Last of three parts
Sixteen African-American mothers in Jackson, Miss. will be recipients of financial gifts of $1,000 each, according to Gregg Kaurmann in Nation magazine. The project emerged when Jackson, Miss. native Aishe Nyandoro, of Magnolia Mothers Trust helped financially poor members of the African American community n Jackson.
“The motto for Nyandoro’s organization, ‘radically resident-driven’, grew out of her grandmother’s approach to become a partner with the community in order to determine the necessary work. Following that model, women in the four housing projects that Springboard serves in Jackson helped to design the Magnolia Mother’s Trust. During the year, women participating in the program will have the option for financial coaching, leadership training, monthly meetings with their peers, and counseling with a social worker for trauma and any other issues they want to discuss.
“The women will lead a service project in the community, something they insisted on in order to not be viewed as ‘taking without giving back.’ Importantly, there will be no interventions for how the women choose to spend their money.
‘“We need to get to the place where we trust poor people,’ Nyandoro said. ‘They are all mothers who want the best for their kids, and they know what that looks like.’ She challenges the notion that society can determine what is wasteful or non-essential spending. Take the use of money to get one’s nails done, which might be considered trivial: Those two hours might be the only two hours when they are not raising their kids during the course of that month. It’s self-care.
‘“We need to get to the place where we trust poor people. They are all mothers who want the best for their kids, and they know what that looks like.’
“Over the course of the year, the Magnolia Mothers Trust will collect quantitative data such as spending patterns, ability to accomplish one’s goals, and frequency of community engagement. But it’s the qualitative data—the stories about how the women’s lives change—that could help undo the damaging narrative about people in poverty that is currently being reinforced as the Donald Trump administration and other conservative politicians put a new emphasis on work requirements, drug-testing, and race-baiting. Nyandoro knows the women enrolled in the pilot may face obstacles—for example, the participants will lose some public benefits as a result of the additional income—but she believes that a clearer picture of poverty in America and the ability of people to change their conditions will emerge.
“‘I want folks to understand what it means to live in poverty as an African-American mother in this country, and that we begin to see that it’s the system that is the bogey man, because that’s what’s really wrong in this country,’ she said,” Kaufmann wrote.