Welfare is a Women’s Issue (1972) by Johnnie Tillmon

Not every writer wants her words to be timeless. I’m sure when Johnnie Tillmon wrote this in 1972, she hoped her words and her situation would soon be obsolete. They are as true today as they were 42 years ago. Outrageous. [Reposted from Poor as Folk blog.]

Poor as Folk


Welfare is a Women’s Issue (1972) by Johnnie Tillmon

I’m a woman. I’m a black woman. I’m a poor woman. I’m a fat woman. I’m a middle-aged woman. And I’m on welfare.

In this country, if you’re any one of those things you count less as a human being. If you’re all those things, you don’t count at all. Except as a statistic.

I am 45 years old. I have raised six children. There are millions of statistics like me. Some on welfare. Some not. And some, really poor, who don’t even know they’re entitled to welfare. Not all of them are black. Not at all. In fact, the majority-about two-thirds-of all the poor families in the country are white.

Welfare’s like a traffic accident. It can happen to anybody, but especially it happens to women.

And that’s why welfare is a women’s issue. For a lot…

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