by Yvette Carnell
One of the most insidious aspects of racist American political culture is how it uses stereotypes to turn the majority white culture against African-Americans. Prime example: Former Pres. Ronald Reagan crafted the caricature of a welfare queen living on Chicago’s South Side solely to store in the collective mind of white America that African-Americans are parasites:
“She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards”, sneered Reagan. “She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.”
Ronald Reagan made those comments in 1976 during a presidential campaign, even though the idea of the black welfare queen has outlived the man who created that racist and repulsive representation. But the problem isn’t just that Reagan was playing to a bias within the electorate to win votes. The problem is that he was wrong. He told a lie in order to win an election. Not that there wasn’t a real fraudster bilking the government in Chi-town, but painting all welfare recipients with this broad brush was blatantly untrue. Need proof?
From The Atlantic:
This month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics compared yearly spending between families that use public assistance programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, and families that don’t. And surprise, surprise, households that rely on the safety net lead some pretty frugal lifestyles. On average, they spend $30,582 in a year, compared to $66,525 for families not on public assistance. Meanwhile, they spend a third less on food, half as much on housing, and 60 percent less on entertainment.
No one is getting rich or living a lavish lifestyle off the pittance they receive in food or income subsidies. It seems that now is as good a time as any to stop beating up on poor people in order to achieve political gain.