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Op-Ed: Health benefits of California's Paid Leave Policy out of reach for Black women

When you type “maternity leave” into Google images, white women dominate the search results. That is not a mistake. The algorithm is a reflection of who has been centered in policy conversations and benefited from paid family leave policies. We know personally: Black women in California are most in need of an inclusive paid family leave program, but least likely to have it.

We come from different backgrounds. Tina worked for Department of Social Services as a data entry operator when she got pregnant. They pinched pennies to get by like many young Black couples. Ashley earned a comfortable wage as a Behavior Analyst while she and her husband tried for a baby. Tina had her son before the state passed the nation’s first paid family leave policy. Ashley had her daughter just recently.

Yet both of our birthing experiences, 30 years apart, and recent research by Paid Leave for the U.S. (PL+US) highlight that not enough has changed for Black women in California, despite the introduction of policies like paid family leave.

For Tina, she was only seven months pregnant when she started having lab