welfareQUEENS- Las Reinas Del welfare


root - Posted on 14 August 2007

The welfareQUEENS is a revolutionary group of mamaz, daughters and sons struggling with poverty, welfare, racism and disability, poor women creating art with the goal of resisting and reclaiming the racist and classist mythologies about poverty and the criminilization of poor people in Amerikkka.

Through their art, storytelling and poetry, the QUEEN'S project will re-contextualize the word, welfareQUEEN, and who it refers to in a society that makes it illegal to be poor and refuses to recognize, support or legitimize the work involved in raising children With their cultural work, media activism, feature length play, and radio channel these mothers, daughters, and grandmothers, who have all struggled, survived and dealt with this ongoing oppression for years tell their stories, enact their struggles and realize their dreams of survival, thrival and resistance..

The welfareQUEENS is a revolutionary group of mamaz, daughters and sons struggling with poverty, welfare, racism and disability, poor women creating art with the goal of resisting and reclaiming the racist and classist mythologies about poverty and the criminilization of poor people in Amerikkka.

Through their art, storytelling and poetry, the QUEEN'S project will re-contextualize the word, welfareQUEEN, and who it refers to in a society that makes it illegal to be poor and refuses to recognize, support or legitimize the work involved in raising children With their cultural work, media activism, feature length play, and radio channel these mothers, daughters, and grandmothers, who have all struggled, survived and dealt with this ongoing oppression for years tell their stories, enact their struggles and realize their dreams of survival, thrival and resistance..

 
 

by Staff Writer

"A new mythology provided the ideological cannon fodder for the attack on the poor and people of color. That mythology equates growth in poverty to growth in an underclass which is primarily Black, Latino and female. This was the basis for the myth of the 'welfare queen'. Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo in a report to the United Nations about poverty in the United States.

When does survival become criminal? When do poor women, poor mothers, become "the other"? And who determines who is "deserving" versus "undeserving" of aid?

According to 2007 census figures nearly 37 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. That’s almost half of all American’s subsisting below the federal poverty line. As poverty rises to record levels in the United States, the criminalization of poor people, poor families and poor mothers increased exponentially. For example, in 2005 in San Francisco, citations given to people for the sole act of being homeless increased by 400% .

Through intentional use of the highly problematic objectifying label/stereotype of 'welfare queen', originally coined by Ronald Reagan as an extremely derogatory reference to poor mothers who were receiving cash aid from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the welfare QUEENS project will re-contextualize the word and who it refers to in the framework of a post welfare reform, U.S. society. This society makes it illegal to be poor; this society does not recognize, support or legitimize the "work" involved in raising children; and this society is quick to accuse poor mothers of the crime of being poor rather than recognize the heroism of their survival.

Through the creation of a play, movie, publication, education and media project of the same name, a group of mothers, daughters, sons and fathers who have survived, struggled and dealt with this ongoing oppression will tell their stories, enact their struggles and realize their dreams of survival, thrival and resistance.

The team of poets, writers, and storytellers in poverty who are or have been on welfare, struggled as working poor, migrant or houseless parents, sons or daughters, have written, co-directed and acted in this play in an ensemble cast. The team is led by poverty justice organizer, poet, poverty scholar, journalist, co-founder of POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork, and author of the recently published memoir, Criminal of Poverty – Growing up Homeless in America, Lisa Gray-Garcia aka Tiny. The project is collaboration between POOR Magazine and the Betty Shabazz Family Resource Center at the City College of San Francisco.

The welfareQUEENS are available for speaking, performance or workshop presentations from the Race, Poverty, Media Justice Institute at POOR Magazine or by calling (415) 863-6306

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