The Mitt Romney campaign has run a thinly veiled racist campaign.

By making an issue of welfare and work requirements, Romney has fed the stereotype that many whites have about people on welfare, even though a majority of welfare recipients are not black.

Similarly, he has picked up on Newt Gingrich’s comments about Barack Obama being a “food stamp” president. Romney even managed to sneak in the words “food stamps” twice in the foreign policy debate. But again, blacks are not the majority of the 44 million receiving food stamps. Of recipients identifying themselves by race, whites receive 34 percent of those benefits, blacks 22 percent, and Hispanics 17 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Romney’s surrogates and supporters have been playing the race card, too.

When ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Obama again, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a co-chair of the Romney campaign, said Powell did so because he’s of the “same race” as Obama.

Sarah Palin has also chimed in, criticizing Obama for a “shuck and jive” on Libya.

This is racial politics at its worst: When in trouble, blame black people.

A black former state senator from South Carolina, Kay Patterson, once put his finger on this. He said that white candidates often compete for white votes by showing how nasty they could be to black people.

Even Romney’s private comments about the 47 percent of Americans he called “entitled” and irresponsible may actually help him in this odd way. Many white Americans read Romney’s comments as applying not to them but to minorities.

But being poor and receiving government help isn’t a black thing.

The truth of the matter is that most U.S. citizens depend on the government for things large and small. The biggest welfare kings in the country are not the people standing in line to get help keeping their lights on. They are corporate chieftains with a hand out for more government funds and tax breaks. Yet the “welfare queen (or king)” stigma is reserved for blacks.

The great irony of this low tactic is that African-Americans have not thrived under Obama. Black unemployment is almost twice what it is for whites, and African-Americans lost more wealth in the Great Recession than any other group due to the collapse of the housing market.

Obama likes to say that we need to “grow our economy from the middle out.” But getting into the middle class is hard enough, and staying there is even harder, especially when the poor, working poor and middle classes are all bombarded by unsustainable, ever-rising debt.

At the Democratic Convention, Obama made little reference to race, race-related matters, civil rights or voting rights. And he only mentioned the poor once.

While African-Americans are almost 100 percent behind Obama, he doesn’t seem to be 100 percent behind them.

Kevin Alexander Gray is a writer and activist living in South Carolina. He can be reached at

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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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