You would think, after all these years, that the South would have gotten over its hang ups about race. The Jim Crow generations are almost gone, replaced by younger generations educated in integrated schools and living in mixed-race neighborhoods. But if you think the South is over it, you would be wrong. Racism lives on in too many of the smiling faces and beautiful places, crawling out from under its rock every four years when the politicians come to town.
There's always something that coaxes it out. This time, it's food stamps. White crowds cheer as politicians link blacks to food stamps, implying that blacks are wrongly getting something for nothing. (I'm no psychologist, but this is so a projection of whites' own feelings of guilt about getting something for nothing from blacks for hundreds of years.)
Facts don't matter to jeering crowds, but they do matter to the rest of us. So let's take a look at who gets food stamps. A lot of people, in fact, depend on them to feed their family. Thirteen percent of Americans (or 39 million people) live in households that receive food stamps, according to the Census Bureau. Because of the Great Recession, that number grew by 71 percent between 2007 and 2010.
Non-Hispanic whites, not blacks, account for the largest share of people receiving food stamps--42 percent in 2010. Blacks account for 28 percent of food stamp recipients. The number of non-Hispanic whites on food stamps grew by a faster-than-average 83 percent between 2007 and 2010. In contrast, the number of blacks on food stamps grew by a below-average 43 percent. The state with the largest percentage of households on food stamps--Oregon--is one of the whitest states in the country.
People of the South, it is time to move on. Talk about real issues like unemployment. In South Carolina, one in ten workers is looking for a job.