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BIPOC women have been subsidizing America’s broken childcare industry—and that needs to stop, now
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Much of the childcare infrastructure in the United States was built by women of color, yet historically they've never been paid what they're worth. It's time for society to recognize this and support this vital industry before it collapses. These small business owners, early childhood educators and caregivers are the invisible engine that pulls American women into the workforce and propel the country's economy. They are essential to the United States' economic recovery but feel abandoned by lawmakers.

As Motherly reported last week, the U.S. stands to lose 40% of its childcare centers without government funding. This will have a devastating impact on American families, as even more working mothers will be forced out of the workforce, but the looming closure of childcare centers and day homes will be felt disproportionately by BIPOC women who will lose their small businesses or jobs.


That's because, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 60% of businesses in the childcare industry are minority-owned. Childcare has the third-largest share of minority business owners of all industries, with only home health care services and taxi/limo services seeing a greater share of minority owners.

And according to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, 40% of workers in childcare centers and home-based day cares identify as people of color, and almost 50% of unlisted, home-based childcare providers are people of color. The Center notes that "nationally, African American early educators are disproportionately represented among the [early childhood education] workforce who teach infants and/or toddlers."

Historically, these workers are vastly underpaid and under appreciated. As Motherly reported last year, on average, America's childcare workers make less than Amazon delivery drivers.

Keesha M. Middlemass, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Howard University. She says it is time for America to recognize the racism that's inherent in the country's childcare system.

"We all uplift mothers, but we don't uplift the largely Black and Brown women that take care of children," she explains to Motherly. "When you start thinking about who takes care of children before they're in school full time, it really tends to be women of color. They are underpaid and don't have any really support in the legislative branch of government that could actually improve funding and improve pay."

Why do we expect Black and Brown women to do this work for so little?

As Middlemass points out, childcare in the United States is prohibitively expensive for many lower-income families, but the high costs of preschool care doesn't translate into high wages for the women doing the care work. They're incredibly underpaid in most cases, an injustice that echos the legacy of slavery in the United States.

Middlemass explains that the lack of investment to support childcare workers is rooted in our biases about "who society thinks should be in the caregiving role," pointing out that American history has perpetuated "that image of the mammy, where Black women aren't even allowed to mother their own children, but are expected to mother white children."

A legacy of racism, bias and barriers continues in the childcare industry

From there, Middlemass says, a lack of access to education and entrance to higher-paying industries sees "Black women, particularly, but also Latinas, funneled into particular types of jobs around caregiving."

Consider how in the K-12 school system about 80% of teachers are white, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Barriers to higher education keep Black, Latinx and immigrant workers out of the elementary and high school teaching pool, and push them into the even lower paying industry of early childhood education, which is incorrectly perceived as lower skilled work.

And even in the industry, systemic racism can keep women of color from occupying the highest paying roles. Women of color working in childcare centers are more likely to work as aides or assistants to white women, as the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment noted in 2019. In New York, Black workers are overrepresented in aide and assistant roles compared to white workers, and in California, Latina workers are more likely to be aides and assistants compared white peers, who are more likely to be in teaching roles.

The United States needs to invest in its caregivers—now

As so many economists have stated in recent weeks, there will be no economic recovery for the United States without support for the childcare sector. And because BIPOC women are so overrepresented in the childcare industry, there simply cannot be an economic recovery for the United States without an investment in BIPOC early childhood educators.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has not benefited 50% of minority-owned childcare businesses, a new survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children shows. Only 12% of minority-owned childcare businesses have not had to lay off or furlough staff, compared to 27% of the industry overall.

Middlemass is calling for grants for families to pay for care, as well as grants for childcare business owners and grants for workforce development. She also believes, like many early childhood education advocates, that childcare should be part of the K-12 education system.

Childcare should be expensive, Middlemass explains, because we are asking for small class sizes, increasingly credentialed workers and quality caregiving and we need to pay people fairly to provide that...but right now the U.S. childcare system is being subsidized by the BIPOC women who keep the rest of us working.

And that is an injustice the country must address.

Mom life demands efficiency. Because while the amount of hours in the day are the same as before kids, now a sizable chunk of that time is spent caring for and loving on those little people. Compromises happen—and let's just be honest, the old beauty routine is one of the first things to get cut.

But, wait! You don't have to sacrifice putting on mascara or, worse, skipping the SPF. Instead, why not flip it, reverse it, and look at the bright side? Here's your opportunity to streamline your morning makeup routine. With some savvy skin care and beauty hacks, you can get your radiant glow on in record time.

Here are our tried-and-true hacks passed down from Motherly mamas:

1. Embrace multipurpose items

If the most pressing issue is limited time, consolidate multiple steps of your beauty routine with a multipurpose item. For example, instead of starting with a SPF moisturizer, followed by spot concealer and a blendable foundation, you can take care of all of that in one go with one of our favorites: Earth Mama's 3-in-one Lady Face™ Tinted Mineral Sunscreen. The beauty stick also allows you to easily fold SPF 40 into your routine, because Lady Face doubles as super-safe, clean sun protection. Even better? The sunscreen blocks blue light from those ever-present digital screens with a ray-scattering, non-nano formula.

2. Revive dried mascara

Especially after a sleepless night (#motherhood), mascara can make a major difference in how well rested you appear to be. If you realize your tube of mascara is dried out, don't write it off as a lost cause. Simply soak the sealed tube in warm water to loosen up the mascara — or add a drop of a multi-purpose saline solution into the tube. That should do the trick until you have time to buy a replacement. (But let's face it: You're a mom. It's okay if you're tired.)

3. Keep coconut oil handy

Coconut oil isn't just for the kitchen. From a DIY hair mask to an in-a-pinch lip balm or naturally removing makeup at the end of the day, coconut oil's cosmetic hack-list is long. For summer, we especially like adding a thin swipe of organic extra virgin coconut oil to the cheekbones at the end of the makeup routine for a bit of an extra glow.

4. Multitask while deep conditioning

If your hair needs a bit of TLC, consider applying a natural, paraben-free deep conditioner before doing chores around the house or even a short workout. By working up a bit of a sweat, the conditioner will set even better before you rinse off in the shower.

5. Start your hair care routine the night before

As you work to find your new normal morning routine, it can help to simply reschedule a task or two—like hair. If you shower the night before, get a jumpstart on your look by blowdrying, straightening or even braiding it for loose waves in the morning.

6. Even out your skin tone

Between multiple wake-ups during the night and wavering hormones, complexion issues can become a thing for most mamas. Thankfully, the hack for managing that is as simple as finding a great foundation that goes on smoothly and doesn't cake or crack through a morning of momming. Scope out the ingredient list for naturally nourishing components like coconut oil, shea butter or beeswax — and skip the stress (and the return process if the shade doesn't match) by going for something that easily blends with most skin tones.

7. Find brands your feel great about

As a mom, you might find yourself considering bigger life questions: Are my cosmetics safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding? Are they helping the world my children will grow up in? Can I trust the ingredients and mission? Pro tip: read the ingredients on all your personal care products, memorize the ones you want to avoid, and look for third-party certification to ensure the product is actually what it says it is. When you find a brand that walks the talk, you're going to want to be loyal.

8. When in doubt, go for a bold lip

With happy hours swapped for play dates, your daily routine may look a bit different than it used to. But who says you have to leave your personal style behind? If you've always been a fan of makeup and going a bit glam, keep going for it, mama! The extra 60 seconds it takes to apply lipstick or whatever else gives you a bit of pep in your step is well worth it.


This article was sponsored by Earth Mama Organics. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

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