The economy is starting to recover, but it’s leaving black women behind

June 8, 2020, 12:27 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! UOMA Beauty’s founder pressures brands to share their diversity numbers, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser makes an artistic gesture, and economic recovery is leaving black women behind. Have a mindful Monday. 

– The real jobs report. The May jobs report showed a surprising recovery for the economy, with unemployment down for nearly every group. But the unemployment rate increased last month for one category of workers: black women.

Black women’s unemployment, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, went up slightly to 16.5% in May from 16.4% in April, one of the only groups to see an uptick during a month when the overall unemployment rate declined to 13.3% from 14.7%.

The economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May—and it seems those jobs are not going to black women.

The data, of course, arrives against the backdrop of nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. Longtime economic disparities like these are one of the many underlying reasons the protests have taken hold with such fervor across the country. The data follows the same trends the U.S. saw during the last recession, says Jasmine Tucker, lead researcher for the NWLC. While the 2008 crisis hit industries like construction that are largely occupied by men, white men recovered from the downturn more quickly than black women, who didn’t dip below double-digit unemployment until 2014. (White men’s unemployment never rose above 10%).

You can read my full story on what the May jobs report tells us about black women’s employment here.

Before we go, I’d also encourage you to spend some time with these pieces published Friday in honor of what would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. Taylor was shot eight times and killed by police officers while she was sleeping in her bed in Louisville, Kentucky in March; those officers have not been charged.

The Cut spoke to Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, about her daughter. “It’s hard to think without her. She was so much like me it’s unreal. But she was a much better version,” Palmer said in a moving tribute.

NPR talked to family and friends about Taylor, an EMT who found her job in healthcare “so rewarding.” “She always said that she would be a legend,” Taylor’s friend Erinicka Hunter said. “I just never imagined it would be like this.”

Emma Hinchliffe


- Two Americas. In this piece about how "corporate America has failed black America," we hear from former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns—the only black woman to ever lead a Fortune 500 company on a permanent basis—and Ariel Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson. Burns offered this reflection on life as a successful black executive: "I dress like the one percent. I drive like the one percent. I wear watches and jewelry like the one percent," a decision related to the fact that "I worry every day if a policeman is near me. They look at me as first and foremost a threat to their place in society." New York Times

- #PullUpOrShutUp. Sharon Chuter is the CEO and founder of UOMA Beauty. Last week, she launched a campaign asking beauty brands—especially those that have expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement—to share the numbers of black employees in their workforces and leadership teams. Brands including Ulta Beauty and Huda Beauty have participated in the Pull Up for Change campaign, which also encourages consumers to stop shopping until companies offer transparency on this question. Glamour

- Leading by example. Serena Williams offered her support for her husband Alexis Ohanian after he decided to resign his position on Reddit's board of directors and ask the company to replace him with a black director. Ohanian is one of vanishingly few business executives to acknowledge the reality that, to truly make room for more diverse leadership, white leaders will to some degree have to step aside; Williams told him that their daughter will be proud. Elle

- Muriel's mural. Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had her city paint "Black Lives Matter" along 16th Street—a road that leads straight to the White House. Bowser also renamed that section of the street "Black Lives Matter Plaza." Some activists have criticized the artistic effort, however, as an empty gesture and call on Bowser to remove funding for D.C. Police from her city's budget. CNN

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Lawyer and former federal prosecutor Fabiana Pierre-Louis is set to be New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's nominee to the state's Supreme Court; she would be the first black woman to serve on the court. Katie Kingsbury will be acting editorial page editor for the New York Times after the resignation of James Bennet following the paper's controversial publication of an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton. Variety editor-in-chief Claudia Eller was placed on administrative leave after arguing with a critic on Twitter over a piece she wrote about the lack of diversity in her newsroom.


- Smells like success. The perfume maker Puig will acquire a majority stake in the makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury, valuing the business at about $1.5 billion. The deal makes Tilbury herself one of the U.K.'s richest female entrepreneurs. Bloomberg

- Dangerous substance. As police have used tear gas at protests against racism and police brutality over the past two weeks, activists have brought up an under-covered concern: the substance is known to be an abortifacent, causing miscarriages. This 2014 piece asks why the anti-abortion movement hasn't opposed its use: The Nation

- Centennial celebration. Amid everything else going on, you may have forgotten that 2020 is also the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. In honor of the constitutional amendment that gave white women the right to vote, the images of leaders from the suffrage and civil rights movements will be projected on Mount Rushmore later this summer. Washington Post

- Horror killing. A brutal killing of a 14-year-old girl named Romina in Iran has set off a reckoning over the rights of women and children and a form of the #MeToo movement. Romina's father Reza Ashrafi beheaded her while she was sleeping after he found out she was planning to run off with her 29-year-old boyfriend. "There are thousands of Rominas who have no protection in this country," one woman named Kimia Abodlahzadeh tweeted. New York Times


I May Destroy You confirms Michaela Coel’s stunning talent Vulture

Judge in Jeffrey Epstein grand jury case has ties to those with a stake in outcome Miami Herald

Summertime Sadness: Haim returns Vulture

75% of millennial women now believe President Trump is racist Cosmopolitan 


"Not enough black women had a seat at the table, so I had to go and chop down that wood and build my own table."

-Beyoncé, in her address to the class of 2020 on Sunday

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