Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poor, Single, Overworked or Other: Are We Our Own Worst Enemies?

Have you ever been on a "diet" and found yourself eating junk food you'd never bought before? Do you claim to be broke but can't put down the credit card? Do you decry racism that personally touches you but say nothing about the sexism you personally engage in? Is it normal for you to say people are jerks and wonder why you have so few friends? Are you dissatisfied with your dating pool but you won't go outside your "acceptable" zone to meet a variety of people? Are you a cis-gendered person who won't acknowledge your homophobia or an LGBT who won't accept a transwoman and wonder why someone else is still oppressing you?

There may be institutionalized forms of oppression that have been in place for a long time but what are we doing to dismantle them? Or find a workable solution around them? If we want gender parity but ignore our own privilege how is it any surprise that there will be divided loyalties? If there is never going to be a level playing field why is the term equality being used at all? Isn't that a lie to keep perpetrating the concept when it will never happen? Who gets to benefit for keeping people in a permanent fly-over formation that never allows them to land?

I was reading this article in the Washington Post titled: Poor? Pay Up that posits being poor costs people so much more in basic expenses that they'll never be able to break the cycle. I like to label articles such as these, "You're already screwed so don't even try" diatribes which actually reinforce negative attitudes and weak choices. This article is being written under the guise of the sympathetic "liberal" slant that only reinforces helplessness amongst people who may already be downtrodden and depressed. It does nothing to get them (us) to change their way of thinking, which would change their actions, which would alleviate some of the problems they're facing. 
"The rich have direct deposit for their paychecks. The poor have check-cashing and payday loan joints, which cost time and money. Payday advance companies say they are providing an essential service to people who most need them. Their critics say they are preying on people who are the most "economically vulnerable."
Statements like these only reinforce a false argument. Most states now offer second-chance banking where you can in fact have a free checking out and set up online bill payments. At the very least you can stop going to the rip-off joints. So there's really no excuse. There's another segment of this indoctrination manual where a man complains about paying a $15 fee because he lost his drivers license. So instead of paying to replace it he pays the check-cashing fee instead? What does that have to do with being financially-challenged?

The article mentions that stats for those that live below the poverty line yet only focuses on those that live in "urban" read: Black residential areas. You know..the hood. People in rural areas have the same problems but their general makeup is different and why would the corporate media want to attach the face of poverty to someone white?! The only time dysfunction is ever shown as normative it supports their purpose by attaching it to Blackness.

It also feeds into the opposite reaction and charge of people not pulling themselves up by their "bootstraps". It's a little hard to do that when the boot is on your neck. Other times people don't have a boot..or shoelaces even. It's a nice way to reassure those suffering from "white angst" that they are still large and in charge afterall that guy in the White House is an anomaly compared to the rest of "those" people. 

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