Stereotyping the Poor

Gingrich to black people: paychecks, not food aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Thursday he is willing to go before the NAACP and urge blacks to demand paychecks, not food stamps.

Gingrich told a town hall meeting at a senior center in Plymouth, N.H., that if the NAACP invites him to its annual convention this year, he’d go there and talk about “why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”….

Gingrich’s comments follow those by rival candidate Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania who said Sunday that he did not want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

Many fallacious aspects to Gingrich’s comments. Among others, he seems to assume that all (black) people receiving food stamps are not working. But 7% of all those who worked in 2010 were in poverty. Given that being in poverty tends to qualify you for food stamps, it reasons that this number is indicative of those who are working and receiving food stamps. He also doesn’t acknowledge that many receiving food stamps, including children, the elderly, and some with disabilities, are unable to work. Thus urging them to “demand a paycheck” misses the point. His comments also imply that those who aren’t working and receive food stamps are not demanding a paycheck. This simply isn’t true for a significant number of people. Gingrich and Santorum also seem to be overemphasizing the fact blacks receive food stamps. About 1 in 6 Americans receive food stamps, which includes many whites. In fact, half of all those in poverty are white. It’s also too bad Gingrich doesn’t use his platform to identify the way in which racism and the heritage of slavery have played a role in ensuring that better than 25% of all blacks and 25% of all Hispanics live in poverty. This is compared to the disheartening but clearly much better poverty rate among whites, 10%. I’m sure some would attribute this to people of color being lazy. But this would be ignorance at best or racism at worst.

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