Linda Taylor, the original welfare queen

Confronting and subverting the “welfare queen” trope this Mother’s Day

Anyone who has done motherhood knows it is hard enough to bring life into the world. But racism and anti-Blackness make things especially hard for Black mothers, so let’s take a moment to debunk the stigma this Mother’s Day. With the ACA on the verge of repeal, pregnancy could end up costing up to 425% more. Motherhood as we know it is under attack. And once you apply the intersections of being Black and female…not to mention queer, low income and other marginalized identities, the reality becomes even scarier.

We Black mothers are more likely to die during childbirth (three times more likely compared to other women). Our children have a more than 2 times higher chance of infant mortality than white children. These rates are a shame when you compare other “developed” countries.

With higher influence of poverty and trauma related to racism, we need real solutions. Instead we see right-wing funded “Welfare Queen” propaganda, like the beer- swigging, oreo-eating Black mothers in the music video “It’s Free Just Swipe Yo EBT” [Ed: we will not link to this here]. This mockery is a shame because the artist was paid to reinforce this stereotype.

I, as a Black mother, have danced the intricate footwork of securing resources and services for myself and my child as a single mom. So I can attest – it ain’t no game! And when I came forward with the My Food Stamps Cookbook campaign two weeks ago, to fund an EBT-priced radical nutrition movement, I experienced that “welfare queen” stigmatization first hand. Seems some White dudes trolling on my campaign found it necessary to critique me for having my nails and make-up done, wearing a nose ring, calling me “over-weight,” and laughing at me for being a single Black mom. I even lost donations from these folks due to prioritizing people of color in my work on food justice.

The project in reference is part of the good news – there ARE things we have control over as Black mothers. Our food choices are more empowering than the internet trolls dishing low blows.

Most of us Black mothers are burnt-out and on the edge of life threatening illness mostly because we have poor nourishment. This is largely the impact of poverty and urban food “deserts,” however even that story is one that gets repeated to give us the illusion it’s hopeless. But it’s not!

The solution is this: use the system to detonate the system.

Take your government subsidies and make them radically healing. Simultaneously return to Black, Brown, and Indigenous food practices that nourished our ancestors long before we were “discovered” by White colonizers.

We actually have more power than we are made to believe in the stigmatic lens of “welfare queens.” Yes racism fucks with our physical/mental health and our self-perception but we can make a come back!

My Food Stamps Cookbook is a resource I developed for mothers, especially us high-risk mothers – Black mothers! I continue to stand behind my project, and my manicured nails because I know when Black mothers use this resource, we can laugh in the face of health care cuts because we are fortified by nutrition that is way more effective than “sick care” anyways!

I took my food stamps and used them for the most healing ingredients I could conjure. I did this for nearly a decade after surviving violence as a Black woman in an urban city. I learned that what I ate directly affected my possibility for overcoming PTSD and trauma-related symptoms. It’s the same for preventing cancer, depression, diabetes – all food-related diseases.

Then I became a mother outside of the health care institution. I took no prenatal vitamins because I used EBT to afford the fresh foods and herbs meant to nourish my life and my growing baby. I saw a Black midwife who explained that most humans just need more time and less intervention. I attribute my triumphant birth of a full-term baby, born peacefully at home, to my radical diet all funded by the Food Stamp program!

My Food Stamps Cookbook is a Baby Momma’s blueprint for not just liberating ourselves. Which brings me to my main point – if we heal the most vulnerable mothers, everyone else shares the benefits. So troll on, trolly-trolls. Your mommas can get some of this too, but not at the expense of Black women!

Happy Mothers Day to all my beautiful Black mothers! I wish you good health and long happy life. We deserve at least that.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

I am passionate about motherhood, radical nutrition and financial freedom. Follow me on the gram for more of that

Read more about

Join the Conversation