Why Poverty Is The Currency of Shame That Buys Abuse in America
Being poor is the unforgivable crime
Despite being rich beyond repair, when it comes to how the United States rates when it comes to the poverty level and the grossly disproportionate ways it attacks the vulnerable and criminalized, the final results are quite disheartening.
According to U.S. News, the U.S. poverty level is at about 12.3 percent, which is an improvement from the dismal 15.1 percent from 2010, when the economic crisis was still amassing casualties.
But the bad news is that far too many Americans are still barely able to make ends meet.
“1 in 8 Americans” are standing in the poor line, and the latest numbers also reveal that the graph isn’t illustrating a promising future when you consider that the rate in 2000 was at the lower 11.3 percent, compared to the higher result in 2018.
There’s no justifiable reason for such disparity in wealth; as rich people are getting much richer, and poor people either stay poor, or fall even further below the poverty line, with the guarantee that it will always be that dire.
The U.S. isn’t winning when it comes to overall performance in the realm of evenly distributed wealth, and being the reliable caretaker for its citizens — especially when compared to other industrialized territories like the U.K. and Canada — where the track record is a lot more impressive.
Both those countries seem to get the basics when it comes to allotting sufficient resources to the goods and services that are constructed for the purpose of ensuring that the unideal status of being “down on your luck” doesn’t stay activated — indefinitely.
Unfortunately, the United States of America isn’t that “united” in the struggle against systemic oppression, that clogs the pipeline of progression through the implementation of biased practices, that are enforced through the brutalization of targeted communities by powered institutions that endorse damaging regulations.
This is why police brutality has become the code on the streets of America, with cops exacting the pressure they get from nefarious supervisors, on residents that populate neighborhoods — boldly marked for the quotas that keep law enforcement in business — while destroying the future and livelihood of barricaded inmates and the ones they leave behind.
The never-ending cycle of societal attacks even harm the children of America, who are born into families that want them, but don’t have nearly enough to give. That complication is compounded by the lack of benefits, that qualified parents can utilize as extra assistance — complimenting work schedules and reducing stress levels — that can damper the fulfillment of parenthood.
When my dear friend had her adorable son at the beginning of the year, the joy was mixed when she realized that she couldn’t afford to take extra time off. Six weeks isn’t nearly enough time to spend with your newborn, and it goes by faster than you can stand.
She ended up having to put him in daycare, which is the only tangible solution for most mothers in this country, who don’t have the disposable income to hire West Indian nannies, who are tasked with strolling White babies to Central Park and back, while their mothers shop and lunch at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Childcare is quite expensive, and I witnessed how my brother and sister-in-law avoided the unpleasantness of giving hard earned money to strangers, who may or may not treat their baby girl with the same caution that a family member would adhere to. And so grandpa was commissioned to help out, and thankfully it worked out.
But that’s the ideal situation and not the norm because most struggling parents are forced to rely on daycare services, that provide the bare minimum, and are at times understaffed.
It’s exceptionally tragic that the child poverty rates in the United States have taken a turn for the worse:
“The U.S., child poverty rates have surpassed 20 percent for several decades, making it an outlier among developed nations.”
A country that our bigoted and detached president declares is “Great Again,” is being horribly negligent when it comes to the security of the young and younger, who are paying way more than they should to compensate for the greedily entitled population.
Other developed nations have figured out a more generous approach of tackling the issues of child care, and the secret lies in the supportive functions of “child allowances and paid leave,” and how these programs are the key ways to avoid the threat of increasing child poverty to a level of crisis.
There is no doubt that the societal shaming that publicly assaults the poor and needy helps to stimulate the deplorable treatment that the vulnerable endure — as they fight to accommodate the pathetic handouts that don’t at all cover the increasing costs of daily living.
As a woman of a certain age who spent her better years toiling away in the concrete jungle for pennies — I can attest to the frustration and pain of not really having much to show for the blood, sweat and tears that gifted me with a teeny-tiny studio apartment in the part of town that housed old money.
You spend almost seven years at a corporate job that overworks “the help” and disregards the respectable wages and bonuses, that are supposed to match all that energy and time. These illustrious organizations are aware of the power they wield, and how the noteworthy bonuses that the “big people” command can’t be compromised for the sake of sustaining a balanced environment, that evenly spreads the rewards.
And so you have a frightfully large population of Americans who are over-worked and under-paid, and some of us graduate to the role of being periodically unemployed and under-paid. And when we apply for the benefits that are meant to temporary stabilize — the process can be demeaning.
We have to accept rudeness from phone reps and mockery of debt collectors — who can’t believe we don’t have rich relatives on standby.
In my case, I have the somewhat steadiness of freelancing that can make all the difference, depending on the lucky draw of decent assignments. But those who are solely reliant on stingy handouts from inefficient government agencies — are made to travel down the perilous road that’s devoid of smoother detours.
This brings us back to the horrific scene at the social services office in Brooklyn, NY, where a twenty-three-old Black mother was holding her one-year-old child as she sat on the floor waiting to be helped. Jazmine Headley couldn’t find a seat because the office was over-crowded. That image is the typical setting for centers that attend to the poor and desperate. It’s a depressing climate that offers nothing but systemized chaos, and the “attitude problem” of badly paid social workers, who exchange glances with bored security guards.
Nothing good was ever going to come out of a situation that features the dramatics of criminalizing a young woman and her baby — simply because she refuses to give up the spot that she was protecting with her life. It shouldn’t be that hard to appreciate the precariousness of living on the edge, especially when innocent children are added to the equation.
Instead of the empathy that was needed to soothe the frazzled nerves of a “poor” mother cradling her son — grown adults decided to exert their authority in ways that endangered both victims in a graphically cruel way.
We already know how the statistics over the years, remain fixed in the truth of why minorities tend to make less money than White counterparts. It’s so blatantly offensive how that works, and in my case, despite the college degree and similar trajectories, I was hit with the embarrassment of how my White co-workers were gifted with beefier salaries.
Racism is the underlining theme that becomes even more overt when those in authority are convinced of how the law will back up their false accusations, about the haughty Black woman, who used her child as the weapon to escape consequences for bad behavior.
What happened to Jazmine Headley would never have been forced on a White woman, carrying her baby, in the same circumstance.
It’s the episode on the 6 Train, and how the golden-haired toddlers, fussing around and ignoring the whispered pleas of Upper East Side mothers — tend to enjoy a considerate crowd — while Black kids who are just as inconsolable are punished with piercing glares.
The evil security guards didn’t see a human being trying to collect her baby’s benefits. They just saw a pathetic stereotype, who was taking up space and needed to be promptly removed — with the callousness that befits her lowly station. It’s her fault that she’s begging for scraps and so she can afford to be treated like shit — since she’s practically shit to begin with.
And so we all watch the viral video of the “poor” Black woman, paying for her shitty disposition, as she helplessly battles to keep her Black baby from being torn to shreds by preying vultures.
All this happened because poverty is the currency of shame that buys abuse in America, and if you’re a non-White sufferer — God help you!
Social media erupted with the furor of users when the shameful footage began trending, and the cry for justice reached a high-pitch that was hard to ignore. This explains why days later, it was confirmed that Jazmine was released from Rikers Island and the ridiculous charges against her were dropped. She was also blissfully reunited with her precious baby boy, who had been resting with his grandmother.
The young Black mom was able to coherently sum up her harrowing ordeal with words of gratitude for the love and support of fellow New Yorkers, while expressing happiness at her freedom, and being able to hold her traumatized child again.
But this unfathomable event is far from over because the rogue cops that terrorized Jazmine and her baby need to be charged accordingly.
We’ve become so accustomed to police officers kicking the asses of Black bodies in public spaces — that we’re instinctively numb to the seriousness of how unarmed citizens that aren’t a risk to anyone — keep getting fucked over by a dysfunctional system that’s keeping them poor and victimized.
Only top-tier Americans with rap sheets can afford to evade the law or walk away intact after berating traffic officers that have the gall to lawfully pull them over.
The rest of the Black and Brown population have to be subjected to violent encounters with law enforcement, with the encouragement of traitors of the community, who are unsympathetic and unwilling to recognize the communal wounds that envelop their surroundings.
The United States of America is woefully failing its own, and rejecting the responsibilities that other advanced countries have successfully adopted and dutifully execute, without the degrading reception that mocks and shames — with the extra toll of physical abuse.
It seems being poor is the unforgivable crime, and being untouchably wealthy with the booster of Whiteness is the “stay out of jail” token that can be used as many times as necessary.
The laws need to be revised to include the persecution of cops that have no issue with abusing Black mothers and their children. And then we can move on to defeating the biases against those who are lacking “insufficient income during the year to purchase bare necessities.”
That’s my current status, and I won’t cower in shame because the fact that you and I are here is what’s utterly unforgivable.
Side note: Jazmine Headley shouldn’t have to survive the inhumane treatment that was levied on her and her baby for the glory of emerging “a hero.” Black women aren’t superheroes with in-built mechanisms to tolerate the intolerable. We DESERVE to be handled with CARE.