Dear Governor Bryant-Stop Pining For An America That Never Was

I wrote this when Phil Bryant made these comments in 2013 now in 2015 as he is adamantly refusing to fully fund education in Mississippi the video that prompted this letter is making the rounds on social media again. Thus I have polished it up and posted it her on FeministUppityandBlack.com just for y’all. Enjoy!

(This open letter is in response to comments Governor Phil Bryant made on June 4, 2013 saying that the decline in education is due to women working outside the home)

Dear Governor Bryant,

 I have a request for you and others like you-please stop mythologizing the 1950s housewife. I know, I know like many white middle/upper class males you may have warm fuzzy feelings of home and hearth when you think of  the “Leave it to Beaver” like existences of days past. However, many families never had those existences in fact most families that thought they did-did not. The veneer of 1950s perfection is part of white supremacy culture. It was only meant for white families and the maintenance of it’s existence rested on the backs of others.

Those cookies everyday after school and perfect laundry came at a cost. Not every 50s housewife was happy. Some women enjoy staying home many do not. Even those who feel joy in staying home need support and outlets outside of home and hearth. Women do indeed like to have options and choices beyond being baby factories who are tethered to the kitchen. We have identities beyond wife and mother. We are individual people. In fact that’s a big reason why second wave feminism happened Governor. I don’t know maybe you skipped that part of history.

Perhaps you also skipped the part of history where some mothers never had the option to stay at home or not to work. The legacy of Mississippi’s agricultural and slave holding past is that whether in the fields or as domestic help poor women-especially poor women of color have always worked. Many white 50s housewives you so adore Governor, and let’s be real white women are the women allowed to stay home in your reality, couldn’t have had it all together without the assistance of their black housekeepers and nannies. Black woman washed their clothes, cooked their meals, and helped raised their kids so they could attend to things like improving public schools and playing bridge. At the same time black women then and now are seen as incapable to care for our own children and blamed for being gone “too much” when working. Yet when low income black women stay home with our children we are labeled as “lazy” and teaching children “bad values”. (Then again we know how much you know about race relations in this state which is nothing)

Yes once upon a time some women stayed at home-mostly middle class white women. Now those days are gone and do you know what studies show? Children are fine. Children of working mothers are not worse off Governor. Children benefit from having mothers who are happy. Do you know what does harm children greatly though? Poverty! Poverty really harms children. Having two parents both working two jobs to get by and STILL needing SNAP that hurts families sir. As the Governor of one of the poorest states in the country I would think you would take some responsibility for that rather than blaming mothers for attempting to better their children’s lives by working to provide for them. If parents staying home is your concern what about your failure to provide better government supports for families that would make it possible for parent to be home more? What about YOUR failures to support working families so they can do more for their children? YOU could support things like a living wage, paid family leave, medicaid expansion, LGBT worker protections, FULLY FUND SCHOOLS and many other family friendly policies to make lives for Mississippi families better.

Lastly I must say I am confused because our state wants women to work,right? Poor women women that is. Mississippi believes poor women should always work. The state can’t seem to force poor women back to work fast enough after giving birth . In fact women on TANF have 6 to 12 weeks to go back to work. So much for that needing to be with your child thing. So which is it? Do you want women to work or not? If you want to stick to the myth of the 1950s housewife then you should go back to the old rationale of aid to single women with children, which was to ensure she could care for her child’s basic needs and stay home if needed.

See Governor it’s not easy to stick to outdated sexist ideals is it. So I am asking you to please stop. Stop scapegoating women for the failures of the state of Mississippi. More than that stop promoting an America that never was.

Sincerely,

A Black Mom Who Doesn’t Wish To Be In The 50s

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