Fact Check

California Poster Girl

Video clip shows a woman discussing why California is the best state for obtaining public assistance benefits?

Published Jan. 16, 2012


Claim:   Video clip shows a woman discussing why California is the best state for obtaining public assistance benefits.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2011]

This will get your blood pressure up!

And you idiots in CA keep voting in the liberal scum that makes this possible.

Poster Girl - Tells Why CA is the Best. You should watch the attached video. It only runs for 1.5 minutes, and you need to pay attention to her last sentence...


Origins:   The video clip shown above of a young woman discussing the ease of obtaining public assistance benefits in California and the use (and misuse) of those benefits via the state's EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) program has been widely circulated on the Internet since the latter half of 2011, usually under titles such as "California Poster Girl" or "Parasites Are Devouring the Host Culture." It's a difficult item to classify, because while it wouldn't be accurate to maintain there is no truth to what is expressed in the video clip, it also isn't the case (as many viewers assume) that the interviewee is expressing her own personal experience in using the public assistance system or advocating the subject she's discussing.

The woman shown in the video is LaToya Hicks, a "new R&B Pop artist" who records under the name of Chapter. The clip is an excerpt from a longer interview in which Chapter discusses her life, her music, and the background of the characters and situations woven throughout the tracks on her album Chapter 1: Young and Restless:

Specifically, the portion of the interview excerpted in the circulated video clip is Chapter's comments on the inspiration behind her song "It's Free Swipe Yo EBT," the premise of which is described thusly:

Keywanda is having the time of her life. Her job is raising her family of 10 children while dealing with the drama and stress of the children's fathers. Thanks to the great state of California, Keywanda can support her lifestyle of having fun, getting "Turnt Up" and the kids can even get to eat from time to time.

"It's Free Swipe Yo EBT" has been described as everything from a song that unfairly mocks black women on public assistance programs to a satire that lampoons California's welfare system. Chapter herself said of the song in an interview that:

Q: Your single "It's Free, Swipe Your EBT" has received over 200,000 hits on YouTube. Was your intent to poke fun at the ways people abuse EBT or how easy it is to get government assistance? What do you hope to gain from the success of the song?

A: When I put that song out I just thought people would laugh about it. I never imagined that the type of backlash that has occurred would even take place. I came up with the idea to paint a picture to people as an exaggeration. The song is actually a reflection of my childhood in that my mother had multiple kids and was abusing government assistance.

I'm definitely not judging anybody and I don't hold any resentment toward my mother, but I want people to know that you have to treat your kids with respect not just like a paycheck. You never know, one day that child might grow up and write a song about it.

Postings and criticisms of the "It's Free Swipe Yo EBT" video on Chapter's site are often responded to with a definition of "satire":

Chapter plays roles in her music using "Satire," which is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.

Last updated:   16 January 2012

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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