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Universal Basic Income: Reclaiming Our Time for Racial Justice

It’s been 40 years since we witnessed a Women’s Convention challenging our nation to take up equal rights of women in education, work, and in their personal lives, but this past weekend nearly 5,000 people, mostly women, gathered in Detroit as part of the inaugural Women’s Convention with the theme of Reclaiming Our Time.

Inspired by Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ highly esteemed mantra “reclaiming my time,” convention speakers echoed the need to restore human dignity across a wide range of social, political and economic issues.

The Women’s Convention lifted up the role that social movements led by women of color have played in shaping current proposals and actions to address discrimination, alienation, and exclusion. At the same time, the gathering recognized that the Women’s Movement has never amply included, let alone prioritized, Black women’s oppression and experiences in the struggle for gender justice.

We are in an important moment for women to exercise their moral agency to reclaim dignity and humanity in our economy and draw upon the legacy of historical movements. One of the most compelling ideas for reimagining our nation’s economic policies through this vision is Universal Basic Income (UBI), a progressive policy proposal that is gaining traction in the national conversation.

The basic tenet behind UBI is to give every American a stipend so that all children and families have the funds to meet their most essential needs — with their dignity and self-efficacy intact. The most common UBI proposal is to give people unconditional cash grants of about $12,000 per adult annually, with variances for true costs of living. This amount would help families create an income floor to meet basic needs like shelter, food, and transportation.

While UBI has gained mainstream attention as a possible solution to automation and job loss, when it comes to the full promise — and historical roots — of UBI, we have some reclaiming to do.

Click here to read Anne’s full piece.

Organizers and volunteers from the National Welfare Rights Organization, marching to end hunger in 1968. Source: Anna Julia Cooper Center, Wake Forest University