Charity event looks like turkey tokenism

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During the holiday season, a lot of churches will hand out turkeys along with grocery bags filled with ingredients needed to make a festive dinner. 

There won’t be enough stuff to make a feast, but a needy person will be able to prepare a special meal — that is if the stove is working and the lights are still on.

Because for a lot of folks, the real worry this time of the year is being able to pay high heating costs and electric bills.

Too many people are still trying to survive on a minimum-wage job or disability check, or Social Security or unemployment or general assistance.


Sure some of us know people who run from pantry to pantry to get free stuff. 

But there are still people all over the city who depend on food pantries to make ends meet.

Churches that opt to serve hot meals instead of providing groceries also are ensuring that people who do not have a place at their own family’s table won’t have to spend the holiday alone.

But this compassionate act can smack of tokenism when politicians get involved.

For instance, last Sunday, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner joined Pastor Corey Brooks at New Beginnings Church on the South Side to distribute 3,500 turkeys.

According to Brooks, the turkeys were paid for by “community donations” and funds donated by the radio station that carries “The Joe Walsh Show” on WIND-AM 560. 

Talk about a change of heart.

In 2012, when Walsh was fighting to keep his congressional seat, he accused the Democratic Party of trying to make “Latinos dependent on government just like they got African-Americans dependent upon government.”

Walsh also told a mostly white crowd in Iowa that he “doesn’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

But Walsh apparently didn’t have a problem giving black people free turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Rauner said the turkey giveaway wasn’t about politics.

“It’s about giving back to the community and showing compassion, showing we care, helping families who need our help,” Rauner told the crowd.

The governor-elect said he was there to “make a difference.”

I hope so.


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