- Faith & Family
A typical definition of poverty is a significant material deficiency, or an inability to provide your family with adequate food, reasonable shelter and clothing. But what does this look like for families not typically portrayed in mainstream media? Meet Betty Joe, a Black woman in
her 60s. She lives with her grandson Jimmy Lee and two great grandchildren. She works part-time and her grandson has an associate degree and works in the nearby labor pool. They live in a modest two-bedroom home that she was raised in as a child. On her living room wall she has pictures of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., a white Jesus in prayer and President Barack Obama. As you walk outside through her back door into her backyard she has a garden with an assortment of vegetables including collard greens, tomatoes and celery. But on the side of the house she has an oval-shaped silver pail that looks like a mini tub with a plastic cover. Its purpose? When asked about it she said it was how she collected rain water because from time to time they could not afford to pay the water bill. This is another face of poverty in America. The poverty experienced by the working poor. As things go, this kind of poverty is disproportionally Black. Today’s commentaries on the poor would have you believe the poor are lazy, criminals and lack family values. But I offer you a different narrative of who the poor are in this country. Like Betty Joe, the working poor are people not looking for a handout. They work every day, making ends meet the best way they know how in the face of barriers — barriers with which many of us are totally unfamiliar. Who then is responsible for Betty Joe? Or for that matter Jimmy Lee? As the debate is shaped around the 99 percent, let’s not forget that it does not only consist of middle-class Americans who have lost their 401k’s and half-million dollar homes. We are all a part of America — none of us deserves to be forgotten in this important discussion on poverty and greed.
We must ponder on how we can all have a better chance of achieving the American dream of prosperity, a higher quality of life and realizing the freedoms guaranteed to us all in the U.S. Constitution.
Listen to Henry Crespo on Today’s Truth of the Matter on Sundays from 3 – 4 p.m. on 880 am the Biz.
By Henry Crespo