Our nation’s economy was founded on the exploited labor of Black women. Well into the 20th century, most Black women in DC were only allowed to be domestic workers and were excluded from Social Security and minimum wage laws. The impacts are still felt today.
Although things have changed dramatically, and we now have a DC Council that is majority Black and majority women, our city’s policies still make it hard for Black women in this city. It still takes 19 months for a Black woman to earn what a white man earns in a year. White family median wealth in DC is $284,000 while Black family median wealth is $3,500.
Black women lost their jobs at the highest rate in the pandemic (17%) and Black mothers, especially single mothers, faced the greatest challenges balancing the needs of children with the demands of uncaring jobs during the pandemic.
Representation alone is not enough.
If we are to center Black women in our economy, we need concrete ideas, bold and substantive policies, and the courage to stand up against the status quo.
Zachary Parker is partnering with the community to build an economy that centers Black and Latina women, single mothers, grandmothers, queer and trans folks, and others who have been most marginalized in our society.
Our economic policies should do the most work for those who have been held back the most, which means:
Guarantee an Income for Mothers and Careworkers: Most children living in poverty in DC live with a single Black woman. Pilot after pilot have shown that it is most effective to simply help mothers and caregivers with a guaranteed income, without the need for confusing forms or technological requirements. We should expand the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credits.
Paying Fair Wages for Black Women’s Work: Zachary will fight to make sure everyone has access to quality jobs. He supports the Birth-to-Three Act and efforts to raise early childhood educators' low pay as well as the recently-introduced domestic workers bill of rights.
Incentivize Black Women-Owned Businesses: Zachary supports expanding grants and incentives for Black and Black women-owned businesses, especially for native Washingtonian entrepreneurs. He supports establishing hiring requirements for government contractors that would benefit Black women-owned businesses.
Put Gender Equity into Job Training: It should be easier for girls to pursue careers in science, technology, and other occupations dominated by men. Zachary will work to expand job training, entrepreneurship, and paid apprenticeship programs that make it more accessible for women of color to learn a trade, access capital, and break into a new field.
Make Employers Respect Working Families: Zachary believes that our economy will be strongest when parents have the resources and time to care for their families. He will continue to expand DC’s Paid Family Leave to offer more time off with a new child or ill relative. Also, he will fight to close Ward 5’s 2,500 childcare-seat-gap while fighting to make childcare more affordable and accessible by funding the Birth-to-Three Act and through other innovative programs.
Meeting the Needs of Single Parents and Expanding our Definition of “Family”: Zachary will work to support families by making DC services accessible outside of traditional work hours, expanding out-of-school time opportunities, creating respite child care, expanding parent counseling and support services, and supporting innovative efforts that would let extended families collectively bargain for health insurance plans.
Maternal Health: There is no hospital east of North Capitol Street that offers obstetrics, and pregnant Black women in DC die at an unacceptably high rate. Zachary supports legislation to build spaces and hospitals for pregnant women in Ward 5 and provide free transportation for obstetric visits.
Together, by building a city with the needs of Black women in mind, we can close DC's growing racial wealth gap while creating a more humane, equitable, and prosperous city for us all.