The Health Card

February 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

In my first post to “Just Like Family,” I related a story in which my mother told me that maids had to have a health certificate to work in a white person’s home.  I scoffed at this and asked her if any of the people who worked for her had shown her a health card.   She didn’t reply. 

However,  I have some new information that suggests black women may have had to get a health card to work in a white home.  In  the 1940s, Alice Childress, an African American Southern playwright,  wrote a scene in the play, “Like One of the Family,” where the white employer demands that the protagonist Mildred, the maid, supply her with a “health card.”   Mildred retorts by insisting her employer and her family also get health certificates to prove they did not have strange white diseases, since she was working closely with them–cooking, cleaning, bathing children, doing laundry–all would put her in close contact with them. « Read the rest of this entry »

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