There is a narrative within society that lends itself to Black women being touted as “Welfare Queens” who by all intents and purposes take advantage of every available benefit the government has to offer. The narrative posits that women of this nature have “twelve Social Security cards, mooches on benefits from four fake dead husbands, and collects food stamps while driving a Cadillac” (Blake); all to the tune of about $150,000 annually. The natural assumption is that women who partake of government benefits enmass are Black African-American women.
The ‘Welfare Queen’ narrative is one that continues to be spun to this day and has become a mantra of conservatives who claim that Blacks in general live off the government, other people’s money, and has helped to move America towards a society based largely on entitlements. There are claims that the ‘Welfare Queen’ narrative was first introduced by President Ronald Reagan and continues to be one that the public has conveniently bought into. It was based on a true story about a Black woman named, Linda Taylor, who embezzled over $600,000 from taxpayers and the government over a two-year period. She accomplished this by creating over sixty different identities. (Gibson). Because Taylor was Black this created the false assumption that all Black women on welfare had similar agendas.
However, if statistics are to be believed, Black women living on welfare is in fact, a reality. Whether it is by choice or not remains to be seen. According to 1999 statistics, the number of people on welfare dropped from 4.6 million to 2.4 million people. (incite-national.org). Although the numbers have dropped, many Black women continue to struggle to make ends meet and fail to thrive as a result of being off welfare. If the ‘Welfare Queen’ ideology is to be believed, no Black woman would be off welfare, much less suffering.
- Blake, John. “Return of the ‘Welfare Queen'” CNN. Cable News Network, 23 Jan. 2012. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.
- Gibson, Anna. “The Myth of the Welfare Queen: How Classism Has Worked Against Black Women.” For Harriet | Celebrating the Fullness of Black Womanhood. N.p., 20 May 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.
- “Women of Color and Welfare.” Women of Color and Welfare. N.p., 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.