'Through The Night' Film Shows A Childcare System Already In Crisis
Speaker 1: 00:00 The coronavirus pandemic has brought to light a childcare crisis in this country. But for many workers, particularly in low wage or central work jobs, the crisis isn't new. The stories of some of these mothers are told in the film through the night, which profiles a 24 hour childcare center in New York. Here's a clip. Speaker 2: 00:20 I never really thought of overnight childcare till I had to use it working seven days, two months. If I'm not working one job, I'm working. And I'm like, Hey man, Merry Christmas, love you guys very much. It's not just a job. This is really our life and my children ever since they was the age of two years old, they had to share me with other children. And when my children said, mommy, why do they have to come first as parents, you make sacrifice, it is not their fault. So I just do what I can Speaker 1: 01:01 Through the night is part of the human rights watch film festival, which kicks off today, hosted virtually by the museum of photographic arts. Joining me is the film's director and producer Loida limbo Loda. Thanks for joining us. Thank you for having me, you know, for this documentary, you spend some time following several working mothers, as they navigated childcare and work that requires them to need childcare outside of the standard school or daycare hours. Tell us about these women and the kind of people who tend to need this sort of care. Speaker 3: 01:35 So yes, we spent a few years, uh, with the mothers and caregivers of this community, of these tots and new Rochelle, New York. Uh, our protagonists are all people that we would now call essential workers. Marysol Valencia is a single mother of two girls, uh, who has been working three, two to three jobs consistently over the last few years, uh, because none of her employers want to give her full-time hours in order to avoid paying health insurance and other benefits. And so she's been caught in a, in a cycle of very, um, irregular schedules and work hours that are almost non-stop. Uh, and then Shinola Tate, who we also spent time with in the film is a pediatric ER nurse, uh, who is also a single mother of two children and works the night shift. She works from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM and then new, new, and Patrick who run the daycare and have done so for over two decades, uh, provide care to, you know, the children of Marisol [inaudible] and many other families in this community, uh, around the clock as well. So they themselves are barely able to get any sleep. Speaker 1: 02:55 And w what are some of the barriers, families of color, particularly face in the economy? Speaker 3: 03:02 That's a great question. You know, often times when people watch the film or we have conversations about the film, uh, we hone in on the childcare crisis, uh, which is, you know, for obvious reasons, but I would also say that beyond the childcare crisis, um, there's just a, an overall crisis, right? If you take the case of Marie soul who is working multiple low wage jobs, because employers want to avoid, you know, paying for health insurance and other things, um, you know, that is a matter of, you know, when you think of the challenges that the matter of, uh, the lack of a living wage, right? The lack of affordable, accessible health insurance, you know, all these different issues, uh, you know, collide in many ways in the lines of working class people, but particularly right, when you add race and gender to anything in the United States, communities of color and women of color always come out on the bottom and really bear the brunt of all of our broken systems, Speaker 1: 04:09 Just by your inclusion in the human rights watch film festival means that we watch this documentary through a lens of thinking is the way the system is set up for working mothers, a human rights issue. Can you talk to me about that? Speaker 3: 04:23 Sure. Uh, it, it's, it's absolutely a human rights issue. Uh, you know, I won't even talk about it in political or social terms. I will just say we have a, an economy, uh, where we have normalized the fact that people work multiple jobs work around the clock, uh, and still have to choose between paying rent or buying groceries on any given month. Uh, and these are people that are doing everything for on port, you know, correct. Right. The things that society tells you to do, if you work hard, you will be able to provide an advance in life. Uh, and instead we have this very brutal, uh, and, and harmful system in place, uh, that asks people to, to make these kinds of sacrifices. All of the folks in the film are working around the clock. None of them get any more than three to four hours of sleep. Speaker 3: 05:32 A night sleep is perhaps one of the most essential human necessities, um, you know, alongside with water, right, and food. Uh, and again, we have gotten to a point, uh, in the sort of us brand of capitalism, where sleep has been turned into some sort of luxury that only the lucky few who are privileged enough have access to, uh, and the worst part of it all is that in many ways, all of this is very invisible, uh, that these realities of realities, of women, of color and working mothers, you know, low income folks, uh, get, uh, neglected, uh, and oftentimes in feminist spaces and in feminist conversations. And they're also overlooked, uh, by the labor movement, you know, the, the, the face of labor in the United States, it's still very male overwhelmingly white, despite the fact that our labor force is increasingly made up of women, um, and increasingly women of color, Speaker 1: 06:37 This film was made pre pandemic, but can you tell us how the system is fairing during COVID, uh, with these, uh, folks who were highlighted in particular new, new, and the mothers you followed? Woo. Speaker 3: 06:50 Uh, pardon me. The immediate answer is that the system is a hot mess and it's completely fallen apart. Um, I think where we're in, in systems collapse, uh, with a pandemic, something like upwards of 60% of childcare providers have closed their doors due to COVID. Uh, and the ones that have remained open are often centers like newborn Patrick's, who are caring for the children of essential workers. They haven't laid any of their staff off, uh, because they feel a sense of responsibility and loyalty to their, you know, their support staff. And they have, you know, all the other expenses are not, not to mention being frontline workers in some ways, uh, in terms of supporting families that are experiencing food insecurity or housing insecurity or unemployment, or, you know, any range, right. Of mental health issues or physical health issues. These childcare providers are much more than childcare. Speaker 3: 08:02 They aren't in many ways, uh, the social safety net that the system and the covenant refuses to provide to working families. Um, and so they've been, you know, Nan Patrick has been playing that role throughout the pandemic and they're, um, they're weary. Uh, and I think in, in, in some way, it's also feeling, um, some anger and disappointment, uh, because when we do as a society, talk about essential workers and we sort of, you know, hand out our symbolic gestures of gratitude to essential workers. Oftentimes we don't even include people like, no, no one Patrick, right? We talk about nurses or firefighters and teachers. Uh, but we don't talk about a childcare provider or a home health aid, or the janitors that are keeping hospitals clean right there there's, there are all these people who quite literally do the work that makes all other work possible. We just refuse to see respect and value in the United States. Speaker 1: 09:10 The film is called through the night, and it is part of the human rights watch film festival with five documentary screening through the museum of photographic arts this week, a screening of through the night and live Q and a with director loiter limbo takes place tomorrow at 7:00 PM. We have email@example.com. And I have been speaking with Lloyd limbo. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.