welfare

The history of welfare programs in the U.S. includes the fact that originally the program was designed for war widows.  Most of these women were white and the program was meant to tide the woman, usually a mother, over until she could marry a new husband and be supported by him.

Today the image of a welfare mother is far different and usually is of a woman of color instead of a white woman.  Women today are also more likely to have children outside of marriage and welfare is less likely to be for war widows.

How do you think these changes in recipients have affected the public opinions about welfare and about the recipients?

I think that very few recipients of welfare understand the history of the system. They don’t know how the system was created and what its purpose was. Realizing that the program was designed for war widows makes me view the system completely differently and it also angers me because of how the welfare is today.

I leaned on the welfare system when I was pregnant 5 years ago. I was ashamed and embarrassed to fill out the application and to meet with a worker and to get my EBT card. I was embarrassed when I went into the supermarket to purchase groceries and did my best to shield my card from the cashier and others in line. Why? Personally, I felt it was a failure that I couldn’t provide for myself. But what I also did know is that as soon as I was able to go back to work, I would and I would get off of welfare. I never looked at the program as a long term. It was there to help those in need and I was not going to take advantage.

The problem I see now in my community is that welfare is some type of game that people need to beat. They receive assistance, but have a job on the side they don’t report. They claim they don’t have money to pay rent or buy toothpaste and toilet paper but they have an Iphone, new Nikes, and their nails painted. Every.single.week. Welfare recipients tend to have a variety of resources available to help recipients get back on their feet. From job training programs to parenting classes to apartment help. The idea is that ok, people need help and we need to help them. Though some recipients take advantage. Welfare is not a career. So now the public opinion is that welfare is a crutch for people. It’s viewed as a means to help people become more dependent. And the fact that most recipients now are of woman of color only reiterates stereotypes within our society. Those women of color need help, that they are needy, and poor. It’s a sad sad reality based on why the program was designed. Of course not all recipients are devious, and like myself I appreciated the help, but also worked extremely hard to get off the system and did so in a year.

 Lets keep the dialouge open, what is your take?

Tiny URL for this post:
 



sig

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “welfare”

T.P. Jefferson says:

I really, really like this post. I did not know what the original purpose of welfare was. I will have to do more research – it's a topic I am too ignorant about. I've wanted to write a topic on this subject for a long time, but I resisted because, like I said, I don't know much about it. But I do know that a lot of young moms receive assistance and it helps them get by, so I need to address it soon, I think. Thanks for the inspiration and the history lesson! :)

Her Momma says:

Great post! I agree with a lot of this; welfare is great when it's truly needed but it does get abused too easily it seems (I know two undeserving people myself!).

Mommy Glow says:

Hey Mrs Jefferson, its a topic that everyone has their own opinion about. Some people have experienced it and some have not. I know that knowledge is power and understanding the background of the problem is a big step in understanding and trying to change the system. It's a topic that I feel personally connected with due to my use of the system.

Mommy Glow says:

Hey Her Momma thanks for the feedback. Like I stated in my previous post welfare is the kind of topic everyone has their own opinion about. Though we should never forget how welfare began. It's sad to me how people respond to welfare now. And I think we all know people who abuse the system, which is truly sad.

YUMMama says:

As a young single mom of color, I certainly think that we get a bad wrap when it comes to welfare. I know that there are a few out there who abuse the system, but what are we doing to stop it? Nothing really. I think the only way we can really stop getting hooked on the system is by extending a helping hand.

Growing up there was five of us kids and my dad decided to walk out because he felt like he had lived an unwanted life long enough. It was a hard decision for my mom to decide to get on welfare, but she did. At first, I felt a little embarrassed because my mom had done such a great job of shielding us from the fact of how poor we really were. So, it took some adjusting and lots of family talks.

But I'm so proud that my mom had saw from other family members how easy it would be to get hooked and decided not to. With five kids it would have been much easier to lean on Uncle Sam than to work three jobs. I'm also proud of how I saw her talking to those people who were beating the system, trying to motivate them to get off their asses and work for their living. A few listened.

I also think that we should try to be less judgmental as well. I mean unless we know first hand that somebody is taking advantage of the system let's not be so quick to label based on a person's clothes, car, etc. Because my mom had nice things before she got in the state to where she needed assistance and she didn't throw those things away. She did let the cell phone go, but we kept our nice car, clothes and she certainly rocked her diamonds.

Just because you're down on your luck doesn't mean you have to dress like it. Keep it real. We create a lot of stereotypes about our own kind ourselves. Just because you have on some Tiffany & Co doesn't mean that you don't need that EBT card I saw you pull out at the register. How do I know when or how you got it? I don't. So, I try not to judge when I see people with nice things or looking nice using welfare. I don't know their story.

Bottom line if you know somebody abusing the system, report them. Don't give up your nice things because you're on welfare. If you dress like you're on welfare, that's how people will treat you. Hold your head up and strut your stuff like it's nobody's business and see how many more doors will open for you. And finally, let change start with us.

Mommy Glow says:

Yum Mama, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Thank you very much for your feedback, I really appreciate it. Let me just state that the post I wrote was based on what I see with my own 2 eyes with people I know personally and those in the communities I live with and people whom I volunteer with. I know these peoples finances I know that they are on the system, but I also know they are beating the system. I have tried talking with them, one of the girls was a close close friend of mine. But she got offended and now we don’t talk anymore. I think you are on key when you say that instead of complaining about the problem we should take an active role and stop the problem. But is reporting people really a way of extending an extra hand?

YUMMama says:

Reporting them might not be a way of extending an extra hand, but if you know someone is committing a crime and you do nothing that makes you an accessory to the situation. I think that in the black society this whole I don't want to be labeled as a snitch things is just stupid. I'm not going to just stand by and watch you take money that I know you don't need, especially when we have senior citizens who can't get the amount of welfare they need because too many young people are sucking the system dry. At the end of the day, you have to do whatever sits well with your conscious. And I know that mine doesn't sit well with witnessing things like fraud and deceit.

Mel says:

I think most people that apply for welfare are NOT trying to game the system. They actually just need assistance getting back on their feet. If anything I think people stay on it so long because the assistance is barely enough to get by let alone get to the point where they can support themselves.

Cheri' says:

I think welfare most definitely a needed system for those in need. And of course, as with anything, there are going to be those who abuse it, lie, get what they are not really supposed to. But much of the public also know virtually nothing about the average welfare recipient. For instance most people that receive food stamps are actually working people that are simply not making enough money. Upward mobility for many in the US is becoming less and less unlikely. Many people also do not know the welfare laws that were implement in the 1990′s under the Clinton Administration enforcing that you can only get cash for a maximum of 5 years. Reagan of course did nothing for the cause deeming all welfare recipients ‘welfare queens’. In many ways the welfare system works as a trap that does little to help people escape poverty and move up economically.

I have spent the last 16 years working with low income families that receive benefits in 2 different states. I will say that for every “cheat” there are really people who need the benefits and are basically trapped in a poverty death spiral. Yes, there are programs that “help” people already receiving TANF benefits but I can also say that as the executive director of an agency that provides those services, there are less services to go around.

This past year has been eye-opening as I have seen kids with no shoes as a result of the TANF 5 year limit. So many of these “cheats” you are talking about will be kicked off at some point. There is no lifetime limit to benefits anymore, Bill Clinton’s welfare reform changed things up.

Like another commenter stated, people who work can receive food stamps, I know several people including one who is self employed that is receiving benefits. Also in those instances, when you see a person with an iPhone and a food stamp card, their allotment is often very low. So they are not necessarily gaming the system.

I will say that my own thoughts from years in the field is that one has to be careful about playing into stereotypes when it comes to welfare.

Leave a Reply