Monday, July 19, 2010

On Economic Bias: I am Poor, Not Stupid

This Chick has Balls!

Not only is she courageous enough to blog about the difficulty of living in an inherently evil (greed-based) society, she even had the cajones put her little photo up next to it.

You Go Girl!

By: fotojunkie

I have experienced times where my economic status left something to be desired. I have been on food stamps, welfare, gone to the food bank to feed my children, gone to a local church to get warm clothes for my kids for winter and signed up with the Salvation Army to have Christmas presents for my children. Yes, I did live a life at one time, it seems eons ago, where I was proud, maybe even arrogant, but, as the old saying goes, pride comes before a fall. I have learned humility over the years, particularly the last ten or so. It seems at times that Life has humbled me time and again. I have gained, though, a certain strength of character that can only come from experience and hard times.

What has repeatedly amazed me is the way some people feel they can treat me because I have come to them for help or they see me as someone ‘poor.' It seems that there is a distinct economic bias against those who are poverty stricken. Apparently, we are unable to comprehend what is told to us, we cannot think for ourselves and we are uneducated and stupid. Well, I can assure you that I am not stupid. I may currently be having some economic troubles, but I have a college education and am quite intelligent.

Case in point: I once signed with an agency that will provide free prescriptions to those who cannot afford medication. I called the place to see how long it general takes to pick up a prescription that had already been called in to be refilled. I had been at doctor's appointments all day, since early morning. I was in poor health and had had several medical tests run. I was actually calling between appointments and was on my way to another appointment. When I spoke to the woman on the phone I told her that I had to get the medication and she told me, "Well, you knew that you had this appointment this afternoon, you should have gotten up and come by here this morning." I was taken aback. I felt compelled to explain to her that I had been at appointments all day and this was my first opportunity. She still kept her haughty manner. It seems that when you must go to such an agency to get help they can treat you any way that they wish.

Another time I got food stamps in Louisiana. The worker talked down to me from the beginning. I was polite and kind to her, but she called me the day after my case was approved to tell me that she went ahead and approved me even though I did not provide the information that she told me to provide. I told her that I had given her everything that she had put on the list and she told me I was a liar. I had the list in front of me and I told her that she had no right to call me a liar. She told me I should tell the truth.

These are only two examples of how I have been treated as a person of a low financial status. However, an impoverished wallet is not indicative of an impoverished mind, values or feelings. Certain people seem to look down on those who have financial difficulty. If you are on food stamps to feed your children or need help with medication or bills or necessities, some people who work at these agencies seem to get some sort of God complex. They display an attitude that indicates that they feel that just because they are not in such a position that they are somehow better than the person that they are ‘helping.' 

Let's see, I shower, dress neatly, smile, speak with proper grammar and am friendly. I do not try to intimidate people by using an extensive vocabulary or talking over people's heads. I don't talk down to people. I look people in the eye. I am kind and respectful to everyone, poor, wealthy, behind a desk or on the street. In short, I give no one any reason to treat me the way that I have been treated by those who ‘help others.' Over the years I have had a husband who did not work, was a single mother looking for work, got laid off of a great job and was ill and could not work. I have also worked but my salary was not enough to pay the bills and feed the kids. In the real world you can't always wrap someone's life in a neat little package, all cut and dry. There are circumstances and hardships. Things happen.

Don't get me wrong, there are some people who are pure of heart and truly want to help others. They do not present any bias, are warm and make everyone feel comfortable. They treat us as equals, as if they know that were they in the same position that I would do the same for them. They act as friends, no lectures, no condescending remarks or belittling. They are truly refreshing and those are the people who are really helping others. They are the ones who inspire people like me to help others. They are the true saints.

You can't buy your way into sainthood by looking down your nose at the people you are helping. Do you think that we don't have any pride or feelings? I would like to ask these people, what makes you so much better than me? Is it because you have a job? Is it because you don't have to worry where your children's next meal will come from or how they will be clothed? Or do I make you think that someday it may be you in that chair. It is something to think about, you know. One day you have it all and in a blink of an eye it can be taken from you. Then it will be you on the other side of the desk, while someone just like you talks down to you, treats you like you are not human, treats you like you are stupid.

I don't respond to these people who treat me badly. See, this ‘stupid poor person' has integrity, strength of character and a good deal of intelligence. I see past the rude, haughty exterior to someone who is intimidated and fearful. See, I represent reality, a reality that they don't want to face. I am the reality that it can happen to anyone at any time.

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