Melissa Harris-Perry, Dr. Zea Malawa, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, Pantajli de la Rocha, Michelle Lockhart, Daniela Gutierrez, and Tamika Calhoun

The Guaranteed Income Community of Practice released its second annual Cash as Care report, hosting a virtual conversation that underscored cash as a public health intervention for Black moms and other moms of color. As the nation reeled from the Supreme Court ruling that will profoundly impact the public health and reproductive justice space, the event brought together voices of mothers—advocates, leaders, and guaranteed income recipients—making a compelling case for direct cash as a public health policy that would build better health and address longstanding inequities.  

Cash as Care 2022 kicked off with Dr. Aiysha Nyandoro, Co-Chair of Guaranteed Income Community of Practice, in conversation with Dr. Zea Malawa director of Expecting Justice and a San Francisco-based pediatrician. The two mothers elevated critical issues preventing moms of color from accessing economic dignity whether it was outright racism, an unlivable cost of living in major U.S. cities, or paternalistic social systems punishing the recipients their programs are meant to benefit.

“For too long Black mothers have been forced to stay in a survival mentality instead of receiving the financial support they need to dream about or participate in the future,” said Dr. Aiysha Nyandoro, Chief Executive Officer of Springboard To Opportunities and co-chair of the Guaranteed Income Community of Practice. “The current social safety net is deeply entangled in their lives in ways that are punitive and paternalistic. Data show when we liberate the capital, economic advancement is no longer tied to a reduction in benefits.”

“We really want the Abundant Birth Project to be a model that anybody can use. We can use government funding to improve birth outcomes in any city or state, so we would like to test our program out at scale.” says Dr. Zea Malawa, Director of Expecting Justice and Vice Chair of San Francisco’s First 5 Commission. “As a physician not only do I see how ineffective programs designed exclusively by the system are in communities, but I have to ask, what is the downside for our country, in making sure kids grow up healthy and able to achieve their maximum potential?”

Wake Forest University Professor and host of The Takeaway, Melissa Harris-Perry closed the event by highlighting the power of unrestricted cash in the hands of everyday parents and pregnant people. Featuring two guaranteed income recipients and two advocates helping moms access the cash they need to thrive, the dialogue continued to demonstrate cash initiatives not only positively impact mothers and their families, but the greater communities they are connected to. 

“We really want our mothers to know, you are enough. Just by existing, just by being here,” said Pantajli de la Rocha, a guaranteed income advocate and founder of Birth Behind Bars. “You deserve this, and you deserve to have the safety and the rest and the connection with your child in those first early days.”

“When the economy is working for Black women, it is inherently working better for everyone,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Congressional Caucus on Black Women & Girls Co-chair. “To build an economy for all, public policy must bring Black women from the margins to the mainstream. And from peril to prosperity. Guaranteed income would do just that.”

Miracle Messages is an award-winning 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving across the United States that helps people experiencing homelessness rebuild their social support systems and financial security, primarily through family reunification services, a phone buddy program, and basic income pilots. Founder and CEO Kevin F. Adler explains his program design and key outcomes.

 

Economic Security for Illinois builds collective power to advance policy solutions that make Illinois’ economy the most equitable and inclusive in the country. These include guaranteed income and cash transfer policies that give cash to people who need it, use it, and could benefit from it; and equitable taxation structures, including an expansion of the existing Earned Income Credit and the implementation of a state Child Tax Credit. Director Harish I. Patel tells the story of recent wins and explains ESIL’s role in shaping the coalition.

Just Income GNV is a project by Community Spring, a grassroots nonprofit focused on dismantling structural poverty and spurring economic mobility. The twin pillars of this work are providing income and building power. Kevin is the Project Director of Just Income GNV, the first guaranteed income project in the country by and for formerly incarcerated people.

Kevin Dublin is an educator, advocate, and writer of poetry, prose, scripts, and code from Smithfield, NC. He is also a participant in the SF Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists (SF-GIPA). In his spoken word excerpt from the poem Origin Story, Kevin describes his experience with guaranteed income.

“We have to believe that a guaranteed basic income isn’t radical. It isn’t radical for each citizen to have the financial freedom to fail, to start a business, or create culture. It isn’t radical for each citizen to be able to take care of their families, of their community, and to still feel valued.”