Oakland, California city officials have been denounced as “racist” after announcing a program to give families of color $500 monthly checks, while excluding some 10,000 white residents also facing poverty.
The Daily Mail reports the program is being funded by wealthy private donors under a lottery system which will give $500 no-strings-attached checks to households earning less than $59,000 if the family has at least one child. The other half of the checks will go to other families of color earning under $30,000.
The reason: White households in Oakland on average make about three times as much annually compared with black households, according to the Oakland Equity Index cited by city officials. It’s also a nod to the legacy of the Black Panther Party, the political movement that was founded in Oakland in the 1960s.
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“Guaranteed income has been a goal of the Black Panther platform since its founding,” said Jesús Gerena, CEO of Family Independence Initiative, which is partnering with the program in Oakland. “Direct investment in the community in response to systemic injustices isn’t new.”
Participants will be randomly selected from a pool of applicants who meet the eligibility requirements.
“We have designed this demonstration project to add to the body of evidence and to begin this relentless campaign to adopt a guaranteed income federally,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said while announcing the program this week.
The announcement did not go unnoticed by social media users who called the program “racist.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) criticized the idea on Twitter writing, “It’s incredible that in 2021 an American city is denying benefits based on skin color.”
It’s incredible that in 2021 an American city is denying benefits based on skin color. https://t.co/XvHkuUyXBB
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 25, 2021
Delano Squires also commented, writing: “So a white family making $20K won’t be able to participate but a black family making $58K will? Restricting access to public programs based on skin color is wrong. It was wrong in 1951 and it’s still wrong today. These people have us on a path to open tribal warfare.”
“‘That makes complete and total sense to me,’ said no one ever,” another user tweeted.
Another social media user, taking a cue from The History Channel’s Ancient Alien series, used a familiar meme featuring host Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, writing: “‘Siri, show me an example of straight-up racism’: Oakland giving out checks to poor families UNLESS they’re white.”
‘Siri, show me an example of straight-up racism’: Oakland giving out checks to poor families UNLESS they’re white https://t.co/FCw7SKKXO7
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) March 25, 2021