I give a holla to my sisters on welfare
Tupac cares if don't nobody else care
— 2Pac, "Keep Ya Head Up"
In America, there is this idea that those on welfare are government moochers incapable of lifting themselves up by their own boot straps. But the real problem is that within the black community, many have no boot straps. There is a constant bevy of people who publicly criticize welfare recipients, many of whom happen to be black women. And not only is it mostly myth and deeply offensive, it is also counterproductive.
That mother in line in front of you at the grocery store with the cart full of groceries? Well, she might not have had any choice but to seek assistance to feed her kids. And even if she did have a choice, are we really attacking our own people when we know for a fact the existence of oppression that has been passed down in our community led to the influx of black people on welfare?
Sure, there is that group of individuals who you might call "lazy," the able-bodied ones that refuse to get a job and would rather receive a check on behalf of our tax dollars. However, the reality is that most people on welfare simply need it. We can point fingers and squabble all day about the reasons why so many within our community are on government assistance, but I believe more in educating our people so that they can attain the skills and "boot straps" necessary to achieve self-sufficiency. Attacking or shaming those on Section 8, food stamps or cash assistance is not going to relieve us from our struggle.
We should not be policing the poor. People are losing jobs every day, taking pay losses, plagued with medical issues and, in Trump's America, the poorest are getting poorer. The rich are receiving huge breaks while those living in poverty are taking the brunt of the misfortune. And who do you think is being hit the most? The black community.
Contrary to popular belief, welfare is not a black cultural trait, but the stigma runs deep. As a matter of fact black people were excluded from being able to receive it for most of history. We should stop shaming our own brothers and sisters for benefiting from a system that, by design, put us in a position to, in fact, need welfare. There are systemic inequalities that have put us behind. The reality of the "welfare queen" who cheats the system is not the rule, they are the exception. Economic and financial literacy are not commonly taught to our people, and I believe we should focus more on implementing better ways to raise awareness.
You ain't "woke" if you spend your time online or public shaming your sisters or brothers on welfare, because in reality, you're really only uplifting our oppressors. They get a twisted satisfaction in calling us out for using a system they strategically implemented to keep us stagnant. That sister using medicaid to get her kid's prescription at the pharmacy didn't ask for your opinion, and neither did that brother with a Section 8 voucher working 60 plus hours a week, barely able to afford rent for a 1 bedroom apartment. You don't know what people have been through. And if you never knew struggle, mind ya business.