In this clip, Illinois State Representative Litesa E Wallace (Democrat, 67th District) delivers a powerful speech on the floor of the State House in opposition to a bill that would make it more difficult for low-income families to receive childcare assistance. She highlights a number of critical points that are always undercurrent but rarely discussed, calling out the moral judgments that form the foundation for the right’s campaign to demonize American working families.
Are we making policy, or are we playing respectability politics in here today?
The overtones, undertones, implicit and explicit, ongoing stereotypes about what working families look like are at the core of why we have cut so many services in this current discussion, or have voted not to fund services, because we believe a particular segment of people don’t deserve something, we think those people don’t deserve childcare assistance, those people don’t live in my district. The people in my district are tax payers and the people in other districts are not. And then we are so willing to put the victims of domestic violence at risk by saying you MUST provide your contact information, your address to the very person who abused you, who perhaps is why you are now a single parent and require childcare assistance. we also are forgetting the fact that even though somehow we have recovered from our recession, we have more low wage jobs than at any other point, minimum wage does not provide for a family, and therefore are plenty of two parent households, where there’s mommy and a daddy, who need childcare assistance. For all of these moral judgement and all of this whole idea of whats respectable and who deserves what, that is not what we are here to decide. We’re not here to decide anybody’s moral stance in life, whether or not they are worthy of receiving something.
It is an incredible speech which really puts into perspective just who we are hurting when we cut public assistance funds, just how the badly deck is stacked against the American worker, and how cruel the judgments against them truly are.
You can find out more about Representative Wallace’s efforts to protect working families here.
Watch it here, courtesy of Ivy Joi Wallace’s Facebook page:
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.