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.]??

  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

  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.

  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.

  6. Vicky

    07/10/2012 at 10:52 AM

    HEY! My post got deleted!

  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

  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.

  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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