Florida’s Drug Screening Legislation: Created to Pander to Whites but Target Americans of Color?

Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed a bill on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, that requires those seeking public assistance and those already on public assistance to be drug-tested, and they will have to pick up the cost for the test. This bill will affect approximately 58,000 recipients in the state of Florida. Since Americans of all races have lost their jobs, this piece of legislation, in the minds of scholars and practitioners, may be perceived to target so-called “criminally minded, welfare-depended blacks.” There are those who need some public assistance until the job market improves, which should obviate this racial stereotype. Howard Simon, Director of ACLU said:

Once again, this governor has demonstrated his dismissal of both the law and the right of Floridians to personal privacy by signing into law a bill that treats those who have lost their jobs like suspected criminals.

Many white Americans are already under the illusion that welfare is synonymous with people of color, specifically African Americans, resulting in various negative images such as “welfare queens” who eat well and drive fancy cars. The white racial frame can only see African Americans as the only racial group that is draining the system. Even white college students who prepare essays or speeches about welfare in our communication classes tend to overrepresent African Americans on the welfare rolls. However, they have overlooked in the research that more whites receive public assistance.

With this said, does Florida’s drug-testing measure deliberately target people of color, specifically African Americans, given the racial stereotype that they are lazy and want the government to take care of them?