Who are "The Poor?"

Posted by Antoinette R. Banks | Posted in | Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2010



Often times I feel like a forced bystander when I hear a family, a country, or a continent described as "the poor."  The term "the poor" forces me to think of those who got dealt a bad deck, set-back, or disadvantaged. I never understood why PEOPLE, living, breathing, smiling, caring, wonderful PEOPLE were classified in a way to remove them from our minds. 

Every time an infomercial comes on we think, "hmmm, I really ought to help those people" as if somehow we're privileged and above it all when the truth of the matter is, we are a country built on the backs of FREE LABOR, earth shattering, ripping lives apart--stolen labor. Let's also not forget that during WWI AND WWII, if we hadn't sold arms and ammunition to "allies" causing nations to owe large amounts of money to the US where would our wealth be? If we hadn't gotten in bed with countries devastated by bombs for "reconstruction," and charged them insurmountable amounts of money to rebuild, where would we be? Oh, and let's not forget us controlling governments of a number of countries which, as if by surprise, subsequently puts the US in the position to control their economy.  

But to bring it back, our mental recognition of "the poor" bothers me, and I say "our" because I can be accused of that as well. I think Nikki Giovanni said it best in her poem "Nikki Rosa," although somewhat racist.

Childhood remembrances are always a drag   
if you’re Black
and if you become famous or something
they never talk about how happy you were to have   
your mother
all to yourself and
how good the water felt when you got your bath   
from one of those
big tubs that folk in chicago barbecue in   
and somehow when you talk about home   
it never gets across how much you
.....and I really hope no white person ever has cause   

to write about me
because they never understand
Black love is Black wealth and they’ll
probably talk about my hard childhood
and never understand that
all the while I was quite happy

If we replace the two subject matters " black," as "the poor" and  "white person," (journalist) as 
"society as a whole" then perhaps you'll feel me on this. Instead of categorizing them as "the
 poor" let's deal with what it is...POVERTY.  Lands stricken by consistent civil wars, stolen 
goods, and maliciously deceptive government. 

Take a look at the video below of Jessica Jackley giving a speech at the TED convention.  Jessica Jakley is the co-founder of Kiva.org, an online community that helps individuals loan small amounts of money, called microloans, to entrepreneurs throughout the world.

Let me know what you think.

I think, overall...what we need is a holistic approach to poverty with specialized organizations. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I think providing consistent food, healthcare and shelter is definitely an important complement to what was discussed here.

Comments (7)

I agree Miss Banks I was just speaking with someone the other day about how I was bummed looking at my people out here struggling, poor and on the streets after I sent out a tweet saying I wish I could help out in some way. Then also said but the funny thing is I'm not to far from being in that position my self the way things are. So I get what you mean about some people feeling as if were above somehow and were really not. I'm big on that issue, and big on kids without fathers somehow if we could as a whole begin to work on, and fix those issues, things would be so much better.

And you speaking to the black experience. For whatever reason, black families, and black communities thrive on dissension..trying to get ahead without helping the next. Other cultures flock together and remain that way.

Include people out of this "we". People don't want war, governments do.
Few are those in America who want war. It's not fair to blame it on people.
Actually the economic crisis, the fear-mongering campaign, the daily work of the media is taking civil liberties and many other conquest of the "middle-class".
No jobs, no health system, terrible education system and many problems.
You are mixing many topics in this post.
US government doesn't care about PEOPLE for a long time. The word they use is POPULATION.
As far as the weapon industry is concerned it is amazing how the techniques are getting more and more sophisticated and even changing the clime and drugging soldiers so that they become fearless, never get tired and other changes in their minds are possible. One of the reasons the suicide rate among soldiers is increasing.
I'm not part of the "we" either are my American friends.
I don't judge a nation and their people by the act of their governments.
It would be like blaming soldiers for all wars.

Thank you, Ana. I think you misunderstood my approach and me using the word "we." I was saying that utilizing the phrase of "the poor" is like developing a class that is easy to look over. I'm not saying that people want war--that would be ridiculous. I'm saying that people want to thrive and be seen as living, breathing beings instead of disadvantaged ones. Poverty is the issue...and poverty is natural progression based off the government.

So, Ana...we are in agreement here.

U Know what,

I was feeling a bit down, so to start my day @ my home office, I searched google for "happy faces" This image is the first one that contains human faces.

All child-hood is happy. Rich or POVERTY. Kids are happy. Mainly because kids don't understand what is money and how hard it is to earn food. when they do, the charm of life is completely lost. I am happy that I was allowed to be happy up to 21 years of my age.

I also read recently that your nation (US) is the only one which complains a lot about fuel prices whereas a nation as badly affected as Pakistan, Or most asian, European countries (I'm an Indian.) pays about 1.75$ per liter where as you pay only half of that. You guys were grown up on outrageously, stealthly, cheap fuel. While that lets you enjoy an undeserved better life, rest of the world feel that Fuel, motors must be heavily taxed to moderate its use. On an average a tax paying (meaning earns atleast good enough to be taxed) Indian uses 90% public transport (excluding air traffic, including rail) where as, I wonder how much, a decent American use public transport?

It also needs a change fundamental planning, like building huge houses in sub-urbs, vs an apt apartment in the city as well.

It is not only about fuel consumption and pollution, but also about the way you are encouraged to spend.

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I agree with you that most Americans do have it extremely easy when it comes to lavish things readily accessible. I am not one of them...I have been very blessed when it comes to the quality of life, and I agree that people should be encouraged to spend in a way that's beneficial to not only themselves but to other people as well.

I remember growing up in St. Thomas, sharing a bucket of water with my twin sister to bath. And although we lived on a very rough budget, we didn't worry about not having enough. Because those bath times were play time for us...it was never about not having enough water for the two of us to share, or not having an actual tub or shower...just happiness for being together.

Thank you so much for sharing, Anthony. And I hope your work day at home brings you joy and contentment.

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