Friday, December 18, 2009

Like I said in comments

and previously on Twitter*

People don't like it when poor people write about poverty. We can't possibly be the experts on our own lives.

It's not the same thing, having poor people write about their condition, as it is having women write about feminism or POC writing about racism or PWD writing about abelism.

I think the reason for this is that everyone likes to think they KNOW what poverty feels like. Everyone except the highest ups has had that period where money was tight and Mac and Cheese was the only thing on the menu (or Top Ramen cause milk and butter for Mac and Cheese is expensive).

But this is generally a temporary situation while in school or between jobs or just after divorce. There is still hope of better things to come. There is a way out, sooner or later.

Real poverty is hopeless. It is the elimination of choices. It is being the stupid rat in a maze without a door to the cheese. It is a pit of despair with no way out.

So I ask myself, when reading other people who write about poverty, does this person know what the fuck they are talking about? Are they coming from a place of privilege, oblivious to the realities but trying desperately to sound like they care, or do they know, they way I do, what it feels like to have the Welfare office question your living arrangements to make sure you aren't hiding a boyfriend with a paycheck so you can get food stamps for your kid?

This doesn't mean the non-poor can't be allies, but it does mean that they should sit down, shut up and listen real hard when an actual poor person tells them they're wrong. Just like with all the other isms. It's an oppression folks, and the people who understand it best are the oppressed.

*You trying writing several thousand posts over the course of many years and see if you don't become a fricken broken record.

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