From The Grio/David A. Love — They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, it might be worth a thousand food stamps.
In the town of Brushton, New York, 30 people were arrested for food stamp fraud. Can you guess how many people were black? None, as the picture below shows. All of those arrested were white. Thankfully, the myth of black folks as welfare cheats who game the system — a carefully crafted GOP invention to appeal to racists — has been exposed for what it is.
And with the 2016 presidential campaign upon us, here is an issue Republicans will be unable to exploit, or shouldn’t be able to exploit for political gain. Not that they won’t try.
From the late 1960s, white segregationist Democrats — resentful of black power and the gains African-Americans made during the civil rights movement — fled to the Republican Party. The Republicans were able to appeal to white skin solidarity, with poor and working class whites voting against their economic interests. “If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket,” said President Lyndon B. Johnson. “Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.”
Under the Southern Strategy, the GOP was able to win over racists without actually sounding racist. Republican strategist Lee Atwater perfected race card politics by channeling white racial resentment of black people into opposition to welfare and government programs.
“You start out in 1954 by saying, “N***er, n***er, n***er.” By 1968 you can’t say “n***er” — that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract,” Atwater said. “Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘N***er, n***er.’”
In his presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan promoted the idea of the “welfare queen” — the stereotypical inner city black woman who has numerous children out of wedlock, and buys drugs and Cadillacs with welfare money. “She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year,” Reagan said in a 1976 campaign ad.
Image Credits: WCAX