Claudine – The Welfare Queen

Claudine

In 1974, Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones starred in the motion picture Claudine – a single Black mother of six children, on welfare, who finds love in a garbage man. Claudine is one of the first movies to highlight the dynamics of the Black male/female relationship. It also shows the interference of the WHITE man and his ruling thumb as king of the Welfare Queen.

Introducing the Welfare Queen

The first dialogue exchanged between Diahann and the other Black maids taking the bus to work. She explains how she’s suffering from headaches and lack of sleep. The other Blackwomen exchange looks and conclude that it’s perhaps because she hadn’t had sex that morning. She’s a single mother with six children she exclaims! She can’t be putting out and “sleeping around”. A Blackwoman in the group pipes up, “when women fought for equal opportunities they didn’t mean voting – when you got needs, you got needs!”

Let me be so fucking crystal clear on this: when WHITE women were fighting for “equal opportunity” is DID NOT include the Blackwoman. I know this is a hard concept for many Blackwomen to grasp. Gloria Steinem doesn’t give a damn about your BLACK RIGHTS. This so-called “women’s liberation” movement never sought to include the Blackwoman. WHITE women sought to be liberated from WHITE men. She wanted the same equal opportunities as the WHITE man!

The majority of Black folks in Amerikkka fought for CIVIL RIGHTS yet along comes a blonde bimbo telling you to leave your man because she wants to leave hers. The Blackman wasn’t holding the Blackwoman back – what the hell does she need to be liberated from? You say you got needs? Well, tell me what else you want from a Blackman other than an orgasm – if that’s all you’re looking for why should he be the one searching for more?

It Must Be Her Fault

James wants to know what the hell happened to her to be thirty-six with six kids. The Blackman longs to understand how this “keeps” happening to the Blackwoman. “Oh [I must be one of those] ignorant black bitches who always got to be laid up with some dude; grinding, having babies for the taxpayer to take care of”. Slavery and designated Sex Farm Plantations treated Black people like cattle! Blackmen were desired for their big, strong, strapping – “Sambo” physique as he would produce “good stock”. The Blackwoman didn’t make too much of a difference to the slave-master. The Blackwoman would lie around and layup with the various, strange men master brought for her to have sex with. Later he would soon separate every member of that BLACK family.

We, as Blackwomen, have learned that the only value we possess is being able to produce children. Often you can hear a Blackwoman proudly saying, “at least I get paid for what I do now”. The Blackman has been conditioned to believe that his worth is measured by how many children he has. His genes must be worth something is master wants more like him. We were taught these concepts by the WHITE man. Conditions of slavery have stayed with us generations later. Today, Blackwomen still measure their worth based on who wants to sleep with them. Today, Blackmen still measure their worth based on how many women they have slept with.

White Supremacy Holds on Tight

Single with six children – the Blackwoman has been down this road before. She prepares herself for the moment the Blackman will not want to bear the burden of being a husband and a father. She can’t see herself with things no woman around her has yet to acquire. From birth, Blackwomen are emotionally and psychologically prepared to go through life alone. She tells the Blackman, “let’s just enjoy each other until it’s over. Nice goodbye. Nice memories.” The Blackwoman sikes herself out before she ever goes to bat. 

How could she ever see a life without her husband – Mr. Welfare. He is the nosiest husband in town! What does he do? He sends his tired WHITE woman to your door for information. Quick – hide the toaster! Hide the iron! Hide the man! Don’t you dare get caught with another man in HIS house!

He damn near starves you and makes you beg for pennies at his feet. If you can’t feed your children then you don’t d-es-e-r-ve them he tells you. You get a part-time job without telling him you are a sneaky, lying fraud! Decide to stay home and “raise the children” you are lazy. You no longer desire to be the Welfare Queen of this racist castle. You want a divorce but he refuses to sign the papers. Therefore you teach your daughters that any Blackman worth loving “will bring the groceries instead of eating yours”. But how can he?

The System is Rigged

The Blackman wants to take Mr. Welfare’s woman? How much money you got? Every dollar the Blackman makes must be reported to Mr. Welfare. Every purchase, every gift. If you marry the single Blackwoman and her children they become your sole financial responsibility. Blackmen often feel like if those aren’t HIS children then HE shouldn’t be financially responsible. Let’s say he goes through with it and marries this Blackwoman. Mr. Welfare says the Blackwoman don’t need money if the Blackman is working. He’s over forty! He’s a garbage man!

Mr. Welfare doesn’t care. He’s bitter and wants his woman back! The Blackman now has to PROVE that he is MAN enough to take care of his family without foreign assistance. No handouts! But what if he loses his job? The law states the unemployed, married Blackman MUST apply for welfare. All the reporting, deductibles, interviews and home-visits will drive that Blackman to drink. He concludes that it is better to love her from a distance or give up the idea of loving her at all. Now papa’s a rolling stone.

Nothing Has Changed Today

James leaves Diahann because it’s just too much! Just when things couldn’t get worse her eldest son has a vasectomy. He figures being a father or a husband is the worst thing to be. It’ll never work out because the WHITE man isn’t playing fair. Also, her eldest daughter is now unmarried and pregnant. Begin the cycle. “Momma if you loved me why didn’t you kill me like they did on the plantation?” her son asked. You see there was once a time when Black mothers would kill their infant child because she knew the future ahead of it. Diahann replied, “I guess I don’t love you because I wanted you to LIVE” – she sees a better future now. Unfortunately, when slavery ended the WHITE man had no use for Black babies. He stole the concept of welfare from Black communities, coined the term “eugenics” and formulated Planned Parenthood.

Blackwomen want husbands for themselves and fathers for their children. The Blackman sees his only possible opportunity as making money – BUYING FREEDOM. However, don’t be so easily moved. Money ain’t everything. Learn, study and educate yourself – for yourself, by yourself; no foreign assistance! All the money in the world means nothing to the BLACK NATION if you don’t have the knowledge on what to do with it. The biggest house on the hill and the nicest car in the driveway carries no merit if you are one day from the unemployment line. To Mr. Welfare the unwed Black mother and jobless Black father are…

P.S. James marries Diahann.

Photo Cred: “Story of O.J.” by Jay-z, www.imdb.com, www.cinema.cornell.edu, www.daarac.org & www.netflixmov.com

Straight Outta

Straight Outta tha Kitchen

Alright now – it’s Tuesday and I always have a bottle of wine on deck. This evening I prepared chicken pasta in a red sauce with broccoli. I’m uncorking a $7 bottle of Zinfandel, watching Straight Outta Compton and getting lit. This is dinner and a movie with Chef B!