The following blog post is more of stream-of-consciousness blathering, but I’d like to think that some of what I say is probably the truth. After all, this is all from my life experience, and I think that counts for something!
I get tired of seeing all of these stupid e-cards on Facebook and around that say stupid stuff:
Then there are the ones that counter this:
My conservative friends think that it is O.K. to assume that everyone who is a minority or who is a single mother shopping at Walmart is on welfare. They also assume that it’s O.K. to talk negatively about these women because they just sit around all day in their pajamas, popping out babies, hanging out on their iPhones and wasting taxpayer money.
I find a lot of things wrong with this. Some things that contribute to this misunderstanding: classism, racism, sexism, ignorance, soapboxing, misunderstandings of true welfare, financial instability, corporatism, mainstream media and much more.
First of all, how many of you have actually sat down and had a conversation with a woman on welfare? I can say that living in the South, 99% of the white people or middle to upper class people around me had never had a conversation with women on welfare, or oftentimes people of color. You maybe talked “at” someone, but did you ever sit down and have a conversation with them as an equal? Most definitely not. So, first things first, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t know these women’s lives. You don’t understand what has happened to them to make them be in this position.
Yes, maybe they are on welfare, with children, walking around in pajamas, with a cell phone and not working. Did you ever think of how that person got there? Maybe when she was 16 years old she got raped by her uncle or by a friend of her brother who didn’t bother to use a condom. She didn’t have health insurance and her family was religious, so she couldn’t abort the baby. She had to take care of the baby. Then it happened again.
OR maybe a young girl who was discriminated against in a mostly-white high school dropped out to have a child. And because she was uneducated (because no one ever gave her a chance), she ended up having to work low-wage jobs at $4-7 and hour. Unable to afford to take care of herself or her newborn on that money, she sought out public assistance. All of her friends in similar situations told her that she should have more children so she could get more money to pay for her kids, so she could live. Maybe she lives in a place where white people won’t hire people of color.
If you’re being discriminated against and it’s near impossible to get a job but you have to support your children, then what other option do you have to provide for your family? Other than prostitution or illegal activities, which some people resort to doing.
You blame these women for being on welfare and not wanting to get off of it, but think about their lives. Would YOU hire a black woman over a white woman? Are you inherently racist? Are you conditioned to thinking that black people are lazy so you’ll never hire them? Are you just ignorant of the institutionalized racism these people have faced since slavery and before?
How can you blame someone for something that they can’t control? How can you blame them for seeking out the only viable option to survive and to provide for their children? If you had a chance to take your tax money and put it towards helping other people, would you consider putting it towards an educational fund? No, probably not. If you had a choice, your racist self wouldn’t be interested in that. Taxes are the only way some people would ever give to another ethnic group. This would never be a conscious decision.
NEXT – while you’re busy watching Fox News spout lies about our black president Obama (THANKS OBAMA), you begin to internalize all of the half-facts that permeate the airwaves. You see your friends and others on social media complaining about welfare and the cost it has on our lives. You complain that public assistance is bloated and so wasteful. But, then you don’t realize that the media is promulgating half-truths and no one is able to counter them as widely and loudly. Six companies own nearly all of the media enterprises in our country. Six companies run by rich white dudes who have an interest in keeping people of color down. Do you think they get upset when lies are promoted on their media? Probably not. This goes back to the missing link between knowing and talking to a welfare recipient and just regurgitating bullshit that you see on Facebook and hear from uneducated, racist people in your life.
If you have never talked to someone on welfare without having a stick up your ass, then you haven’t seen the full picture and therefore your opinion is unbacked.
Do the research yourself. A 2013 study reported that:
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and public benefit programs show 52 percent of fast-food cooks, cashiers and other “front-line” staff had relied on at least one form of public assistance, such as Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit program, between 2007 and 2011, researchers at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois said.
With minimum wage really low, considering the massive inflated costs of things nowadays, even people with jobs still have to get onto public assistance because it is impossible to live on $7.15/hr with no medical benefits. People work two jobs and have no time for their families. They can’t afford trips to the doctors, so they wait until the last minute and go to the ER. They face problems all of the time in being discriminated against.
You act like people on welfare want to be at the bottom of the food chain; like they want to be hated. Do you think that it is human nature to not want to provide for yourself? We still all believe in the American Dream, of making our lives better and reaching some goal. But when some of us have literal walls blocking our ways to even get started on that, sometimes we can’t manage and just give up. We become part of the system because we have to eat, as do our children.
End of rant
I know that this is going to be considered an angry, progressive, unfounded rant. I get that. I didn’t do all sorts of research on this. I am just going off of what I know about people on welfare and people who talk shit about others on welfare. If you want to complain about your taxes, complain about the fact that megabillion dollar corporations operate with massive amount of risk and have no sense of patriotism to the country that has allowed them to thrive. Think of the wasteful amount of money spent on the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense budget that builds planes that cost millions of dollars to make that they don’t even end up using because drones do a better job. We are not really that vulnerable as a country in terms of defense. We ARE vulnerable in our culture though. When a majority of the wealth is held by 5% of the population, and people are constantly struggling to make ends meet, then is our sovereignty as a country threatened. We’re threatened by ourselves. We are the ones who are allowing this to happen, and the more we put people in cages and ridicule them for not being able to Houdini their ways out of there, the more we are destroying what it means to be American.
People on welfare are not the problem here. The problem is that we are not unified as a country, and we are allowing the capitalist ideology take over our sense of community and human identity. We are putting people aside in search of the bottom line, and we are failing miserably to pull ourselves out of debt as a country.
I digress. But another point is that there are more white people on welfare than there are black people, so don’t just stereotype everyone on welfare. #TheMoreYouKnow.
I guess the point of this ranting blog post is to encourage us to think about the cause of our problems and not the people are are affected by the problem. Picking on people who are on welfare is not going to change the structure of welfare.
- Fighting racism and classism is a first step. These are humans who are trying to survive. They are not some subspecies of human, although some extreme racists may see it that way.
- Instead of looking at the person on welfare, look at the policy that makes public assistance happen.
- Talk to someone on welfare, understand their needs and wants. There is a human behind that stereotype.
- Blame the system and not the people affected by an unfair system.
- If no of this is appealing, then keep it to yourself. Or admit you don’t know it all. There’s no need to feel threatened. If you don’t like where your taxes are going, stop paying them. Protest. Or lobby to have tax reform. Don’t just complain about something that you know very little about. That just shows ignorance and hatred.
Legacy, the documentary.
“Who benefits from the safety net?” NYTimes.com