A musician tackles the shame associated with food stamps in an epic rant.

Mikel Jollett used to be on food stamps, and he's not ashamed.

When White House budget director Mick Mulvaney defended cutting the food stamp program, musician Mike Jollett couldn't stay silent.

Food stamps, part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are in the news with the unveiling of President Donald Trump's latest budget proposal, which would cut $193 billion from the program over the next decade.

Critics of the SNAP program, like Mulvaney, think cutting social safety nets will motivate the people who rely on them to find work. The truth, however, is that many people who receive SNAP benefits do work — a fact Jollett knows all too well.


Growing up, Jollett's family relied on food stamps to live, and in this epic Twitter thread, he shares a personal anecdote to show how they helped him find success later in life:

He continues:

"If we’d not had food stamps, we wouldn’t have been able to afford a place to live. This would have made matters worse.

It would’ve exposed us to higher risk of crime, a vicious cycle of shelters or who knows what else. Instead, we got some help for a while.

My mom eventually bought a house. Instead of being homeless, I graduated from high school with a 4.3 GPA, went to Stanford & graduated w honors."



These days, Jollett sings with his band, The Airborne Toxic Event, and would personally benefit from Trump's policies that favor the wealthy — but he doesn't want that.

"I’m a person now who would benefit from this stupid Trump tax cut. But I don’t want it," he tweeted. "I want the kid that was me 30 years ago to have it. So he can do his thing, succeed and contribute something great to our society."

Jollett at a 2014 show in Las Vegas. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

"So yeah, people don't need a second sports car. But kids do need food. That's just common sense and common decency," he tweeted, before wrapping up the thread with a cutting concluding thought:

"Trump's tax cut plan is not only cruel, it's [INEFFECTIVE], it makes us a less equal and therefore a less PRODUCTIVE society."

Jollett hopes his tweets help clear the air around the myths and outright falsehoods when it comes to things like food stamps and health care.

"It gets intellectualized as Right vs. Left or something instead of, 'Hey this program feeds kids. That is good,'" he says. "I think it’s weird that the debate has this shaming aspect to it. Like poverty is a sin instead of a circumstance."

Jollett at the 2014 Firefly Music Festival. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Firefly Music Festival.

Public opinion about food stamps and welfare is too often shaped by caricatures rather than the facts behind them. Nearly 44 million Americans rely on food stamps each year. A January Department of Agriculture report found that the program had a rate of fraud of just 1.5%, and the truth is that most recipients of social welfare programs spend less than three years on assistance before getting back on their feet.

Misconceptions and stigma should not affect public policy, and that's why it's so great to hear people like Jollett (and so many of the people who replied to his tweets) speaking up.

By offering his own story and a bit of personal vulnerability, Jollet says he hopes to push back on what he sees as a "failure of empathy" that shapes bad politics. "It’s easy to reduce people to caricatures, to create an idea of people and dismiss their struggle. It’s a lot harder to dismiss a human being with a story."

More
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Believe
True
Macy's