if any one thinks that having things like microwaves and refrigerators means a person is not poor, please exit this post now.
I live in a weird intersection of poorness and non-poorness. My dad is not poor. My dad actually for a period of time was very rich and still is rich enough to rent out beachfront property for a month and buy a plane ticket for me to fly out there for a week because I haven’t been out of the city for two years. My dad helps me pay my rent and pays half of my tuition because I make 12,000 dollars a year and without assistance wouldn’t be able to go to college, wouldn’t be able to do anything other than get a second job and work.
my dad skipped out on the family when I was 12, tired of being a father and a family man, tired of having four other people dependent on him and the money he made. My mom worked as a teacher’s aide, went to community college to start rebuilding her life (she had opted to stay at home with her kids to raise us, a move my dad was determined to make her pay for for every day of her life), and worried about money and the roof over our heads every single moment of every day. I know quite well the talk about having to leave our house and move into a motel or a friend’s front room. I remember the TV dinners and bags of chips. I remember how much of a thrill it was to finally get a dishwasher for the first time when I was in my teen years b/c until then we’d been washing dishes by hand b/c that’s just what we did. I remember the battles for new shoes and new clothes and the fact that my mother put all the money she ever got aside to buy clothes for US even when her friends begged her to just spend a tiny bit of money on HERSELF. I remember a bit of the negotiations for health services for her kids and the way that she would scrub toilets and clean churches for ‘scholarships’ for her kids so that they could know life outside of poverty. I still have weeks where the 400 I take home every two weeks doesn’t quite cut it and I’m eating dollar bags of Doritos b/c payday is just two days away and I need to stave off stomach pains. I know that a microwave is not a sign that someone is not poor but a sign that maybe they went to a thrift store, bought it for 5 dollars so that while rushing to work or some other necessary appointment, they could throw a two dollar meal into it for two minutes and maybe not feel hunger pains until the afternoon.
I am so sick of the idea that poor people have to fucking prove their subhuman second-class poor status to other people. I’m so sick of the fact that if I buy a nice dress for ONCE or own a cell phone or have a microwave or a refrigerator, despite what I didn’t buy in order to have enough money to do so, it means that I’m not poor and if I can’t prove I’m poor, any assistance I may get or require is clearly me cheating the system and putting such a heavy burden on the exploited upper class. I’m so sick of the idea of welfare queens and kings, so sick of all of us having to wear our complicated financial and family histories on our sleeves so that people who will never understand can judge us accordingly. I’m tired of waiting for people to acknowledge that poor people are poor instead of trying to diminish it or explain it away. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of my 60 dollar Cricket cell plan because I don’t have a land line and this is my only means of communication with the outside world being an aha! we got you there moment. I’m tired of the proving game.
I mean, it’s such a clever idea really. List all the ways that poor people are really advantaged and it makes it so easy to dismiss their problems. They’re just lazy whiners!
And yet I do it, I buy into it, I list my history too, ashamed and resigned to it, like I did just here.