Dear President Trump: When I Was A WIC Mother

[Every week, I’m writing a letter to President Trump. This is the letter from this week. You can find more of them on my blog.]

Dear President Trump,

In college I was enrolled in the social work program at my school. While we sat in our classrooms and talked about how to care for those who have a hard time getting by, I didn’t imagine one day being one of them.

A few years later, after I’d had both of my boys (without insurance), we enrolled with WIC (Women & Infant Mothers) because we realized that we needed some help feeding our little ones.

I can’t tell you how embarrassing and shameful it was to walk through the line at Wal-Mart to make sure the things I was buying fit the WIC requirements I’d been given. I’d have to check all the lines and pray that the person behind me was gracious and understanding of a process that often took extra time. If one of the items was the wrong brand or size, we’d have to run to the right aisle and grab the right item until everything matched the items on the WIC receipt we’d been given for that month.

I’m not on WIC anymore, but recently read an article in which a few women who voted for you gave the reasons why they’re glad you’re president. Here’s one of them:

Sometimes I feel like people are taking advantage of the welfare system. I think some immigrants may have a very good financial situation, but they’re trying to take advantage of the welfare system and take freebies. Some Mexicans come here and they have babies. Sometimes they go to hospitals and don’t pay, and then their babies have American Social Security numbers and American passports. For me, I think you need to contribute to the society first, then you can take from the welfare bank. I don’t like it when people take freebies for nothing. I want you to contribute to the society first.

I’m an American citizen — one of the originals, actually, an enrolled member of the Potawatomi Citizen Band— but I would never put such a label on others.

I am fully aware that there are always going to be people who take advantage of the welfare system, but it is unfair to make these blanket statements.

You said recently, “We want to get our people off of welfare and back to work. So important. It’s out of control. It’s out of control.”

So Mr. President, instead of taking a look the faulty character of people who need such programs, let’s talk about a faulty economic system that keeps the poor poor and the rich rich.

And instead of blaming our immigrants, let’s ask what we can do to help them have enough work to survive here the way they want to.

I fear all of our blanket statements about each other — on both sides — get us in trouble. So let’s learn to listen to each other.

Let’s remember that we belong to each other and our stories matter, no matter where we fall on the economic scale.

And next time you come across a social work student, thank them for the work they want to do in our world — it’s so needed.

With Watching Eyes & Steady Hand,

Kaitlin Curtice

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