Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident about two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the third in a series about my experiences here. This third one is on poor people’s rights. The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL). The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

This post is important because it looks at the underlying issues that make a difficult situation (being poor) worse or better for each person. The intersections of perceived or claimed race/ethnicity, perceived or claimed gender, perceived or claimed social class, perceived or claimed age, home/best language, physical and mental health and (dis)abilities, perceived or claimed religion, perceived or claimed sexual orientation, and economic status in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in the mid-20teens, can adversely influence, improve or neutrally affect one’s experiences every moment.

“Intersectionality” is an important part of understanding how poverty impacts each person and family differently. Therefore, in this series, I need to bring in the politics of social identity. We all have to learn to address these overlapping oppressions and unfair treatments to help ourselves understand how everything is NOT actually “equal” regardless of the similarities in two people’s incomes.

intersectionality
Intersectionality includes all of these components of one’s social identity.

It’s not “all good.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It ISN’T what it IS “naturally”: people and then institutions run by people make things this way and create/perpetuate systems that keep them this way.

Missouri is one of the worst places to be if you’re poor, but it’s not even the worst by any standards. Your experience all depends on the other components of your social identity. If you’re believed to be a white male, seemingly in good health and able-bodied, perceived to be heterosexual, assumed to be Christian, speaking mid-Western-accented English like a native, have at least some college education and otherwise seeming to be a USA “mainstream” guy between the ages of 25 – 65, you are going to be much better treated and fare better even when you’re poor than if you do not claim or cannot pull off having others believe you have all or any of those social identities.

If you’re also not a felon, have a place to live (a legal address) and (the use of) a car, you’re probably not going to be poor for very long.

Unless you’re obese. Unless you’re smelly. Unless you’re an addict. Unless you’re perceived to be “not one of us” in whatever way “us” is defined: then, you’re in some trouble. But, even with those cards stacked against you, as a poor assumed-to-be-white & -Christian with some education who speaks adequate English and can pass for straight and male and under age 65, you’re still going to be better off than anyone who isn’t.

no isms allowed

Change one aspect—gender—and things automatically get much worse. Change two—ethnicity/race and gender—and you’re doomed.

Check this out, from Everyday Feminism, June 20, 2015 by Carmen Rios “These 5 Statistics Prove That We’re Feminizing Poverty (And Keeping Women Down in the Process)” http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/feminizing-poverty/
— “Despite the overall poverty rate declining in America, 18 million women remain below the poverty line.”
—“Women are poorer than men in every state, regardless of education or geographic location. And for women of color, elderly women, and LGBTQIA+ women, it’s even worse.”
—“The poverty rate for Native American, Black, and Latina women is almost double the poverty rate for white women.”
—“For women, and especially women of color, the fight to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 or $15 is very personal—and could be the difference, for them, between barely surviving and finally thriving.”
—“…over a lifetime, women lose an average of $434,000 to the wage gap.”
—“One of the most important aspects of intersectional feminism is the understanding that when we fight for the most marginalized women, we liberate all women along with them.”

And, from other sources (see below) that add in education and other factors to race/ethnicity and gender with income levels:
—“White households take home between $10,000 to $20,000 more per year than their Black counterparts in every age bracket”
—“Enrollment in ‘high poverty’ schools for Black children is 41 percent, 38 percent for Hispanic children, 31 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native and a mere six percent for Whites.”
—“Even when Black and minority children attend mixed schools, they are more likely to be tracked into remedial or basic classes while their White counterparts take advanced, honors level courses.”
—“70 percent of students arrested or referred to law enforcement for school-related infractions were Black or Latino.”
—“While people of color only comprise about 30 percent of the US population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.”
—“There is no such thing as unbiased, unpolitical education.”
—“People with ‘Black’ or ‘ethnic-sounding’ names are less likely to get callbacks for interviews.”
—“Blacks are more likely to be born into poverty and are less likely to escape it.”
—“Whites are 2-3 times more likely to make it into the middle class in their lifetimes compared to their black counterparts.”

poverty-is-violence
from http://iamarevolutionary.wordpress.com
Poverty IS violence. It has to stop.

Find a well-vetted nonprofit that advocates and works to end poverty and understands intersectionality and contribute, volunteer, blog about their work! Here is one: http://www.results.org/

Good news! We made this mess; we can clean it up.

Mandela quote about poverty
Nelson Mandela, Audre Lorde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and so many more have spoken out about the nature of the human-made elements of our social and political systems and the oppressions they systematize.

WE are the ones who must advocate, complain, recognize that we are entitled to better and that so is everyone else, and ACT!

—Do not sit by and watch passively when others are mistreated, disrespected, unfairly scheduled or managed, especially when you are in any position of better privilege: it is your DUTY to advocate whenever you are able.
—Write letters, blog, make phone calls, picket, march, show up and let those in power know you are not satisfied with the “status quo.” Be specific.
—VOTE! It is your DUTY and responsibility as a USA citizen who can vote (if you are one) to use that right in EVERY election. It is the LOCAL elections that most affect people who live near you, and regional and state office holders who make laws that affect us all. Federal elections matter, too, but not as obviously or as immediately.

WIN_20141104_095753 I VOTE! And, as of early March, I am working as a election-day supervisor at a local polling place!

—THEREFORE, do not ignore bond issues, council and mayoral elections, county positions, state office holders’ elections and only vote on presidential ballots. ALL VOTES MATTER!

Want to know more? Have a read:

From October, 2015, inGenere.it: “Intersectionality. Putting together
things that are often kept apart” by Jeff Hearn
http://www.ingenere.it/en/articles/intersectionality-putting-together-things-are-often-kept-apart

From February, 2015, NPR: “Study: Black Girls Are Being Pushed Out of School” by Karen Grigsby Bates
http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/02/13/384005652/study-black-girls-are-being-pushed-out-of-school

From February, 2015, the the Frisky: “18 Things White America Needs To Reconcile To Truly Become Colorblind” by Tiffanie Drayton
http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-02-26/18-things-white-america-needs-to-reconcile-to-truly-become-colorblind/

If you appreciated this series, please reblog/share it, comment, ask to be a guest blogger and contribute your own point of view or write on a related topic: http://www.sallyember.com

This third post was on advocacy and intersectionality (published on February 23, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2).
The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL).
The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

Advertisements

Top 10 Characteristics #Presidential #Candidates for the #USA 2016 Race Should Have

We have more than a year to go and the field is crowded and, to me, depressingly unfit to run for President in 2016. In listening to, watching and reading about the current candidates, I despair. So, I’m dispensing FREE advice to them. I hope they listen and behave appropriately.

Top 10 Characteristics #Presidential #Candidates for the #USA 2016 Race Should Have

  1. Honesty. Seems obvious, but so far, every candidate from the two main parties, except Bernie Sanders, seems to be an inveterate, pathological liar. Bad start. Even worse are Presidents who lie to us: had way too many of those in the last few decades, right?
  2. Integrity. Also seems obvious. Again, sorely lacking in every mainstream candidate to date, except possibly Bernie Sanders. When is the last time we had a President holding office with integrity? Jimmy Carter? Pathetic crew we’ve had since then. Bums and liars, every one.

    See saw characterics
    image from http://www.free-management-ebooks.com

  3. Reliability. I want a President who can be relied upon to behave in consistent ways, espouse similar beliefs today as he/she will in four years and did four years go or more, and generally be somewhat predictable, while being open to learning and changing, when appropriate. Few candidates do exhibit this criterion, but it is fulfillable.
  4. Relatability. Have some qualities, experiences, life achievements that I can relate to, that we have in common. We don’t have to be exactly alike, but if a candidate has NOTHING in common with me except having a human body and being a parent, how can I believe that such a President would be able to consider and be empathetic to me, my circumstances?
  5. Advocacy. I want candidates who demonstrate strong passion, commitment, diligence, devotion and inspiration for their chosen causes, especially those that help people, geographic areas, other aspects of political life that have few advocates. I might not like what these candidates are supporting, but I would respect their ability to advocate and expect them to engage in advocacy successfully, when President.

    Characteristics
    image from http://www.viacharacter.org

  6. Ethics. This may seem redundant, but our Presidencies have been sorely lacking in all of the above characteristics for so long it seems we must be specific and particular, here. I want Candidates who hold strong moral positions and do not waver, even if those are based on their religious beliefs which I do not support or adhere to, myself. However, it is unethical for Presidents to impose their personal beliefs on the political system. I want them to know that and behave (and vote/veto) accordingly. “Separation of Church and State” is not just a bumper sticker. Marriage equality, anti-racism, compassion for the poor and downtrodden, equity, age/ability/gender/class fairness and anti-sexism are ethical positions my Candidates should also support completely. Do we have any like that, besides Bernie Sanders?
  7. Intelligence. Candidates must be educated AND intelligent. They must understand and employ science, logic, appropriate argument and rational thinking in all areas. A President must know what questions to ask, whom to ask, and when to say “I need more time and more information before deciding.” A President has to know whom to trust and which “research” is bogus. Is that so much to ask?
  8. Compassion. Kindness, empathy, sympathy, caring: emotional intelligence, or EQ, lead to and contain enormous compassion and are fundamental to the kind of person I want to run for President, critical for anyone actually getting elected. Not just for those “like us,” or for those we already care about, but compassion for ALL. That’s what I’m talking about. We have had many Presidents in the last few decades sorely lacking in compassion, with dire outcomes for us and the world that were caused by that deficiency.
  9. Humor. We really can’t have Candidates without a sense of humor. It’s not only boring, it’s scary when they can’t laugh at themselves, at appropriate jokes, at silliness. We need a President who isn’t afraid to be mockable, who will go on Saturday Night Live and be funny. Knowing when to be serious and when to be humorous are essential qualities for MY President!
  10. Health and Longevity. Here is where things fall apart for Bernie Sanders. What is the point of running if the candidate won’t be able to serve for more than one term? Not to be ageist, and I hope I’m wrong, but since he’s already almost 74, how could Sanders possibly serve in one of the most stressful, time-intensive jobs ever devised, as he goes into his early 80s? Serve well, I mean. Possible, but not likely, right?

Qualities
image from http://blogs.gartner.com

All right. If current Candidates (or future ones) do NOT measure up, BOOT THEM OUT! Demand better Candidates! Run, yourself, if you measure up!