Assumption of Dependence

—Alamance County, NC, aid provider—

A couple of years ago I was sitting in a dentist’s office. The gentleman beside me…we were just, you know, general conversation. And he says, “Oh, what do you do?” So I tell him what I do, and he says, “Oh I hope you’re keeping people from living off the government.”

He automatically thought that my job is to make sure people don’t get assistance, don’t live off the government, and I’m just like, “Well, I help a lot of people. I help a lot of people who need it.”

That’s one [example] that sticks out in my mind. I just met that gentleman. We were sitting in the dentist’s office. And he automatically thinks that I’m like supposed to not help people or something like that! So, that’s just like from someone I don’t know. From people that I do know, they really don’t…we don’t talk about it as much, not in that sense of their views on my clients.

Erica is a caseworker at the Department of Social Services. She is African-American, 31, and was interviewed by Elon Student Heather Cassano on Nov. 13, 2012.

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