Welfare Office Overwhelmed with Applicants

Darlena Cunha, a writer and a mother, was like a lot of people when it comes to having it good and losing it all. Cunha and her husband were once the typical white couple, living a privileged life, until job loss and unexpected health bills took over their lives.  Then they had a walk on the poverty side.

Well technically they didn’t walk, they drove their older model Mercedes to get welfare.

Cunha’s op-ed for the Washington Post has her on the end of receiving tons of backlash. Not because she received food stamps and government assistance, but because she drove a Mercedes down to the welfare. Cunha wrote in her article “poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgment.”

But damn, she received some harsh judgment.

People commented that she should have sold off the car that was already paid for, so they could buy a cheaper car. Where they do that at?  I’m still trying to follow the rationale of the idiotic commenters.

Why sell a car that you know is reliable and paid off, for a possible clunker?

Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.

“You can’t be that bad off,” a distant relative said, after inviting himself over for lunch. “You still got that baby in all its glory.”

Sometimes, it was more direct. All from a place of love, of course. “Sell the Mercedes,” a friend said to me. “He doesn’t get to keep his toys now.”

It’s opinions like these that leave those facing the difficulties of poverty open to judgmental jerks.  There’s this notion that poor people can’t have nice things.  Better yet, if you weren’t poor previously, and you become poor, you’re not entitled to those things you worked hard for.

Sell your iPhone.

Sell your car.

Sell your electronics.

Sell your soul.

You don’t deserve nothing, according to those who allegedly have never been poor before. Because as we all know, people living in glass houses never throw stones. Hashtag sarcasm.

Cunha wrote about being judged from doing simple things like going grocery shopping and using her WIC card.

Once, a girl at the register actually stood up for me when an older mother of three saw the coupons and started chastising my purchase of root beer. They were “buy two, get one free” at a dollar a pop.

“Surely, you don’t need those,” she said. “WIC pays for juice for you people.”

“To this day, it is the single most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

She said that the reason she felt embarrassed was not fair.

“I still have to remind myself sometimes that I was my harshest critic. That the judgment of the disadvantaged comes not just from conservative politicians and Internet trolls,” said Cunha.

To read the entire account of how she ended up in the situation, click here to link to the Washington Post.

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  • Coste Shordy

    People are very ignorant, we must put ourselves in the shoes of others before passing judgement.

  • elle

    I read that article, and it is being passed around my timeline onf Facebook as we speak. I read the comments section, and I immediately regretted it because it made me angry to be reminded of how stupid some people can be. There were countless people who insisted that she was in the situation that she was in because she did not know how to budget, because she spent beyond her means, because this, because that, because the third thing. It was as if folks could not grasp the concept of bad things happening to good people, but in reality, these people chose not to recognize the tragedy in this woman’s situation because it means that their cushy little lives are in danger. It means that they are not as secure as they think they are. I think that there are people who need to feel superior to others in order to feel good about themselves, so the concept that some people do everything right and can still lose everything. These are the poor or struggling people who vote Republican even though that party does nothing for them. They need to feel that they can look down on the rest of us normal people.

    • lovechild

      I agree with this, I wonder how many of these people talking shit about her are one paycheck away from being homeless? I bet these people don’t have enough money saved to get through the next six months if they were to lose their jobs tomorrow. Sweep around your own front stoop instead of worrying about others supposed dust.

    • SimplePseudonym

      …and she gave birth to TWINS!!!!!

      I’ve seen a few “prosperity to poverty” stories where the combination of a multiple birth and a loss job at the same time can bury even a family w/ responsible spending and savings lined up. Babies are expensive!

    • 1989

      Premature twins, with huge med bills at that. That’s so much at once.

  • saniel

    I have a old Mercedes-Benz and have had to drive to the welfare office. It is the only vehicle I have and much better than the transportation system. I probably got some looks pulling and out of the parking lot but it’s judgement. I know my predicament and how to get food on the table for my family. Please don’t judge based on appearances.