Update: Rick Santorum’s quote in the headline and text of this post has been corrected since original publication.
Here’s an example of speaking from the centrix of White Privilege and European American ignorance. This kind of ignorance isn’t about superiority or inferiority, but simply comes from what we’ve been told is true about the non-dominant groups in our culture; we parrot back answers that aren’t based on fact, but on illusion. The specific statement that Santorum made is founded on the myth that first came from Ronald Reagan, in the context of cutting vital programs (that he considered entitlements) for those who are African American who have been kept out of the access channel for social service resources, and therefore are often living below the poverty line. In his carefully chosen words, he said we need to get rid of the “welfare queens” (the statement actually used by Reagan, not Santorum) who abuse the system. This inaccurate statement has been added to, used as proof of the average black person, and spotlighted in the media–as a truism. So it isn’t any wonder that many conservative politicians, especially Republican ones, keep parroting this out for public consumption?
While campaigning in Sioux City, Iowa, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said if elected he plans to cut regulations and entitlements because he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” In other words, Santorum doesn’t want to help blacks because he thinks they rely too much on welfare already. He also implies white- privileged- power when he says that he doesn’t want to keep doling out money to poor people–“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by…”. How is it that he feels he has the power to do this in the first place? Do you see how he takes on this as his responsibility? And maybe we should add white politician’s responsibility.
“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 their money and provide for themselves and their families. The best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling.”
OK, now let’s look at the facts: only 9% of people on food stamps in Iowa are black, 84% are white, CBS News reported Monday.
Santorum’s defense that he’s been using for two days is to play dumb. On Fox News last night, Santorum did not deny he referenced black people. Instead he said he had “not heard it” and didn’t know the context in which it was said. Wow, talk about ducking responsibility? Fair is fair, and he ought to be clear that he’s got facts to back up what he says, instead of wading into the denial river. Santorum is currently in a three-way nail-biter in Iowa, according to recent polls.
The same is true for the numbers of folks who get caught drug possession, or are arrested for delivering a controlled substance. Actually, far more whites are arrested for this, but why, then, are the percentages for people of color so much higher in the correctional system. You have to get down to these basic, logical questions, and actually think about them, critique them, brainstorm solutions that take in the systemic wholeness of our society. Every politician and every person (most preeminately whites) needs to do their homework on these issues before giving reign to them in their public speech. This is how we begin to build a society of justice, fairness and equity.
Copywrite February 7, 2012 Christopher Bear-Beam