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Is welfare helpful or harmful to Black Women? Is the popular conception that receiving welfare become a generational curse true? Does receiving welfare, in and of itself, remove the drive and determination to "do for self" or take away "personal responsibility"? Does welfare generate poverty for successive generations of black women and children?

What's your take on this?

Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.  


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

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Here's a quote said to be from Obama's book


"We should also acknowledge that conservatives -- and Bill Clinton -- were right about welfare as it was previously structured: by detaching income from work, and by making no demands on welfare recipients other than a tolerance for intrusive bureaucracy and an assurance that no man lived in the same house as the mother of his children, the old AFDC program sapped people of their initiative and eroded their self-respect. Any strategy to reduce intergenerational poverty has to be centered on work, not welfare -- not only because work provides independence and income but also because work provides order, structure, dignity and opportunities for growth in people's lives."



I haven't read either of his books, but i plan to stop by Books-A-Million tomorrow afternoon...
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According to statistics, the majority of Americans who receive welfare are White women, not Black women. Back in 1999, Journalist Farai Chideya dispelled that myth in her book Don't Believe The Hype: Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African-Americans. During her research, Chideya discovered, among many other never-revealed truths, that White women represented the largest number of recipients of welfare. And so, knowing this information, I don't think receiving welfare services, if it is truly needed, does struggling Black mothers a motivational disservice any more than it does the majority of struggling White mothers.

Journalist Fara Chideya

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I have that book! I think she wrote this in her MTV news reporter days. She's on public radio now hosting News and Notes, the show Ed Gordon used to host.

Faraie Chideya's book "Don't Believe The Hype" was where I first learned about the disparity between


the perception of who receives welfare

and

who actually receives the most welfare.



Still, a popular argument states that black women languish in hopelessness and despair and aren't motivated to do better for themselves when they become "hooked on welfare" (like a drug)
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
"Any strategy to reduce intergenerational poverty has to be centered on work, not welfare -- not only because work provides independence and income but also because work provides order, structure, dignity and opportunities for growth in people's lives."


That's if you can get decent work. It seems as if the further people remove themselves from what it really means to struggle, the less they understand what it means to be Black and poor in this country. It's easy for people who benefitted from living in a two parent headed household, a private school education, and living in a safe community to tell poor people to "get work" so that they can avoid relying on welfare. They don't seem to get it. They don't seem to get the fact that (1) in order to earn enough to independently support a family, you need a job that pays well above the minimum wage, (2) in order to get that kind of job you need to have benefitted from a high quality education, which most Black children never receive, and (3) even when you do get a college education, it's not guaranteed that you'll get a high-paying job, because the job market is very competitive and the people who do the hiring can be discriminating, particularly against Black college students, who grew up in urban settings and have yet to shed remanants of their cultural background (E.g., urban slang or an urban accent, African American Vernacular English or Ebonic language, urban styles of dress, hairstyles, etc.)

The point is, if Obama is going to be president, then he needs to consider all, ALL of the factors that contribute to Black intergenerational poverty:

(1) A country that is founded and survives on racism and discrimination
(2) An educational system that continues to be largely segregated according to parent's socioeconomic status/property taxes and once again RACE (White kids get the best education, because they live in the best neighborhoods. Black and Latino kids get the crappy education, because they live in the worst neighborhoods)
(3) White people, namely White males, continue to do the majority of the hiring, firing, and promoting. If applicants don't appear to "fit in" with the image of the company, then they don't get the job.

When Obama, and other politician, are ready to discuss those three factors, let me know. Until then, it's politics as usual.
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
Still, a popular argument states that black women languish in hopelessness and despair and aren't motivated to do better for themselves when they become "hooked on welfare" (like a drug)


Hmmmm ... well, I would have to say that back in the days where I knew sistas on welfare, the "hopelessness and despair" thing wasn't applicable, but the "not being motivated to do better" thing did. Receiving that check and food stamps without having to work for it meant that basic needs were met ... however, if they had been working they could have met even more. (And, as it turns out, after being kicked off welfare and going back into the working world, they all did do much better).

I can't remember any of them trying to look for a job to exit the system for themselves. I think a certain sense of *contentment* sets in when you're on welfare, and acceptance to it's limitations seems to come easily. But, there would be a certain sense of sadness, when the money or the stamps didn't go far enough.

I can't remember any of them actually wanting the baby's father in the home ... most had long since kicked them to the curb, or they had left of their own accord. I don't know what affect it would have had if it hadn't been discouraged that the men live with them ... so it's hard to really comment on that.
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
Still, a popular argument states that black women languish in hopelessness and despair and aren't motivated to do better for themselves when they become "hooked on welfare" (like a drug)


I don't think that's a popular argument as much it is an ignorant and unchallenged myth. Rather than argue with this kind of foolishness, as African Americans, I think we need to challenge it every time it arises. Black women are not hooked on welfare. We're not even the largest beneficiaries of welfare. So how can we be hooked on it? In fact, Black women have proven to be everything but hopeless and unmotivated. Think of all of the Black mothers who work 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to feed and clothed their children and put them through college.

And this is interesting, because on Thursday, our school invited the exective director of the NBA (I believe it was - I'll get her full name), a Black woman, to speak to the students at our school. We were all pleasantly surprised that she decided to take our invitation. During her speech, she told the children in the auditorium about how her mom worked two jobs in order to put her daughters through college. She said that her mom was very determined about making sure that all her daughters received a college education so that they could have a better life than she had. That's the reputation that Black women in our community have firmly established. This stuff about Black women being unmotivated, lazy, and hopeless is just some bs media hype. I pay it no mind, because it's nothing but a bold-faced lie.
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
Here's a quote from Obama's book


Any strategy to reduce intergenerational poverty has to be centered on work, not welfare -- not only because work provides independence and income but also because work provides order, structure, dignity and opportunities for growth in people's lives."


How long have black women had access to welfare? Has it been 2 generations yet? Intergenerational poverty started well before Black women had access to welfare. But the quote is right, black women and men definitely need access to a living wage....

globalism and the stripping of manufacturing jobs from america lessens the likelihood of this.
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
a lot of women are jobless, but actually "work" quite a bit. They do hair, babysit, wash clothes, pick produce and a number of under the table things. Unfortunately this is "under the table" and not valued by the larger society as "work" because they aren't wearing power suits and chin length bobs.


I can agree with this too, but let's remember that in the 21st century Black women are graduating from college in record numbers, owning businesses in record numbers, owning homes in record numbers. This is not the 50's and 60's. Today's Black women know that their job options are a lot more expansive than the options that were available to their mothers and grandmothers. Taking full advantage of these opportunities, Black women have advanced from being maids to being lawyers, professors, book writers, entrepreneurs, educators, physicians, and other professionals earning competitive salaries. So I think today, our focus should really be on helping young Black men get access to the opportunities that Black women have had access to for years.
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:

I can't remember any of them trying to look for a job to exit the system for themselves. I think a certain sense of *contentment* sets in when you're on welfare, and acceptance to it's limitations seems to come easily. But, there would be a certain sense of sadness, when the money or the stamps didn't go far enough.


I dunno about this quote Eb Eb. Admittedly, I grew up in a working class background but I can't say that those people who were receiving AFDC were "content". Caseworkers telling them when what and how to do things was especially resented.
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:

I can't remember any of them trying to look for a job to exit the system for themselves. I think a certain sense of *contentment* sets in when you're on welfare, and acceptance to it's limitations seems to come easily. But, there would be a certain sense of sadness, when the money or the stamps didn't go far enough.


I dunno about this quote Eb Eb. Admittedly, I grew up in a working class background but I can't say that those people who were receiving AFDC were "content". Caseworkers telling them when what and how to do things was especially resented.


Yeah, but not enough to make them do anything different.

Discontent is usually a motivator that brings change to a current set of unacceptable circumstances. While contentment usually causes people to stay put.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan is recognized by many of the "dominant society" as an expert. Here's an article about his perspective...


Moynihan on Welfare


Welfare: Moynihan's Counsel of Despair

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Copyright (c) 1996 First Things 61 (March 1996): 8-10.
Talk to those who know about such things and they'll tell you that Daniel Patrick Moynihan has read more and thought more about welfare policy than just about anyone alive. Certainly more than any other politician. In books such as Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding and The Politics of a Guaranteed Income, Moynihan chronicled the follies by which the federal government hemorrhaged literally trillions of dollars to "solve" the problem of poverty, only to have the country end up with millions of people in an ever more radically isolated underclass.

Moynihan's was not a strident polemic against poverty warriors, for he himself was an architect of some of the bungled efforts launched in the Johnson and Nixon Administrations. Rather, his was an ironic commentary on the improbability of government being able to do much of anything to change the way people live. Long before "family politics" came into fashion, Moynihan dared to point out the connection between poverty and the collapse of the black family, thereby making himself the target of armies of outraged academics and activists who attacked him for "blaming the victim."

But Pat Moynihan more than survived the attack. As Senator from New York he was for years respected by Democrats and Republicans alike as the congressional expert on welfare. When in 1992 Bill Clinton ran on the promise to "end welfare as we know it," and when in 1994 the Republican majority declared its determination to get serious about welfare reform, many thought Moynihan's time had come around at last.

What happened seems to have surprised almost everybody. Far from being a key player in the overhauling of the welfare system, Moynihan unleashed a series of complaints, ranging from the petulant to the apocalyptic. Sixty years of social policy, he says, is being mindlessly dismantled by "the monstrous political deception embodied in the term 'welfare reform.' " Millions of children will join the ranks of the homeless trying to get a little warmth by sleeping on the grates in our city streets. "The defenders of the old activism toward the poor," complains Moynihan, "surrendered willingly, with the shrugs and indifference of those who no longer believed in what they stood for." The Democratic minority that fusses over saving bits and pieces of the old welfare system is, he says, "literally arranging flowers on the coffin of the provision for children in the Social Security Act."

Moynihan does not defend the old system because it works. On the contrary, he is a master of the tale of good intentions done in by the law of unintended consequences. In an extended jeremiad in the Congressional Record, he says he does not disagree with James Q. Wilson's claim that any welfare program significantly funded from Washington will be run "uniformly, systematically, politically, and ignorantly." Further, he does not deny that conservatives are more clear-headed about these problems than liberals. "The great strength of political conservatives at this time (and for a generation) is that they are open to the thought that matters are complex. Liberals have got into a reflexive pattern of denying this. I had hoped twelve years in the wilderness [the Reagan-Bush years] might have changed this; it may be it has only reinforced it." Moynihan, then, does not defend the welfare status quo because liberals are right and conservatives are wrong, and certainly not because it works. He defends it because he believes there is no alternative to it. When the time for welfare reform came around at last, Moynihan's ironic criticism had turned into despair.

Moynihan's onslaught against "the monstrous political deception" of welfare reform has been joined by the big charities, the oldline churches, and the Catholic bishops, all of whom incessantly point out that nobody but the federal government has the resources to maintain existing welfare programs. But that rather entirely misses the point. The point is that most of the existing programs should not be maintained, that they are actually hurting the poor by putting and keeping them in a posture of dependency and perpetual political supplication. The point is that, in the absence of knowing what might actually change the behavior that is the chief cause of poverty, free rein should be given to state, local, and nongovernmental experiments.

The big charities, the churches, and other advocates of the welfare status quo are not as candid as Senator Moynihan about the human catastrophe reinforced by current policies. But one suspects that many of them agree, at least intuitively, with his counsel of despair. Millions of people, Moynihan notes, have for generations become accustomed to living outside the circle of social responsibility and economic productivity. Under the AFDC program alone, started sixty years ago to provide temporary help to a relative handful of widows and jobless women with children, well over half the families receiving benefits now begin as AFDC families. In almost all cases, these are women with children born out of wedlock, and Moynihan notes that "there are millions of families in just this circumstance."

A major political problem, and it is also a compassion problem, is that most of the country is untouched by this catastrophe. Those who are on AFDC for a short time are more or less evenly distributed across the land, while those who are more or less permanently on the dole are concentrated in the cities. In 1993, Moynihan notes, 59 percent of the children in Atlanta, 66 percent in Cleveland, 55 percent in Miami, 57 percent in Philadelphia, and 66 percent in Newark were receiving AFDC. Most of these children and their mothers have never known and possibly will never know any other way of life than living on welfare. In many cases, the mothers and grandmothers of these mothers never knew anything but welfare. "If welfare were a smallish problem-if this were 1955 or even 1965-an argument could be made for turning the matter back to state government," says Moynihan. "But it is now so large a problem that governments of the states in which it is most concentrated simply will not be able to handle it."

Welfare reform proposals in Congress, especially provisions to put time limits on the reception of benefits, "will produce a surge in the number of homeless children such that the current problem of 'the homeless' will seem inconsequential," declares Moynihan. Then comes the most stark and chilling statement of his counsel of despair: "I believe our pres-ent social welfare system is all but overwhelmed. . . . Hundreds of thousands of these children live in households that are held together primarily by the fact of welfare assistance. Take that away and the children are blown to the winds. [An] Administration analysis concludes that the welfare conference agreement [between House and Senate] will force 1.5 million children into poverty. To say what I have said before here in the Senate: young males can be horrid to themselves, horrid to one another, horrid to the rest of us."

Yes, it is a human catastrophe. And yes, there is no alternative to it. Moynihan's declaration is the domestic equivalent of George Kennan's famous "X" article, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," in the July 1947 Foreign Affairs. Communism is doing horrible things to people, but there is nothing to be done except to brace ourselves to maintain a policy of "containment," at enormous expense and for as long as anyone can see into the future. Containment may have been good foreign policy, but it is a very different matter to urge, as Senator Moynihan does urge, containment against an enemy within. Young males of the welfare-dependent mainly black urban underclass "can be horrid to themselves, horrid to one another, horrid to the rest of us." Dismantle the defense system of the welfare status quo and you loose them upon society.

Most revealingly and depressingly, Moynihan concludes his declaration by drawing an analogy with the "deinstitutionalization" of mental patients in the 1960s and 1970s. That fatal step resulted in the hundreds of thousands of "homeless" wandering our streets in alcoholic and drug-induced stupor. But most of them are not dangerous. The thugs who do "horrid things" carry knives and guns. "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," according to Kennan, were ideological and nationalistic. The sources of welfare conduct, according to Moynihan, are in congenital criminality and general social incompetence. In both cases, there is nothing to be done for it except containment.

"These children live in households that are held together primarily by the fact of welfare assistance. Take that away and the children are blown to the winds." Is that true? How does he know that? Has the underclass descended to such a subhuman level that there are no bonds of love and obligation-between mothers and children, among networks of relatives, within churches and charitable organizations? In the absence of a welfare check, would they really turn millions of children out on the streets? We must not, we do not, believe that.

Senator Moynihan says that limiting welfare would do nothing to change the behavior of men who are so largely responsible for the depredations of the underclass. He does not know that either. The fact is that men who have fathered five or more children and are father to none live off the welfare checks of "their" women. Absent that check, they may turn to crime, although many are already supplementing their income by criminal activity. Absent that check, on the other hand, many might get a job. It is true that human beings do not act simply by a rational calculus of incentives and disincentives. It is also true that the incentives and disincentives of the welfare system of the last thirty years have positively encouraged the behavior that produced the tragedy of the underclass. Poor people are not pure rational calculators, but neither are they stupid. A fifteen-year-old girl might think twice about getting pregnant and having a baby if there were no reward of a biweekly check and an apartment of her own. (There is reason to believe that such a change would also reduce the incidence of abortion, but nobody knows; and, until we do know one way or the other, that consideration must be discounted in the debate over welfare reform.)

We do not doubt that Senator Moynihan and those of like mind care deeply about the human tragedy of the underclass. They are not ignorant of the fact that the AFDC children who will never have a father-and maybe do not know what a father is in the sense that most of humanity understands the term-are many times more likely to drop out of school, to be unemployable, to be drug addicted, to be criminals, to be imprisoned, and to die young and violently. Millions of children sleeping on street grates is a scarifying and, we believe, improbable specter. Everyday life in Bedford-Stuyvesant, South Chicago, and a hundred other places is the present reality that is perpetuated, in large part, by the welfare status quo that is defended by Senator Moynihan, by the social work bureaucracies, and by too many of our churches.

The purpose of welfare policy should be to move people out of dependency into the mainstream of social responsibility and opportunity. Senator Moynihan would no doubt agree with that. It is just that he no longer thinks it can be done. As with criminals and the insane, the poor must be contained. We have tried deinstitutionalization, and it doesn't work. It does no good for them, and it lets loose a population that can do horrid things to the rest of us.

In 1968, Edward Banfield published The Unheavenly City, one of the most important public policy books of the past half century. Banfield estimated that about 6 percent of any population is socially incompetent. That is, for whatever reason-physical or mental handicap, criminal disposition, severe deprivation-6 percent of the population is simply not able to get on with their lives in any productive way. To a greater or lesser degree, somebody will have to take care of them. In the utopian sixties when everything was declared to be possible-not least winning "the war against poverty"-Banfield was widely reviled as a reactionary prepared to consign millions of people not simply to second-class citizenship but to virtual non-citizenship. Compared with Pat Moynihan, Banfield was an optimist.

In the Banfield view, the socially incompetent were more or less evenly spread across the society. Moynihan's social incompetents are concentrated in the inner cities, and are mainly black. One may accept Banfield's analysis while contending that the incompetent should be cared for. Moynihan says they must be contained. An older tradition says they should be cared for out of altruism and fellow-feeling, as well as self-interest. Moynihan says they should be contained or else they will do horrid things to their children who will, in turn, do horrid things to "the rest of us." Banfield's estimate of 6 percent may be too high, but the recognition that some people are and always will be socially incompetent is necessary realism. Moynihan's resignation to the permanence of the welfare underclass is unwarranted despair.

As we said, over the years few people have done so much to help us understand the perplexities of welfare as Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In these latter days, and however inadvertently, he has in his opposition to reform helped us to understand why there is no practical or moral alternative to exploring a radically different approach to welfare. It is surely not what he intended, but we are again in his debt.
Who the hell was Daniel Patrick Moynihan?

a lil reminder


The degree of fame that Moynihan has attained recently stems mainly from the fact that he is the author of a much-discussed Government paper entitled "The Negro Family: The Case For National Action," now commonly referred to as the Moynihan Report, in which he urged that the Federal Government adopt a national policy for the reconstruction of the Negro family, arguing that the real cause of the American Negro's troubles is not so much segregation, or a lack of voting power, but the circumstance that the structure of the Negro family is highly "unstable and in many urban centers. . .approaching complete breakdown." This is so, stated Moynihan, because of the increasingly matriarchal character of American Negro society, a society in which a husband is absent from nearly 2 million of the nation's 5 million Negro families and in which, too, some 25 per cent of all births are illegitimate. Moreover, Moynihan pointed out, children, especially boys, who grow up in fatherless homes tend not to adjust to this country's essentially patriarchal society, particularly when their problems are complicated by poverty and racial prejudice.
RE: the beginning of the "war on on poverty" in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations...

"They took inspiration from the book Slavery written by Stanley Elkins. Elkins essentially contended that slavery had made American blacks dependent on the dominant society, and that that dependence still existed a century later, supporting a view that the government must go beyond simply ensuring that members of minority races have the same rights as everyone else, and offering minority members benefits that others did not get on the grounds that those benefits were necessary to counteract that lingering effects of past actions."
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:

I can't remember any of them trying to look for a job to exit the system for themselves. I think a certain sense of *contentment* sets in when you're on welfare, and acceptance to it's limitations seems to come easily. But, there would be a certain sense of sadness, when the money or the stamps didn't go far enough.


I dunno about this quote Eb Eb. Admittedly, I grew up in a working class background but I can't say that those people who were receiving AFDC were "content". Caseworkers telling them when what and how to do things was especially resented.


Yeah, but not enough to make them do anything different.

Discontent is usually a motivator that brings change to a current set of unacceptable circumstances. While contentment usually causes people to stay put.



Ebony, the controversial Moynihan Report (Moynihan vacated the senate seat currently held by Hillary Rodham Clinton) basically attributed the level of poverty among blacks to

1. the breakdown of the black family

2. the prevalence of single parent households in black america

3. dependence on the govt, fostered by slavery

4. the predatory behavior of black men.

Most black intellectuals repudiated him for this.

The white people who are willing to talk about the Moynihan Report seem to think he got it right.

*I haven't read the actual report but all articles i've seen about it don't seem to mention access to employment, or wealth as a factor.*



In your view, what would black women have to do different to change the level of poverty and thus, welfare dependence, in america? I'm interested in understanding your perspective...
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:

So I think today our focus should really be on helping young Black men get access to these opportunities.


19 19



Sista Rowe, i had to marinate on this one. I decided that what i want to say is that black women still earn less money per capita than black men do, although we seem to be making some gains.

Black and Asian Women make gains but still earn less than men


Also, we still have the widespread issues, of self-esteem and self image in black girls, not to mention incest and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and the european beauty standard to contend with and help our lil sistas cope with.


Your response reads to me as if black women in general have got it all together and we don't need to focus on ourselves or our daughters anymore, just the brothas. Is this what you mean? or have I interpreted it incorrectly?

Could you provide some context?
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
Your response reads to me as if black women in general have got it all together and we don't need to focus on ourselves or our daughters anymore, just the brothas. Is this what you mean? or have I interpreted it incorrectly?

Could you provide some context?


Though men in general may earn more than women, when we consider highest level of education attained, socioeconomic status, and racial inequality, Black men, particularly those from urban backrounds, are in a much more vulnerable position than Black women. And so, in my opinion, Black women on welfare is an outdated issue. Yes, Black women (as well as Black men) continue to be negatively portrayed by the media, but Black women not taking personal responsibility for their lives? - I think that statement completely misses the mark. Again, Black girls and Black women are surpassing their male counterparts both socially and economically by leaps and bounds. Education statistics have continually shown that Black female high school graduates are far more likely to pursue a college education than their male counterparts. Thus, climbing up the socioeconomic ladder becomes a lot easier for Black women than it is for Black men.

In fact, just think about the students who were in your graduating senior class. Compared to the girls, how many boys in your senior class went to college? The boys who were in my senior class did not plan to college. During class, oh I heard all kinds of excuses for not going (E.g., They did not want to pay for college expenses, they didn't feel confident about handling the workload, parents relied on them for money). Others get accepted into a college, but then drop out. We need to find ways to make higher education (and a high-quality public school education) more accessible to Black children so that they won't need to rely on welfare or any other government assistance.
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By the time we made it to senior status, only a sprinkling of black boys were in my class, and even fewer graduated.

I agree with you that the educational process is not conducive to black boys, but it ain't no parade for black girls who must fit into that "helpful, patient, well dressed" role in order to be deemed worthy of attention, but i digress. Yes, our boys need new policy.

But, isn't it weird that Black women are achieving so much education and yet, we do not outpace black men in our earnings?

Black women earn closer to what black men make, but they still out earn us... WITHOUT the degrees.

what other forces are at play?

Welfare reform is one of those curious political issues like abortion. Men can be found saying all manner of things about it, but ultimately it affects women and children. isn't that weird?
I know this thread is article heavy, but I am fascinated by the number of people who think welfare reform was a good thing and don't recognize that it was a racist political ploy which allowed Bill Clinton to steal conservative votes...

with that said, here's another article on WElfare and Black women.

enjoy!

from blackelectorate.com


The Truth about Welfare and African-American Women by

Carl L. Dehaney, Jr.

Back in early January, President Bush articulated a proposal, which he eventually presented to Congress on February 4, to reform the Welfare System. Although the system had been reformed and revamped by former President Clinton in 1996, and was working better than it had been previously, President Bush felt that the current reformed system still needed a few minor changes.

One thing that he revised, and I must agree with him, was the loosening up of strict work rules adopted in 1996 to allow for some limited education and training.

In addition, officials are contemplating new money for experiments aimed at helping former recipients, most of who are still in poverty, get higher-paying jobs. According to an esteemed panel of Psychologists from the American Psychological Association, the Welfare system needed no reform, but wealth and financial distribution is what needs reform. For example, in 1993, the top 20 percent of U.S. households received 48.9 percent of the total income, but those households in the bottom 20 percent shared only 3.6 percent. According to the National Women's Law Center, in 1995 almost 70 percent of U.S. workingwomen earned less than $20,000 yearly, and nearly 40 percent earned less than $10,000. More than 10 million women are the sole support for their children and families.

In this particular economic environment, children and single mothers, especially those of color, have suffered the most. So, where do African-American women fit in to this picture?

They try to fit into a world in which many of them have been systematically boxed out.

They are simultaneously bearing the burden of stereotypes given to them by those who are misinformed of the facts about welfare.

One of the biggest misconceptions concerning African-American women and welfare is that African-American women comprise the largest group of welfare recipients - absolutely untrue.

According to the U.S. Department of Census, children, not African-American women, are the largest group of people receiving public assistance. Less than 5 million of the 14 million public assistance recipients are adults, and 90 percent of those adults are women.

The majority of welfare recipients are actually White, making up 38 percent of the recipients, followed by 37 percent African Americans, and 25 percent other minority groups such as Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. However, African Americans are disproportionately represented on public assistance because we are only 12 percent of the population.

Another misconception concerning African-American women and the welfare system is that the system causes a state of complacency or no incentive to work because recipients become dependent upon welfare - absolutely untrue.

Acording to a report given by the Staff of House Committee on ways and means, 56 percent of welfare support ended within 12 months, 70 percent within 24 months, and almost 85 percent within 4 years. Persons who were likely to need assistance longer than the average time had less than 12 years of education, no recent work experience, were never married, had a child below age 3 or had three or more children, were Latina or African American, and were under age 24. These risk factors show the importance of systematic barriers, such as inadequate childcare, racism, and poor quality of education, or a lack thereof.

I think for the first time since President Bush has been in office, I agree with a part of one of his proposals, in terms of providing education and training for women in need of assistance. However, I have mixed feelings concerning the part of his proposal to spend $100 million on experimental programs aimed at getting single welfare mothers to marry. I believe that his intentions were good in terms of articulating the need for family structure, but since one of the most dangerous obstacles for women on welfare to hurdle is that of an abusive intimate partner, encouraging marriage in some cases may actually cause more harm than good.

For example, a recent study of a small sample of welfare recipients in Massachusetts found that 65 percent were victims of violence by a current or former boyfriend or husband, and one-fifth had been victimized in the past 12 months. Similar results were found in a survey of welfare recipients in Washington State.

There, 55 percent of the recipients reported being physically or sexually abused by a spouse or boyfriend. Another study of 436 homeless and low-income housed mothers found that 63 percent reported assaults by intimate male partners. A 1997 study on intimate violence and Black women's health found that rates of severe partner violence are higher for low-income Black women than for higher income Black women. Black women who have unemployed husbands experience particularly high rates of severe violence, all of which are substantially higher than that suffered by women in the general population, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.

There must be psychological evaluation done with many of these women to coincide with educational programs and job training. If a woman is leaving a home where she is being beaten each morning, the psychological scars will ultimately steer her down a road of unsuccessfulness. Her ability to concentrate on a job or information will be minimized due to the distractions at home. She will be fired for lack of concentration, and forced to repeatedly rely upon the welfare system that never actually tunneled to the core of her needs. For years, many have labeled the stereotypes concerning welfare and African-American women as fact, when in all actuality; much of it was merely fiction.

Do I love the idea of welfare?

Of course not, however, it is good to see welfare reform taking place, and funding allocated to help single-mothers attain better paying jobs. There are women who abuse the system, spending money allotted for their children, upon themselves. However, I honestly believe that all woman recipients, African-American or otherwise, inevitably want to live in a state of financial independence. The stereotypical stories of how all low-income African-American women are on welfare, comes from years of underlying racist myth. Nevertheless, if you look at all of the facts, they will tell an entirely different story about welfare and African-American women.


Carl L. DeHaney, Jr. is a Freelance Writer and Columnist for a weekly publication called The Community Journal on Long Island, NY. Please e-mail Carl L. Dehaney, Jr.with your comments at coolwriter2002@yahoo.com



Carl L. Dehaney, Jr.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002
I dunno, NS ... it seems to me that the measure of the success or failure of the "welfare reform" that happened in 1996 is whether or not there are less Black women receiving assistance and more in the workplace.

I oly glanced through a couple of the story links you posted .. but while they complained about their interpretation of welfare reform act, I didn't see anything that stated that the new measures were ineffective or had caused even bigger problems.

The actual/original intent of the reform was to get more people (especially women) off of the government assistance and back out into the workforce. It offered job training (and childcare during that training) for a limited time. After which assistance would be limited or cut off, depending on the case.

Since I haven't heard what a rotten program change it turned out to be, I guess I had assumed that after the initial bumps, it was essentially working. Have you found out through your research that it's not? I mean, whether or not the plan is "racist" seems to me to be different from whether or not its successful.

Either way, it would still probably have those women under the poverty line .. 'cause being on welfare certainly didn't put them over it. sck
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:

I dunno, NS ... it seems to me that the measure of the success or failure of the "welfare reform" that happened in 1996 is whether or not there are less Black women receiving assistance and more in the workplace.


This is what the dominant culture would have us to believe is "the measure". I believe the measure is somewhat different.

If Welfare Reform somehow reduced the number of women and children who are hungry, in need of medical care, and in need of housing, then it would be successful. In other words, unless we have less women and children IN NEED, not just kicked off the roles, then it was merely propaganda.

I don't view kicking people who need assistance off that assistance as a successful measure.

Why is "receiving assistance" such a bad thingn when women and children are more likely to be at or below the poverty line?

because men say so? because men disparage it? because men have legislated against it?
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
If Welfare Reform somehow reduced the number of women and children who are hungry, in need of medical care, and in need of housing, then it would be successful. In other words, unless we have less women and children IN NEED, not just kicked off the roles, then it was merely propaganda.


Exactly! And this is what I'm asking you.

Have you found during any of your recent research whether the reform did or did not reduce the women in need?

I do know that other programs have benefited women and children in the area of health care (CHIPS). And I thought I had heard that more Black women had entered the workforce, due to the training they received as part of this reform program.

But, I don't know, so I'm asking if you know! Just for informational purposes ... no to disagree with your assertion. Smile
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:

Have you found during any of your recent research whether the reform did or did not reduce the women in need?


It increased the number of women and children in need by eliminating the assistance that helped them get by.

Welfare reform had nothing to do with helping people and everything to do with merely decreasing the money spent on people in need. It was a typical Clinton "triangulation" around "Supply Side economics"! td6
negrospiritual, in my estimation, welfare should never be about who is on it (not that I want abuse of it), but should be a reflection of the greatness and wealth of the nation. (which ain't so great no more).

I would never complain about the people who were on welfare. I would say who they are and I do wonder about them and their choice, but not in a judgemental way. I do not think poverty is noble, nor do I believe in the greatness of wealth.

I totally felt the Clintons sold us out on welfare. But I think you maybe playing into the hands of people who created a system that works so much against the communities it is supposed to be helping. Do not let them get you to considering women and children separate from men. That to me is the biggest strike against welfare as it ever was.
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
Well, thanks, MBM!

Although I would have to at least slightly disagree with your description seeing as how that was indeed ultimately the plan that Clinton signed, but not the one he proposed. Those final amendments/revisions to that plan that actually became law, came at the hands of Congress ... not President Clinton.



Clinton campaigned on the promise of welfare reform. The responsibility for welfare reform is Clinton's alone.
quote:
Originally posted by Wiz:

But I think you maybe playing into the hands of people who created a system that works so much against the communities it is supposed to be helping. Do not let them get you to considering women and children separate from men. That to me is the biggest strike against welfare as it ever was.


Hi Wiz,

I can see your point but it is not my doing. with 75% of welfare recipients being single mom's with children...it is the doing of those who had unprotected sex, created children with women they didn't intend to stay with and left those children hungry, with no housing or medical care.

I have no sperm. I am not creating single moms and leaving them in the position of having to petition the gov't to feed and clothe my children. Who is doing the separating?
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
Well, thanks, MBM!

Although I would have to at least slightly disagree with your description seeing as how that was indeed ultimately the plan that Clinton signed, but not the one he proposed. Those final amendments/revisions to that plan that actually became law, came at the hands of Congress ... not President Clinton.



Clinton campaigned on the promise of welfare reform. The responsibility for welfare reform is Clinton's alone.


Welfare did need to be reformed. Not in the way it ultimately turned out to be, though. Clinton definitely gets the blame for putting that particular reform bill into law.

And, of course, not that reality has anything to do with it (or anything else when it comes to him) but the fact of the matter was that was not the welfare plan that he proposed and submitted to Congress. It's just the one he got back. Disillusion nor hate changes that! Smile
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
Well, thanks, MBM!

Although I would have to at least slightly disagree with your description seeing as how that was indeed ultimately the plan that Clinton signed, but not the one he proposed. Those final amendments/revisions to that plan that actually became law, came at the hands of Congress ... not President Clinton.



Clinton campaigned on the promise of welfare reform. The responsibility for welfare reform is Clinton's alone.


Welfare did need to be reformed. Not in the way it ultimately turned out to be, though. Clinton definitely gets the blame for putting it into law.

And, of course, not that reality has anything to do with it (or anything else when it comes to him) but the fact of the matter was that was not the welfare plan that he proposed and submitted to Congress. It's just the one he got back. Disillusion nor hate changes that! Smile



Ebony, what does "disillusion or hate" have to do with the fact that Bill Clinton is the one who campaigned on promises of welfare reform? It was part of his campaign strategy to take moderate and conservative voters away from republicans. In what way is that disillusion or hate? Beyond that, can you explain why you agree that it "did need to be reformed"????

THE FACTS:

The major welfare programs of the Great Depression in the United States for able-bodied workers involved the WPA and the CCC. They were abolished when full employment returned during World War II. The states, however, continued to provide welfare for people who were unable to work; disability insurance was provided by the federal Social Security System. After the War on Poverty in the 1960s, welfare rolls grew rapidly, angering conservatives. [Katz 1986] Before 1996, welfare payments were distributed through a program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). In the 1980s, the program drew heavy criticism. There were numerous stories of "welfare queens", women who cheated the welfare system, receiving multiple checks each month and growing wealthy while not working. Many critics claimed that welfare bred a poor work ethic and a self-perpetuation "culture of poverty" in which ambitions focused on staying on welfare and avoiding productive work. [Katz 1986]

The AFDC system was under constant attack in the 1980s; these continued in the 1990s, with Presidential candidate Bill Clinton vowing to "end welfare as we know it." Clinton, once elected, worked with a Democratic congress and met with considerable success in moving people from welfare to work through state waiver programs. These programs allowed states to experiment with various welfare reform measures. The system became a common target of Newt Gingrich and other Republican leaders, though changes had already been set in motion by Clinton and the Democrats. Toughening the criteria for receiving welfare was the third point (out of ten) in the Republicans' Contract with America. The tide of public opinion in favor of some change to the welfare system was considerable. The stage was already set by 1996. The welfare reform movement reached its apex on August 22, 1996, when President Clinton signed a welfare reform bill, officially titled the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The bill was hammered out in a compromise with the Republican-controlled Congress, and many Democrats were critical of Clinton's decision to sign the bill, saying it was much the same as the two previous welfare reform bills he had vetoed. In fact, it emerged as one of the most controversial issues for Clinton within his own party.[Haskins 2006]

One of the bill's provisions was a time limit. Under the law, no person could receive welfare payments for more than five years, consecutive or nonconsecutive. Another controversial change was transferring welfare to a block grant system, i.e. one in which the federal government gives states "blocks" of money, which the states then distribute under their own legislation and criteria. Some states simply kept the federal rules, but others used the money for non-welfare programs, such as subsidized childcare (to allow parents to work) or subsidized public transportation (to allow people to travel to work without owning cars).[Haskins 2006; Blank 2002].
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
Well, thanks, MBM!

Although I would have to at least slightly disagree with your description seeing as how that was indeed ultimately the plan that Clinton signed, but not the one he proposed. Those final amendments/revisions to that plan that actually became law, came at the hands of Congress ... not President Clinton.



Clinton campaigned on the promise of welfare reform. The responsibility for welfare reform is Clinton's alone.


Welfare did need to be reformed. Not in the way it ultimately turned out to be, though. Clinton definitely gets the blame for putting that particular reform bill into law.
And, of course, not that reality has anything to do with it (or anything else when it comes to him) but the fact of the matter was that was not the welfare plan that he proposed and submitted to Congress. It's just the one he got back. Disillusion nor hate changes that! Smile


Bill Clinton initiated the process when he promised to "end welfare as we know it" during his campaign speeches. He rightly gets the credit for welfare reform.

Are you suggesting that Bill Clinton signed something into law that he did not want and did not agree with?
From the Brookings Institute, but useful nonetheless:


Interview: Welfare reform, 10 years later

Ron Haskins, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies

The Examiner

August 24, 2006 "”

WASHINGTON - In his new book, "Work Over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law", Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and co-director of Brookings' Center on Children and Families, provides first-hand insight into the history of and political machinations behind the 1996 Welfare Reform Law. Haskins was a key staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee at the time of the bill's passage and played a large role its creation. The Examiner interviewed Haskins to get his assessment of the bill on its 10-year anniversary.

Q: What about the political landscape in 1996"”and the realities of the welfare state"”pushed welfare reform to the top of the agenda in 1996 and made its passage possible?

A: Then-governor Bill Clinton surprised Republicans by making welfare reform a major issue in his 1992 campaign. His skillful use of welfare reform was a key ingredient in his victory, especially in battleground states like Ohio. But when President Clinton failed to push welfare reform, Republicans in the House formed working groups to draft legislation that they believed would revolutionize several of the nation's major welfare programs and save money for taxpayers. With Congressional Republicans united behind a revolutionary welfare reform bill, and with Clinton and the Democratic Party badly divided on welfare reform, the shocking elections of 1994 gave Republicans control of both the House and the Senate. Another factor pushing welfare reform to the top of the agenda was public support. Polls showed that the public favored work over welfare by huge margins. Another important factor was strong evidence that the old system, which gave people cash without expecting anything in return, contributed to making people dependent on welfare and to having babies outside marriage. When the moment of truth arrived in 1996, the old welfare system had no serious defenders.

Q: Who were the main players pushing welfare reform and whose ideas and agenda played the biggest role in its drafting?

A: The most fundamental reform idea was that mothers on welfare, even those with young children, should be encouraged, cajoled, and, when necessary, forced to work. President Clinton was the first prominent Democrat to accept the work agenda and, from the beginning of his presidency, he supported tough welfare reform provisions. Republicans developed the specific legislative provisions and the concepts underlying these policies, while Clinton and many Democrats supported the general principle that welfare recipients had to find jobs. It is also noteworthy, though often overlooked, that Republicans developed a host of sweeping reforms of other programs that were included in the final legislation. Thus, cash benefits and health coverage for drug addicts and alcoholics were terminated, most welfare benefits for noncitizens were terminated, the program of cash benefits for disabled children was deeply reformed, child care was reformed and expanded, the food stamp program was trimmed and the child support enforcement program was greatly strengthened. With the exception of the child support enforcement reforms, which were bipartisan from the beginning, all of these reforms were resisted by Democrats at the beginning of the debate, although in the end half the Democrats in Congress voted to support them.

Q: How bad was the state of the welfare system in 1996?

A: There was all but universal agreement in 1996 that the nation's cash welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, was broken. It contributed to families becoming dependent on welfare and it provided cash to young people, including adolescents, who had babies outside marriage.

Q: Why did President Clinton veto two versions of the welfare reform bill, and what ultimately made him acquiesce?

A: Many Democrats were horrified by the Republican welfare reform bill because, among other reasons, they believed it put young mothers and their children at risk and because it reduced or eliminated welfare benefits for noncitizens. Thus, Clinton vetoed two early versions of the bill both because he thought the bills were too harsh and because he was trying to force Republicans to change the bill so that more Democrats would support it. Republicans made a few changes in the bill, including adding more money for child care, expanding Medicaid coverage for children, and reducing some of the cuts in social programs, and passed the bill a third time in July of 1996. On this occasion, half the Democrats in Congress voted in favor of the bill and Clinton signed it. Some critics charged Clinton with abandoning his party or trying to strengthen his political position in a cynical bid to be re-elected (he signed the bill less than three months before the presidential election of 1996). But I think he signed the bill because he believed the welfare system was flawed, he believed in tough work requirements, and he also supported several other reforms in the bill, especially the child support enforcement reforms. Republicans were able to change the bill enough, while preserving all its basic features, to convince Clinton to defy the left wing of his party and join Republicans in creating a new era in welfare policy.

Q: Ten years after its passage, what have been the bill's greatest accomplishments? What changes have we seen both in the welfare system and in the lives most affected by it?

A: Most states have radically changed their welfare programs to emphasize work. Before welfare reform, the main goal of state welfare programs was simply to give out money. But now the message families receive when they apply for welfare is that they need a job, that the "welfare" program is there to help them find one and that they can receive cash benefits for a maximum of five years. As a result, welfare rolls plunged by over 60 percent, as many as two million mothers entered the labor force, earnings for females heading families increased while their income from welfare payments fell, and child poverty declined every year between 1993 and 2000. By the late 1990s, both black child poverty and poverty among children in female-headed families had reached their lowest levels ever. Even now, after four years of increased child poverty following the 2001 recession, the child poverty rate is still 20 percent lower than it was in 1993. In addition to welfare reform, these families were helped by a series of federal and state programs that provided support to poor and low income working families. The success of welfare reform was created both by welfare reforms itself and by the work support programs that provided tax credits, health insurance, nutrition supplements and child care to low-income working families.

Q: What is the biggest shortcoming of the bill, looking back? And could that failure have been anticipated in 1996?

A: Arguably the biggest problem associated with the 1996 reforms is that some mothers have been unable to find or keep jobs. Under the old system, mothers could stay on welfare for many years; under the new system, they must work or lose their benefits. The issues that interfere with these mothers' ability to find and retain employment include mild disabilities, addictions, mental health issues, domestic violence and problems with child care. This problem does not call for modifying the welfare reform law. Rather, it calls for intense programs to help these mothers and for state action to allow some mothers to continue receiving welfare benefits as long as they are making efforts to prepare for work.

Q: What is the current state of the welfare system? Are more changes needed? If so, what?

A: Promoting work and self-sufficiency are major goals of the nation's cash welfare program, now called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. But many of the nation's other welfare programs, especially housing programs and food stamps, do not have strong work requirements. All welfare programs, with the possible exception of health programs, should require able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work.

Q: Is there still political will to tweak and improve the welfare system?

A: Polls show that the public does not think welfare is a very important issue and, except for the debate when the welfare reform legislation had to be reauthorized, Congress has not had a spirited welfare debate about new welfare proposals in a decade. Thus, there appears to be little political will to improve the welfare system and to attack the problems that remain. These include improving school readiness for young children, reducing the frequency of births outside marriage, increasing marriage rates, helping young males avoid prison and attain the education and work experience that would lead to employment and then to better jobs, and increasing public support for poor and low-income working families so they can improve the standard of living for themselves and their children.

Excerpt from Work Over Welfare

Promoting child well-being was a major goal of all participants in the 1995-96 welfare reform debate. Republicans argued that increased work by mothers on welfare would lead to positive impacts on children because mothers would be setting an example of personal responsibility, would impose schedules and order on chaotic households, and would increase family income. By contrast, Democrats thought that welfare reform would be disastrous for children. Many Democrats believed that mothers would not be able to find and maintain work, would hit time limits or be hit by sanctions and would experience serious declines in family income, driving them into destitution. Perhaps the most frequent charge, based on a reputable study by the Urban Institute, was that welfare reform would throw a million children into poverty. There were also predictions that more children would be removed from their parents and placed in the child protection system.

Several types of research evidence are now available to make informed judgments about what predictions have come true. A reasonable place to begin is with broad survey data on the well-being of American children. As we have seen, poverty not only did not increase but actually declined every year between 1994 and 2000, with black child poverty reaching its lowest level ever. Although poverty increased after 2000, it remained well below its 1994 level. So great was the decline in poverty that, as Paul Jargowsky and Isabel Sawhill show, the number of neighborhoods with concentrated poverty fell precipitously, as did the number of neighborhoods classified as underclass because of the concentration of poverty and the high frequency of problems such as school dropout, female-headed families, welfare dependency, and labor force dropout by adult males. The authors conclude that the 1990s were a "remarkable decade in which substantial progress was made."
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
Ebony, what does "disillusion or hate" have to do with the fact that Bill Clinton is the one who campaigned on promises of welfare reform? It was part of his campaign strategy to take moderate and conservative voters away from republicans. In what way is that disillusion or hate? Beyond that, can you explain why you agree that it "did need to be reformed"????


Well, I have no intentions of getting into a long, drawn out debate about this, NS ... you're going to think/do/feel whatever you want regardless of anything I have to say. But, I will answer these questions you have posed to me. Smile

Welfare did need to be reformed. In it's condition at the time, fathers were being discouraged from living with/building a family with their children ... women receiving the assistance were not being encouraged to better their lives by getting a higher paying job or even schooling/training to be able to one day get a higher paying job, one with room for advancement and promotion, one that might eventually allow themselves to work their way out of poverty.

Some of the stories you posted talking about the average recipient was on welfare less than 4 years ... where I grew up that figure is just total bs ... 'cause I don't think I know anyone who was on it for less than 4 years!

I also know that those who did find jobs on their own are all doing much, much, MUCH better today!! They are happier, more financially stable, have more in the way of assests, many have better health care through their jobs.

So, again I say welfare as it was needed reforming in some way. It was not a perfect system .. and as with any other was in need of some improvement. I realize you may not agree .. but, I haven't heard any other person ever say the same. So in that case, I would respect your dissenting opinion, but certainly, under no circumstances would agree with it.

The way I see it, the problem wasn't reforming the welfare program ... the problem was with reforming it in the way that it was. There were better ways it could have been revamped. I believe that Clinton's inital thoughts on that were much better than the ones that he actually signed into law. But at any rate, the two were not the same thing.
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:

And, of course, not that reality has anything to do with it (or anything else when it comes to him) but the fact of the matter was that was not the welfare plan that he proposed and submitted to Congress. It's just the one he got back. Disillusion nor hate changes that! Smile



WTF was a liberal president doing proposing changes to welfare at all? 17

the conservatives have got hatin on the poor covered pretty well.
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:

Hi Wiz,

I can see your point but it is not my doing. with 75% of welfare recipients being single mom's with children...it is the doing of those who had unprotected sex, created children with women they didn't intend to stay with and left those children hungry, with no housing or medical care.

I have no sperm. I am not creating single moms and leaving them in the position of having to petition the gov't to feed and clothe my children. Who is doing the separating?


I am not in anyway disparaging the many single mother's on welfare and I am not making judgements about sexual activity, but what I am saying is that there are a lot of impoverished black males that welfare is making absolutely no attempt to care for. Which is one reason that so many guys are on the Mother's Day plan.

Welfare should not be a gender issue, it should be a poverty issue, but back in the 70's it became a gender thing with ADC.
quote:
Originally posted by Wiz:

but what I am saying is that there are a lot of impoverished black males that welfare is making absolutely no attempt to care for.



Would the pride of a black male allow him to accept welfare?

Please say more about the gender divisions that you believe happened in the 70's?

When welfare was given in the form of "commodities" it was for poor families in general, when Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon administrations began to look at poverty it began to include cash assistance AFDC and was limited to single parents with children...

based on the assumption that a household with a man was a household with a provider.

Are you saying this is false? That a man in the household is not necessarily able to be a provider?

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