Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What about America’s poor?



It is not unusual for the poor to be forgotten. They are easy to forget. We rarely see them, purposely. We definitely don’t have long drawn out conversations about America’s throwaways. Why would we? We would be forced then to address their issues. Issues that those of us are either unwilling to revisit because we were once among the poor class (too snooty to even think about where we use to be) or we understand that if there is an effective governmental emphasis placed on the destitute there may be a REAL discussion about Socialism: Redistributing wealth and income. Are you willing to give up some of your riches so that the homeless can eat?

Last week I was reminded of my childhood and college poverty all in the same day. Fortunately, the career path that I have taken keeps me connected to the disenfranchised. Nonetheless, I must honestly admit that I have wanted to pretty much mind-block my former poverty timeframes and evade the life of the poor. Why would I want to intermittently think about having to share pieces of cheap soap with my former roommate, Johnny High? Why would I want to face poor people with varying complex issues? My answer to both questions has been the same for the past 10 years: To keep me unpretentious.

Throughout a two year long presidential campaign only two men mentioned poor people, Bob Barr and Dennis Kucinich. Primarily, all I heard from those with enough campaign finances to highjack our emotions were statements pertaining to “the middle class” and “those on Main Street”.

Tavis Smiley, the man black America threw to the wolves just because he challenged The Golden Boy (Obama), touched my conscious Sunday morning while he was a guest on Meet the Press. He said, “All this talk about Main Street America…What about the Americans on the side streets? Those streets we avoid. The streets that prompts us to take another route in our Infiniti’s just because we cannot stand to see the bowls of America.”

I thank Tavis because he was the only member of the press who stood-up for the men and women who just lost their DHL jobs in Ohio. He was the man who once again challenged us to see past our small comfortable worlds. I wonder if the plethora of talk show host will cast him away for bringing forth the truth. For addressing America’s dirty little secret: Poverty among the working poor has been forgotten!

As we go back to normalcy since the charade (the election) is over, I want to challenge each of us (including myself) not to forget where we came from, that’s if you grew-up poor or within ten miles of an urban/rural center that was considered financially downtrodden. I want us not to forget that the attempts to eradicate poverty have been an ongoing battle in the United States of America with NO success. Not sure what the problem is – but for some reason we just can’t eliminate what the poorest of the poor have to endure on the daily: malnourishment, unemployment, paid day loan scams, substandard childcare, Rent-A-Center interest rates, and pawn shop hocking.

Keeping the poor poor may be intentional. What say you?

Written by a man who grew-up on a side street and who is not too proud to admit that if he misses a pay day he is headed to the POOR HOUSE. Inspired by Mr. Tavis Smiley. Black America owes him an apology!

http://www.irp.wisc.edu/faqs/faq3.htm

19 comments:

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

as long as there are very very rich in america, there will be very very poor

Muata said...

Reader response:

Regarding this article... are you not an Obama fan? Just want to know if I should forward you any of the new goodies that come out on him.

My opinion is that Obama is one of the smartest men to walk the face of the Earth. His mission was to get elected and if he could do that without scaring the white folks by talking about poor people, then that is what he had to do. I don't personally think for a second that he doesn't have a plan for them. Unfortunately the fact that they ARE poor means that they don't have a lobbyist pushing their message. But if Obama is half the man I think he is, he is biding his time to not just bring them into the debate, but to make real changes on their behalf. I think he played these cards perfectly.

-KK

Muata said...

Muata Responds to KK:

I see him as a politician. A damn good one. He did play his cards perfectly for sure.

I just pray he does not get caught-up in the Washington Machine. If he is able to withstand that machine he is definitely God sent.

-Muata

Muata said...

Reader Response:

I think Obama has enough challenges ahead. I don't think that the poor people will be forgotten, but give him a chance to get sworn in. Tavis is over the top. He needs to really sit his ass down for 5 minutes.

P.S. - Boy, did you mean the "bowels of America"....?

-MR

Muata said...

Reader Response:

Well said so much!

-AC

Muata said...

Reader Response:

I've been waiting to hear your take on the election...

What say I? I say the poor are absolutely not forgotten but the organizations and inviduals that work to alleviate poverty, ameliorate the lives of the poor and empower people to help themselves are overlooked. Obama did work with lower income (not sure about poor poor) in Chicago. I doubt (hope) he's not going to let them and the serving organizations go unnoticed as the president but the brutal reality is that if he had focused on this issue even a little, it likely would have cost him the presidency. Conservatives and swing voters are not interested in something that they percieve does not affect them. Any mention of social activity makes people think of communism even though it's a giant, ridiculous leap. Personally, I think the over-riding issue is that too many people don't want to have to be socially responsible.

Here's an article you might enjoy. Ideas #2 and #9 in particular.
Aspen Institute (2008) Mobilizing Change: 10 Nonprofit Policy Proposals to Strengthen U.S. Communities. The Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program, The Aspen Institute.

http://www.community-wealth.org/_pdfs/news/recent-articles/07-08/paper-ottinger.pdf

-TS

Muata said...

Reader Response:

I say well written....Amen!

-RS

Muata said...

Reader Response:

With Obama's election comes a false sense of reality in a lot of people. Many blacks have chosen to suppress even their own issues let alone other folks. White folks, for the most part, have chosen to benefit from the poor and leave crumbs every now and then as a token of their appreciation. Many blacks have embraced Obama's accomplishment in the white man's government and will use it as another shield to not look at themselves and the condition of poor people. Once the Euphoria settles, we will recognize even more illiteracy, teenaged pregnancies, murder, robberies, and addictions

-PM

Muata said...

Reader Response:

Of course it's intentional!

-PD

Muata said...

Reader HJ responds:

Not sure if we owe Mr. Smiley anything. In my opinion, his attack on
Obama was unjustified. He is from of the old school of black politics
and those strategies are outdated. It is also time for Tavis to
'change'/evolve with the times. America will always have poor and
disenfranchised. The trick is to not be part of that group.

-HJ

Muata said...

Muata Responds to HJ:

We will continue to need the Smiley's of the world even with a black man in the White House. I am sure of that simply because Obama will never be able to directly address the issues of the poor. Even within his own party, poverty has been left behind. No one is addressing it besides non-profit organizations and a few government agencies.

What we need is a real war on poverty - but what we have is a surface level engagement with underpaid men and women who have dedicated themselves to poverty eradication in the trenches. This is like sending an army out to the frontlines without real weapons that are needed to
WIN.

To leave Smiley, Sharpton, even Farrakhan, and other so called radical leaders behind and cast them as "old black leadership" is a mistake. The radical men and women are the ones who live and breathe the conscious of those who are left behind.

Without Aaron and Moses, what would have happened? Without Muhammad, what would have happened? Without Jesus, what would have happened? Without Gandhi, what would have happened? Without Martin, what would have happened? Without Stokley, what would have happened? Without Hammer, what would have happened? Without all the men and women who
continued to tap 'the haves' on its shoulder, what would have happened:

THE POOR WOULD BE NOT DISCUSSED AT ALL.

We need the old and the new. I am thinking we need the old more so nowmore than ever! We can't forget.

Also, poverty is a difficult generational cycle to break. We just cannot toss this lingering issue out with: "The trick is to not be part of that
group."

-Muata

Muata said...

HJ responds to Muata:

I agree it is generational to an extent. And with that notion you have to accept that some people will not break free from that generational hold. And focus on people that do want to better their situation. I have to agree we need 'Mavericks' to help the some situations. But I don't necessarily believe that everyone out there trying to help is actually helping.(Tavis) I have not verified this but I have been told that he is no longer on Tom Joyner's show because they supported Obama. If this is true, his own agenda has become an impediment to progress.

-HJ

Muata said...

Reader KK responds again:

Okay so I will say to you again Brian that I think you are not giving Obama a chance here. He could not run on a platform of "feed the poor". People with money are not ready to hear that. He had to get ELECTED. Now that he is, let us please see what he is going to do. I cannot believe that this man has any intention of leaving the poor out of his plan of action.

I agree that all the folks mentioned have their place. Discourse is always valuable. My only issue is not believing that Obama has it in his thinking to take this issue on once he has his team of support in place.

Also, I would disagree with the term "war on poverty". I think a more positive spin will shift the consciousness more appropriately. Perhaps "Campaign for Abundance, Sustenance, or Surplus". I believe what you resist persists, so it would be best to focus on the terms that we want to come forth as opposed to reiterating the terms that we want to eradicate.

Love the dialogue!
Peace,

-KK

Muata said...

Muata responds to KK:

To be misunderstood is common. Especially, when hyper-senses are up and when protection of one's leader is believed to be in need of erection.

I love how black folk are coming to the Barack's defense. Seriously! However, I pray that we will not become so emotionally connected to this historical event that we will not be critical of government. Let's keep in mind that the US government has been the hurdle, the barrier, the stumbling block for years. It is this government that does everything possible to protect the rich and silence the disenchanted. I have received several interesting responses from the commentary that leads me to believe that I have been misunderstood. Obama's name was mentioned once in the commentary. Not at any time was I ready to not give him a "chance" in my writing. What I intended to do was remind us that the US government has in fact forgotten the poor. No one, in my opinion, can legitimately dispute that. If they can I really want them to explain to me why poverty has increased. Why women, the elderly, and children are the leaders of the poor. Or, are we so beyond logical thought that we are ready to blame all poor people for their plight? Most white men who
make up our congress have abandoned legislation to assist with addressing the issue effectively. That is fact. So, this piece was not a blast of Obama. I am aware that he had to do the typical politician dance to get elected. And, to be quite frank with you, I believe it is sickening that the American people cannot stomach the truth when it comes to critical issues. But, I am not surprised: The Hebrew people who elected Moses to be their leader in the end could not take the truth. They were ready to stone him. Remember?

It is a sad day when our leaders have to shook and jive to get the people on their side. It is a sad day when the people have to receive lies to 'move'. It is a sad day that there are only a few 'radicals' remaining to remind us that God's work was with the poor. I cannot believe that only two white men who could not win spoke-up during this mockery we refer to as an election. Overall, this commentary was to highlight the astounding numbers that continue to come across news wires: -53,000 Citi employees may become poor as a result of being fired -10,O00 DHL employees may become poor as a result of being fired -35.9 million people live below the poverty line in America, including 12.9 million children. Each and every day my agency interfaces with the poor, and what we have discovered is the poor is increasing in numbers. So, Barack, is not my focus here. He can only do what will be allowed. Poverty will remain as is because the America government needs the poor to be her toilet paper.

-Muata

Muata said...

Reader PM responds again:

Boy this is funny..........................Now everything is on Obama's shoulders and blacks don't want chicken commercials on TV anymore. Politics and political correctness is bull!

-PM

Muata said...

Reader LS responds:

We should all learn some serious truths. I am sure everyone on this email is aware that the govt is in the business of making the politicians and big business rich and collecting taxes from the rest of us. Be not fooled by the promises of wealth and prosperity because as those of us that were once have nots you must earn wealth if you are not born into.

Secondly, I too was talked about and hated because I first chose Hillary Clinton in the primary. Barack had to earn my trust as a viable leader. He had to show me in the campaigns that he wasn't a yes man or a house negro like the Al Quieda people just called him. He did earn that thus earning my vote. However, he gets no free pass. I disagree with his idea that we need to bail out the auto industry. If we do there needs to be some serious measures in place to make sure they don't pull another AIG. Taxpayers can't finance spa lunches for rich people. I am unimpressed thus far with his cabinet choices because it does not fall in line with his change speech. I think he has ways to go and I will be critical every step. We need to challenge him. There comes a great responsibility with the title Commander in Chief. With that comes strong criticism and black people he has secret service and his chief of staff to defend him so we need not worry. The job is taken.

Lastly, I will point out that companies need to start restructuring and doing a better job at managing business. DHL has been on its way out for a while. Something was missing in their formula. It is sad that thousands lost their jobs. It is sadder that those at the top still get paid while those at the bottom lose out but then again it's the American way. Adam Smith would be rolling in his grave if he saw how we interpreted his "wealth of nations"

-LS

Muata said...

Muata responds to PM:

My disappointment remains with the people. We fail to remove ourselves from the constraints of foolish politics even in the face of racism and a organized effort to keep the poor poor - but having a black president solves everything. How idiotic will we be?

-Muata

Muata said...

Reader KK responds:

Well I know that they say that the past is the best indication of the future however I think so many of us realized that the past was a disgrace and that was why we voted Obama into office. Yes it is a shame that he couldn't put it out there that he intends to help the poor, but you deal the hand you are dealt. We have to pick our battles and getting him elected was the battle that needed to be won to get to the work that needs to be done.

My bottom line is that though the previous administration allowed our people to be in the screwed up situation our people are in, I for the first time in my adult life have real hope that we have someone in office that really gives a hoot. Now I admit I am not a student of politics and maybe there were those who deserve some credit for some stuff... Johnson, Carter, Clinton all seemed to have good intentions. I can't honestly say what their policy on the poor was. But for now, today, when I am paying more attention than ever before, in my mind I don't have anything to be critical of government about as yet because I see it as a whole new day rife with possibilities.

Trust me as happy as I am that he is black, it has nothing to do with it. I see a man with conscience and a determination to do the right thing. I pray that I am seeing clearly and until he gets in there and does whatever he is going to do, I personally don't see what there is to be critical of. We all did the best we knew to do to turn this around by electing such a man... now seems to me we have to wait and see and send Washington positive energy in the meantime.

Peace & Blessings...

-KK

Muata said...

Reader Response:

Good piece Payne - But I'm wondering why you called Obama 'Golden Boy' ?

Please understand that President-Elect Obama is NOT our (black folk) 'saving grace' - by no means. I too question his advocacy in some respects for the poor (which includes me) to some degree. But I also LISTENED to his message!

You would have to be living in a 'black hole' not to know that Obama's (in fact) was impoverished himself, and having been there, was certainly part of his vernacular.

Every candidate that runs for office has a 'pitch,' but, you missed the subliminal message?

What we witness was a movement (not a election), with a meaningful plan of action! But - like with any initiative, it will take time. It will take ALL of us to agree with the "process" of moving forward together -that's the commonality among people - finding a 'common ground.

The campaign that Obama ran provided us with the perfect template to galvanized our respective communities, and to move forward with the same, or a similar action-plan or otherwise. In finding that common ground , and empowering those around you with a message of at least faith and hope. That's all people want!

If, for nothing else, understand the message!

Written by Johnnie - A sista,' and publisher, of the Urban News, www.theurbannews.com who is proud of ANY Nubian brotha' , or ANY Nubian sister (for that matter), that has reached this pinnacle in our U.S. Society (President or not), that has overcome personal obstacles, educated themselves, takes care of his/her family,not drug addicted, or incumbent with other character-flowed issues, and refuse to seek help.

-JG