Dear Welfare Queens

Cheri Honkala

Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from a letter by Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign

I’m a Queen myself so it’s easy for me to identify with other Queens.

I live in a little apartment on the second floor of a house with my son who is 15 and has two disabilities. I make deliveries during the day for Postmates when I can and work the night shift at UPS. I can barely pay my bills and have been on and off welfare for most of my life. No, I don’t enjoy this life, nor do I wish it on anyone.

We Queens have always been hated, distrusted, and told that we will never amount to anything because we have a poor work ethic.

Our children’s fathers have been called deadbeat dads. To get the little welfare or food stamps we have, we’ve had to cut fathers out of our children’s lives and applaud when they are sent to jail for not paying child support. It’s called the prison industrial complex.

Welfare Queens, listen up: Things are about to get even harder for you now! … Now you have to deal with the social control from the non-profit industrial complex.

My sisters, you must educate yourselves. We need you to follow the money of every organization and person you meet. “Progressive Foundations” are funding the disunity of our class. These foundations are linking government and corporations in order to create the social control necessary to prevent us from building a movement led by the poor, independent of the two corporate-controlled political parties.

They are trying to cut off your voice and mine. We must stand strong in the tradition of Fannie Lou Hamer, Annie Smart, Dottie Stevens, Rev. Annie Chambers, Rosa Clemente, and many other sisters who dared to speak truth to power. Women who were and are brave enough to speak out against the Democratic and Republican parties and understand the poor need more than pity. They need political power!

My dear Welfare Queens, you can choose which road to take. Our road might be hard, but it leads to political independence, freedom, dignity, and self-respect.

We need you on this road and hope you will join your fellow Welfare Queens and America’s hated poor on the March for Our Lives on June 2 in Philadelphia when we will march to Washington to reconstruct Resurrection City. You can begin to join other Queens and build a cooperative economy and society. You can help us build the movement to end poverty, hunger, and homelessness, in this country and around the world.

Sign up now to walk this road together and support our efforts by donating just $10 today! (

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