How racism has shaped welfare policy in America since 1935

Source: Alma Carten, The Conversation, August 21, 2016

A recent UNICEF report found that the U.S. ranked 34th on the list of 35 developed countries surveyed on the well-being of children. According to the Pew Institute, children under the age of 18 are the most impoverished age population of Americans, and African-American children are almost four times as likely as white children to be in poverty.

These findings are alarming, not least because they come on the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s promise to “end welfare as we know it” with his signing into law, on Aug. 23, 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (P.L. 104-193).

It is true that the data show the number of families receiving cash assistance fell from 12.3 million in 1996 to current levels of 4.1 million as reported by The New York Times. But it is also true that child poverty rates for black children remain stubbornly high in the U.S.

My research indicates that this didn’t happen by chance. In a recent book, I examine social welfare policy developments in the U.S. over a 50-year period from the New Deal to the 1996 reforms. Findings reveal that U.S. welfare policies have, from their very inception, been discriminatory….
Measuring child poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries
Source: Peter Adamson, UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre, Report Card 10, 2016

20 Years After Welfare Reform, The Fight to Destigmatize Poor Black Mothers Continues
Source: Premilla Nadasen, In These Times, August 22, 2016

An interview with Maureen Taylor, a longtime economic justice advocate and chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.