‘Claudine’: Victimizing the Victim

‘Claudine’:  Victimizing the Victim – Part Two

Response to, “What changes would these community- based organizations have to make with regard to how they service their communities?”

History dictates that in many instances, engaging with human and social serivce agencies has not been easy, but denegrating, non-chalant and humiliating.  As such, residents of the District of Columbia were not receptive to traveling to the ‘Ivory Towered’, Downtown, DC offices to be herded like cattle through a maze of questioning, probing and often judgemental workers to apply for and obtain food, shelter and other basic and daily needs.  This resulted in a host of neglected cases, homelessness, hunger and more as citizens appeared to cling to the saftey and familiarity of their own communities while refusing to be publicly humiliated before every quadrant of DC’s residents. 

While these agencies were filtered into the community to ensure access, continuity and stability to the residents,  ‘as much as one could hope for on such a scarce income’, the important factor that was not filtered into this social change was the need for a more humanistic and realistic approach to addressing the submerged needs of the impoverished and/or struggling population. 

Our service providers have demonstrated a recurring history of imposing the ‘Claudine’ perspective.  This is the 1970’s movie that demonstrated how single, African-American mom and housekeeper of six found love with a divorced, African – America dad and garbage worker but their love was cursed by the impositions of the social welfare system.  As such, Dihann Carroll and James Earle Jones were forced to  choose between mom keeping her welfare subsidies for the children that Rupert (James Earle Jones) didn’t father vs marriage and a ‘ready-made’ family.  Welfare workers searched Claudine’s (Dihann Carroll), home during visits and would deduct funds from her monthly check if she observed new appliances, gifts, etc., which the familyoften hurried to hide.  The worker visited when she pleased, accused Claudine of hiding men, which at sometimes were true, and asked evasive questions of mom, even in front of her children.  While James Earle Jones wanted to support and marry Dihann, they struggled with just the mere thought of trying to care for six children on what would be, their small joint income without the government subsidies.

Even today, some human and social service workers demonstrate, verbally and non-verbally, their view of their recipients as inadequate providers, lazy, users, and a host of other negative attributes.  They use a ‘power – over’ approach to provide services vs ‘shared-power’, which has long-since rendered our recipients as submissive, yet entitled, defensive and unwilling and/or unable to visualize more effective means of obtaining their basic needs to support their families than their government subsidies. 

As such, the community-based providers should deeply consider obtaining training and using applications that would help them work from a strengths – based perspective… seeing the strengths of their participants and assisting to provide resources that will support and develope those strenghts as opposed to just ‘giving them’ funding and possibly a ‘hard – time’. 

Education and wisdom lasts a lifetime whereas things and materials are only temporary!  That’s my quote for the day!!

Thank You for your interest. 

K. Renee’

Trival Pursuit Question:  Who is the author of this statement?

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”


“Claudine”: Victimizing the Victim

As a DC resident and parent,  I’ve had the pleasure and displeasure of receiving and facilitating human and social services for the past 19 – 20 years.  I have been and remain awestruck by the disrespect, misunderstanding, and misrepresentation of human/social services and their clientele.  However, I understand that the lack of education, awareness and application has negatively impacted the delivery of human and social services and furthermore, to improve on this; an immense institutional and community-based change must occur.  But before I get ahead of myself, I believe it is critical to take a look at the history and foundation of these agents as they will unveil and confirm the current and tragic disposition for our communities.