Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The topic for Blog Action Day is POVERTY and today is the Day that we are encouraged to voice our thoughts on it.

This photo is by Jacob...K on Flickr and was taken in the mountains of Appalachia but I wanted to use it because it is similar to the type house I grew up in and lived in till I was 18.Our house was a little bigger but otherwise very similar.

I am proud of my roots and the way I grew up but it was hard. Poverty affects all areas of your life. I remember we lived with my grandma because my parents who both worked two jobs never made more than 18,000 $ a year. They neglected health care like so many others did and do today because at the end of the month or the end of the check there simply wasn't enough to pay for it or dental care either.. I have heard people I work with and other people of means question why the poor don't eat better ? I can answer that too. You eat what you can afford and squeeze that dollar till there is nothing left.I remember many nights growing up when we had pintos and cornbread for supper. I don't think I ate a steak at a restaurant till I was in my 20's. When you live in poverty you don't take vacations, or go to Disneyworld or to Europe you go to a families house or to amusement parks and those are paid for with a sacrifice made of something else.

I so identify with the children of the poor who have to wear hand me downs or clothes from the thrift store and are then made fun of by their peers or feel ashamed to have someone spend the night at your house because it isn't as nice as theirs.I know what it feels like to have your prom dress made of cotton fabric and home sewn because there isn't enough money to rent one.

I remember being told by my parents that I had two years to go to college and all they could afford to do would be to pay for my gas to school but after that I had to pay my own way for any further schooling. Why? because they didn't have money to pay for school. I was the first one on either side of my family to get a college degree.

Poverty still exists in America and is on the rise. How many of us live only a couple of paychecks from being on the street? How many of us neglect our health care because there isn't any money for the deductible on our insurance?I read a statistic the other day that said that 12,000,000 children live in poverty every day.

I encourage you to do anything you can to help those less fortunate than yourself whether it be donating to the food bank or any number of charitable organizations that help the poor. Poverty is very real and resides in each of our own back yards.

I try not to be political here because I believe it is your right to vote how you choose according to your beliefs.I hope you will exercise those rights in about a month but for all the above reasons.I will be casting my vote for Obama. I don't feel that McCain identifies with the poor in this country and I believe Obama does.

The other night while watching a Cold Case episode about the civil rights movement the year I was born {1964 }it made me think how far we have come in this country when a black man stands poised to be President. I know that there is still lots of work to do in the area of equality for all but we have made such great strides.

The quote below speaks to me because I wonder how many people of wisdom and eloquence we pass by simply because they don't fit our definition of what society thinks they should look like.

Seldom do people discern Eloquence under a threadbare cloak.~Juvenal


Tess said...

Yolanda, this is a really eloquent post, and the way you write about your background is very affecting.
What you're talking about is real poverty, not the sort of moaning people do when they can't manage more than one holiday a year.
One of the things I was always proud of, living in Britain, is that our education system was open to all, and their was universal free health care.
But these things are slowly being eroded so there is pretty much a two-tier system, and of course those at the bottom lose out and it becomes a vicious circle.

High Desert Diva said...

Lovely post...and the first I've read (on this subject) concentrating on poverty in America.

I grew up in poverty, too. My parents made a combined income of $15,000.00/year when I began applying for college grants/loans in 1985. I was denied grants because they made too much money. Really?

I find it hard to see that McCain has a grasp on the middle class/lower income class of America.

I, too will be voting for Obama.

Carver said...

This is an excellent post Yolanda. Poverty is so distressing in this great country of ours. Surely we can do better.

I don't get political very much on my blog either but I will also be voting for Obama. I cringe sometimes when I hear what I think of as a revisionist view of what Reagan did as president. I know where I live the homeless rates rose precipitously while he was president and the gap widened between those with the most and least.

Not sure why I'm bringing up decade such old news except many people never really recovered from Regean's presidency. Some people's lives improved under Clinton although I still think so much more needed to be done for poverty and then we got 8 years of Bush.

I am almost afraid to be optimistic but I am increasingly optimistic about an Obama presidency.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate everything you said and "Yes we can!" There's a quotation by Rev. V. Gene Robinson I have hanging by my computer (It's kinda long for a comment space but I'm going to type it in full regardless. Hope you don't mind!):
"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, sso that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done."

Strider said...

Nice post. I care for the poor also. That is why I'll be voting for McCain. I think people need a hand up and not a hand out. Obama's plan is more on "giving a man a fish" where McCain's plan (and most republican ideas) are about teaching the man to fish. Any way, nice post. Interesting.

PERBS said...

Excellent essay on poverty because you experienced it. I grew up in poverty also BUT we got jobs when we were 12 besides babysitting and saved for two years and got to go to a private boarding school for high school.

Yet, growing up in a family of 7 kids, we had to share everything. Mom made our clothes and usually adjusted them from an older sister which wasn't easy since I am a twin and we both wanted the same thing! lol She also made us a few special dresses for our birthdays. We did plant a garden and had lots of produce after lots of work. Mom didn't work outside the home until we were all gone and then she sewed at the hospital. We never had an allowance and parents could not afford college for any of us. I went to college as an adult and got help there too. But, you know what, those wee the days memories were made. Simple things brought such joy.

PERBS said...

Oh, forgot to tell you this is Paulie. I ran out of room on my other blog so had to use another name from aol I have to continue blogging. Since you moderate comments, you can jsut delete this one.


one little acorn said...

In these tough economic times (globally), it looks like things will probably get worse before they get better... lets hope whoever gets voted in, is capable of helping those people in need.

12,000,000??? That's insane and needs to be targeted. Great post and I appreciate your personal insight.

Border Explorer said...

Excellent post, Yolanda. Thank you for sharing your own experience. How wonderful that you received important psychological assets in your youth to grow you into the person you have become.

It is a crime that minimum wage is not adequate to support a person, let alone a family. Greed is a disease in the United States. We could do better and we choose not to.

storyteller said...

How did I not know about Blog Action Day? And why has it taken me a week to find this post? I know I need to make some changes and get a ‘handle’ on my schedule … but I’m glad I didn’t miss your post. I grew up in poverty too … and share as generously as I’m able today out of gratitude to those who helped our family survive. I watched that Cold Case episode and had similar thoughts … (I was already in college in 1964 and remember giving a speech in class about Medgar Evars that year). I find myself thinking of how far we’ve come in this country as I witness the Presidential campaign of Obama and I’m hopeful even as I realize there are many challenges ahead. Thanks for your thoughtful sharing.

I’m celebrating my 1st Blogoversary TODAY at Small Reflections and tomorrow at Sacred Ruminations. Hope you’ll drop by if time permits.
Hugs and blessings,

tipper said...

Loved the picture-looks like home to me. Seems we have very similar upbringings. I enjoyed this post very much.

Mary Ann said...

I love your closing quote. Great posting.

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Yolanda,

Good post. I empathise with the story, I too had family in this situation (grand and greatgrand parents)

You should google/YouTube the Grameen Bank Bangladesh (microfinancing)(another good program is KIVA) An economics professor In Bangladesh won the nobel peace prize for his aid to the poor.

I have to agree, as another poster mentioned, about the hand up, not a hand out.
More should be done to encourage a social conscious, or more tax breaks, for those who've been successful to help those still struggling. (I'm acquainted with a Microsoft exec who gives scholarships to kids who go to his old high school)

More should be done to encourage personal responsibility, and foster hope in the youth of the poor/working poor that with education (subsidized is ok in this sense)and perserverence they too can obtain the American Dream.

Anyway, sorry to 'preach' a little here, and thanks for letting me voice my two cents! :)