Calling Newt Gingrich:
Who uses food stamps and other welfare programs. And no, Newt, it turns out they’re not all African American.
From Charles Blow.
Even though today Americans incorrectly associate welfare dependency with Black people, Black people were excluded from the welfare system for most of its history.
Welfare was meant for immigrant women. Proponents of the welfare system thought that urban immigrants threatened “the social order.” Welfare was seen as not only charity but also as a way of “supervising and disciplining recipients.” They felt that the cure for single mothers’ poverty was for these foreigners to “conform to American family standards.”
Black single mothers were not included in this effort. Welfare was intended for White mothers only. Administrators either set-up regulations that disqualified Blacks (such as eligibility standards that excluded domestic servants) or didn’t enact programs in areas that had large Black populations.
“As a result, in 1931 the first national survey of mothers’ pensions broken down by race found that only three percent of recipients were Black.”
In addition to this, other programs, such as those enacted in the New Deal, also excluded Blacks. When Blacks were able to gain access to some benefits, they were given less than Whites on the grounds that “Blacks needed less than Whites to live off of.”
Blacks only began to gain access to assistant programs through the Civil Rights era. As a result of lots of hard work by grassroots organizations, welfare benefits were secured for all.
However, this became a double edged sword kinda victory for Black America.
“As AFDC became increasingly associated with Black mothers already stereotyped as lazy, irresponsible, and overly fertile, it became increasingly burdened with behavior modification, work requirements, and reduced effective benefit levels. Social Security, on the other hand, effectively transferred income from Blacks to whites because Blacks have a lower life expectancy and pay a disproportionate share of taxes on earnings. Meanwhile, a white backlash had decimated the War on Poverty programs within a decade.”
(via “Welfare and the Problem of Black Citizenship” by Dorothy E. Roberts)