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Women as Primary Breadwinner? Black Women Know All About It
As we consider the quickly approaching future in which women are predicted to be the primary breadwinners in most households, African-American women have something unique to add to discussion as well—they’ve been living that “future” for a long time already.
Though obvious on its face, the point bears occasional repetition: When we speak of “women” in the feminist blogscape, we are often talking about a specific demographic profile; usually white, straight, middle-class and somewhat liberal. But in reality, of course, women are a far more diverse bunch, with a diversity of experience and perspective to match. As Amanda Marcotte and Libby Copeland have discussed here recently (in response to comments made by S.C. Governor Nikki Haley), conservative women see the contraception debate and the “War on Women” in general from a very different point of view than we might expect. And, as we consider the quickly approaching future in whichwomen are predicted to be the primary breadwinners in most households, African-American women have something unique to add to discussion as well—they’ve been living that “future” for a long time already.
According to a post by Zerlina Maxwell that’s making the rounds, Black women are already the “lifeblood” of their families in a community hard hit by the recession and in which men face added, often racist, obstacles to employment. The American Prospect had a piece back in 2008 exploring the issue, and the findings support Maxwell’s point:
Because of the limited economic prospects for black men, black women are likely to be both primary caregivers and primary breadwinners in our families. In nearly 44 percent of black families with children, a woman is the primary breadwinner. This includes both families headed by working single mothers and married-couple families in which the wife works and the husband does not. These female breadwinner families account for over 32 percent of aggregate black family income.