chapter  3
26 Pages

Welfare Racism in the Early Years of Public Assistance

We will also see how, as welfare policy evolved, outright expressions of racism were masked or camouflaged. In the words of black Marxist feminist Angela Davis, racism that is camouflaged involves “hidden racist arguments [that] can be mobilized readily across racial boundaries and political alignments.” 1 Arguments on behalf of restrictive public assistance policies that focus on welfare costs, fraud, moral standards, the work ethic, and the like have often been favored by political elites and policy analysts who cannot or will not openly acknowledge the existence of racism. Such camouflaged expressions of welfare racism often coexist alongside discourse by other elites and policy analysts that openly uses gendered racism, the mobilization of negative controlling images of African-American women, and morally maligning stereotypes to justify excluding such women and their children from public assistance.