Friday, May 8, 2009

Welfare

Go ahead and admit it, when you read the title of this post you pictured a strung out, black, single mom. I'll admit to it. Don't be ashamed. It's just part of American society. White people think of blacks when they hear welfare, I think even black people picture black people when they hear the word welfare. That's just how our society has trained us to react to that dirty word. Watch a welfare special, they'll only interview black people.

But during my time in the black community I've began to think we have this all wrong. My students are SOOOOOOO against any form of government assistance. So much so that they won't even consider adoptions because they believe they are somehow giving their baby to the government. Well, in the true nature of who I am and how I process, I began thinking heavily about this topic months ago (after reading "Make Lemonade" by Virginia Euwer Wolff) and then I talked it over a bit to myself. And tonight I got to the point where I expressed my ideas to another person. And as always Ben challeneged me to research my ideas before I go around living by them.

So I did.

I miss college. I love learning. I love research. I love I love I love proving my crazy hypothesis are in deed an AMERICAN FACT. Thanks to census.gov (2007 census) I was able to freshen up on my math skills (you can imagine this experiment took a long time for me to get through, my math is BAD). Well, here are the facts.

Total Numbers of Americans = 304 million of which
243 million are white 80%
46 million are Latino 15%
39 million are Black 13%
13 million are Asian 4.5%
And the fact that those numbers and percentages don't add up at all, proves that I'm not making them up. I'd at least make sure my data looked plausible. I'm guessing some people must have marked Latino and Black or White and Black, etc.

Anyway, here's my least shocking find
28% of Asian-Americans are living in poverty* (roughly 3.8 million people)
*Poverty is calculated by the census bureau using income and measure of need.
23% of Black-Americans are living in poverty (9.3 million)
17 % of Latino Americans are living in poverty (8.2 million)
and drum roll please . . . only .012% of white people are living in poverty. My friends, only POINT-ZERO-ONE-TWO Percent of white americans are living in poverty. That's only 3 million people, meaning the racial group that has 200 million more people in the country than any other group, has the smallest number of poor people. Do you realize that means that for every 100 blacks, 23 are poor. But you have to have at least 1,000 white people before you'd find 1 that was poor?

So, the final results (literally brought tears to my eyes) Those .012% of Whites soak up 55.2% of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, leaving only 39.2 percent of those checks to the 9.3 million poverty stricken blacks (a populus thrice the size of the group recieving 55.2%) "Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in February that during an average month in 1990, 61 percent of major assistance program participants were White, compared to 34 percent who were African-American." ( check here).

One last bit of research I stumbled across. When I think of poverty and welfare I also think of school lunch programs. I'm a principal's daughter turned teacher, everything goes back to our nation's Education department. For those of you unfamiliar with the program, it's basically a free/reduced school lunch program for people living close to poverty. So, based on our current research, if only .012 percent of white Americans are poor, very few of them should be benefiting from the program right? Wrong! 75% of the children in this program are white, only 17% are black. Now keep in mind, that does not mean that more than 17% of blacks are qualified to recieve it. It simply means they don't recieve it.

As I've learned from my students. Black people, for the most part, don't want government help. They don't want welfare checks. They don't even want a free school lunch. No no ladies and gents - they would rather pay for what they get (or starve, as I think many of my students do). So PLEASE, next time you hear the word welfare, picture a white person. And If I'm with you when this topic is brought up, be reassured that I will vocally tell all of you to erase the black face in the back of your mind and replace it with a white one. Or better yet, see no race at all. But I'll be the first to admit, not seeing race is pretty darn impossible to achieve.

And please know, I find nothing wrong with recieving government help when you qualify for it. I don't care if you're black, white or purple -- if you need help to feed your children or earn your education, go ahead and apply for help from the government. That is why it is there. I will never complain about America's Poor using my tax money. I'm a VERY PROUD tax payer.

The only things I'm not okay with is people who avoid getting a job to stay on welfare (but good old Bill made that harder to do) and people who LIE on their applications (for school lunch, welfare, college apps, any form you lie on) to receive government help is disgustingly shameful. Getting help from the government is nothing to be ashamed of, so long as you truly qualify and truly put forth an effort to stand on your own two feet in the foreseeable future.

And the only reason I did this research is cause I'm SICK AND TIRED of people using welfare and crime rates as a cover up to have racially prejudice conversations.


Moral of the story: Check your facts before you chat.

2 comments:

Janice said...

Liz,

You stopped by my blog and left a comment on my post "I am the Face of Welfare".

What a nice surprise when I took a peak at your blog. I too am LDS though no longer active. It is refreshing to see that there are other more liberal people out in the world.

I will be following your blog in the future and will take time to completely read your blog in the coming week.

Kudos on the care that you are showing your students. A great teacher has the power to really make a big impact on their students. I had several such teachers in my life and so has my daughter. I know that one day, you too will have a former student approach you and tell you what a wonderful difference you made in their lives.

Nice to "meet" you.

chani said...

Honestly, when I think of welfare, white is the picture that pops up in my head. Very sad/interesting research. Those numbers are insane. I like your political blogs, btw. You do the research to back up my views and then I sound all that much smarter the next time that particular subject might come up. Thanks.

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