A program to give $500 monthly checks to low-income families of color in Oakland, California, has been criticized for explicitly excluding the 10,000 white residents living in poverty in the city.
The lottery system, funded by private philanthropists, will see the no-strings-attached checks go to households with an annual income of less than $59,000 if they have at least one child. The other half of the $500 checks will go to those earning under $30,000.
According to data from an Oakland Equity Indicators Report, cited by officials to justify favoring people of color, white households earn about three times that of African-American ones.
The same report states around 8 per cent of the city’s white residents, approximately 10,000 people, live in poverty.
Schaaf told the Associated Press the reason for limiting eligibility to black, indigenous and other people of color was that white households in Oakland make on average about three times as much as black households.
Mayor Schaaf said: ‘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.’
The announcement sparked an angry debate online, as hundreds of commentators on Reddit were critical of the move.
One commenter labeled it ‘pure racism’.
‘Is this even legal? Can a city government legally have a program that’s only for certain races?’
Another explained the program failed to understand the changing demographics of the city.
‘The high income earners in Oakland are mostly young transplants that did not grow up in Oakland. They should have done research on upward social mobility in Oakland and restricted based upon that. But I guess that’s too much work.’
Another wrote: ‘Poor is poor. Being poor and white sucks, you may not get locked up for trivial shit like our dark skinned brothers and sisters but it’s no secret that White Privilege always has and always will require a certain shade of green to your name.’