Well there you have it. Two top GOP Presidential hopefuls candidates have now breathed more life into the old “lazy blacks on welfare” meme. However, what Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and many of those that support this mindset fail to understand, is that this needs to be put into its proper contexts. First, it needs to be understood that statistically speaking, blacks are not the face of welfare.
Second, the disproportionate number of blacks who receive welfare is directly related to the disproportionate number of blacks that are living in poverty and unemployed, 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 recently released data on food stamps, more than 44.7 million people received food stamps in 2011. Well this should be a no-brainer because according to the last US Census data there are only 38 million total black people in the United States or 12% of the entire US population.
Herein lies the rub, though blacks are only 12% of the population, black households make up 1/3 of all food stamp participants. However, whites account for another 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 on food stamp recipients why is it a black one? Especially if more than 2/3 of all food stamp recipients aren’t black.
Second, before we can talk about the disproportionate number of blacks on welfare, lets talk about the disproportional number of blacks living in poverty. According to a 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 lives 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 or earn less than $10,000 in annual income. Therefore, poor blacks are disproportionately the poorest of the poor.
Also statistically speaking 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 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. Gingrich and Santorum saying that blacks should demand jobs, is only half the picture. Most of the blacks who are unemployed, were employed at some time. However, when America recovered and when other races went back to work, many well qualified blacks were left in the unemployment line. Some headed back to school others sought unemployment.
While there are multiple reasons for this, the most obvious one is the skills gap. Blacks don’t need more ‘jobs’ we need careers and small business loans. Those things require education, resources, new skills acquisition and better lending practices. However all blacks hear from these candidates are cutting funds for education; no mention of funds for re-training the unemployed and 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 there, deal with it. Slavery began in Jamestown, Virginia 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. 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 but many have not.
Many blacks are still in the ‘first generation’ stage. That is, some blacks are still experiencing ‘the first black in my family to go to college’, ‘the first child that wasn’t born into poverty’, ‘the first in my family that earned more that $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 are 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 are dealt. None of them are a ‘race card’. While the facts above can be manipulated to say almost anything, 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 blacks have had to (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.