Tag Archives: poverty

Quoted: Casey Rain on Understanding the Roots of Violence

Riots BBC Shot

It’s easy to dismiss the rioters as “scum with nothing better to do” but there are much deeper problems here. As a young, male, ethnic minority in the inner city myself, chances are, I probably know some of these people. I can relate to the feelings of helplessness. I’ve been fortunate enough to be successful as a musician myself and been able to create my own positive future, but these kids rioting don’t see themselves having a future at all. They have been failed by society as a whole, they’ve been failed by the government cutting arts funding and closing youth centres, unemployment is rife to the point where even the ones desperately trying to seek work simply can’t find it, and the boiling point to all this (Mark Duggan events) is a situation that is VERY REAL. I myself have been stopped and searched many times by police for no given reason. They raided my apartment at 6.30 in the morning once while my wife and I were asleep claiming they’d had reports of a disturbance. I’ve been questioned for gang activity that I had no part of, because of how I look and where I come from. It’s simple racial profiling, and whilst that is NOT an excuse for the behaviours of rioters, the sad fact is that it happens.

We live in pretty desperate times as a whole, and the inner city youth are at the bottom of the barrel. So whilst this behaviour IS disgusting, try and have some compassion and relate to fellow human beings who literally feel hopeless and don’t see a way out. When you think about, the right emotion to feel in some of the cases is just sadness and pity – kids robbing a flat screen TV when they see an opportunity to… because they know they’ll never be able to afford it. Is a kid robbing some trainers that different to a corrupt politician fiddling the expenses accounts, or corrupt policemen and journalists taking bribes (as we’ve seen in the phone-hacking scandals?). So what kind of example are those people setting?

Remember, most of these kids looting ARE just opportunists. It’s only the really violent ones smashing the windows, the rest just go in after them and take what they can. I have faith in humanity and I don’t think that most of these kids are bad people. I really don’t. They are the lost ones, neglected and marginalized, in many cases without the basic education to understand that there are better ways to go about life.

— Casey Rain, musician and blogger behind Birmingham Riots 2011 Tumblr, in a personal post titled “A Few Words

(Image Credit: BBC)

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley Embark on the Poverty Tour

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman recently conducted an interview with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, who have embarked upon a fifteen city tour to promote what they call “A Return to Conscience:”

The full transcript is here, but below are the segments I found most interesting.


TAVIS SMILEY:
The bottom line is that our body politic—I want to be clear about this—both Republicans and Democrats, both Congress and the White House, and for that matter, all of the American people, have got to take the issue of the poor more seriously. Why? Because the new poor, the new poor, are the former middle class. Obviously, the polls tell these elected officials, these politicians, that you ought to talk about the middle class, that resonates. Well, if the new poor are the former middle class, then this conversation has got to be expanded. We’ve got to have a broader conversation about what’s happening to the poor. And the bottom line for me is this, Amy, with regard to this legislation and all others that are now demonizing, casting aspersion on the poor. There’s always been a connection between the poor and crime, but now—between poverty and crime, but now it’s become a crime, it would seem, to be poor in this country. And I believe this country, one day, is going to get crushed under the weight of its own poverty, if we think we can continue to live in a country where one percent of the people own and control more wealth than 90 percent. That math, long term, Amy, is unsustainable. We’ve got to talk about poverty.[...] Continue reading

Quoted: Planned Parenthood’s Possible Defunding and Black Women

“African-American women tend to have more chronic illness and disease. So in terms of having just basic health maintenance and well-woman care, when women get a general health assessment and exam, many things get discovered, like undiagnosed hypertension and diabetes and all of those basic primary health care needs. Usually, Planned Parenthood helps get that patient to someone who manages chronic illness. So 15 percent of our patients are African-American women. Many are often uninsured, and programs like Medicaid and Title X allow those women to have access to basic health screenings.

“If they didn’t have Planned Parenthood, where they could come to be seen on a sliding scale, or where we might be the only agency in their region that takes Medicaid, or where many African-American women have their medical home, you are destabilizing the safety net that many people of color rely on. A hit on Planned Parenthood really becomes a hit for African-American women.”

~~Dr Willie Parker, Medical Director of Metropolitan Washington DC’s Planned Parenthood.  Read the rest of the interview here.

Image credit: essence.com

Quoted: Michelle on The Idea of Food Education

It seems like some people are constantly wringing their hands about how poor people eat (to wit: badly.) And the most popularly proposed solution is to teach them (“them”) more about nutrition! Or educate them in general.

Because obviously they just don’t know what they’re doing. And that’s why they eat so badly, and hence, why their health tends to be poorer!

And eureka! — you have a tidy solution that not only absolves financial and economic guilt, but, as a bonus, allows richer, more-edumacated people to assume the role of benevolent experts.

Here comes the part where I bust up that nice, warm bubble bath.

The reality is that people who don’t have enough money (or the utilities and storage) to buy and prepare decent food in decent quantities, cannot (and should not) be arsed to worry about the finer nuances of nutrition.

Because getting enough to eat is always our first priority.

That’s why Ellyn Satter (yes, her again) created the Hierarchy of Food Needs. Which looks like this:

The idea is that, before we worry about nutrition (i.e., “instrumental food”) we’ve first got to HAVE food. Enough of it. Consistently. And it’s got to be acceptable to us (which, for some people, might mean not coming from the garbage, or meeting certain standards of preparation) and it’s got to taste reasonably good. A little variety is nice, too.

—Excerpted from “If only poor people understood nutrition!,” at The Fat Nutiritionist

Women of Color and Wealth – Starting Points and Class Jumping [Part 3]

by Latoya Peterson

Please note, this is part three of a multi-part series on the Lifting As We Climb: Women of Color and Wealth report released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Please carefully read part one and review our comment moderation policy before participating in the comments.

zero wealth chart

I’m fightin for strength, in the street grindin for cents/
I know I’m ahead of my time but I’m behind on my rent/
Askin Kanye for money just to pay on my gas bill/
He asked me for it back, nigga brush up on your math skills/
Nothin plus zip equals zero; he couldn’t relate/
That nigga ain’t been broke since “H to the Izzo”

–Rhymefest, “Devil’s Pie

For many of us who grow up lower middle class or in poverty, the issues began before we were born. Parents struggling to make ends meet rarely find that things get easier once a child arrives – in general, already strained resources are required to stretch even further. Economically devastated parents generally do not have the resources to pass on to their children – indeed, the children may be asked to help participate in taking care of the bills, or once another income is flowing, provide funds to take care of other members of the family.

Looking at the chart above, single black and latina female households are hit the hardest by these disparities – but what does it really mean when a household has zero or negative wealth? How does it impact a child’s upbringing and future? Continue reading

Is There Any Such Thing As A “Black Issue”?!?

by Guest Contributor Average Bro, originally published at Average Bro

During the campaign season, lots of folks were critical of candidate Obama for not speaking out more vocally about issues that pertain to the African American community. Many saw his race-neutral style as one that largely skirted his ethnicity, and focused perhaps too much on catering to “mainstream America”. In the end, all this panned out. Obama pulled 95% of the black vote, which sounds ultra-impressive, but is more or less in line with what most Democrats running for President have received.

Anyways, Barry is in office now, and going about the bid’ness of saving the world, yet many are still holding his feet to the flame on these “black issues” and exactly what he’s going to do about them.

President Barack Obama should specifically address disparities in black unemployment, foreclosures, education and health care, the National Urban League says in its annual “State of Black America” report.

Despite the progress represented by the election of the first black U.S. president, blacks are twice as likely to be unemployed, three times as likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be incarcerated, says the report, which was being released Wednesday by the civil rights organization.

Obama has said that the way for government to help minorities is by improving things like education, employment and health care for all Americans.

But “we have to be more specific,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the 99-year-old Urban League.

“The issue is not only (blacks) doing better, but in closing these persistent gaps in statistics in this country,” Morial told The Associated Press. “Our index shows that the gap in African-American status is about 71 percent that of white Americans. We will not rest until that number is at 100, and there is no gap.”

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Poverty and the One-Third World

by Guest Contributor Tagland, originally published at Tanglad

I am an immigrant woman of the Two-Thirds World, who is living with the One-Third World.

I first came across Esteva and Prakash’s concept of the One Third/Two Thirds World via Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism Without Borders. The concepts recognize the transnational nature of capital, and how policies instituted by people in the One-Third World (middle and upper classes in the North and elites in the South) destabilize the lives of those in the Two-Thirds World, comprised by majority of the world’s population.

And most of the time, those of us in the One-Third World remain unaware of how our actions, well-meaning or otherwise, generate and perpetuate poverty and hardship.

For example, many of us in the One-Third World rarely reflect on our patterns of consumption, on how overconsumption contributes to substandard working conditions in Export Processing Zones around the world. If you’ve ever bought clothes from Nike, the Gap, or purchased products from Walmart and Target, for example, please take a minute to consider why your purchases seem so “affordable.” Ditto with that $2 bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s.

If you want to help those in poverty, take some more time to consider the consequences of top-down assistance programs that are instituted without any input or consultation from the communities themselves. This includes turning a critical eye on programs that present capacity-building and microcredit as solutions to poverty, rather than stopgap measures to systemic problems that are exacerbated by globalization. This means actually listening to the people in communities when they say that they need healthcare and education programs instead of yet another start-up handicraft business. Continue reading

Has Class Trumped Race? Part 3.5 – An Aside

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

The blog SavvySugar recently posted about a college grad who did an experiment to prove the American Dream – he voluntarily went into “poverty” to see how quickly he could climb out.

Adam Shepard’s experience has – naturally – netted him a book deal. ABC summarizes:

But Shepard’s descent into poverty in the summer of 2006 was no accident. Shortly after graduating from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., he intentionally left his parents’ home to test the vivacity of the American Dream. His goal: to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year.

To make his quest even more challenging, he decided not to use any of his previous contacts or mention his education.

During his first 70 days in Charleston, Shepard lived in a shelter and received food stamps. He also made new friends, finding work as a day laborer, which led to a steady job with a moving company.

Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quit after learning of an illness in his family. But by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000.

The effort, he says, was inspired after reading “Nickel and Dimed,” in which author Barbara Ehrenreich takes on a series of low-paying jobs. Unlike Ms. Ehrenreich, who chronicled the difficulty of advancing beyond the ranks of the working poor, Shepard found he was able to successfully climb out of his self-imposed poverty.

He tells his story in “Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream.” The book, he says, is a testament to what ordinary Americans can achieve.

Fascinating. I mean, everyone loves an American Dream story, don’t they? The interviewer from ABC News was excellent, asking really targeted questions about the validity of the experiment and how Shepard came to the conclusions he outlines in the book. By directly asking about privilege and his upbringing, the interviewer tries to shed some light into the thought process of this young man.

Continue reading