GOP Mitt Romney Resurrects the Welfare Queen.
(ThyBlackMan.com) The perception is Black women fall into one of four categories:
- The Mammy
- The Jezebel
- The Sapphire
- The Welfare Queen
Mammy the asexual woman who raises other people’ children (read: white babies) over her own and is grateful to live a life of servitude can accurately be described as Viola Davis’s character in The Help. The Jezebel. She’s a loose woman. Men flock to her and women hate her but secretly want to be just like her or at least have some of her man attracting qualities. Think Shug Avery of The Color Purple or the common misperceptions about Rihanna and Halle Berry. The Sapphire is the woman every Black woman is accused of being when her neck gets to rolling, her hands find that magical place cocked on her hips, and her head tilts ever so slightly. She’s angry, she’s running off at the mouth and calling her Sapphire is a compliment compared to the other words that could be hurled her way. Pick a Black woman of reality television and you have your Sapphire. Finally, The Welfare Queen. This stereotype was added to the previous three at a time where America needed a scapegoat to explain excessive government spending and continued economic crisis. Mostly a machination of Ronald Reagan’s imagination researchers have concluded for years the majority of people on welfare work and take care of their families the best way they know how; government assistance helps them meet the last ends gapped in the middle.
But the welfare queen of the 1980s’s if she was ever real died a quick death in the 1996 with then President Bill Clinton’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This Act made work a requirement of a limited time access to welfare. A requirement that has now been made more flexible under President Obama’s reform of TANF. A requirement asked for by Republican Governors in a letter written May 19, 2005.
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In the letter 29 Governor’s say:
“As Governors we believe the following provision in the Senate bill are integral to state programs, and support their inclusion and protection as the bill moves forward through regular order:”
After stating their case of support for the Family Initiatives and Funding portion of the bill the governors make their case for State Flexibility.
“The Senate bill provides states with the flexibility to manage their TANF programs and effectively serve low-income populations. Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work.”
The flexibility these governors asked for — including Mitt Romney whose signature appears at the very top of the second column of signatures on the first page — is now law. The flexibility Romney campaigned a Republican Congress and the Bush administration for is now a “gut” to Bill Clinton’s landmark welfare reform of the 90?s.
I’d think Romney were joking if he hadn’t released an ad proving Republicans are only against their own ideas when a Democrat is pushing for it.
While the ad says nothing about Ronald Reagan’s infamous pink Cadillac pushing welfare queen the spark for the insinuation to be made is there. Because of Reagan’s calumnious campaign against the welfare queen all Mitt Romney has to do is say President Obama is bringing back welfare and the image of a Black woman with five children, no job, and luxury goodies galore is top of mind.
The allusion the Romney ad calls to mind is another dig in a long list of digs by Republicans this campaign season against President Obama and the impoverished whom the GOP unfortunately color as being nothing but shiftless and lazy Black folks.
This gem of a statement by one time Republican Presidential front runner Rick Santorum followed Newt Gingrich’s gem of a soundbyte that President Obama is the best food stamp President. The GOP totally owned the somewhat fugacious meme ahead of the 2010 midterms and it’s still going strong, despite this color-less picture during the midnight rush.
What the face of welfare really looks like and what the face of welfare is purported to be are two entirely different images. While welfare recipients are a diverse group composed of all racial and ethnic backgrounds who sometimes abuse the system, the mainstream media image of them are single Black women with a lot of children who always abuse the system. The racist penchant in this country is evident not only through the welfare policy theme but any time a politician seeks to frame a story about the economy.
Black people aren’t the only ones looking for a helping hand. Nor are we looking for that hand to alwasy be attached to the long arm of the government. The assumption started by Ronald Reagan and now continued by Mitt Romney that people in need only look to the government for help is false. The assumption all welfare recipients don’t work is false. The assumption all welfare recipients are Black or are single Black women with multiple children is again false.
I understand political narratives like to play on stereotypes to evoke emotional responses; namely fear. But making the slim majority in the country fear a person that by and large does not exist continues to demonize a group of people with notions that have persisted for 400 years the 2012 Olympics alone disproves. If we look at our athletes competing, of those that are African-American, no one can say they are lazy, shiftless, slow and looking for a handout despite the commentators nasty remarks to that effect.
Mitt Romney’s “Right Choice” advertisement resurrects a mendacious discourse that distracts from pressing political issues. For fiscal year 2012 welfare spending totaled a little more than $450 billion. That’s about half of the current spending on pension, health, or defense. If Mitt Romney wants to make a gripe about welfare it should be that we spend more on welfare than we do on education. But he’s not making that argument. His argument is government is too big because of welfare, and helping the poor and impoverished is a criminal act that should be punished by removal from office and the gutting of programs that are currently making this country work in the worst of times.
I don’t expect Mitt Romney to release a correction to his advertisement. I don’t even expect Mitt Romney to notice the error. But if he plans to make his case for the Presidency off the backs of Black folks whose votes he just recently asked for I’d advise him to stop insulting voters he needs by campaigning with ghosts of Presidents’ past. The welfare queen never was despite the fear mongering, force of government cutting aspirations Ronald Reagan had for her.
Sorry Boo. She was never about that life.
Why does the Welfare Queen inspire so much fear when she was never real?
Staff Writer; Nikesha Leeper
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