Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's expensive to be poor!

Courtesy of MediaMatters.Org.
Chatted momentarily yesterday with a few card-playing neighbors in the community room of my apartment building. We three Caucasians outnumbered the two black women. It was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday so the topic of racism came up. A Caucasian woman held forth claiming no racism had existed since the 1960s and that blacks brought on their difficulties due to their lack of accountability. The black women remained silent.

Realizing that arguing with such obliviousness to reality was pointless, I stood up and said, "I respectfully disagree."

At which point, I went on my way.

This morning, I came across op-ed writer Charles Blow's column at the NY Times titled "How Expensive it is to be Poor." Blow touches on the Ferguson episode and effectively refutes my neighbor's charges of the lack of accountability among blacks:

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center released a study that found that most wealthy Americans believed “poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.”

This is an infuriatingly obtuse view of what it means to be poor in this country — the soul-rending omnipresence of worry and fear, of weariness and fatigue. This can be the view only of those who have not known — or have long forgotten — what poverty truly means.

“Easy” is a word not easily spoken among the poor. Things are hard — the times are hard, the work is hard, the way is hard. “Easy” is for uninformed explanations issued by the willfully callous and the haughtily blind.

Allow me to explain, as James Baldwin put it, a few illustrations of “how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”

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