“It was kind of like we were starting from scratch,” she said.
And Azariah Baker, 15 in Chicago, takes care of her 70-year-old grandmother, who suffered a stroke in early 2020, as well as her 2-year-old niece. Her grandmother is the legal guardian of Azariah and her niece, but since the stroke, which left her extremely tired with blurry vision and headaches, Azariah has done most of the work at home. House. She would wake up every day at 7 a.m., cook breakfast for them all, and then log into the virtual school at 8 a.m.
When school was out, she would go to work in a grocery store. Then she would come home and cook dinner. She often felt overwhelmed. “I remember one night I was cooking dinner and I had a panic attack. I was crying, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and my heart was racing, ”Azariah said.
“But then my alarm went off for something in the oven,” she said, and put her own needs aside.
These three stories sum up how the pandemic has affected the lives of young women of color across the United States, even though they have not been directly affected by the coronavirus. Black and Hispanic youth were more likely to have lost a parent or family member to Covid-19. They fell behind in school more than their white counterparts, and they had much higher unemployment rates last year than older adults and young white women, even during the summer when employment of young people generally increases. Some of those who kept or found a new job became essential breadwinners because their family members were more likely to have been made redundant.
Black and Hispanic teenage girls were also more likely than white girls and their male counterparts to take on home care responsibilities, according to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. At the same time, they were leading racial justice protests across the country, most notably last summer, channeling their energy to confront and change systemic inequalities.
“Black girls were on the front lines of racial justice movements, they were essential workers and they were the primary caregivers,” said Scheherazade Tillet, founder and executive director of A Long Walk Home, an organization that empowers girls black in Chicago. “There is no other group that is all three at the same time.”