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The Color of Poverty

May 21st, 2008 at 08:55 pm

I've become deeply disturbed by some of the comments left in the money forums re: a young single mom who says she has a difficult time feeding herself and her child on what she receives in food stamps each month.

Granted, I am currently working towards my masters in Sociology so I'm probably coming from this from a particular angle. I am also a Black woman. I am also a single mother. I've also received public assistance in the past. *just wanted to get that disclaimer out there*

A lot of the comments remind me of two books I've read recently. "Why Americans Hate Welfare", "When Welfare was White", and "Killing the Black Body". All three books talk about race and class in American society. And more importantly how mainstream society views Black women (unfit mothers, poor and uneducated) and how that translates when we read/see stories in the media about Black women.

A lot of the comments are darn near VERBATIM to the arguments made in those books. It's SCARY. And it hurts my heart to think that I am a part of a community that would say say such hurtful things about poor Black women. Stereotypes. They are dangerous but very much alive.

I need a break.

9 Responses to “The Color of Poverty”

  1. Caoineag Says:

    I have to admit, I didn't catch the fact that the woman in the article was black. I thought the issue was that $280 per month wasn't enough for one person and a baby. We manage extremely comfortably on $300 per month with 2 people who eat a lot of food and don't go cheap. There is also a women on this forum that feeds a family of 7 extremely cheaply (I feel ridiculous for our budget compared to her) so I was pretty sure it was the amount of money considered inadequate.

    That said, I didn't respond because I wasn't sure how outrageous food prices are in that region.

    In the name of disclosure, I was a young kid when my parents went on food stamps for a little while and we always had enough food.

  2. honeichild Says:

    There was a picture attached to the article.

    To each their own. I am just voicing my frustrations about the article. I come from a family where both my parent's are college educated (my mother has a Ph.D and is a college professor) and was never on public assistance as a child. But I had to use it as an adult and I know the struggle that single mothers go through trying to survive on a minimal salary while trying to raise children. Does this mean we shouldn't be parents? Heck no! We just keep being the best moms we can be to provide for our children and to improve our situations.

    Just sharing my thoughts.

  3. Nika Says:

    my view on food stamps: it is supposed to be a TEMPORARY and short-term humane measure to prevents starvation in a face of the catastrophe (such as death of a provider, serious illness, displacement due to natural disaster or abusive relationship) I think a mother who is on assistance as a way to make ends meet is not a good mother because plain and simple she is unable to support a child she produced and is counting on the state (taxpayers) to make up the difference. Limiting assistance to one year sounds like a reasonable measure to ensure people in dire straights are helped but that taxpayers are not saddled with the bill for someone else's decision to procreate.

    I do not care if the mother is black or white.

  4. Caoineag Says:

    Yeeck, just went and read the thread, boy did that degenerate rapidly. I saw the article before all the comments.

  5. aevans1206 Says:

    I absolutely agree with Honeichild. And to make a statement that a mother struggling to make ends meet is not a good mother because she cannot support a child is abominable!

  6. Broken Arrow Says:

    I've never read any of the books that you've mentioned.

    I know racism exists, though I don't personally make it an issue. I'm not white either, and far from picture perfect.

    Take care.

  7. paulettegoddard Says:

    I don't blame you for taking a break. As someone who grew up with a poor, uneducated single mom, I find it distressing to see time after time a minority (in multiple senses of the word) denigrated and sneered at, when the actuality is that there are more rural whites on welfare than black single moms... more corporate white-collar looting at Fortune 500 companies than there is in urban disaster zones in New Orleans. Perpetuation of these images as method of shielding the truth turns my stomach.

  8. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I posted on that thread multiple times. I agree with paulettegoddard above. Misguided spending of foodstamps is a pittance compared to the corporate welfare. But that does not change for me that I think $280 is plenty money to eat on for a month, not even taking into account the fact that the person in the article also gets free lunch at her place of training. How about addressing the adequacy of $280 food money? Regarding the racial matter--- I am friends with a woman over thirty years now and most of that time she has collected foodstamps. Sometimes --not always-- she spends the foodstamps on expensive crap and then does run out of food. That article made me think of her, a white woman, not a black woman in some general way. When I think of foodstamp recipients, I think of people I know. Most of us do know people who are now or have been in the past recipients. Heck, some of us are recipients of foodstamps now. I promise you that when my friend uses up her foodstamps on crappy food items it makes me pissed at her, too.

  9. nance Says:

    I think we need to take responsibility for the choices we make. It should not be too difficult for a mother and one child to live, rather comfortably, on $280.00 a month for food. It takes planning, cooking from scratch, and the ability to store food, but it can be done. Race has nothing to do with it. Educating low income people on how to manage money would do a lot to get them independent.

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