Fw: Re: Race and Welfare

H. C. Covington (ach1@sprynet.com)
Mon, 10 Aug 1998 23:15:18 -0500


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-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Berg +ADw-sberg+AEA-NAEH.ORG+AD4-
To: WELFAREM-L+AEA-AMERICAN.EDU +ADw-WELFAREM-L+AEA-AMERICAN.EDU+AD4-
Date: Thursday, August 06, 1998 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: Race and Welfare


This is an important and troubling development.  One reason for the =
trend is, of course, that white people have an easier time finding jobs, =
both because of direct discrimination against people of color, and =
because there were more jobs is areas where white recipients were likely =
to live (due, in turn, to employers' white flight).  It's important, =
however, to search for other factors in light of the growing number of =
state-based studies showing that half of the people who have left =
welfare have not found work in the months after they left.  Hypotheses =
that come to mind (ordered from those I'm most confident are right to =
the opposite):=20
1) Because of racial disparities in earning power, the parents, =
relatives, boyfriends and childrens' fathers of white single mothers, on =
average, have more money to contribute to their support than do the =
parents etc. of black and Latina single mothers.  This makes it more =
likely that it's practical for a white single mother to decide that =
welfare is not worth the trouble.=20

2)  There may be greater political opposition to harsh sanctions in =
places where a larger percentage of voters are African-American and =
Latino.=20

3)  Because of both housing discrimination and settlement patterns, =
African-American recipients are more likely than white recipients to =
live in large urban centers.  Social services systems that are smaller =
and more contained tend to find change easier to accommodate, so that a =
community resolve to, e.g., get lots of low-income women in to jobs is =
easier to pull off in a small city than it is in a large city.  I think =
of Wisconsin, where more and more of the caseload is in Milwaukee.  Is =
this only due to the factors above, or is it also that a bigger system =
(Milwaukee) takes longer to change than a smaller system (Janesville)?  =
(It would work this way whether the change in question was a positive =
one of helping people earn living wages, or a negative one of driving =
people off the rolls through harsher sanctioning.)=20

4)  There may be attitudinal differences, based on the average =
African-American or Latina low-income single mother feeling more =
politically disenfranchised than the average white low-income single =
mother, and less likely to take it to heart when white political =
+ACI-leaders+ACI- imply that only bad people use welfare.=20

In terms of the social and political impact, this development strikes me =
as extremely dangerous.  The story that's been told in the mainstream =
press about women leaving welfare has largely been about individuals =
with a lot of gumption collecting their courage to leave this terrible =
institution behind and rely instead on their own hard work and sacrifice =
etc. etc.  If people believed that was the whole story, then saw black =
and Latina women staying on welfare, it would reinforce a white =
supremist viewpoint.=20

It poses a dilemma for how we talk about changes in the system.  A lot =
of low-income women have been extremely courageous in the face of the =
new politics around welfare.  The public's perception of this courage =
makes it easier to sell things like a better minimum wage, earned income =
tax credits, subsidized child care and other supports for low-wage =
workers.  So it's tempting to keep telling that story.  The Times piece =
suggests the importance of combining the theme of individual courage =
with that of the help and support received by those who +ACI-make =
it+ACI- and move to the point where they have a decent standard of =
living+ADs- and of including stories of the barriers (including racism) =
put in the way, and the equally imposing courage of low-income women who =
are up against those barriers, trying to keep their children safe and =
healthy, without having made it much of anywhere yet.=20

Ken Neubeck wrote:=20

        On July 27 the New York Times had a front-page story entitled =
+ACI-Welfare=20
    Rolls Show Growing Racial and Urban Imbalance.+ACI-  . . .  I am =
interested in what those who have seen this article believe to be the =
principal reasons for such racial disparities in rates of leaving the=20
    welfare rolls, and equally interested in what people think may be =
the=20
    social and political implications of the worsening racial imbalance =
in the=20
    color composition of the rolls.=20
     =20
   =20
     =20

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Message-----+ADw-/B+AD4APA-BR+AD4APA-B+AD4-From:=20
+ADw-/B+AD4-Steve Berg +ACY-lt+ADsAPA-A=20
href+AD0AIg-mailto:sberg+AEA-NAEH.ORG+ACIAPg-sberg+AEA-NAEH.ORG+ADw-/A+AD=
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ICAN.EDU+ADw-/A+AD4AJg-gt+ADsAPA-BR+AD4APA-B+AD4-Date:=20
+ADw-/B+AD4-Thursday, August 06, 1998 10:58 =
AM+ADw-BR+AD4APA-B+AD4-Subject: +ADw-/B+AD4-Re: Race and=20
Welfare+ADw-BR+AD4APA-BR+AD4APA-/DIV+AD4APA-/FONT+AD4-This is an =
important and troubling=20
development.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- One reason for the trend is, of course, that =
white people=20
have an easier time finding jobs, both because of direct discrimination =
against=20
people of color, and because there were more jobs is areas where white=20
recipients were likely to live (due, in turn, to employers' white =
flight).+ACY-nbsp+ADs-=20
It's important, however, to search for other factors in light of the =
growing=20
number of state-based studies showing that half of the people who have =
left=20
welfare have not found work in the months after they left.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- =
Hypotheses that=20
come to mind (ordered from those I'm most confident are right to the =
opposite):=20
+ADw-P+AD4-1) Because of racial disparities in earning power, the =
parents, relatives,=20
boyfriends and childrens' fathers of white single mothers, on average, =
have more=20
money to contribute to their support than do the parents etc. of black =
and=20
Latina single mothers.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- This makes it more likely that it's =
practical for a=20
white single mother to decide that welfare is not worth the trouble.=20
+ADw-P+AD4-2)+ACY-nbsp+ADs- There may be greater political opposition to =
harsh sanctions in=20
places where a larger percentage of voters are African-American and =
Latino.=20
+ADw-P+AD4-3)+ACY-nbsp+ADs- Because of both housing discrimination and =
settlement patterns,=20
African-American recipients are more likely than white recipients to =
live in=20
large urban centers.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- Social services systems that are =
smaller and more=20
contained tend to find change easier to accommodate, so that a community =
resolve=20
to, e.g., get lots of low-income women in to jobs is easier to pull off =
in a=20
small city than it is in a large city.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- I think of =
Wisconsin, where more=20
and more of the caseload is in Milwaukee.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- Is this only due =
to the factors=20
above, or is it also that a bigger system (Milwaukee) takes longer to =
change=20
than a smaller system (Janesville)?+ACY-nbsp+ADs- (It would work this =
way whether the=20
change in question was a positive one of helping people earn living =
wages, or a=20
negative one of driving people off the rolls through harsher =
sanctioning.)=20
+ADw-P+AD4-4)+ACY-nbsp+ADs- There may be attitudinal differences, based =
on the average=20
African-American or Latina low-income single mother feeling more =
politically=20
disenfranchised than the average white low-income single mother, and =
less likely=20
to take it to heart when white political =
+ACY-quot+ADs-leaders+ACY-quot+ADs- imply that only bad=20
people use welfare.=20
+ADw-P+AD4-In terms of the social and political impact, this development =
strikes me as=20
extremely dangerous.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- The story that's been told in the =
mainstream press=20
about women leaving welfare has largely been about individuals with a =
lot of=20
gumption collecting their courage to leave this terrible institution =
behind and=20
rely instead on their own hard work and sacrifice etc. =
etc.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- If people=20
believed that was the whole story, then saw black and Latina women =
staying on=20
welfare, it would reinforce a white supremist viewpoint.=20
+ADw-P+AD4-It poses a dilemma for how we talk about changes in the =
system.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- A lot=20
of low-income women +ADw-I+AD4-have+ADw-/I+AD4- been extremely =
courageous in the face of the new=20
politics around welfare.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- The public's perception of this =
courage makes it=20
easier to sell things like a better minimum wage, earned income tax =
credits,=20
subsidized child care and other supports for low-wage =
workers.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- So it's=20
tempting to keep telling that story.+ACY-nbsp+ADs- The =
+ADw-I+AD4-Times+ADw-/I+AD4- piece suggests the=20
importance of combining the theme of individual courage with that of the =
help=20
and support received by those who +ACY-quot+ADs-make it+ACY-quot+ADs- =
and move to the point=20
where they have a decent standard of living+ADs- and of including =
stories of the=20
barriers (including racism) put in the way, and the equally imposing =
courage of=20
low-income women who are up against those barriers, trying to keep their =

children safe and healthy, without having made it much of anywhere yet.=20
+ADw-P+AD4-Ken Neubeck wrote:=20
+ADw-BLOCKQUOTE TYPE +AD0- =
CITE+AD4AJg-nbsp+ADsAJg-nbsp+ADsAJg-nbsp+ADsAJg-nbsp+ADsAJg-nbsp+ADsAJg-n=
bsp+ADsAJg-nbsp+ADs- On July=20
    27 the New York Times had a front-page story entitled =
+ACY-quot+ADs-Welfare=20
    +ADw-BR+AD4-Rolls Show Growing Racial and Urban =
Imbalance.+ACY-quot+ADsAJg-nbsp+ADs- . . .+ACY-nbsp+ADs- I=20
    am interested in what those who have seen this article believe to be =
the=20
    principal reasons for such racial disparities in rates of leaving =
the=20
    +ADw-BR+AD4-welfare rolls, and equally interested in what people =
think may be the=20
    +ADw-BR+AD4-social and political implications of the worsening =
racial imbalance in=20
    the +ADw-BR+AD4-color composition of the rolls. =
+ADw-BR+AD4AJg-nbsp+ADs- +ADw-BR+AD4APA-/BLOCKQUOTE+AD4AJg-nbsp+ADs-=20
+ADw-/BODY+AD4APA-/HTML+AD4-

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