The Black woman’s guide to the COVID-19 Economy

October 17, 2020 BlackHer

I wish I had paid more attention in my economics classes in college. But at 20 I didn’t understand how markets, pricing strategy, and monetary policy had anything to do with me.

Then, in my 30s, my marriage came grinding to a halt, and I found myself confronted by the prospect of losing my home. I still remember my hand shaking as I called Countrywide to see if I could qualify for my mortgage on my own. I didn’t make enough money to stay in the house.

I was surprised when the bank representative said, “No problem” and offered me an adjustable rate mortgage. I breathed a sigh of relief. My 2-year-old daughter and I would be able to stay put.

It turns out that readjusting your mortgage interest rate every few years is a terrible idea, and we know now that these mortgages were predatory loans. When the housing market bubble burst in 2008, millions of Black and Brown families lost their homes – and with them, the bulk of their wealth.

Now, I get it.

The economy is not a remote concept controlled by an invisible hand. Our economy is us. The decisions our elected officials make about taxes, overtime, minimum wage laws, bankruptcy, mortgage qualifications, and a whole host of other issues (on our behalf) impact the most intimate details of our lives.

Today, we find ourselves hurtling through a new round of economic chaos precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 30 million people are out of work. With so many of us already living paycheck to paycheck and serving as primary or sole breadwinners for our families, this is a disaster.

Through this guide, we are promoting three structural policy ideas – guaranteed income, guaranteed housing, and guaranteed wealth – that we have to fight for if we are ever going to make our economy work for us. We also wrote this guide to help you make the personal changes necessary to navigate this new economy right now.

To turn our household finances right side up, we have to do more than monitor daily budgets. We have to come together as homeowners, renters, workers, students, parents, caretakers, business owners, and more to demand and make policy change.

Let’s get started.

Jocelyn

 

 

 

 

This guide was co-authored by Jocelyn Harmon and Solana Rice with support from Angela Dorn, and Jeremie Greer.

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