Elitist Thinking Will Not Save Poor People by Brianna Milon

Group of young people learning urban gardening from a mid adult gardening teacher.

Elitist Thinking Will Not Save Poor People

Keke Palmer is the latest celebrity to be dragged by Black Twitter. 

Palmer recently took to twitter with this message, “Imagine if your EBT card could only work on healthy items…

The tweet crosses a line that makes me (and millions of other Twitter users) uncomfortable. Let’s break down why this is problematic. 

Keke has been in show business for most of her life. She’s been booking roles since she was 9-years-old. You may remember her from Barbershop 2, Akeelah and the Bee, and Madea’s Family Reunion. She also comes from a secure two parent home. Her father works at a polyurethane company and her mother is a teacher. Both were professional actors before stepping into their current careers. When she starred on Nickelodeon’s True Jackson VP she was one the highest paid child actors in the country.

So it’s safe to say that Keke hasn’t been on the other side of the poverty line in a very long time, if ever. 

She spent the day defending her thinking in oblivion. Believing that this argument is happening because people don’t want to eat healthy. 

It goes deeper than that. One tweeter replied with:

Fresh food markets are hard to find in some urban areas. So making fruits and veggies free doesn’t fix the issue that fruit intake declines the more impoverished people are. 

Because what good is that if they don’t have actual access?

Propose real solutions. Why go after EBT card purchases? This is a celebrity who has broken barriers in Hollywood and has the money to prove it. Why not invest in community gardens, or support farmers, or create an initiative to help get fresh fruit and vegetables to those who need it. 

She also tried to backtrack and rephrase that the solution was actually to provide free veggies to those with EBT cards. While this is a noble thought, as I mentioned before, people accessing will always be an issue. 

This also assumes that poverty only exists when you qualify for public assistance. There are millions of people who live on the cusp of food stamps, but make just a few dollars too much.

Keke then asked that twitter forget that she is rich and to consider the whole context of the conversation. But her income is what makes this tweet and thought process so privileged. You sit on millions and speak about what poor people should do with the already limited resources and have the nerve to ask what the public considers “rich”

This also feels like erasing the work Black people, especially Black women, who are doing what they can to feed and keep their communities healthy. 

“You sit on millions and speak about what poor people should do with the already limited resources and have the nerve to ask what the public considers “rich”

Community organizations like Roc Food, Not Bombs and ROC Food Relief aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. They are already doing the work Keke proposes.

Support the organizations that are truly looking out for the community, because celebrities will never be the voice that leads the charge to change.

About Brianna Milon

Brianna is local media professional who loves writing, watching Netflix, and playing with her dog, Weenie and her cat, Fancy. She studied Journalism and Broadcasting at SUNY Brockport and was heavily involved in the campus radio station. Brianna also co-hosts a radio show, “Fat, Black, and Femme”, on 100.9 WXIR. You can find out more on Facebook and Blogspot.

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