Welfare is a Women’s Issue (1972) by Johnnie Tillmon

via OUR TIME

Welfare is a Women’s Issue (1972) by Johnnie Tillmon

I’m a woman. I’m a black woman. I’m a poor woman. I’m a fat woman. I’m a middle-aged woman. And I’m on welfare.

In this country, if you’re any one of those things you count less as a human being. If you’re all those things, you don’t count at all. Except as a statistic.

I am 45 years old. I have raised six children. There are millions of statistics like me. Some on welfare. Some not. And some, really poor, who don’t even know they’re entitled to welfare. Not all of them are black. Not at all. In fact, the majority-about two-thirds-of all the poor families in the country are white.

Welfare’s like a traffic accident. It can happen to anybody, but especially it happens to women.

And that’s why welfare is a women’s issue. For a lot of middle-class women in this country, Women’s Liberation is a matter of concern. For women on welfare it’s a matter of survival.

Survival. That’s why we had to go on welfare. And that’s why we can’t get off welfare now. Not us women. Not until we do something about liberating poor women in this country.

Because up until now we’ve been raised to expect to work, all our lives, for nothing. Because we are the worst educated, the least-skilled, and the lowest-paid people there are. Because we have to be almost totally responsible for our children. Because we are regarded by everybody as dependents. That’s why we are on welfare. And that’s why we stay on it.

Welfare is the most prejudiced institution in this country, even more than marriage, which it tries to imitate. Let me explain that a little.

Ninety-nine percent of welfare families are headed by women. There is no man around. In half the states there can’t be men around because A.F.D.C. (Aid to Families With Dependent Children) says if there is an “able-bodied” man around, then you can’t be on welfare. If the kids are going to eat, and the man can’t get a job, then he’s got to go.

Welfare is like a super-sexist marriage. You trade in a man for the man. But you can’t divorce him if he treats you bad. He can divorce you, of course, cut you off anytime he wants. But in that case, he keeps the kids, not you.The man runs everything. In ordinary marriage, sex is supposed to be for your husband. On A.F.D.C., you’re not supposed to have any sex at all. You give up control of your own body. It’s a condition of aid. You may even have to agree to get your tubes tied so you can never have more children just to avoid being cut off welfare.

The man, the welfare system, controls your money. He tells you what to buy, what not to buy, where to buy it, and how much things cost. If things-rent, for instance-really cost more than he says they do, it’s just too bad for you. He’s always right.

That’s why Governor [Ronald] Reagan can get away with slandering welfare recipients, calling them “lazy parasites,” “pigs at the trough,” and such. We’ve been trained to believe that the only reason people are on welfare is because there’s something wrong with their character. If people have “motivation,” if people only want to work, they can, and they will be able to support themselves and their kids in decency.

The truth is a job doesn’t necessarily mean an adequate income. There are some ten million jobs that now pay less than the minimum wage, and if you’re a woman, you’ve got the best chance of getting one. Why would a 45-year-old woman work all day in a laundry ironing shirts at 90-some cents an hour? Because she knows there’s some place lower she could be. She could be on welfare. Society needs women on welfare as “examples” to let every woman, factory workers and housewife workers alike, know what will happen if she lets up, if she’s laid off, if she tries to go it alone without a man. So these ladies stay on their feet or on their knees all their lives instead of asking why they’re only getting 90-some cents an hour, instead of daring to fight and complain.

Maybe we poor welfare women will really liberate women in this country. We’ve already started on our own welfare plan. Along with other welfare recipients, we have organized so we can have some voice. Our group is called the National Welfare Rights Organization (N.W.R.O.). We put together our own welfare plan, called Guaranteed Adequate Income (G.A.I.), which would eliminate sexism from welfare. There would be no “categories”-men, women, children, single, married, kids, no kids-just poor people who need aid. You’d get paid according to need and family size only and that would be upped as the cost of living goes up.

As far as I’m concerned, the ladies of N.W.R.O. are the front-line troops of women’s freedom. Both because we have so few illusions and because our issues are so important to all women-the right to a living wage for women’s work, the right to life itself.

source

“Fuck the Poor” – Paul Ryan

 

 

No, not an actual quote from Paul. At least not publicly.
This video is a social experiment conducted by The Pillion Trust Charity.
I was way ahead of the punchline. I see this every single day.

“We knew you cared. Please care enough to give.https://www.justgiving.com/piliontrust/

Not that everyone CAN give but hey, pennies add up and nearly everyone has spare change.

Speaking of pennies…
timestridesforbowties:</p>
<p>glowcloud:</p>
<p>seraphknights:</p>
<p>cultureshift:</p>
<p>This is the Memorial to the Missing and contains over 50,000,000 pennies to represent the lives of each American child abandoned to abortion by a society and a culture that has embraced their destruction. We must prevent the need to add to this memorial. Take a stand. Get involved.<br />
 ”How we treat the least of us defines us.”</p>
<p>"should I use this $500k to help struggling parents and pregnant people or should I put it in a glass box"</p>
<p>can somebody break this and give it to some real live kids who are actually starving right now</p>
<p>oh yes, let’s make a memorial to remember the lives that never had conscious thought<br />
let’s make a memorial using real money to represent lives that made absolutely no impact on the earth whatsoever <br />
let’s just waste all this money in a useless box and start shoving prolife down people’s throats<br />
instead of actually taking a chance to listen to<br />
the teenagers that made a mistake<br />
the people who were violated, and had heavier consequences than the scars in their mind<br />
the people that didnt know better<br />
the people that couldnt afford it<br />
the people that didnt want it<br />
the people that chose not suffer their lives and the child’s life <br />
lets build a giant reminder to why humans are not allowed to make their own choices based on biological factors they cannot control<br />
lets also just waste a fuck ton of money for no reason. <br />
” /></p>
<p>This is a glass house a anti-choice organization filled with $500k , all in pennies. <a href=It’s a memorial to aborted fetuses. Huh. I don’t think you can really call yourself pro-life (hence, my term anti-choice) if you hoard pennies as symbolism instead of using that $500K to help struggling families who have children living on this planet.

People are strange.

Ok, now back to Paul Ryan. I keep hoping he’ll just go away. Instead, he proposes budgets that cut everything that ever helped a low income America living in poverty, and to get out of poverty. If made into law, it would  cut $5.1 trillion from safety net and social welfare programs, like  Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, college grants, medical research….

He does so out of love,you guys! This is how the poor will be elevated out of poverty. Don’t worry about the lack of logic behind it. Trust him. It’s all for your own good.

Yeah, I think he really needs to go away now.

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(I know,I know…I was supposed to clean up my language for this blog. Allow me one cursing post per week. That’s all I need)

Do people using food stamps have to get info from the Internet instead of case workers?

It’s only 9 days into the brand new year and I have questions.
My end of 2013 blog stats told me that What Can and Can’t Be Bought With Food Stamps was the most viewed of the past year. I think I only a lot of those views to Upworthy (thank you so much for your support, Brandon) but it’s more than that.

Take a look at this new year’s search terms that have brought people to Poor as Folk.
Fullscreen capture 192014 84157 AM

I’m betting the searches for alcohol came from people trying to debunk that myth (I say this because people have told me in the past that’s why they shared that link) but the other searches…. do these people not have caseworkers and a support system at their DSS to answer these questions?

I have limited personal experiences with caseworkers. I lived in a neighboring county for awhile and being on food stamps was awful in that county. Caseworkers seemed to kinda like it when they made you cry and it was nearly impossible to get real assistance or answers. In the county we live in now, the caseworkers are awesome. They return all your calls in a short time and if you pop in to the office ,someone will generally be able to take time to see you.Also, in this county they have budgeting,cooking ,and meal planning workshops. I used to teach these,so I haven’t felt like I have a real reason to attend them …except for maybe the purposes for blogging material. (us writers are weird like that)

So, I’m wondering …how common is my former experience?
If you’re receiving assistance ( SNAP or TANF) or have in the past, what was your experience with case workers? Were you giving all the information you needed or did you feel like you had a lot of unanswered questions.

Because I realize not everyone wants to comment publicly on something like this, I’ve included a comment for that will go straight to my email. Public comments can still be left by scrolling to the bottom. It would be great if you could also include the state you live in.

Also, I’m long overdue for a commenting policy here but just a reminder: when I ask for welfare/food stamp recipient’s experiences, that’s who I am asking. It’s not an invitation for someone to explain all the reasons they don’t think people should get food stamps or why the program is bad or any other derailing commentary.

Mean People Suck: Tom Brower thinks he’s Captain Hammer, Walmart still treats their employees like crap, and other stupid stuff

This week, the Mean People who suck are also providing some comedy. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t help but laugh. It turns out that a lot of the time, mean people are also pretty stupid …or at least do some stupid stuff.

So,there’s  this guy…Tom Brower…he’s a state rep from Hawaii. He’s solving the homelessness problem by bashing shopping carts with a sledgehammer.

Excuse the geek moment here but I immediately thought of  Captain Hammer from Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

Tom Brower is more like Captain Pointless,though.  He walks around Honolulu looking for shopping carts that he identifies as one homeless people have been using and smashes the wheels in with a hammer. Then piles them up so the city’s garbage trucks can come pick the up and haul them away to the dump. What a good use of public resources and a friend to the environment.

You have a huge homeless problem in your city and the logical way to deal with it is this instead of advocating for programs that actually help homeless people not be homeless anymore? All righty then. Makes so much sense.
He says he returns carts he can identify to the store they came from but it must be that he can’t read or his store locator app doesn’t work so he can’t figure out where to return all of them to because in this video, the cart he smashes is clearly identifiable.

Whatever. He’s a tool.

And just so I can continue in the vein of Dr Horrible….
These rich people said the homeless have it easy and you shouldn’t give them money because you’re enabling them.

Then there’s this guy.

[link]

It’s cool if you do coke and your paycheck comes from taxpayer money as long as you’re not on welfare.

Now might be a good time to point out that Florida’s drug testing for SNAP recipients was a giant waste of money and pretty much everyone’s time. The state lost  $45,780 and the end result was about 2.5% testing positive, mostly for marijuana.
(and that’s about the same result coming out of every other state trying this out)

And finally this week, shout out to the Walmart in Canton, Ohio for getting in to the holiday spirit by collecting donations for their own poorly paid employees so they can have a nice Thanksgiving Day dinner. Well, for those employees who don’t have to work on Thanksgiving, I guess.

tumblr_mwji75dEOW1qjvqcso1_500

The further insulting irony here is that a lot of those employees are on SNAP and just had their SNAP allowance reduced this month. Walmart is already one of the biggest beneficiaries of the SNAP program and the most recent SNAP cuts will probably increase that trend.

What Can & Can’t Be Bought With Food Stamps & An EBT Card

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Infographic source unknown. Someone sent it to me from Pinterest.

This infographic is a good rough guide to what you can and can’t buy with SNAP.

I have a huge gripe with the way some states or counties in  parts of the U.S. work with their clients.  The most frequent search terms on my other blog where I started blogging about SNAP is questions about what people can buy with their food stamps.

This should be a caseworker’s job, not a blogger on the Internet. I am very happy to provide the information but from what I understand ,there are food stamp recipients who never even see a caseworker or the only info they’re given about purchasing things is ,”You can’t buy cigarettes and alcohol.” Well, no duh.

Based on my most frequent search queries, here is a list of things people wondered about that you CAN buy with food stamps:

  • baking soda
  • vinegar, all kinds
  • coconut oil
  • any cooking oil,including olive oil
  • seeds …EXCEPT sunflower seeds, unless they are packaged and ready to eat.
  • plants that produce food and potted herbs

Here are specific items you CANNOT buy:

  • toilet paper
  • shampoo
  • tampons or pads
  • deodorant
  • tooth paste
  • diapers, cloth or disposable
  • bakery goods
  • cooking utensils or small kitchen appliances
  • pots and pans
  • dishes

Yes, it’s totally true that you CAN buy bows and arrows in Alaska but not live animals. Like lobster. You can’t buy a live lobster to cook…or chickens ,if you were to want to raise them yourself.

Since we’re talking about what can and can’t be bought using an EBT card, I want to clear up some things for those who are misinformed.

This is what my EBT card looks like. All inconspicuous, not announcing that ,”I get benefits!” or anything.

Nobody is given paper food stamps anymore. Everyone who receives food stamp benefits gets a card. An EBT card. Electronic Benefits Transfer card.  It works like a debit card.

EBT cards are also given to people who receive cash welfare benefits. Some people who get food stamps also receive cash benefits but just to clear up a misconception... it’s very hard to get cash assistance . Because of the Work to Welfare program and other reformation of the system,  once someone is approved for cash assistance, they must either enroll in school or job training, or prove that they are job searching, unless they are disabled. Most states have a limited time or a cash cap limit that you can receive while looking for a job. They will also place people in jobs, basically at a just above minimum wage rate for as many hours as comparable to the amount of cash assistance they get.  If they don’t go to work or school, they lose the assistance. Once they’re earning money, they also lose the cash assistance. It’s a temporary assistance program, which is why it’s called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It’s that simple.

In some states, the EBT card cannot be used at a register in a store for non-food stamp items. The recipient has to go to an ATM or a store office and withdrawl cash.  In some states, it can be used right at the register, which I’m guessing is causing confusion to nosy people who stand in line behind other people in line, checking out what kind of card it being used to pay for groceries.

Also, it’s important to put out there : Some states put a single mother’s child support money into the account attached to their EBT card if she’s also eligible for food stamps.  So, the state isn’t being the baby-daddy there. The actual contributor of DNA paid his child support and that’s how the state is giving her that money.

All those stupid memes online about beer,tattoos,cigarettes being bought with EBT….
I’m not going to say that no one buys those things with their cash benefits but if you pay attention to how those ridiculous things are worded, they are completely fabricated . “Today I saw a woman in line paying w/ food stamps blahblahblah…IPHONEblahblahblahLEXUSblahblahPOTATOCHIPSANDSODA!”
No, you didn’t. You want people to get riled up and start a shit storm on your page or tumblr.

97% of the time, I guarantee it.

Or I’m only person in the store,minding my own business and thinking about the stuff in my own cart. If someone has time to cart judge, they need a constructive hobby. Go volunteer and the local food bank or something.

Tianna Gaines-Turner’s testimony as a witness to hunger and Melissa Harris-Perry’s letter to Paul Ryan

I talked a little bit about Paul Ryan’s “War on Poverty” hearings here and the lack of real knowledge of poverty represented. Melissa Harris -Perry addresses exactly that and his committee’s refusal to allow Tianna Gaines-Turner to testify about her firsthand knowledge of poverty. You can read her written testimony here.

After she was not allowed to testify in person, Tianna Gaines-Turner of Witnesses to Hunger sent in written testimony to Rep. Paul Ryan and the House Budget Committee about her family's current experience living in poverty.

Melissa Harris-Perry’s letter to Paul Ryan

Last week on this show, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee said she would ask the House Budget Committee chair to invite our guest, Tianna Gaines-Turner, to testify about anti-poverty programs. Tianna is a “Witness to Hunger” and a married mother of three who receives food stamps and other federal benefits to help make ends meet.

But the Republican chairman of the committee refused to have Tianna at his “war on poverty” hearing. My letter this week is to that chairman, Congressman Paul Ryan.

Dear Congressman Ryan,

It’s me, Melissa.

Look, it’s great that you had a hearing on poverty. That you asked whether we’ve made any progress in the “war on poverty” in the past 50 years. I’m glad you had four experts on poverty programs, including our favorite nun-on-the-busSister Simone Campbell.

But you know what would have been a hell of a lot better? If you heard from someone who’s actually living in poverty! Someone who’s working, and still struggling to feed and clothe her children, and to afford health care. Here’s the kind of thing you may have heard from Tianna,describing her life on our show in May:

“Food insecurity is not just a depression or a stress for an adult. It’s very much on the minds of young children every day. And I don’t understand how people can sit and sleep, knowing there’s a child somewhere, 8 years old, 4 years old,  worrying about, is my mom gonna eat?”

You had the chance to hear her, Congressman Ryan. But you refused, only allowing Representative Barbara Lee to enter Tianna’s written comments into the record. Would things have been different if she was there? Would you have been able to look Tianna in the eye while telling her that you care about the poor?

At the start of the hearing, you said you want to find ways to lift people out of poverty. You said:

“This is about improving people’s lives. In this country, the condition of your birth shouldn’t determine the outcome of your life. If you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead. That’s something we all believe in. That’s something we all care about.”

But your budget proposals paint a very different picture. Your so-called “Path to Prosperity” budget would cut $135 billion from SNAP.  You know, the food stamp program that helps feed 22 million American households a month. Let’s put that in perspective. That’s more than six times the amount House Republicans proposed cutting in their farm bill this earlier year.

Even that much smaller cut–$20.5 billion, to your $135 billion–would be devastating to American families.

According to a new study by the Health Impact Project, the (comparatively small!) $20.5 billion cut could result in 5.1 million people losing their food stamps, including more than one million children. Hundreds of thousands of Americans would go hungry. Is that something that we all believe in, congressman?

The study also found that the SNAP cuts in the farm bill–again, a tiny fraction of the cuts youwant–would increase the poverty rate. Not exactly lifting people out of poverty. And that an increase in hunger and poverty would lede directly to an increase in diseases like diabetes and heart disease in adults, and asthma and cognitive impairment in children.

Tell me, congressman, how exactly that’s “improving people’s lives.” And your plan doesn’t even save any money! The increase in diabetes alone could cost $15 billion more in health costs over the next decade. And the impact from the cuts you want, Congressman Ryan–it would be six times worse.

Could you look Tianna Gaines-Turner in the eye and say you want to improve her life, while taking away the means to feed her family? Could you keep a straight face? Since you refused to allow her at your poverty hearing, I’m guessing not.

Sincerely,
Melissa