Why People Love ‘Assistance to the Poor’ But Hate ‘Welfare’

Last Spring, in a highly publicized meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, President Donald Trump received some startling news. One of the members mentioned to Trump that pushing forward with “welfare reform” would be hurtful to her constituents, “not all of whom are black.” “Really?” Trump replied. “Then what are they?” Statistically, they were probably white. But given the United States’ history with the word “welfare,” it’s not all that surprising that Trump was confused. Despite the fact that white Americans benefit more from government assistance than people of color, means-tested aid is primarily associated with black people and other people of color—particularly when the term welfare is used. For many Americans, the word welfare conjures up a host of disparaging stereotypes so strongly linked to stigmatized beliefs about racial groups that—along with crime—…
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