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The Myth About Welfare And African American Women

By Edited Apr 24, 2015 1 0

There has been a lot of progress by African-American women in terms of education and job placement, however, despite those advances, an alarming number of the black community’s women still find themselves seeking government assistance services. This often isn’t solely due to lack of desire or a lack in their education, but it’s simply due to decreased amount of good opportunities. There is a segregation of high paid positions as well as a good access to long term educational opportunities in the black community and being a female only adds to the problem.

It is difficult to be an underpaid black woman, especially if you are also a mother. The support systems that were in placed had eroded to the point where instead of being helped; you are legally punished for circumstances you can’t always control.

What society thinks about blacks on welfare?

Welfare has been associated time and time again with instances of fraud and deception. Those instances, though perpetrated by all races, are most often spoken about in terms that relate only to African American women. The society as a whole detest the idea of people working less or not working at all, yet receiving assistance at the expense of the country’s taxpayers. To add fuel to that fire, many views seemingly healthy African American men and women wasting their time with unproductive activities instead of working towards lifting themselves out of poverty.

To be fair, there are an equal, if not higher number of non-black people that lead lifestyles that are just as unproductive. The only difference is, bias is ingrained in society and makes the actions of black people simply more noticeable. African American women also have a tendency to be more flamboyant in their lifestyle choices which in turn draws attention of people who feel that their time could be better spent on things that are more beneficial for the society.

While welfare is defined by law as any governmental program that offers direct benefit payments for individuals, society only attaches negative connotation to the small portion that is paid as public aid for living assistance. Social Security is the largest welfare program in the country though it is often called a government funded retirement plan, 87% of recipients are Caucasian males, while only 9% are African Americans. Of that 9%, four percent are African American women.

True facts about people on welfare

In truth, there are many types of social assistance programs operating in the Unite States. If you look at only the numbers, the majority of funds provided though governmental programs go towards benefiting Caucasian citizens. According the 1990 welfare report conducted by the Census Bureau, only 33% of welfare recipients are African American, while 61% percent of recipients are Caucasian and the remaining 6% are a mixture of races.

Contrary to popular belief, African American Women are not the largest recipients of welfare in the United States. Even the term welfare has a tendency to conjure up mental images of undereducated black females in their teens or early twenties, with one or two small children attached to their hips sitting in a long line simply to receive public aid.

Not all black women are freeloaders, of all government assistance, only five percent of it directly goes towards AFDC. Nearly, 47% of all American’s get some type of assistance via Social Security Payments, Medicare or Veteran’s Assistance Program.

Aside from getting much needed relief, black women are provided with essential healthcare and educational service that may other wise be outside of their financial ability. The overall population has a higher instance of women living under the line of poverty despite being employed. Society assumes that because a black woman is receiving assistance, they refuse to work, or don’t have the intelligence to work.

This is a dangerous form of stereotyping since the cost of living has increased steadily over the past 50 years, while the rate of pay has failed to keep pace. This gap has led to a higher number of black women, especially single mothers being burdened with the need to seek additional assistance to run their homes. There is a higher number of non black women who are also on different types of assistance programs, however, the same stigma isn’t attached to their service use. It was once believed that not having a man in the home led to an increased number of families living below the poverty line but in a recent study it shows that the number of female run homes has decreased to fewer than ten percent while the overall poverty rate has increased over 30%.

The lack of men in black households further increases the negative view that society holds regarding black women. In many cases, the black women are the ones to have expelled the men from the home due to negative or destructive behavior. While society frowns upon a fatherless home, they also blame black women for keeping men in the home who abuse the assistance funds reserved for such things as food, rent, childcare and education.

Discrimination suffered by black women on welfare, from the system and from society

Racism is really the cause of the living standard separation as well as the discrimination associated with the receipt of welfare. The country has moved a lot in the right direction towards equality; however, there is still a big bias in the job market. On average, most white-collar jobs go towards the lighter skinned people of the country, regardless of their educational or social background, while most blue-collar jobs are easily accessible to the people of the colored community.

When a person of color, especially a female, responds to a job interview she is greeted with disregard and skepticism. While many black women continue to pursue the higher career path, the majority are forced to work in lower end jobs to pay the bills.

After a while the cost of living catches up to the lower amount of pay they earn. Most low-end jobs don’t offer health benefits or retirement plans. This leads black women to seek help to bridge the gap. Society doesn’t see the intense struggle to stay afloat, as a whole; it only sees another hand out looking to eat from the taxpayer’s coffers.



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