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This interview is part of the “Tomorrow Lives Here” Conversation Series presented by Miami Business School.
–Alejandro Werner, the Director of the Western Hemisphere Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called Miami the “hub” of Latin America during a recent interview in Coral Gables.
–”Miami is a bit of a hub for Latin America and for us that’s very important because it is a place where you come and you really address the broad regional interests,” Werner said in the interview. “In contrast to what you find when you go to twenty big capitals in Latin America- after two minutes of talking about the region, you fall back into the country.”
–Werner spoke to Miami Business School Dean John Quelch about the current state of the various economies in the Western Hemisphere and how Miami is positioned in the global market.
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Obesity is on the rise in a rapidly urbanizing Africa. A new report from the World Health Organization shows the alarming extent of the problem: The prevalence of overweight and obese children living on the African continent has surged from 4.8 percent to 6.1 percent in the last 25 years. The number… Read MorePost Views: 244
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Over the course of American history, politicians have adopted a clever, yet nefarious way of using racial stereotypes as a tool for political gain.
From the War on Drugs that frames black men as “criminals” to the emergence of the so called “welfare queen,” history has shown us that framing particularly disadvantaged groups as “dangerous” or “unworthy” enables politicians to gain political support from the public, particularly white middle and low-class Americans.
If I had to sum up, in two words, the United States’ racial marginalization of the poor and financially dependent, “welfare queen” is as good and as bad as it gets.
The myth of the welfare queen is still a prominent weapon used today in U.S politics that tends to go unnoticed.
The U.S political system has maintained these false ideas about marginalized people in our society by reducing them to a second class citizen status and enacting discriminatory policies that perpetuate durable systems of injustice within our democracy.
The legacy of legal discrimination persists in our society today as low-income mother’s struggle to gain and maintain financial benefits from the government.
The burden of the welfare queen has become one of the most cutting stereotypes that plagues families across the United States.
It hurts because it has worked in changing policy.
The birth of this political myth emerged after the criminalization of Linda Taylor, an African American woman, who quickly became the embodiment of a pernicious stereotype after being sentenced to prison for welfare fraud in 1977.
Ronald Reagan gave a speech in his unsuccessful 1976 campaign for president that managed to frame poor African American and Latina mothers as “users of the system” without any concrete evidence other than the act of a single woman.
“She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.”
One woman who cheated the system evidently became the face of all welfare recipients, despite the fact that white families, typically, have been more likely to be on welfare.
Although it is not entirely clear all of which she fraudulated, Reagan’s intent became less about exposing the ways in which “liberal policies” had fractured the economy and more about turning the white American majority against minorities as a tool for political gain.
Reagan’s attack on welfare suggested that programs such as these, paid by tax dollars, only aided irresponsible black people.
Using the story of Linda Taylor, Reagan labeled millions of America’s poorest people as “deceitful” and funneled the belief that welfare fraud was a nationwide epidemic that needed to be terminated.
This image of widespread and unbridled welfare fraud allowed Reagan to convince voters to support his cuts to public assistance spending.
This was not the first instance that an American politician used self serving tactics to turn the public against the poor and displaced.
Much like the coined term “American Negro” the welfare queen became a convenient target for hate by simply framing Linda Taylor as the stereotypical lazy, black con artist.
Despite the fact that Reagan gave Taylor the most critical identity, the welfare queen stemmed from a longer and much deeper racialized history of prejudice and animosity toward families receiving welfare benefits in the United States.
This inequitable idea of the “deserving poor” and “undeserving poor” became a political weapon that Reagan introduced into U.S politics that his forerunners would all sustain.
Today, over 20 years after the implementation of Bill Clinton era welfare reform, the unwarranted stigma against poor women of color remains.
This telling of the “welfare queen” as users of the system continues to influence public policy by distinguishing between those who are “deserving” of support and those who are not.
President Donald Trump’s administrative budget cuts are now putting Americans on edge, especially those who rely heavily on public assistance programs.
Trump’s budget will potentially force millions of poor people off of food stamps and benefit programs such as Medicaid.
A recent article from Time Magazine states:
Cuts include a whopping $193 billion from food stamps over the coming decade — a cut of more than 25 per cent — implemented by cutting back eligibility and imposing additional work requirements, according to talking points circulated by the White House. The program presently serves about 42 million people.
Among these 42 million people, is my own mother, a 59 year old, single Latina mother suffering from chronic kidney disease, who directly relies on welfare benefits.
Being raised by a single mother on public assistance has allotted me with a perspective that a majority of politicians and policy makers could never understand.
It is clear that public policy continues to reflect the interests of the elite rather than the needs of the poor.
Such conditions only further the economic and racial divide in the U.S and perpetuates existing stereotypes about families and women receiving government assistance.
Although my mother has been on welfare my whole life, she is not your stereotypical “welfare queen.”
She is not Linda Taylor nor is she a “user of the system.”
My mother is a woman who managed to raise six children on her own with the little help she did receive from programs like Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Yet, our story will remain under the scrutiny of those who may have never had to step foot in a welfare office.
Ending the myth of the welfare queen within public policy means acknowledging how we manifest these stereotypes in our everyday lives.
It means recognizing that one person’s mistake cannot suddenly be the burden of others that look like them.
For far too long, our society has reduced people of color to a second class citizen status, resulting in the unremitting struggle to overcome the burden of such baseless conclusions.
We must overcome this myth by restructuring and developing policy around families as they are—not who society deems them to be.
Rather than stigmatizing recipients of public assistance programs, the government must strengthen the ways in which these programs respond to critical social and economic needs.
Even more so, we must acknowledge how failure to reconcile the racial discrimination of our nation’s past infringes our ability to ensure that all Americans have the dignity they deserve in the present.
We can fight against this stigma by advocating for the full participation of all Americans our society and the economy.
Instead of dwelling on individual failures or mistakes, we should be asking ourselves how we got here and how we can move towards a more equitable society.
RISE NEWS is a news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
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Cover photo credit: U.S. ArmyPost Views: 390
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What The Election Of Florida’s Racist, Conspiracy Believing Governor In 1916 Should Teach Us About 2016By Contributor
By Patricia Ray
A successful businessman with no political experience decides to run for office and finds success while taping into populist sentiment.
Sound like a modern political tale, huh?
As the old saying goes, nothing is ever truly new under the sun.
The 1916 Florida gubernatorial election was not an ordinary election and Sidney Johnston Catts was not an ordinary candidate.
He was a political outsider to say the least – an ordained Baptist minister in Alabama who later moved to Florida and became an insurance salesman.
Only a few years after moving to Florida, he decided to run for governor as a Democrat, despite having no prior political experience.
In addition to his lack of experience, Catts also was known for having outlandish beliefs.
He was staunchly anti-Catholic and anti-African American, and he believed that monks from St. Leo’s Abbey and the African American population of Florida would take over the state for Kaiser Wilhelm II, and if Germany won the war, Pope Benedict XV would move the Holy See to San Antonio, Florida.
Yep. He seriously believed that.
He even carried a gun in fear that the Pope has sent an assassin to kill him.
Catts advocated for radical ideas such as women’s suffrage, taxation of church property, and a state income tax, much to the chagrin of the conservative, Democratic-controlled Florida legislature.
At the same time, his racism went so far as to claim African Americans were “an inferior race” in response to lynchings in Florida.
Catts supported prohibition and did not attend his own inaugural ball because he opposed dancing.
Catts’ slogan was “Florida Crackers have only three friends in this world: God Almighty, Sears Roebuck, and Sidney Johnston Catts,” and he became known as the “Cracker Messiah.”
“People did not take him seriously [as a candidate], and when they finally did, it was too late,” Dr. Gary Mormino, a Florida historian and the Professor Emeritus at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
As eccentric as Catts’ beliefs were, many of them resonated with the public.
Due to the anxiety of World War I, anti-German sentiments were high, and Catts’ fear mongering heightened anxieties.
Florida was a primarily Protestant state, with Catholics comprising less than 5% of the population at the time.
In the years before 1916, millions of Irish, Slavic, and Italian Catholics immigrated to the United States, and many people felt uneasy about these immigrants. The Protestant population largely was also in favor of prohibition, and Florida was already in the midst of becoming a dry state.
Catts played into the zeitgeist of the prohibition movement.
These views went hand in hand, and Catts claimed, “There is no question and rum and Romanism go together.”
Dr. Mormino describes Catts as a “larger than life figure” and attributes some of Catts’ success to his charisma and strength as a speaker.
People liked his message and viewed him as “one of them”.
In past elections, whoever won the Democratic nomination for Florida governor typically won, as the Republicans were a minority party in much of the American South.
But in 1916, the Democrats were spilt in Florida.
Catts originally won the Democratic nomination by a margin of 544 votes but then lost it to William Knott by a mere 23 votes after a recount.
The underhanded dealings surrounding the nomination and the recount garnered support for Catts and painted him as a martyr the party establishment had robbed of the nomination.
In wake of this support, he ran for the Prohibitionist party nomination and won, going on to win the election with 43% of the vote and becoming the first Florida governor to win as a third-party candidate.
During his term as Governor, Catts reformed the convict lease system. He also made labor and tax reforms, furthered his prohibitionist agenda, improved transportation systems, and passed legislation relating to the care of the mentally ill.
He supported women’s rights and even appointed a woman to his staff. Despite opposition from the legislature, Catts was able to pass several legislative measures.
As you’ve probably guessed, there are many parallels between the 1916 Florida gubernatorial election and the 2016 presidential election.
Sidney Johnston Catts was a political outsider like Donald Trump whereas Hillary Clinton is seen as more of an establishment candidate, much like William Knott.
Many people also did not take Trump’s campaign very seriously until he won the Republican nomination.
In 1916, the fear of war fueled anti-immigrant sentiments towards Italians, Poles, and Slovaks, and Catts was able to play into the public’s fears, making his crazy ideas seem more palatable.
Today, fears stemming from 9/11 and other recent events has allowed anti-Muslim ideas and policies to gain alarming traction.
For example, Trump has called for a blanket ban of Muslims from entering the country.
In 1916, the conditions were just right for Sidney Johnston Catts to win the seat of governor of Florida.
After leaving office, he ran for governor twice more and once for the U.S. Senate but was unsuccessful each time.
As strange as Catts’ gubernatorial election seems, some aspects of it are paralleled today, and perhaps this oddity of the past should be considered as we look to the future.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Public Domain/ Library Of CongressPost Views: 412
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