Managing With Not Much of Anything

One of the most widely read stories in the magazine in 2020 has been Tess Montgomery’s essay about the generational impact of financial trauma, which ran in our March “Money” issue. It was written just before COVID-19 became a household phenomenon in Minnesota. We asked her to write again from the perspective of being in a pandemic world.

The news stories for months now have been consumed with the threats of COVID-19 and the effect this pandemic will have on the stock market, and U.S. and global economies. 

When I see these articles, I can’t help but think, “What’s that got to do with me?” The closest thing I have to a stock is made with beef or chicken. 

I cannot tell if I am lucky or not to have no worries about my investments or retirement funds. How can I, when I am only thinking about how I am going to financially make it through another week? 

Like many others, I watched cautiously as the threat of COVID-19 grew closer and swarms of people rushed to the grocery store to “prepare-not-panic” shop. 

What do you do when a pandemic hits between paychecks? How do you manage being caught up in the hustle of feeling pressured to be prepared, but being financially limited? Suddenly, you are faced with decisions like whether you should buy cleaning wipes — if you can find them — or another pack of chicken breasts. 

Mothers are faced with the question of how they are going to feed their children three meals every day of the week — while attempting to work from home, not getting paid at all, or being required to go off to work with kids at home. 

As if we needed any more reasons, this is exactly why we are overdue in having conversations about how to build equity into our community. We must do work together so that those without privilege are able to improve on financial security.

We quickly saw how a crisis can turn into class warfare. Those with privilege hoard essential supplies because they have the money to do so.

I do see a silver lining in times like this, however. You see the humanity in poverty.

Unfortunately, for women of color, we have practiced for this. It isn’t new to us. Relying on community support is how we survive even when there is not a pandemic. Food drives, granny daycare, cash advances from close friends and family, are all part of the poor person’s savings account.

As I have learned from “More Than A Single Story” conversations, communities of color are resilient. We are adaptable. As my mother used to say, “We will get through this, just like all the other times.”

This is part of an ongoing #MWPQuaranzine series by Minnesota Women’s Press that features voices of women who have a vision for how to rebuild a more sustainable, equitable society by working collectively to the future beyond this pandemic. Add your voice to the Comments field below if you want to share your perspective.


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