Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Knowing What’s best for Poor People

I was up late one night and watched a comedic interview of Christian Lander discussing his book Whiter Shades of Pale and the previous book and blog Stuff White People Like.  I thought it was hilarious- mostly because it's true.  I think it would be more accurately called "Middle America likes", because there are plenty of other-than-white people who can fall within the construct of this very honest self-criticism.  But for the most part- his color chart is quite accurate.

#62 Knowing What's Best for Poor People excerpt:

It is a poorly guarded secret that, deep down, white people believe if given money and education that all poor people would be EXACTLY like them. In fact, the only reason that poor people make the choices they do is because they have not been given the means to make the right choices and care about the right things.

...A great way to make white people feel good is to tell them about situations where poor people changed how they were doing things because they were given the ‘whiter’ option. 

“Back in my old town, people used to shop at Wal*Mart and then this non-profit organization came in and set up a special farmers co-op so that we could buy more local produce, and within two weeks the Wal*Mart shut down and we elected our first Democratic representative in 40 years.” White people will first ask which non-profit and are they hiring? After that, they will be filled with euphoria and will invite you to more parties to tell this story to their friends, so that they can feel great.

The basic subcontext of this highly accurate  observation that the majority of Middle America simply does not accept the fact that in a capitalist profit driven society, there will always be poverty.  As long as we live in a plutocracy a significant percentage of the population (primarily due to race, disability, gender, orientation or simply being born within it) are given a value based on economic income rather than contribution to community outcome, there will inevitably be significant suffering of lower stratus. 

What Cristian Lander is referring to is called Privilege.  You don't have to be a white male to have it, but if you are, you do.  The problem with privilege is that you can't tell when you have it.  Normal is relative. White privilege, male privilege, social privilege, economic privilege, heterosexual privilege, cisgender privilege, education privilege (let me know if I left anything out) are all rampant~ even though the middle has convinced itself that racism and sexism is fixed, women are allowed to be CEO's now... "some of my best friends are black"... "all I have to do to make my life work is open a muffin shop or become a photographer" lifetime-movies-for-women-load-of-crap shoveled from the "just keep shopping, everything is fine" network. "Calling me a racist or sexist is 'reverse racism' or 'reverse sexism'. ignorance.

Everything is not fine.  

"Welfare" is a loan, not a handout.

There are 5-6 empty houses for every homeless person in the USA according to US Census Bureau and National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

33% of the male homeless population are veterans

Federal Housing submerged policies benefit the people who need it the least... This is in direct conflict with how the welfare state should work...  The majority of the money gets spent on policies for homeowners...

I have recently advertised for a house share with child care light housework and cooking as barter.  I have fibromyalgia.  I can't do these things alone, but when my daughter helps, we can cook and do dishes and laundry and maybe sweep up a bit~ together we can work almost like a "normal person".

I asked for specific things, from a specific place in Kitsap County WA.  I posted in facebook and craigslist.  Here's what I got: 

everything but what I asked for.

I got advice.  I got advice from relatives I never hear from and complete strangers.  I got replies to my ads asking me to pay more than I clearly stated I can afford, and job offers I am unable to execute.  I went around in circles with very many people who assume they know better, have more information, have access to more resources.  

Let me explain something.  I am not a wallflower, helpless, or playing the victim.  I am not ignorant.  I have a simple need and I asked for help.

I have been to every single housing authority, county resources, YWCA, outreach, soup kitchen, Salvation Army, Department of Social Services, Emergency Housing, Emergency Shelter that exists in this area as well as in King county.

There is no help for a person who is not able to adhere to time limits and casework program which was clearly not designed for disabled people. If I was an able bodied person, I would have a job I love and be with people and surroundings I adore. I miss working. I often thought "I can't believe I am getting paid to dead-head pansies". (Love you. <3 <3)

So while I thank you for your efforts, your intentions and the fact that you care- because I know you do...

Please stop "explaining things"  to me.

"Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is 
and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being." 

recommended reading:
Chicago's Quiet Home Liberation Front
US Has One of the Highest Child Poverty Rates in the Developed World
Get Educated: What is Domestic Violence?
Making the Rent on Minimum Wage


I hurt all over today.  I traveled 2 days in a row, and one of them I was bending to the ground.

I cried a couple of times.  Sometimes the pain can be overwhelming.  ~not so much the severity, but rather the duration.  

Mostly it's in my hips, legs, neck and right shoulder.  
Fingers are cramping up.  Hurts to type.  Hurts to mouse.
Hurts to sit on my sore butt.
Have to go out again tomorrow, the steps on and off the bus are rough.  I won't be able to bring groceries "home"(less).

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