An Unacceptable Trend: The ‘Black People’ Platform

Anyone who is tapped into Harlem is well aware of the tremendous changes underway, all of which reinforce Harlem’s heritage and future as melting pot, trend setter and harbinger of change.

Gentrification is one of those changes.  For some this means replacing the old with the new. But for others it means building bridges between the two.  Which means everyone wins.

This came to mind this week, as I walked by my a new local butcher shop Harlem Shambles.  They opened a few months ago to great fanfare.  They sell premium healthy organic grass-fed fare.   This week I noticed a new sign: they now accept SNAP (aka food stamps).

Which brings me to a troubling trend related to SNAP.

In sad evidence by familiar and very troubling words from some who aspire to lead this nation.

Words best summarized by Charles M. Blow of the New York Times, in his recent op ed piece entitled “The GOP’s ‘Black People’ Platform.”

Words about which lovers of Harlem and like communities should be actively aware and engaged, for what they might mean to the communities in which they live and work, and the people whom they love.

Excerpts

Quotes

  • “I don’t 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.” – Santorum.
  • Obama is “the best food stamp president” for months. “I’m prepared, if the N.A.A.C.P. invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” – Gingrich.
  • June 1992 about the Los Angeles riots: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began.” – Paul.

Facts

  • Re supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) commonly known as food stamps, per PolitiFact, participation in the program is at a record high. Bush-era efforts to increase participation and broaden the program “produced consistent increases in the number of average monthly beneficiaries. The number rose in seven out of the eight years of Bush’s presidency. The number of recipients rose by a cumulative 63 percent during Bush’s eight-year presidency.”
  • The largest group of SNAP beneficiaries is by far non-Hispanic whites.
  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, most SNAP participants are either too old or too young to work. Forty-seven percent were under age 18, and 8 percent were 60 or older. Second, “nearly 30 percent of SNAP households had earnings in 2010, and 41 percent of all SNAP participants lived in a household with earnings.”
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