Actress Keke Palmer stepped into a hornet’s nest when she attempted to speak on a social issue, and, as a result, rubbed many people the wrong way.
On Monday, Nov. 9, Palmer took to Twitter to post a pithy message that, while it was brief, said a lot to many Twitter users about the star’s privilege and obliviousness.
“Imagine if your EBT card could only work on healthy items…,” was all that was shared, but it sparked a deluge of comments, many slamming Palmer. Social media users called her comment insensitive, and her viewpoint ignorant of the societal problems that are a factor in inequality and the accessibility of healthy food options.
Not long after her original tweet, the television personality proceeded to reply to some of the more critical comments with a series of explanations concerning her original remark. In her tweets, she said she was not “an elected official” and detailed that “my tweet was pertaining to issues with healthy foods being too expensive and thinking it should be free for those with EBT cards.”
She added, “This was not a suggestion for solving all low income issues. Solely a hopeful solution for those with EBT that want to run it up with meat & produce.”
In replying to one user, she wrote, “That’s my main issue w/healthy food – it is largely inaccessible. If you don’t have a piece of land to grow most of your own stuff, s–t’s close to impossible.”
However, Twitter users were not buying the rectification of her comments, regardless of how many times Palmer tried to engage.
“Damn! I thought it was a nice suggestion considering I know so many people consoling they can’t afford the healthy food with they EBT cards,” she wrote. “My bad! Everybody don’t feel the same that’s okay lol.”
Commenters refused to let her off the hook, explaining why they found the statement so offensive. One tweeted, “It sounds good in theory but the problem isn’t poor people’s choice of food. It’s what’s available in their neighborhoods and wages that are so low that you HAVE to be on food stamps in order to eat. Poor people have enough going. Don’t need rich people trying to control their food.”
Another wrote, “You framed it in a condescending / paternalistic manner. Why not “let’s subsidize healthy food like we do corn so it’s affordable for everyone”? Why not “create an allowance ON TOP of EBT for healthy items”? It was straight to paternalistic restrictions on poor people’s choices.”
Palmer appeared eager to clarify her point from there on, and the conversation continued to go downhill.
Some users came to Palmer’s defense in light of the verbal pile-on, and others wanted to educate her, believing that she meant well. Eventually, Palmer took to Instagram to add some context to the argument she was making.
Healthy food is more expensive for a reason. It’s fresh, good for you and gives you energy. Bad foods are bad for a reason,” she wrote. “They last long they taste good because of tons of sodium and they aren’t expensive because they’re honestly not food. In any event imagine if you could get whatever healthy foods you wanted on your EBT card. Like all the healthy foods could swipe for free. Pretty much a reward for being healthy but even more so giving homes a break that want to eat healthy but can’t afford it!”
Although the public reaction was largely negative, it didn’t appear to dampen Palmer’s spirits, or discourage her from her idea, and she seemed to welcome the discourse her comments generated. In response to a user who accused others of making her comment more problematic than needed, Palmer tweeted, “That’s how I feel but that’s what’s good about these conversations cause then we all start talking! Engaging on issues that we actually can come together and change!”