White Myth: Black People Love Food Stamps
A deconstruction of the theory that blacks love eating on the government's dime
This week, I think we’ve all devoured enough processed garbage from the current crop of GOP presidential candidates to last a lifetime.
What might amaze many critically thinking, fair-minded individuals is how often unchecked the myth of “black food stamp fraud” goes. That, somehow, truly impoverished African Americans are unashamedly proud to swipe an EBT card in a crowded supermarket, where they have no doubt felt the stinging eyes of some misinformed snob’s fraud accusation. That they could otherwise afford the food and all other living expenses with their “pocket change” paychecks.
Let’s stop and really consider what we hear incessant griping about. A family takes the initiative to seek and use the vital benefits that are available to them. We’re not talking about an Air Jordan stipend, or per diem to see a movie every weekend. We’re talking a monthly allowance to insure children (and adults) don’t go to bed, to school, or to work with growling stomachs.
Just let that marinate.
When candidates serve up red meat to their base of voters, who already cannibalize their own manufactured outrage, it’s no wonder comments like this can go over well:
An easily fooled voter might go away not only believing that African Americans make up the majority of food stamps recipients, but are also the root cause of the federal waste bankrupting the nation and decaying its moral fiber.
Food Stamp Use By Race* (as of the 2010 FY)
Whites: 35% participation | 63.7% of US population
African Americans: 22% participation | 12.2% of US population
Hispanic: 10% participation | 16.3% of US population
Asian: 2% participation | 4.7% of US population
American Indian: 4% participation | 0.7% of US population
Unknown race: 19% participation | 0.2% of US population
*Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census
It’s funny how “40 acres and a mule” got downgraded to food stamps, Section 8 housing and conservative white (and black) disdain. Where have we gone to in this country when feeding your family -- even if with candy bars, sodas and oily potato chips – is an irresponsible and unpatriotic pursuit?
Truth is, we’ve been there since before the ending of Jim Crow. The working definition of white supremacy is the belief that the white race is superior to other races. But it’s not just a feeling of superiority. I’d like to add a sense of white immunity from the societal ills facing all creeds. Let me interject and state that I’m by no means inducting Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich into the Ku Klux Klan.
I do want to draw attention to the numbers. There are more white recipients of food stamp benefits – now aptly named the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – than there are black recipients. However, relative to their size of the population, African Americans disproportionately receive the benefits. It is a boldfaced lie to claim any group, white or black, can cause budgetary disarray if even 1 percent of that group fraudulently collected those benefits.
Why entertain that notion, as you run for the highest office in the world's most powerful nation? If asked, Santorum and Gingrich would quickly disavow and condemn the white supremacist ideology with seasoned gusto. Instead, they choose to burn a new flaming cross into the concrete sidewalks and patchy strips of grass lining urban projects where American citizens, not just blacks, will sit down to meals paid for with EBT cards.
Pray the day when scenes out of "Precious" or "Crooklyn" aren't the conservative Republican's reference point for black blight. More egregiously, nobody (white or black) is going to ask these two banners of American society, Gingrich and Santorum, to apologize for demonizing the economically disadvantaged.
I won't hold my breath for either.