Well there you have it. Two top GOP presidential candidate hopefuls just breathed more life into the old “lazy Blacks on welfare” meme. However, what Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and many of those who support this mindset fail to understand, is that this needs to be put into proper context. First, it needs to be understood that, statistically speaking, Blacks are not the face of welfare. Secondly, the disproportionate number of Blacks who receive welfare are directly related to the disproportionate number of Blacks living in poverty due to unemployment. Finally, it must also be placed within the context of American history. All three of these things are needed in any discussion of Blacks and government assistance.
First of all, lets talk about food stamps. According to the most recent data on food stamps, more than 44.7 million people received food stamps in 2011. According to the last US Census data, there are 38 million Black people in the United States, 12% of the entire US population. Herein lies the rub: though Blacks are only 12% of the population,Black households make up 33% of all food stamp participants. However, Whites account for 31% and Latinos account for another 28%. There is no dancing around this, this is unacceptable. Still, three guys walked into a bar and robbed it. Though one suspect was Black, one was White and the other was Latino, the victim singles out the Black guy. That is the issue. If there is a face to be put of food stamp recipients, why is it a Black one? Especially if more than 2/3 of all food stamp recipients aren’t Black.
Secondly, before we can talk about the disproportionate number of Blacks on welfare, lets talk about the disproportionate number of Blacks living in poverty. According to separate data, more that 46 million Americans live below the poverty line. Now, lets not get this confused, not every American who lives below the poverty line receives food stamps, nor does every person who receives food stamps live below the poverty line. There are those among the working poor who are presently unable to ‘make the ends meet’ consistently. However, among the 46 million people who are living in poverty, 11 million, or 27.4%, are Black. Of the 11 million Blacks that live below the poverty line, 51% live twice below the poverty line, earning less than $10,000 in annual income. Therefore, poor Blacks are the poorest of the poor.
Also, according to the same census data, a majority of Blacks live in metropolitan areas and do have jobs, but we earn less. The average income for Blacks is lower than it is for other races who work in the same industries. If Blacks are to be the face of anything, we are the face of the working poor. Statistically speaking, that face would be a working female head of household with children, not the welfare queen dreamed up by Roger Ailes and Ronald Reagan.
Speaking of employment, lets look at Black unemployment. Black are unemployed at close to twice the national average. when Gingrich and Santorum say that Blacks should demand jobs, they present only half the picture. Most of the Blacks who are unemployed lost their jobs dues to economic downturn. However, when America recovered and other races went back to work, many well-qualified Blacks were left in the unemployment line. Some headed back to school while others sought underemployment. While there are multiple reasons for this, the most obvious is the skills gap. Blacks don’t need more ‘jobs’, we need careers and small business loans. Those things require educational resources, new skills acquisition and better lending practices. However, all we hear from these candidates is a plan for cutting funds for education, no mention of funds for retraining the unemployed or tighter small business lending requirements.
Finally, lets look back at history. Right wingers speak out of both sides of their mouth when they say things such as “never forget the Holocaust” or “never forget 9/11,” but they want Blacks to “GET OVER” slavery. Sorry, but the plight of Blacks in America begins with slavery, deal with it. American slavery began in Jamestown, VA in 1619 and (technically) ended in 1862. So, for more than 243 years, Blacks were treated like wild animals. From 1862 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Blacks had less basic rights than other Americans. That’s another 102 years of unequal treatment. So, for 343 years in America, Blacks have been LEGALLY treated as ‘less than’ by the federal government. But some would make it seem that 47 years of being legally regarded as equals is enough time for Blacks to “GET OVER” the psychological effects of systematic poverty. Some have gotten over it, but many have not. Many Blacks are still in the ‘first generation’ stage. That is, some Blacks are still experiencing ‘the first person in my family to go to college’, ‘the first child that wasn’t born into poverty’, ‘the first in my family that earned more than $50,000 per year’, ‘the first in my family to buy a house’, etc. However, this does not extend to the vast majority of us. There is still a large number of Blacks who have never even had a bank account.
With these and many other things in mind, Blacks are simply playing the cards that they have been dealt, none of which is a ‘race card’. The REAL TRUTH is, Blacks were given a bad hand in America. The disproportionate number of Blacks on welfare and/ or receiving food stamps is simply due to the unfortunate set of circumstances that we have had (and continue) to deal with that NO OTHER RACE has ever had to.
Therefore, until you put these statements in their proper context, SHUT UP….