In the latest episode of Washington D.C.’s reality TV drama, Republicans introduced us to the first (of potentially many) Federal Government Shutdown in the Trump era.
We’ve been through this before and each time a flurry of news articles reminds us that a Government Shutdown Hits Black People Hardest. Yeah, that’s true. Thanks for the painful reminder, but I think it’s time for us to make those articles obsolete.
Over 20% of the working black population is employed by Federal, State, or Local governments. This is over 5% higher than the next demographic, leaving our communities most vulnerable to temporary income losses when a Government Shutdown happens.
Since the end of Jim Crow, our community has strongly sought out and revered government jobs for their “stability”. Who could blame us? Given the options between a well-paying job where it’s almost impossible to get fired versus fighting for scraps in racially-biased private sector companies where you could be fired for any reason (or no reason at all), the choice used to be a no brainer. That logic no longer holds true.
Over the last two decades (beginning with President Bush, continuing under President Obama, and now with Trump) our government has all but given up on passing Annual Budgets.
Instead, they pass Continuing Resolutions (CR) to kick the can down the road a few months at a time. Every new budget crisis is another chance to posture, grandstand, and slide in a little extra pork for their home states.
It’s also another chance for negotiations to break down and the government to run out of appropriated money (e.g. – our latest episode or Real Jackasses of Washington D.C.). The constant threat of a Government Shutdown may mean Federal jobs are not the safe haven they used to be for black workers.
Yes, by volume there are far more white people using government aid programs than blacks. While, on its face, that data is comforting and provides a great rebuttal to the president’s ignorant belief that only black people use welfare programs, we shouldn’t use it to try to fool ourselves too.
Over 17 million of our 40 million Black U.S. Citizens are on SNAP or EBT, a rate of almost 43%. Though the total number for whites is almost 20 million, that is only 8.5% of their 233 million total population. That means it’s five times more likely that black families will have no place to turn if an Extended Government Shutdown Interrupts Benefit Payments. Meanwhile, their white counterparts may depend on more wealthy relatives, side-stepping further hardships altogether.
When you combine assistance and direct employment, almost 70% of the black population is a Financial Slave to the U.S. Government. As we expand our Collective Consciousness and, for the first time, begin to Define Ourselves FOR Ourselves we must form the conclusion that reliance on government in any capacity Has Never Been in the best interests of Black People.
Now more than ever, We Need Ownership. We Need Unity. We need to Act in support of our Collective Self-Interest. To survive in this new normal of Congress jumping from crisis to crisis and constant Government Shutdown threats, we have got to become Economically and Politically Independent.
Most importantly, we have to teach our children to Defend and Grow the Wealth we pass down to them.