*If you’ve ever had to deal with the welfare office, you know they expect you to have absolutely nothing of value when you apply for benefits. And if you do, and are actually honest about it, they expect you to sell it off. This is not only the mentality of the system, but many of the people who know about it.
With times changing and many of the people seeking benefits due to a change in finances, illness or the infamous “other,” the look of those seeking services has changed too.
For example, not everyone walks to the office to pick up their Food Stamps. Not everyone drives up in a hoopty. Some of today’s needy might actually roll up in a Mercedes.
Yes. A Mercedes.
Like writer and mother Darlena Cunha, who decided to do an op-ed piece on her own experiences with welfare, after she and her husband got down on their luck after job loss and unexpected health bills overwhelmed them. Cunha soon learned from the responses her article garnered, that it was not only those sitting behind the desk at the government agency that placed judgment on her.
The tons of backlash she received was not-so-much because she received food stamps and government assistance, but because she drove a Mercedes to the welfare office to pick it up. In her article, and in her own defense, Cunha writes, “poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgment.”
But judgment is exactly what she got.
People commented that she should have sold off her already paid for car, and instead, buy a cheaper one.
An idiotic stance if you really look at it: Why sell your reliable, paid off car for a possible clunker?
Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.
“You can’t be that bad off,” a distant relative said, after inviting himself over for lunch. “You still got that baby in all its glory.”
Sometimes, it was more direct. All from a place of love, of course. “Sell the Mercedes,” a friend said to me. “He doesn’t get to keep his toys now.”
The truth often opens your unfortunate circumstance up to not only judgment by those who have no clue what its like being in need, but leaves your justification for needing the support open to debate by any and everyone.
Where does this thought that poor people can’t have nice things come from? What about people who weren’t always poor but are now? Its as if they’re not entitled to keep those things they worked so hard for.
Sell your iPhone.
Sell your car.
Sell your clothes.
Sell your electronics.
Sell your soul.
Cunha said she was judged even while using her WIC card at the grocery store.
Once, a girl at the register actually stood up for me when an older mother of three saw the coupons and started chastising my purchase of root beer. They were “buy two, get one free” at a dollar a pop.
“Surely, you don’t need those,” she said. “WIC pays for juice for you people.”
“To this day, it is the single most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done,” she said.
She said that the reason she felt embarrassed was not fair.
“I still have to remind myself sometimes that I was my harshest critic. That the judgment of the disadvantaged comes not just from conservative politicians and Internet trolls,” said Cunha.
To read the entire account of how she ended up in the situation, click here to link to the Washington Post.