Melissa Harris Perry passionately defended assistance programs for America’s poor, including welfare, while pointing out how effectively conservatives have coded poverty programs in racial terms.
“What is riskier than living poor person in America? Seriously! What in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it’ll be a good school or maybe it won’t. I am sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No, there is a huge safety net that, whenever you fail will catch you, and catch you, and catch you. Being poor is what is risky. We have to create a safety net for poor people. And when we won’t because they happen to look different from us it is the pervasive ugliness.”
Harris Perry argued that, overall, Americans are open and generous with assistance programs, but conservative ideology has undermined efforts at providing social mobility.