The Black Women’s Policy Center (BWPC) officially opened its doors in McKeesport, PA, on April 19, 2021. The center will house the Black Women’s Policy Agenda, which launched in 2020 to build collective power among Black women, advocate for their needs, and advance policy to achieve racial and gender justice. The center will also implement initiatives, such as an advocacy training boot camp and the #ListenToBlackWomen podcast.
“The center arose out of the Black Women’s Policy Agenda. While surveying nearly 300 women and facilitating focus groups, we were reminded of the immediate needs that must be simultaneously addressed as we work to create policies that center Black women and position us to thrive,” said Rochelle Jackson, BWPC director. “Creating and changing policies takes time. So, in the meantime, the center will provide a supportive space for Black women to connect to resources and each other.”
According to recent reports, the global pandemic is hitting Black women much harder than their white counterparts. Black women face a disproportionate number of diagnoses and deaths from COVID-19. The pandemic has also exacerbated the economic inequality and caregiving crisis. Black women are filing bankruptcy at alarming rates and experiencing the second highest unemployment rates nationwide, falling close behind Latina women.
Women have been earning less and working harder for decades. Black women, in particular, tend to be the most vulnerable economically. When there are turbulent times, Black women and families tend to be hurt most. This pandemic is no different. Tammy Thompson, Catapult Greater Pittsburgh Executive Director
“We have been impacted in multiple ways by the shutdown as many are part of the frontline economy and the sole breadwinner. Also, many women have had to leave their jobs to stay home with children who are now virtual learners. This pandemic has basically magnified issues with low wages, childcare, housing, and the education system, and once again, Black women are most negatively impacted.” says Tammy Thompson.
“If this year taught us nothing else, it is that Black women are not just resilient, they are also strategic. They understand policy, and they don’t stop until they deliver change. I am very excited that we now have a place to convene and focus on those things that affect us most,” said Cheryl Hall-Russell, Black Women Wise Women, LLC president. “Pittsburgh is fortunate to have enormously talented Black women, and I am excited that Ms. Jackson had the foresight and organizing skills to set up such an ambitious and much-needed center for change.”
The Black Women’s Policy Center is currently scheduling virtual appointments. The center will offer one-on-one support to navigate systems and access resources. It will also provide life skills, parenting classes, mentors, and support for mothers who have lost a child to violence. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 412-229-7840 or visit www.blackwomenspolicycenter.org.