Welfare and the Black Household

Has Welfare crippled or destroyed Black families? Welfare was initially created to help those in need. At least that is what the definition tells us. It was in 1935 that Welfare was created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was primarily focused on creating jobs for those unemployed individuals. He also supported governmental aid for children in poverty and other dependent individuals.

The Great Depression was the “longest downturn” the United States has ever experienced. It lasted from 1929 to 194, and greatly impacted industrial production and many people lost their jobs and suffered financially. According to the Federal Reserve’s History, it was Ben Bernanke, who was a member of the Federal Board of Governors during that time, he acknowledged that, “The Federal Reserve’s mistakes contributed to the ‘worst economic disaster in American history.’”

The Fed’s decided to raise interest rates in 1928 and 1929 thinking it would be in the best interest of the economy. However, this decision backfired and recessions started all over the world. Therefore, Welfare was created to help with the economic disaster. What started out as a true need with good intentions has ended up crippling Black families, and has produced some dependent individuals who solely rely on the government for their income.

According to Brittanica, the Great Depression impacted African Americans the most. “The Great Depression of the 1930s worsened the already bleak economic situation of African Americans. They were the first to be laid off from their jobs, and they suffered from an unemployment rate two to three times that of Whites.” And in early governmental assistant programs, “African Americans often received substantially less aid than whites, and some charitable organizations even excluded Blacks from their soup kitchens.”

It was Roosevelt’s administration that shifted and gained the support of African Americans to the Democratic Party. It was through the New Deal that helped African Americans and established programs to restore the economy of the United States, including Welfare. However, there were some assistant programs that disqualified Blacks, especially Black mothers who needed support to help raise their children. It was programs like Mother’s Pension, and Social Security (formerly known as Old Age Insurance), and Aid to Dependent Children (changed to Aid to Families with Dependent Children) just to name a few, that made sure Black mothers were excluded. There were “punitive policies” that were put in place to control Black mothers and break down the Black family.

Today, Welfare is still breaking down Black families and some Blacks have become dependent on it. Welfare is supposed to be a temporary issue for families until they get back on their feet, but many families have relied on this source of income. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, “In 1995, the Texas legislature passed landmark legislation, House Bill 1863, in anticipation of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). House Bill 1863 established time limits and work requirements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. House Bill 1863 also laid the foundation for the current Texas welfare, workforce development and subsidized childcare systems.” TANF replaced AFDC. For Texas, to qualify for Welfare assistance, you must be a resident of Texas, a U.S. citizen, a legal alien, or qualified alien, and are low income. In addition, you must have a child 18 years of age or younger, be pregnant, or be 18 years of age or younger and the head of your household.

Welfare has had a crippling effect on the Black household because it allows some people to think they are sustaining but they’re not. This can give people a false sense of security, and with some individuals, it can impact them psychologically to make them think that this is the only way of survival. This can also keep Blacks oppressed and it can make it hard to get out of it.

In addition, it can often create a cycle of poverty. When a person can maintain by receiving a monthly check they didn’t have to work for, there is no incentive for them to get a job. It creates this pattern of dependence. Children then grow up in this environment and are likely to repeat the cycle, especially if the individual continues to have kids, they can’t take care of.

However, not everyone abuses Welfare, and there are people who legitimately need it to help them. This may include individuals who lost their job and can’t find one or even who have a disability. For those who truly need Welfare, today, it still is not enough to sustain a whole household.

The creation of welfare was meant to help people on a temporary basis, but for some, it has been a long-term dependence because some people have learned to abuse this system. What some don’t realize is that there is a price for everything. Even though these individuals are receiving assistance, they are still being controlled by the government and are limiting their ability to function on their own. Individuals should strive to live on their own to support themselves and their families. Everyone’s situation is different, but there are benefits to being able to provide for yourself and family. As Ronald Reagan said, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.”


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