After I acquired pregnant with my son, I used to be a newly unemployed graduate scholar who was counting on my mortgage reimbursement to make ends meet. After I made a decision that I’d, in truth, proceed with my being pregnant, a nurse at my physician’s workplace was stunned to listen to that I hadn’t signed up for WIC ― a federally funded supplemental diet program for Girls, Infants, and Kids.
Whereas I felt completely high quality acquiring free prenatal care ― as a result of everybody ought to have entry to well being care and I wished to do proper by my unborn child ― getting something that even resembled meals stamps, regardless of how a lot I truly wanted it on the time, felt like I used to be branding the phrase STEREOTYPE throughout my brow for all to see. In spite of everything, younger, pregnant Black girls nonetheless must fend off the surprisingly resilient, and supremely ugly “welfare queen” label, regardless of how succesful, resilient or educated we could also be.
Finally although, I relented, as a result of feeding my unborn son one thing apart from canned black bean soup and rice felt extra crucial than preserving my pleasure. So on a brisk spring morning, I headed to a social companies workplace in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and ready to attend, all day if crucial.
Although lengthy, exhausting, annoying and somewhat soul-crushing, my day was far totally different than that of 23-year-old Jazmine Headley, whose violent arrest at a Brooklyn Human Sources Administration constructing just lately made nationwide information.
Jazmine Headley’s arrest solely additional highlights what number of Individuals look down on these in poverty.
Like me, Headley braved the frustratingly gradual and oftentimes dehumanizing course of at a Human Sources Administration constructing in Boerum Hill to get assist. As an alternative of receiving the kid care help she was searching for, nevertheless, Headley had her 1-year-old son viciously yanked from her arms by a gaggle of NYPD officers and was carted off to Rikers Island, one of many worst jails within the nation. Her obvious crime? Opting to sit down on the ground of the crowded workplace reasonably than stand for hours.
After video of the incident went viral, Nyashia Ferguson, who recorded the clip and posted it to Fb, stated she’s usually seen and skilled mistreatment whereas making an attempt to safe support.
“They’re at all times impolite,” Ferguson informed The New York Instances. She stated safety guards on the HRA workplace “suppose that folks which can be poor don’t don’t have anything, so you may deal with them any type of method.”
New York Metropolis Council Speaker Corey Johnson stated the brutal encounter was indicative of how little many consider the poor.
“In two minutes and 26 seconds of video, we noticed how our system criminalizes poverty, disproportionately punishes petty conduct and irresponsibly separates dad and mom from youngsters with out contemplating the lasting harm that can happen to those dad and mom and kids,” Johnson stated.
Sadly, this nation has an extended historical past of separating Black girls and their youngsters, particularly after they’re poor.
When poor Black moms attempt to give their youngsters a leg up, they’re frequently slapped down.
Within the antebellum South, the place Black girls weren’t even thought-about human beings to many, youngsters had been frequently ripped away from their moms, similar to Headley’s son. Whereas slavery has been outlawed, the criminalization of the poor has ensured that Black moms are nonetheless being torn away from their youngsters at alarming charges, even for infractions that ought to not warrant jail time.
In 2011, Tonya McDowell was arrested and charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny after utilizing another person’s tackle to enroll her 6-year-old son at school in Norwalk, Connecticut, and “stealing” $15,686 price of training.
That very same 12 months, Akron, Ohio, mother Kelley Williams-Bolar was convicted on two felony counts for allegedly falsifying paperwork to ship her daughters to a greater faculty in a close-by city. Whereas pundits and politicians regularly discuss training being the antidote to poverty and the racial wealth hole ― spoiler alert, it’s not ― when poor Black moms attempt to give their youngsters a leg up, it’s frequently slapped down, both by white dad and mom who don’t need poor youngsters of colour “diversifying” their elite colleges, or by the system that refuses to repair the faculties which have continued to fail poor communities for generations.
And we haven’t even touched on the Black girls caught within the legal justice system, ready for trial in jail as a result of they’re too broke to make bail. Even worst, a lot of the girls behind bars ― round 80 p.c ― are moms.
America has at all times lionized those that are in a position to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and pole vault into the 1 p.c, by no means thoughts that, for most individuals, that is unattainable. However far too many individuals bathe reward on those that handle to efficiently climb out of poverty whereas concurrently burning the ladders that will assist one other individual attain the identical degree of success.
And in case you’re Black and, God forbid, a lady, many don’t suppose you deserve shit, particularly something resembling a hand up.
Headley’s arrest, and subsequent launch, solely additional highlights what number of Individuals look down on these in poverty. Whereas many people noticed a violent and pointless use of drive by police, too many others ― together with an alarming variety of Black of us ― questioned why Headley had had a baby in any respect, particularly if she wanted assist offering for him.
However as journalist Vann R. Newkirck II just lately tweeted, “No Black Individuals commenting on whether or not poor of us ought to be ‘allowed’ to have youngsters can be right here if any individual poor hadn’t made that call about them or their forebears.”
The checklist of issues poor individuals “shouldn’t do” is amazingly lengthy. Get a visitors ticket. Go to the ER. Eat seafood or purchase steak. Attend school without cost. Purchase Jordans. Have smartphone. Earn a residing wage. Obtain free contraception. Have youngsters. Ask for assist.
Poor people, notably poor Black girls and their youngsters, deserve the identical dignity, decisions and choices as everybody else. And sure, that even features a decadent meal and a superb pair of footwear, too.
Britni Danielle is a author and editor who’s written about popular culture, feminism, race and politics for print and on-line publications.