Photo by Luís Eusébio
As quiet as it's kept, it's really OUR fault.
America’s general attitudes towards the poor keeps them out of economic circles that would encourage or stimulate their economic growth.
I spent some time reading articles put out by the LA Times, and I was largely unsurprised by their findings. This one paragraph pretty much sums up the point I am trying to make in this note:
"Criticism of the poor – a belief that there are “plenty of jobs available for poor people,” that government programs breed dependency and that most poor people would “prefer to stay on welfare” – is especially common among the blue-collar, white Americans who have given the strongest support to Donald Trump. “-The Poverty Project, David Lauter
Political insinuations aside, I would like to offer my belief that this mindframe is held by a larger share of Americans than projected in this article. Oftentimes, the White collar workers-those working in the welfare office, or those occupying the positions responsible for distributing assistance to the poor or impoverished-carry this general mentality too, across racial lines.
But anyway, the idea that:
The poor are at fault for their economic downfalls, and therefore responsible for figuring how to get out;
The government, or someone besides ourselves has a responsibility to the poor;
is largely the reason why people in lower economic classes cannot push forward in an effective way. These types of thoughts and attitudes keep the lower economic classes relegated to their poverty, because as I have said before, when you are impoverished, you are in need of something greater than your situation to pull you out. This is why you can have a person who is economically impoverished live as if they are poor-or even lower to upper middle class- as long as they have a generous circle of friends who do not mind sharing their resources with them. Think Joey from Friends, or Lynn from the iconic television show, Girlfriends. In both cases, their characters would have been a part of the working poor or impoverished. However, because both were surrounded by friends in higher economic classes, they were able to live in ways and have experiences that, in real life, their characters would have been isolated from.
Resources also includes knowledge. Consider the episode of Girlfriends when Toni needed legal assistance for her divorce case, or when Mya needed an attorney to look over her lease before moving into her apartment. Both ladies had two lawyer friends they could reach out to for help. If you are able to help a person increase their economic power (in a way that is realistic for them!) but you refuse to share that information, then you are helping to perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
In the cases of Lynn and Joey, both of their characters were seen as the leeching friend. On television, its all funny and cute, but in real life, these types of people are despised. This reality overshadows the truth that many poor and impoverished people maintain the same work ethic and integrity seen as respectable and honorable from higher economic classes.
For this reason, the poor and impoverished are more likely to float around within the same economic class, forced to lean on support systems that either fault them for their situation (even while providing inadequate assistance), or those who lack the same access to resources they do. Imagine if this same theology was applied to the students in D.C: 'You go to school everyday, right? Therefore, it is your fault that you are not learning. So we will just keep passing you along from grade to grade without the resources you need until it gets so bad that'- Oh wait….