it's called the Marshall Plan for Moms. The plan started when the pandemic revealed the lack of institutional support for childcare in her own life.

Reshma Saujani:

I started 2020 with a newborn baby, running a global nonprofit, and I had a five-year-old. And then COVID-19 happened. And my liver failed. I had acne on my face as if I was 16 years old. And when I looked at my Zoom screen, every mother looked exactly how I felt. And so COVID-19, the pandemic, was devastating for mothers. It didn't create new problems, it just kind of lifted the veil off of the existing problems that we already had, especially for mothers of color. And when you looked and saw what was happening over the past year, 2.3 million women leaving the workforce, three moms being unemployed for every one dad, there wasn't a plan on how we were going to kind of help fix or shorten the economic recovery for women and for mothers. And the Marshall Plan for Moms kind of started as a rallying cry for like, here are a handful of things that we need to do because we need a 360 plan to get mothers back to work because we're in a national crisis.

Chideya: Our colleagues over at The 19th call this the first female recession. Saujani says the numbers are staggering.

Saujani: When we started, COVID-19 51% of the labor force was female. And today it's at levels of where we were in 1989. So we lost 30 years of progress in nine months.

Chideya: And to Saujani, this crisis is directly linked to a lack of affordable child care and child care infrastructure.

Saujani: So if you think about why moms left the workforce, it was, one, the lack of child care. Right? In most households, moms still do almost 86% of the unseen, unpaid labor. And so, when child care facilities shut down and you couldn't invite your grandparents or parents to kind of come and to help support, mothers had no choice but to either quit their job, take the third shift, or to move in with their parents. And the other reason why you've seen so many mothers leave the workforce is many moms found themselves in jobs or in industries that weren't pandemic-proof like healthcare, retail. And a lot of these jobs, they're simply not coming back. And so, we need to fix the structure, we need paid leave, we need affordable child care. We need a federal job retraining program because 70% of low-income households are run by mothers, and often, mothers of color. So when they lose a job, the entire family suffers. And then finally, I think that this is just evidence that we should be thinking about basic income payments to mothers. Every mother I talk to is like, I need cash.

Chideya: With the Marshall Plan for Moms, Saujani is putting pressure on the Biden-Harris administration and members of Congress to support mothers in concrete ways. With the administration's expanded benefits for families with children, part of the recent COVID-19 relief package, those direct cash payments will be a reality. Starting in mid-July and going through the end of this year, the IRS will send monthly direct cash payments per child to 39 million families, that's 88% of all kids in the US.

Saujani: So I think that as we're talking about building America back better, I think we got to build, I say, motherhood back better. So I think that the policy ideas are there. Now, the question is, are we going to get it done? The child care tax credit, I think is an acknowledgement of this lack of the social safety net, which is a good sign, but it's a revolutionary sign. It's something we've never done before in this country.

Chideya: For Saujani, an important part of getting women back to work is also about empowering the next generation. This is where her previous work comes into play.

Saujani: I started Girls Who Code because I was daughter of refugees. And I've had a job since I can remember. My parents came to this country with nothing. Even though they were engineers, my mother sold cosmetics, my father worked as a machinist in the plant. So, we know the power of a job, of a middle-class job, and that being what every immigrant wants to get. So that's why I started Girls Who Code, with the focus of teaching girls, girls of color, how to code, in the hopes that they would learn a skillset that they could either get a great job in or learn how to code so they could change the world, find a solution to COVID, cancer and climate. I went from that to working on the Marshall Plan for Moms is because over the last year, as I saw so many of my students struggling because they were sharing one device between three of them, or they were trying to get wifi in a Burger King parking lot... The other thing I saw them struggle with that we weren't talking about is so many of my students, because their moms had to go to work and couldn't afford child care, they became the child caretaker. And because they were taking care of their younger siblings or their cousins, they weren't getting to log on to school. And because we weren't fixing the childcare crisis and we didn't have a two-generational strategy towards women's empowerment, we were losing so much ground, especially for Black girls in terms of their economic and educational potential. And that's what fired me up to talk about this issue.

Chideya: Reshma Saujani is founder of Girls Who Code, an organizer of the Marshall Plan for Moms. More than three quarters of mothers in the US work outside the home and center-based child care can cost single-parent families over one-third of their household's income. That's what Reshma Saujani is talking about, the gaping need for child care infrastructure. Child care providers need support too. 94% of child care providers are women and half are mothers themselves. 40% are also people of color. My next guest, filmmaker, Loira Limbal, set out to profile the mothers and child care providers at Dee's Tots Childcare, a 24 hour daycare center in New Rochelle, New York. Her documentary from Firelight Media is called Through the Night. Loira Limbal, welcome to Our Body Politic.

Loira Limbal: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Chideya: So before we dive into your documentary, I was thinking about, after my parents divorced, when I was young, at one point, my mom learned that she could make more money on the overnight shift at a hospital doing lab tests than she was making during the day. And so, luckily, my grandparents were able to keep us overnight. But not everyone has a family situation like that. And a lot of what you talk about is what happens to the kids of working moms who have to work through the night. There's so much more to get into, but tell us a little bit about how you came to this story and how you came to decide this was something you wanted to take on.

Limbal: Well, interestingly enough, same. I have a personal story. My mother worked the night shifts while I was growing up. She worked as a home health aid. So she raised four kids in New York City making minimum wage and did not have steady, reliable support. So fast forward, many, many years later, I'm sitting one day reading an article that was shared in an online mothers group that I'm a part of. And it was precisely talking about this child care center that functions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And looking at the fact that in the United States, many people have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, or just that people are working overnight, irregular hours, our conversation about work and when that happens is really outdated and not in sync with the reality. And so, in reading this article, I was immediately brought back to many memories of my childhood and my mother and as a documentary filmmaker, I was like, oh my God, I got to make a film about this.

Chideya: Yeah. I mean, it's amazing. I did pay child care after school sometimes when I was a kid. And just thinking back to Mrs. Rose, who's the woman who kept me, and how she was like a den mother for all these kids from around the neighborhood, you also seem to have found an entry point into someone who is so personally invested in her work, taking care of kids. Tell us who we're going to meet in your film?

Limbal: Through the Night follows a few folks, it follows Deloris Hogan who is known and called, "Nunu," by everyone, the children and the adults alike. Everyone calls her Nunu. 

Deloris Hogan Clip:  I've been doing this for 22 years. We're a husband and a wife team, we've been working together forever.

Limbal: Her husband, Patrick, who co-founded the daycare with her a few decades ago. And then we also follow two mothers whose children she cares for, Marisol Valencia, who is working multiple jobs when we meet her and Shanona Tate, who is a pediatric ER nurse when we meet her in the film.

Chideya: Yeah. So tell us a little bit more about the Hogan's, Nunu and Pop Pop.

Limbal: Yeah. So Deloris was born and spent the first few years of her life in Mississippi. And according to her, she was taking care of kids as early as she could, basically. So she was the seven-year-old that was looking after the three-year-old running around in the backyard. There might've been adults around, but she was this kind of den mother child. And then her family moved up to New York to Westchester County. And she also talked about like when they were living in the projects, her mother would take care of neighborhood children and the children in the building, and she would help her mother take care of these children. So really when you talk about someone's life's work, caring for children truly is Nunu's life work, it is truly her calling and her purpose in life. And so Nunu had people bringing her their children, informally, for many years, until, eventually, they realized, for this to grow, they would need to formalize the operation and go through some of the training and get the licensing from New York State that is required.

Chideya: Now, from what I understand, there was a huge die-off of mom and pop childcare centers during the pandemic. A lot of them went out of business. How is a Nunu's business doing? How is she doing?

Limbal: Yeah. Yeah, something like 60% of home-based childcare centers had to close during the pandemic, because the thing is that childcare in the United States is not supported the way that it should be. And so, we have this kind of patchwork of private entities that provide childcare, but the work is very labor and costs intensive. And so childcare providers themselves typically operate on very thin margins, which means that they don't have the bandwidth to withstand this kind of financial crisis or crisis on so many different levels. And so, yes, many have closed Nunu and Patrick made the decision early on to stay open precisely because so many of their families are essential working families. That's kind of the irony of the film, we made it long before the pandemic, but in this moment, it turns out to be a portrait of the lives of essential workers. Everyone in the film is an essential worker. And so, Nunu said, we can't close, our families need us. But it's been really, really hard. Their financial model has been decimated. So they've gone into their savings, almost depleted all of their savings, their retirement in order to keep the doors open and to keep staff employed. They didn't want to lay anyone off. They were not getting the kind of the PPP loans and all of the things that they were supposed to be getting. They were already functioning as a safety net for working class families before the pandemic. And in this moment where there's so much need in our communities, they are literally on the front lines trying to fill all the holes, fill all the gaps, supporting people that are facing housing insecurity, food insecurity, all the things. And they're tired, they're exhausted, they're frustrated, I think it's safe to say, they're weary.

Chideya: And so, what did you learn? Coming to this with a personal story, meeting all of the people who you taped, and also knowing that now the federal government is at least making an attempt to look at childcare as infrastructure, what do you want to leave us with when we finish watching the film?

Limbal: So, I want to say that, for me, the "us" is Black women, and Latina women, low-income, working class folks, single mothers, it's my mother, it's your mother, I want us to watch the film and maybe be a bit cleansed of all the sort of guilt and the shame that we internalize about the ways in which our mothering doesn't stack up to whatever expectations others might have placed on us or we might have placed on ourselves. To be a mother and to do what we do to be a caregiver is a radical, visionary, amazing act. And I want us to see that. I want us to see ourselves in that way. I want our mothers to see themselves in that way, our aunties, our grandmothers. And also, one of the things that I personally took away from the experience of being with this community over the years was I came away feeling like I am also personally, like Loira Limbal, I am personally worthy of the care and the tenderness that I wish for everyone in my film. There was a moment that kind of there was a click in my mind where I was like, I just wish that Marisol could rest, I just wish that Nunu had some ease, I just wish that Shanona had somebody, just someone caring for her, some tenderness in her life. And there was a moment where I was like, oh, I wish those things for them, but I'm also worthy of those things myself. And I hope that's something that does click for all of us when we watch the film.

Chideya: Loira, that really touched me. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Limbal: Thank you for having me. Such a pleasure.

Chideya: That was Loira Limbal, director of Through the Night. She's the senior vice president of programs at Firelight Media. You can find Through the Night streaming online at pov.org. And if you want to donate to help keep 13 childcare facilities in New York open, including Dee's Tots, search for the Essential Care fundraiser on GoFundMe. Each week on the show, we bring you a round table called Sippin' the Political Tea. And this week we have a special round table on securing the bag or making the most of your finances. Michelle Singletary, personal finance columnist at the Washington Post is joining us today. And she brings her new book, What to Do with Your Money When Crisis Hits. Welcome to Our Body Politic, Michelle.

Michelle Singletary.:

Thank you so much for having me.

Chideya: And we've got Nathalie Molina Niño, managing director at Known Holdings and author of Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs. Welcome back, Nathalie.

Nathalie Molina Niño:

Thank you. I'm so happy to be back.

Chideya: Oh, it's great to be here with both of you. And I am so excited. I am learning so much about my own finances and really trying to put some things in action that come out of a place of love for myself rather than fear. And I bring that up because in your book, Michelle, you have a really beautiful story about how your grandmother, Big Mama, took custody of you and your four siblings and how that made you frugal, that's how you interpreted it, which of course, then helped launch your whole career focus. So starting with the book, what's the most important thing you learned about how people handle money in the pandemic era, in particular?

Singletary: So one of the biggest things that I learned from the pandemic, that there were a lot of people who just weren't prepared for the storm who could have been. A lot of times, if you come from maybe a background like I did... My grandmother took in five grandchildren, actually, my oldest sister was eight, I was four, I had a sister who was three and twin brothers who were just under two years old. And she was able to raise us on just her nursing assistant salary. And one of the things I learned from her is that she just always lived below her means. And she taught us to do that. And she never apologized for what she couldn't give us. She wanted us not have a sense of entitlement because we came from the background where we were pretty much abandoned by our parents. And as I work with individuals, I find... I'm talking about people who had the wherewithal, the financial wherewithal to save more and get rid of debt and they don't because times are good, right, times were good. It's not until times are bad that they realized, oops, I was living too high.

Chideya: Yeah. And when we think about this era, it really is dramatic some of the differences between different populations and how they were hit. Brooking said that 9 million jobs disappeared between February 2020 and February of 2021. Women were hit the hardest. And here's Vice President Kamala Harris in a Facebook video back in March.

Vice President Kamala Harris:

About two and a half million women have left the workforce during this pandemic. This is a national emergency.

Chideya: So did that aspect of the pandemic and how it affected women and women of color change the focus of your book or any of the advice you put in it?

Singletary: It did and it didn't. So the beginning of the book, I talk about what do you do when you're in a crisis? So here's the one thing, this book is not about judgment. I don't make anybody feel bad, or at least I hope I don't, because I just look at where you are. So if you've lost your job, how do you handle which bills to pay and just straightforward pay this, don't pay that, and don't feel bad if you can't pay the that. And then as I move forward in the book, I talk about the future, okay, you come out of this, what can you do wherever you are to perhaps mitigate the issues that will come up when the next storm comes because there will be a next storm? So for example, if you're a single parent or you're struggling, you're living paycheck to paycheck, perhaps you can't live alone, perhaps you need to have shared housing. If you're a student and you've got a great amount of student loan debt, go back home, go live with relatives, continue to have multiple roommates. I try to meet people where they are.

Chideya: Now, Nathalie, let's bring you in on this question of the national emergency, as the vice president put it, the female recession, the she session, the first recession in our country's history that hurts women more than men. And how do you see this impacting women of color in particular, including the many women of color who are entrepreneurs?

Molina Niño: I love the last part of your question. Oftentimes, I think that we are the afterthought, we are considered a niche. But I want to root this in the numbers, right, and the numbers are very clear. Women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men and 8.9 out of those 10 are started by women of color. So despite the fact that you don't see us on the cover of business magazines, and all the HBS case studies are not about women of color's enterprises, and none of the loans and very little of the venture capital is going to women of color, we're actually not a niche, we are the majority. I want to root it in that fact, because that makes the reality of where we are that I think pressing. And that's why I do agree with the vice president, that this is a national emergency because the people who are the single most entrepreneurial demographic in the country are the ones that are left really with the short end of the stick here. What I want to also emphasize here is that we're starting at a disadvantage to begin with, because if we go back to the 2009 recession women, and especially women of color, were among the highest to experience layoffs. And so people talk about the uptick in entrepreneurial activity with women of color that followed as a wonderful thing. But I also want to sort of remember that it's a by-product of necessity. Right? It's a whole bunch of women of color making lemonade out of a really bad situation. And I think that when we look at the situation now, we were already starting off at having spent the last 10 years climbing back. And now not only were we according, according to the numbers, if you look at the jobs report than anything else, not only are we seeing history repeat itself where, yet again, women of color are the ones most being pushed out of the workforce, but on top of that, it turns out we're also doing the majority of the dying.

Chideya: And back to you, Michelle, what financial pain points, especially affect women of color? And perhaps think about that through the lens of the disproportionately high numbers of women of color, who are entrepreneurs, though not generally well capitalized, as well as those who are working for other people.

Singletary: So obviously some of the pain points are less income, we don't get the same amount of pay, if you are a small business owner, your income has been probably irregular even before the pandemic, that makes it very difficult for a lot of people to manage their money so they tend to have more debt. And the housing tends to be very expensive. And that is a big drain on their monthly budget.

Chideya: And let's jump into the efforts to get everyone back to work. And Michelle, how would you advise someone who lost their job during the pandemic, in an industry like the service industry, which was very hard hit, if they're nervous about getting back into the workforce? I mean, a lot of things have changed for people. Some people don't have consistent childcare anymore. What are some things to think about?

Singletary: So first and foremost, get vaccinated so that you can secure your health. And as a woman of color, I get the reservations that people have, but that's sort of the first step, make sure that you are healthy. And then next thing, go back to your former employers, perhaps they are rehiring. You want to go back to the familiar where perhaps you were doing okay. And if not, then you start to look for jobs in the area where you already are. And then thirdly, I'd like to see if you can increase your skillset. That may mean taking classes at the community college or finding internship programs, some way for you to boost your skill level. Or perhaps you're skilled in a certain area and you can start your own business so that you can generate maybe additional income from that nine to five job.

Chideya: And Nathalie, what is the lay of the land for entrepreneurs right now on that level of re-engaging with industry? I mean, is it a good time to launch or revive a business?

Molina Niño: It really depends on your circumstances, if you managed to be able to save some reserves, if you are in a position where you can take the sort of chances that entrepreneurs have to take, then by all means, I would say, absolutely. And I can give you a litany of companies that pivoted and changed their business during the pandemic and managed to thrive. And so, yes, there are some great positive stories of people that are really making, not just ends meet, but making hay out of the current situation because they've been innovative, they figured out how to change their business model. But to Michelle's point, I think that you've got to be healthy you first. And sometimes that does mean taking a little time to recover and putting yourself in a position where you've got your legs under you and you can take risks again. And so, it's easy to point to the economic indicators and it's easy to point to jobs reports and say one thing or another, but the truth is, is it's an individual choice and it's about what risks you're willing to take. And the good news is that there do start to be more and more grants and opportunities for innovative funding for entrepreneurs, increasingly, certainly more with the new administration than the previous one. But I still sense a lack of urgency from the big capital sources. So I wouldn't say that it's a brilliant time because there was money just falling off the trees. That's not the situation yet, even though, frankly, it should be because with the hits that entrepreneurs took, it's time.

Chideya: Yeah. Well, continuing with you, let's talk about the commitments to invest in racial equity that corporations have made in the past year. Here's a clip from Mellody Hobson, CEO of Ariel Investments and board director at JP Morgan, which pledged $30 billion in the next five years to racial equity investments. This is from a JP Morgan video.

Mellody Hobson:

The other thing is we have to make sure then when we are out supporting businesses, because there are lots of black, Latinx entrepreneurs, et cetera, that they get a fair shot to do business with companies like JP Morgan and that our relationships aren't based upon who had the relationship for decades.

Chideya: And so, where are we now with these pledges and investments, Nathalie? I honestly find it hard sometimes to find information on how you actually secure the bag when people have said they're going to help you secure the bag. So, not about any one corporate entity, but how do we see this money circulating?

Molina Niño: Well, let's talk about the first wave. The first wave of pledges were from seemingly every corporation in the country, it seemed. And they all, with very few exceptions, went to charitable organizations, they went to foundations, they went to nonprofits. And my concern with that is that some of the biggest, most influential charities, non-profits, 501(c)(3)s put money into their endowments. And their endowments are then managed by who? The JP Morgans and the Morgan Stanley's of the world. Right? It feels like that first wave of pledges was a whole lot of just putting money into other buckets that ultimately ended up in the same coffers. Of course, a percentage of that, the 5% that is beneficial for foundations to donate, did go into real organizations, doing wonderful work in the world. What's more interesting to me is the second wave. And the second wave has been a little bit more impressive. Right. Look at Margaret Anadu at Goldman Sachs, who is now been promoted to manage both impact and sustainability there. Margaret Anadu was in there, in the trenches, trying to get Goldman Sachs to be serious about supporting, specifically, Black women and she managed to get $10 billion committed. Now, the question is, how quickly is that going to be deployed? How is it going to be deployed? And because it was a commitment that was made very recently, just in the last couple of months, most of us are kind of at the edge of our seat waiting to see what happens because the first wave, as I said, kind of disappointing, second wave, I'm hopeful.

Chideya: And Michelle, for people who are looking to find sources to tap into that are not tied to the government to support how they can be financially healthy, whether it's to become a home buyer, or to start a business, or to help deal with some of the costs of elder care, how do people even begin to assess where some of these resources are?

Singletary: Well, there are a lot of enterprise programs for different states and cities. That's one place to start. I know if I say this, people might roll their eyes, but the SBA is also another place to start. You want to talk to other entrepreneurs to see how they are doing. You want to contact people in the industry that you're interested in. You do have to do a lot of homework. A lot of these programs aren't necessarily advertised, they can be out there, but they're hard to find. I go back to community colleges, they often have links to projects and programs to help people who want to start their own businesses or transition to another skillset. It's more than just to say, I want to have this kind business and you sort of go out there without doing a lot of your due diligence and homework. It's going to take some footsteps to places to see what is available.

Chideya: So, Nathalie, thinking about the SBA, anything we should be aware of in terms of securing the bag?

Molina Niño: Yes. The good news is that there is a hero in all of this. In the overall distribution of PPP loans over the course of the last year, the superheroes in the story are CDFIs, they are those little tiny community banks, some of them bigger than others that are in your neighborhood, many of which are BIPOC-led and managed. They have been doing tremendously at distributing PPP loans. And what we have, and this is the questionable news right now, is we have a bit of a situation where there's about $8 billion left that only CDFIs are authorized to issue and distribute, but it's a teeny tiny window. The CDFI's were notified fairly last minute that this much was left. And remember, these are small banks. And so I don't want to say that it's a done deal and it's for sure, but contact your local CDFI, find out if they're still issuing PPP loans. And if they're not, find out who close to you is because they're the only ones that currently have access to that $8 billion. And we've got to move quick because that money will run out when the date expires. Now, I would say we need to push for the SBA to extend that deadline, because I don't know why it makes sense to arbitrarily pick a date and then leave money undistributed.

Chideya: Finally, let's wrap up with healthcare. There are now countless numbers of people who have long-haul COVID and some of whom will be disabled for some time, some of whom may end up finding a remedy or just finding relief from their symptoms. And just on top of that, because of the job dislocation, a lot of people are dealing with changes in how they access healthcare. Any quick advice before we go on how people can think through their healthcare options.

Singletary: So I think the first thought, if you've lost your job, apply for Medicaid, look for the resources that are out there to help you. If you're still working and you don't qualify, certainly look at the Healthcare Exchange even if you have to get a just basic policy to cover a major health issue. The good thing is that with the Obamacare they can't discriminate you for a past condition so that if you had some COVID-related, they can't refuse coverage for you. And that's a policy that has worked and will work for a lot of people in this pandemic.

Chideya: We're going to have to leave it there. It was great talking with you, Michelle.

Singletary: Thank you.

Chideya: And thank you for visiting us again, Nathalie.

Molina Niño: It was my pleasure. Thank you.

Chideya: Nathalie Molina Niño is managing director at Known Holdings and author of Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs. And Michelle Singletary is the personal finance columnist at the Washington Post. Her new book is What to Do with Your Money When Crisis Hits. Thank you so much for joining us on Our Body Politic. We're on the air each week and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Our Body Politic is produced by Lantigua Williams & Co. I'm the creator and host, Farai Chideya. Juleyka Lantigua-Williams is executive producer. Paulina Velasco is senior producer. Jen Chien is executive editor. Cedric Wilson is lead producer and mixed this episode. Our producer is Priscilla Alabi. Emily Daly is our assistant producer. Julie Zann is our talent consultant. Original music by associate sound designer, Kojin Tashiro. Production assistants from Mark Betancourt, Natyna Bean and Sarah McClure. This program is produced with support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Harnisch Foundation, Compton Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the BMe Community, and from generous contributions from listeners like you.


Chideya, Farai, host. “How Racism Is at the Root of White Evangelical Power, Why Child Care Is Also Necessary Infrastructure, and Practical Advice for Securing Your Finances.” Our Body Politic, Diaspora Farms LLC. May 28, 2021. https://our-body-politic.simplecast.com/