Inspired by the discussion surrounding the WaPo piece “This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps” , Westgirl shared her experience of living in poverty long term.
The article “This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps” was sent to me about a dozen times by mid-morning. I tweeted my thoughts about it and you can see them below in the Storify I made (which may look wonky since embed doesn’t work correctly in wordpress, so I had to convert to html and …yeah).
I don’t have much to add to the series of tweets. A lot of people really loved this piece and I respect that. I suspect it’s because people are liking a narrative that addresses going from stability to poverty in a short time since it’s becoming a common story.
As always, I just like to look at things through a more critical lens and offer perspective that may be outside of popular opinion.
Thoughts on WaPo “Drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps”//
I’m a huge fan of Paying it Forward. I even offer little freebie Pay It Forward listing in my Etsy shop sometimes. One of the times I felt the most insulted in my whole life was when a woman insinuated that I was ungrateful for assistance and told me I needed to learn about paying it forward. Obviously, she didn’t know me, so her opinion is ultimately invalid but the very idea to suggest this was a concept beyond my comprehension. And perhaps more than that…. a concept no poor person would understand.
My personal experience, which is not scientific nor maybe even that worldly, is that poor people are the most generous people out there. Even when they don’t have money, they will find ways to help others…clothing, extra food, time,energy,help,support, kind words. Even sometimes money. Not a lot of money but no one understand more than poor people that “every little bit counts”.
So, I’ve just been thinking a lot about this over the weekend. My friend Nichole (who I met through my other blog quite some time ago and who I truly do consider a friend) started a fundraiser for my new mouth. I recognize supporters’ names as being people I know are also really poor folks.
My first inclination is to yell at them all and threaten to come kick their butt for donating anything (don’t think I won’t do it!) but …I mean..
Ok, I’m kind of speechless. I’m deeply moved by the generosity of people , most of whom only know me through my voice on this blog. I have oodles and oodles of gratitude this morning. Thank you so much,everyone. I’ll have a lot to pay forward and I actually look forward to it.
Some notable reads from around the web today…
The Challenges of Finding Employment as a 52-Year-Old Transgender Woman – Finding employment when you’re over 50 is really difficult but then add in being a transgender woman, it’s damned near impossible. Sometimes I wonder if the reason I get upset by the near daily articles I see about trans people facing job discrimination is because I know transgender people and they’re a part of my life? Not enough people seem to be that concerned about the discrimination that places trans people at a huge risk for being in poverty. This woman’s story isn’t unique and that makes it even more heartbreaking.
“Poverty has been rebranded as personal failure.” theguardian.com/society/2014/a…
Unless it’s a poor kid, no one really cares about poor people. And then even then, it’s that lazy,irresponsible parent’s fault that the kid is poor. Poor is segmented into poor ,innocent babies and lazy slackers.
Global poverty, stigma, and the spread of disease socialjusticesolutions.org/2014/04/24/glo… –
“Blaming cultural practices or poverty-linked practices of living, such as the potential link between poor rural regions consuming bush meat which could be contaminated by the virus, stigmatizes those stricken by this rare virus or by curable illnesses such as malaria, or diarrhea. Even though it is often inappropriate and counterproductive to blame culture or practices of different populations, poverty and socioeconomically oppressive structures propel the spread of disease.
It is poverty that further stigmatizes those who have been infected with a virus that is largely misunderstood by rural communities and scientists alike. It is poverty that causes overcrowded health care clinics that are unable to maintain a standard of sanitation due to a lack of funds which allows for the spread of disease. It is poverty that stigmatizes culture to be part of the source of their suffering. Fighting poverty and fighting disease are inextricably mixed, and neither one should operate in an isolated silo.”
This picture showed up on my tumblr dashboard right after I’d finished reading all the new things in my inbox this morning. It feels like it belongs here. Today, I woke up to a few stories from women who have been in similar situations as Shanesha Taylor. In every story, if someone had offered help and a real solution the outcome would probably be vastly different.
This is Jill’s story:
Several years ago when I lived in NC with my 3 kids, ages 6, 8, 11, I was working 11p-7a. My live- in boyfriend worked 3p-11p.(at the same place)We had one car. The kids were in school through the day and I would drop the bf off at work at 3 and come home to do supper homework and after school activities. Kids went to bed around 9 or 10. I then left the kids alone while I went to work and boyfriend drove home. They were alone less than an hour. My neighbor knew this and would watch the house.
But one night when I was working my boyfriend called me to say that police and CPS were already at my house when he got there and were taking the kids. I was devastated and my life hasn’t or will ever be the same. I died that day as my family was ripped apart. I left work and lost my job. I fought with the boyfriend and he moved out, taking the car. There I sat in my 1 br house ,brokenhearted and broke. Kids went to foster care but eventually went to my mothers because the judge said I was unable to care for them with no job and no transportation.
I started using drugs and attempted suicide multiple times. I fell down a huge black hole and only recently pulled myself out. Today I realize that I should have taken the kids with me to work, or begged the neighbor (who was the one who actually called CPS) to stay at my house until the boyfriend got there. But I didn’t. At the time it seemed like the only choice I had and it had been working for over a year. But it wasn’t enough. If only I could have afforded another car or a babysitter, or could have worked another shift. But I couldn’t and that’s what happened. I did the best I could with what I had and CPS ruined my life instead of attempting to help find a solution.
This story doesn’t have a happy ending. I never got my kids back and they don’t even speak to me to this day. And our lives will never be the same. We used to be a close loving family. Now we are broken souls living miles and miles apart because of a decision to go to work. So, fuck CPS and fuck poverty.
I was an Early Childhood Educator for years and therefore, a mandated child abuse & neglect reporter. I was required by law to document and report when neglect and abuse was suspected. Clear cases of abuse went unfounded while struggling poor families, often headed by single mothers, faced scrutiny from CPS on a regular basis. Sometimes, the report was made by someone whose goal was to be vindictive. Always, there was something that could have been done to help the family. Many times, poverty is mistaken for neglect. The system of poverty…that IS most definitely child abuse, but not at the hands of parents who are just trying to do the best with what they have and making hard choices. Blame is always put on the parents making the hard choices. People will always have a solution that starts with,”She should have done…” or “If it were me, I would have….” , which are never real solutions, just judgements. I can’t be outraged at the choices poor parents feel forced to make while living in poverty. I’m more outraged at a system that ruins families and people’s lives.
One of my favorite blogger/writers Samantha Irby has been talking about her dental issues lately and because the Internet is awesome, there’s now a gofundme because yeah…bitches gotta have teeth .
Reading Sam’s post today [ bitches gotta eat. – this is what’s up with my teeth.] …oh, I am so hoping the beautiful people of the Internet raise the money she needs. Sincerely crossing fingers.
Her post about what’s up with her teeth? That’s pretty much where I am right now.Except that I don’t have the extra complication of Crohn’s. I also didn’t grow up poor. I was raised in a trailer park, surrounded by a lot of poor people but my own family wasn’t poor. People assume I was poor because of where I lived but that’s another story…
I literally was never made to brush my teeth. I went to the dentist ONCE before I turned 18. The dentist told my mom I needed braces and that was that. We’re never going back to THAT place again. I mean, I figured a lot out myself…thanks to Dental Health Month and everything but I think it’s probably common sense that someone who brushes their teeth but can’t go to a dentist is probably going to still end up with issues. As an adult, I had some pretty crappy dentists who did more harm than good. And then I had 2 separate accidents that caused me to break my front teeth. I’m a major klutz. It’s also been pointed out that my periods of food scarcity & poor nutrition haven’t exactly helped.
I also have not gotten an official quote from the dentist. I don’t even have a dentist right now. I just got dental coverage through my new married-lady insurance . I’m also pretty scared. I know they’re going to demand my last born child as payment. I know – usually they demand first born but he just turned 24. I don’t know what they’d want with him.
Well, I don’t know what they’d want with my 3 year old,either.
Ok, forget them demanding children as payment because I’m sure this is sounding way weirder than I intended.
Money. They’re going to want a lot of money. That’s what I meant.
The only perk I can find right now in this teeth situation is that I’ve lost weight on my new soup & banana diet. I really did need to lose weight. I’m glad I spent years studying herbal medicine because that’s coming in super handy right now for fighting infection and keeping pain to a minimum.
Everyone remember that one woman who wrote a thing about being poor on the Huffington Post that went viral? Linda Something. (I’m not linking to it. Feel free to use the Google).
I was not a huge gushing fan of that article. I was actually a little furious. In the essay-thing , she mentioned that her bad teeth were the reason she couldn’t get a decent job. I can completely attest to this being a legit reason someone could not get a decent job. THAT’S ME. I’m educated, great resume, I have all sorts of crazy skills that people used to pay me for but really,the teeth keep people from hiring me now. It’s that bad. So, I wasn’t mad that this Linda chick said that about her teeth. I was mad that she went on Huff Post live to talk about her viral article and guess what?
Her teeth were fine.
Refresher for anyone who might remember that whole article: The Internet came together and raised at least $60,000 for this woman who they thought had a mouth full of rotten teeth and was living in poverty deeper than anyone could imagine.
I don’t know why I’m rehashing all this because really…. let it go . I just think about that from time to time, especially when someone requests an interview with me and I feel that I have to decline. I am beyond self-conscious of my mouth and every time I talk, I’m pretty sure none of my words matter at all .It’s all undone by the dental nightmare that my mouth is. Well, interviews and job opportunities. I’ve lost out on some good opportunities because of this. This isn’t just me being insecure. It’s a totally honest truth. It’s been a forthright comment about why I wasn’t hired. People judge people by their teeth . A lot. It sucks because the state of my teeth have nothing to do with how much I care about myself . It’s a pure reflection of poverty.
I am also uber sensitive to jokes about stupid people without teeth now. That shit is not ok.
Someday soon, I will get a quote from a dentist and find out how much money it’s going to take to make me a person again, a career employable woman people take seriously because the words coming out of her mouth are just words and there’s no crappy teeth getting in the way. A friend who doesn’t live in the U.S. says I made a HUGE mistake marrying my husband. I shoulda married someone from a country with excellent dental health care. I have never understood why dental insurance is seen as an entirely separate thing than Health Care and I’m pretty sure that my insurance will cover like 0.000012% of that I need done.
Um, yeah…. heart disease, sepsis, diabetes,respiratory infections (I have one now) ,and …crap…Alzheimer’s,even. Nah, dental health isn’t important at all!
Excellent. The last sentence has now made me have a panic attack. Tomorrow morning, I think I need to make that appointment. Anyone want to hold my hand when I go? In spirit, even. That’d be cool.