When Exactly Did Welfare Become A “Black” Problem?

Last night, we and my friend were having a discussion about the fact that many states are attempting to pass legislation prohibiting welfare recipients from being able to spend the cash they receive on liquor, cigarettes, strip clubs, gambling and guns. After discussing how impossible that would be to enforce, my friend said something that sparked a very interesting conversation between us: “You know they just wanna pass these laws to make sure ratchet-ass Black folk can’t try and buy 20 inch rims and candy paint for their cars.” To which I replied, “hold up – why would anyone frame Welfare as a “Black” issue though?”

As far as he was concerned, the politicians, political pundits, and society as a whole have already dictated that welfare is an issue that predominantly effects Black people more than anyone else. He even pointed back to Rick Santorum’s quote he made in Iowa while trying to get the Republican nomination for president: “I don’t want to give Black people somebody else’s money, I want them to go out and earn their own money” [Ironically, 84% of Iowa’s welfare recipients are white]. My boy continued his point by stating “Hell, watch any report on CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, or FOX news about welfare and the camera shots will mostly feature poor inner-city Black folk – yet, show NO trailer-park residing white folk.” He made a very valid argument, which prompted my NEXT question: When the HELL did welfare become a BLACK issue?

The FACTS are, 35.7% of welfare recipients are white, while 22% are Black. Food stamp recipients are 46.2% white to 37.2% Black. Now this is not to say that we should be BLAMING white people more than Black people – it just proves that we should be focusing on examining why there are SO many welfare recipients in the first damn place (an estimated 4.4 MILLION people) with an unemployment rate of 8.2% [as of last Friday]. Framing a terrible economic failure with overt racial tones is not only anti-intellectual and flat out WRONG – but even WORSE, it’s actually HARMFUL to making any progressive strides in dealing with the real issues at hand.

But before we attack the politicians and major media outlets for their careless and non-factual reporting, we need to clear up this issue amongst OURSELVES so we are no longer propagating our HATE and ANGER towards the wrong set of people. Anywhere you find upwardly mobile young Black professionals, you will also find the ridiculous anti-ratchet rhetoric that BLAMES un-and-under employed negroes for being lazy and frowsy and not MOTIVATED like THEY are. And therein lies the rub: Believing that important factors like systemic racism, educational mismanagement in the inner-cities and an old-predominantly White-Boys Club have ZERO impact on those numbers.

Should race be looked at to narrow the solutions for each individual community affected by high welfare statistics? OF COURSE. Should it be used as a weapon to degrade and blame an entire race? No. We know that all welfare recipients aren’t Black or White or honest or thieves, but if we want to have a serious, intelligent conversation, at least let’s get the BASIC facts straight.

This Is Your Conscience

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing for his controversial and critically acclaimed blog ThisIsYourConscience.com, he can be found contributing articles for Uptown Magazine. Lincoln wrote the hilarious and insightful book "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass". He is also a public speaker who has sat on panels all over North America and the Caribbean.


  1. lincolnanthonyblades

    07/10/2012 at 4:25 AM

    Ladies & Gentlemen, Do You Believe Welfare Recipients Should Have Their Spending Habits Monitored By The Government And LOSE Benefits If They Spend Money On Things OTHER Than Necessities [Food/Clothing/Rent/etc.]??

    • J. A. Johnson

      07/10/2012 at 4:53 AM

      Before I comment…let's get some things straight. I think the numbers are a bit closer to the 30 percentile for black people and while majority if welfare recipients are white…white people are also the vast majority of this country. So what does that tell us? That says that there is a higher ratio of black people on welfare than black people not welfare…compared to the number white people vs white people on welfare. So a more accurate statistic to go by if considering race is the percentage of each race on welfare within each racial group.

      So yeah…while African Americans do not cover the majority of the cost of welfare…the amount of African Americans on welfare is something in need of fixing. Do I agree with the way black people are all seen to be on welfare? Hell no. There are tons of successful African Americans. But at the same time…it's up to the African American community to fix the stereotype and the stigma.

      • lincolnanthonyblades

        07/10/2012 at 5:04 AM

        I Agree That We Need Proper Context So Let's Get Some More Things Straight…

        The Discussion Around Cutting Or Keeping Welfare Benefits Is Widely Framed In The Context Of The OVERALL Dollar Amount, NOT Cutting Specific Dollar Amounts That Relate To Each Specific Race So The OVERALL Percentage Of WHO Actually Constitutes The Recipients IS More Important Than What Percentage Of The Race Is On Welfare..

        But If We Are Going To Swing The Discussion In That Manner, We Need To Be Honest About The Fact That We Do NOT Live In A Post-Racial World Therefore We Need To Accurately Frame WHY Black People Have A Higher Rate Of Our Race Affected By Welfare.


        • J. A. Johnson

          07/10/2012 at 5:20 AM

          I agree with you that welfare isn't a race issue…but the topic of the post is race and welfare, so I wanted that in the picture from the start also.

          Welfare shouldn't be seen as a racial issue whatsoever. The only thing that should be thought about welfare….Who gets it and who qualifies? How long they get to have it for? How much is being given to them? What can it be spent on (I agree that there should be limitations. Maybe instead of a check, a debit card can be used…which would also be cheaper because of postage and paper). But for your last question…why is it the way it is? There are a thousand and one reasons. The easy statement for someone to make is that they are all lazy (and some are). But there is more to it than that. Maybe it's because welfare isn't seen as such a bad thing with some black people in the community and thus being on it is cool? Whatever the reason…it has to be special. Not all black people are on it and some have never been. Also have to wonder why black people more than others…can't be a political or medial thing. Self reflection and accountability is needed.

          • J. A. Johnson

            07/10/2012 at 5:22 AM

            Political and media*

        • Vicky

          07/10/2012 at 12:18 PM

          Sorry to jump in, Lincoln.

          I'm glad you brought up that we do not live in a "post-racial world". My question, and I have asked before is how are we supposed to get to that "promised land" if we (our generation) are still believing in all the stereotypes/stigma?

          I'm sure the person who said “You know they just wanna pass these laws to make sure ratchet-ass Black folk can’t try and buy 20 inch rims and candy paint for their cars.” is within our age group therefore should have a little more sense then to say something so ignorant. I don't care what Fox News, ABC, CNN or any ignorant/racist person or media outlet has to say, THEY (older generation/people who run the media and so on) are making it about race but if you want ish to change, it won't unless we the public change our mind sets.

    • Vicky

      07/10/2012 at 9:12 AM

      I want to say yes but I know people are going to jump down my throat. Yes to having the government monitor where you are spending your money! Why? it's simple, at the end of the day, it is money that we. the employed, are taxed on their incomes to help support people in need. I have NO problem helping people when they need help and I applaud the fact that there are many programs available from the government however I do have a problem with lazy f*cks sitting on their asses in better clothes than me, spending my tax dollar on booze, drugs and gambling

      • Smilez_920

        07/10/2012 at 9:35 AM

        I agree with you Vicky. The government should monitor how welfare recipients spend money granted to them by the state. There are too many people (not just black or even white) who are raping the system.

        I remember about a year ago in NYC they wanted to stop letting people get soda with food stamps, because its unhealthy. I worked at a grocery store at the time and this lady went crazy about it. I’m like you are getting free healthy name brand food and you are complaining because you can’t buy a soda. If you want a soda that bad use your own dollar or the cash amount they give you on your benefits card.

        I also think if the government wants to get these people, off of welfare they need to reinstate a job finding in initiative. Help train people for jobs and assist them in their search so they can stop milking the cow. (The jobs don’t have to be fancy it can be Wal-Mart).

        • kema

          07/10/2012 at 10:14 AM

          So are you suggesting a mother work at walmart to make minimum wage and then come home to give it all to daycare? The problem is the broken homes. Its hard for these women doing it themselves.

          • Vicky

            07/10/2012 at 10:24 AM

            There are women out there who do need the help, no questions about it. People in general may need help once or twice in their lives and there is nothing wrong with that at all. The issues are the ones who abuse the system. I have an issue with women who are on welfare with children and taking their checks to go out partying or out there buying expensive name brand shoes, clothes, purse, etc

          • The_Mad_HATER

            07/10/2012 at 12:39 PM

            some people need to be protected from themselves and their own bad decision making!!! aint nothing wrong with saying that!!!

          • Vicky

            07/10/2012 at 12:55 PM

            agreed, there are some people like that but then there are others that fully know they are taking advantage of it. Sadly, they still receive the support and some people who really need it do not get approved

          • iluvwhoiluv

            07/10/2012 at 1:17 PM

            Co-sign on that statement!

          • Smilez_920

            07/10/2012 at 10:36 AM

            I didn’t say she would give up her food stamps, there are people with jobs who get food stamps, but at least she wouldn’t have to depend on just the system. And Wal-Mart is better than sitting on your tail doing nothing. Also if her children are old enough for school K-12 or old enough to tay home alone then, whats the issue.

            Welfare shouldn’t be a lifestyle it should be a safe haven for when you fall on hard times. And the recipients need to work somewhere and donate to the system their taking away from. I said the government should assit them with it if they are complaining asbout it.

            And while broken homes are part of the problem, putting children on this earth that you can’t take care of by yourself is the bigger issue. (This doesn’t not include people who have a spouse that passed away)

          • Smilez_920

            07/10/2012 at 11:02 AM

            And while Wal-Mart might be minimum wage it’s still a job. It allows her to show her kids the meaning of hard work, and allow her not to solely depend on extras from the feds. If she doesn’t make enough the government will still provide her with assistance, section 8, food stamps, billing ect… at least in NYC.
            Maybe she can’t do this will her children are very young but once the hit school age,or at least middle school this should be attempted.

          • NurseJilly

            07/10/2012 at 11:27 AM

            Great point. Its important that kids see their parents working hard to provide for them. Teach them the value of a dollar. I also agree that while they are very young working may not be possible but I'd also like to point out that no babies need to be born while you are on welfare either… Thats just ridiculous.

          • The_Mad_HATER

            07/10/2012 at 12:39 PM

            some of these women are abusing the funds they are getting tho!!! women taking checks and going to atlantic city and all kinds of crap!!!

        • The_Mad_HATER

          07/10/2012 at 12:38 PM

          women like that make me sick!! just be happy you live in a country that wont let your sorry ass fall!!

          • Abu Husain

            07/10/2012 at 3:08 PM

            You're better than I am. I don't see why I should have to pay for someone else's bad decisions.

          • The_Mad_HATER

            07/10/2012 at 5:12 PM

            exactly!!! you should lose welfare altogether if you get caught buying stupid shit!!

      • The_Mad_HATER

        07/10/2012 at 12:37 PM

        some people are bad with spending their money and need financial consultants whether they have a job or not!! if poor people cant afford consultants then let the government tell them how they should spend their money!! and if they dont like it then get off welfare!!

        • Vicky

          07/10/2012 at 1:00 PM

          Thank you!

        • NurseJilly

          07/10/2012 at 1:25 PM


      • krystllyght

        07/10/2012 at 12:42 PM

        I agree it should be monitored. I don't mind helping a person when they're down but it rubs me the wrong way when they choose to spend it on unnecessary things. Excuse me but I thought welfare was supposed to help you get by not fund a ridiculous lifestyle. Really? Strip clubs and rims? Naw!

        • Smilez_920

          07/10/2012 at 1:09 PM

          I agree. I don’t have problem helping others when they're down, because it could be me one day if something happens. But people need to realize what welfare is. It is not a paycheck, you did not earn it, and it is being given to you, just like an allowance. I just want them to monitor the system all around so everyone that needs it can use it, and not abuse it.

  2. GrandCentral

    07/10/2012 at 6:29 AM

    January 20th, 2009. That's when it became a black problem. Remember thats the day we inaugurated the "food stamp" President.

    I'll delve into this further, later on.

  3. GrandCentral

    07/10/2012 at 6:34 AM

    Dammit Lincoln! You're going to make me pull out my statistics. Until I return, I'll let everyone think on this. The idea that welfare is a black thing in the United States is myth. Last year, Newt Ginrich made his famous comments and it forced everyone to dig deeply and debunk the shit he was saying. Of my memory serves me correctly, public assistance in the US is distrusted to a whopping 70% of …….drum roll please……..Caucasians. That's right. Think about that one.

    I'll be back later

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/10/2012 at 11:53 AM

      Since I'm A Fan Of Stats I Will Be Anxiously Awaiting Your Return

    • iluvwhoiluv

      07/10/2012 at 1:20 PM


  4. mena

    07/10/2012 at 8:00 AM

    Welfare became a black issue once Reagan coined the term welfare queen: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/19/opinion/19krugm
    I could write an entire paper on this subject. Blacks have always been stereotyped as being the inferior race, needing the most help, unable to help ourselves. Bc statistically our numbers are low (we make up maybe 15% of the US population) we don't have the liberty to have a screwed up segment of the population that won't effect the entire whole.

    • Double K

      07/10/2012 at 10:47 AM

      The media loves to perpetuate statistical fallacies. So instead of saying the majority of people on welfare are white, they'll say there's a higher percentage or black people on welfare. See the difference?

      At the end of the day roughly 73% of america is white, 12.2-12.6% is black, 16.3% is hispanic (but they include the 0.4% of black hispanics in this statistic).

      • lincolnanthonyblades

        07/10/2012 at 11:52 AM

        Exactly. My Problem Is I Would Like Them To Come Outright And Infer Exactly What They Are Talking About When They State This. Is The Leap In Logic That We Are LESS Motivated And MORE Lethargic And Lazy?

        • mena

          07/10/2012 at 12:18 PM

          Yes. When our music promotes more hustle, drugs, and laziness and this is the only interaction that you have with a certain racial group, then this is the conclusion that some will jump to.

          • The_Mad_HATER

            07/10/2012 at 12:40 PM

            what music promotes laziness??? i hope you aint talking about rap!!

          • mena

            07/10/2012 at 1:13 PM

            But I am sweetie! This crap out here promotes everything that is negative.

          • The_Mad_HATER

            07/10/2012 at 5:13 PM

            hip hop actually promotes having a hustle and making money!! the problem is it promotes doing it illegally!! but it definitely doesnt promote laziness!!

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/10/2012 at 11:51 AM

      Thanks For The Link, I'm Reading Up On That RIght Now

  5. Smilez_920

    07/10/2012 at 9:40 AM

    Like a lot of things in America, black people have become the escape goat for food stamps. In some ways we have made ourselves the poster child for welfare, maybe through movies, TV or music etc… But for a government official o try and turn welfare into a Black thing is crazy.

    It’s just like Affirmative action. This white girl on the news in Texas claimed that she didn’t get into the college of her choice due to affirmative action. Only if she would pick up a book would she know more white women have been helped by affirmative action than any color, religion or race.

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/10/2012 at 11:50 AM

      Good Ass Point

  6. Vicky

    07/10/2012 at 10:52 AM

    HEY! My post got deleted!

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/10/2012 at 11:47 AM

      LoL! You Got Trapped In Moderation…It's Been Released Now

      • Vicky

        07/10/2012 at 11:50 AM

        I didn't even swear and I got censored – I think I should take a hint! LMAO!

  7. Abu Husain

    07/10/2012 at 2:57 PM

    Yes, they should have their spending habits monitored by the government. It's my tax dollars and the same way I don't want politicians pissing away the money (hard to get them to stop doing that in Cali), I don't want recipients of welfare doing it either. I actually think that it's easy as to find work and most people just don't want to do it because they don't like the hard work that comes along with it.

  8. eva

    07/10/2012 at 3:55 PM

    WOW! There are some ignorant ass racist people that post on these articles. Let me tell you something. Most of you dont even KNOW a person on welfare. So honestly you need to mind your business. Stop putting olks you dont even know. I used to be on welfare, I went to school and got a decent job….still cant make ends meet. And I make several dollars more than min wage. I WISH I still got welfare. It does help. Yes there are some lazy ass folks that abuse the system but nit all. How about you live on $410 a month in cash and $300 a month in foodstamps and see how hard it is. They do not issue paper checks anymore get your facts straight. It goes on a debit type card. No visa or mastercard logo either. Some people need that help. Daycare is expensive and not everyone is comfortable leaving their kids home alone no matter the age. Do you honestlythink the government is gonna stop there ….no they will be dictating everuones lives

    • mena

      07/10/2012 at 4:22 PM

      Since you put your business out there, why did you have to go on welfare? Are you a single? A single mother? Do you have an illness? Just wondering.

    • Smilez_920

      07/10/2012 at 4:25 PM

      Again your case is special. No one is knocking being on welfare, but their are people on the System who do abuse it. if someone gives you money you didn't work for they have the right to regulate it.

      No one said its not hard living off of just welfare but some people are milking it and making it hard for people who really do need it to receive these benefits.

      Also welfare is meant to keep a roof over your head food in your belly and the basics, ( I know food stamps doesn't pay for diapers, paper towel detergent) but when you bring someone in this world you have to think about those cost, especially if you have one already and already struggling.

    • The_Mad_HATER

      07/10/2012 at 5:15 PM

      what the hell are you even talking about!!! we are talking about people who abuse the system and midway through your nonsensical rant you admitted there are people who abuse the system so what the hell is your point???!!!

    • Abu Husain

      07/10/2012 at 5:24 PM

      It's not that people are racist or ignorant, some people just see it as dishonorable to beg of others when you are physically able to do it yourself… I understand that certain people need help (I have a friend that was shot and loss the use of all his limbs, so he gets gov't help), but then I know other people that just make bad decisions (I know a woman that had two kids while on gov't assistance) and want someone else to foot the bill.

      I know about hard living. I lived in a third world country at one point and had to stretch a couple thousands of dollars over a year… Only had about 5 outfits and two pairs of shoes (if you could even consider my worn out pair "shoes")… Its doable! Most people just aren't willing to tough it out and have less for a while.

      • NurseJilly

        07/11/2012 at 11:19 AM

        "I know a woman that had two kids while on gov't assistance."

        Thats the shit that makes me crazy. If you have fallen on hard times then I have no problem with welfare but I think its ridiculous to bring children into this world when you are not paying your own damn bills. GRRRRRRR…

  9. eva

    07/10/2012 at 4:10 PM

    eyeryones LIves. I mean. grow up people. stop.blamIng obama for the current sItuatIon and condItIon of thIs country. thIs place was messed up YEARS before him and will be this way until the end of the usa. All races have lazy people. Everyone wants to point a finger at blacks. I sit at work all day listening to the scanner and I hear what happens. All races killing, fighting, stealing. Yet on the news they only broadcast black crimes. Thats whats wrong with america. too many people blaming others, hating others cause of the color of their skin. Its 2012 this should have been dead years ago. Finding a job is not easy I know college grads that are unemployeed or got laid off. Even fast food places dont hire them because they are over qualified. Jobs are hard to come by.

    • The_Mad_HATER

      07/10/2012 at 5:16 PM

      once again what are you ranting about???? it seems you either didnt read no one else's comment or you just didnt understand cause you are making no sense right now!!

  10. eva

    07/10/2012 at 5:51 PM

    Mena, I am a divorced mom of two.

  11. Aboriginal

    07/11/2012 at 12:16 AM

    Ahhh, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, a tag-team of stupidity. At any rate, tax payers' money will always be used for the wrong reasons. The government is falling apart, unemployment rate is considerably higher than 8.3% (they do not take into account those who exhaust their benefits and extended benefits).

    Some of you guys are missing one of the key components as to why welfare checks get spent the way they do in the black communities….. welfare and section 8/public assistance are also to blame for failing to do their jobs of monitoring the households. How many people do you know who have section 8/public assistance also live with a man who is not included as part of the household? This is one of the reasons why women are able to spend/waste the welfare payments on nonsense. There are many people who pay less than $200/month for rent and get extra financial assistance from their baby's father/whoever they in a relationship at that moment.

    I see myself beginning to ramble on so I'll keep it simple, blame the government for failing, not just society.

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