“It is just a fact…most poor people are poor because they are lazy.”
Perhaps one positive outcome of Hurricane Katrina is the sparked dialogue surrounding poverty in America, which demands analyzing race relations, as well. While my acquaintance did, in fact, mutter the outrageous quote above during a heated debate last Friday (whilst imbibing alcohol, praise tha lawd), my dismay stems from the realization that most white Americans agree with her. And in case you’re not paying attention, when upper-middle class white people speak this way, they are careful to not say black people when they say poor people, but it is precisely what they mean.
Let us re-examine the O.J. Trial, which was the last nationwide topic that sparked dialogue on race to this extent. The response to the trial of the decade was sharply divided along race lines. Not because black people in this country necessarily thought OJ was innocent, but because they, like me, were eager to see the system work in their collective favor. A black man gets away with murder and his brilliant black attorney uses the justice system to get his rich client off, just as white men have been doing for hundreds of years. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby. But when the tables are turned, whitey no likee. There existed an overwhelming need of white America to hang O.J. Forget that he was the model of a “good black man” and played golf at our white country clubs. He killed our blonde-headed white sister, and no matter the case, we must take him down.
Not since the O.J. trial has the race issue been so out in the open. We all harbor racist thoughts. Whether we agree with the voices that tell us, from years of white conditioning, that poor people are mostly black and those black folk don’t work (cuz they’re lazy, remember?), our collective consciousness impacts non-whites in a truly negative and oppressive manner. In fact, blacks make up only 1/4 of America’s poor and nearly half of the poor, of working age, DO work. Introducing the idea of the effects of slavery upon a people, which officially ended 140 years ago, was far beyond the grasp of my acquaintance the other night. Let me remind some of my white brethren…we made black people eat, drink, shit, and live everywhere that we did not want to. Let them eat cake, and not anywhere we have to look at them. This was law, less than 50 years ago. 50 years, people. Remove your collective blinders, please, as they are not becoming on you.
My background is a privileged one. I have parents who have always encouraged me and believed in me to an extent that is daunting. They instilled in me a quest for knowledge and self-education that will live with me always. And, as luck would have it, our society expects that I will excel because I am a middle-class whitey.
Ponder, for a moment, how poverty begets poverty. Then, place your natural born poor self into a society which reinforces the idea that you will be and become nothing. Add a generous amount of slavery into the hearts and minds of all inhabitants of this society, and tell me, how does this equation pan-out?
white silk says
“.., whitey no likee…” – line of the week, hands down!! Good lookin out, Ms. D!
Hope all is well in the (not so dirty) South.
Gary Strong says
Very insightful, I am proud to say I know you. Soon we will all be slaves to “Big Brother Energy” and then we will have an insight into what we have been lucky enough (or entitled enough) to avoid for the most part of our lives!
Mark Buban says
I wish I had a solution to poverty and the mindset that seems to come with it. Believing in yourself would be a good start…if you/they/we could just figure out where START is? That seems to be a difficult task for those that have been beaten down mentally for generations that stretch back way before my time. I actually hired a homeless man a few years ago. He was a good guy that had been in a terrible accident that left his mind functioning at less than it had before it…I’ll never forget meeting him for the first time. I don’t know what happened to him after I moved on but hope he’s well. I feel the best I can do is to be an example by my actions…they seem to speak the loudest! Peace!
Joe Watson says
“It is just a fact–most poor people are poor because they are lazy.”
You appear to be a thoughtful person. I agree with everything you said.
I was raised as a migrant worker. We harvested apples, potatoes, blueberries, peaches, peanuts and even cotton. Dirt floor shacks were my home. Outhouse was just out back in the yard.
Somehow I managed to leave that behind and move forward at the age of seventeen by joinging the US Navy.
I disagree with the quote above. In my opinion most poor people are poor because of not having an education of any kind. Ignorance of the importance of education keeps them poor.
A poor person does not corner the market on lazy. I see supposedly rich people in this life wasting their days away spouting off about situations they have only read about. Personal philosophy on living and life by someone who was rich at birth and has become richer due to an education provided by daddy is disgusting. I see many lazy rich humans everyday. Breakfast in bed, let the maid in, go to the spa, their gym, karate, a little shopping and home for supper. Rough day again. Nothing wrong with that. Do it if you can.
Do not live that life and then say all poor are just lazy.
The poor people I was raised with would disagree. Up before light of day. Black coffee, with bisuits and water gravy for breakfast. In the fields by the first crack of dawn. The work is back breaking, dirty and exhausting. No need for the gym here. If you did not work you did not eat.
Short break for lunch, usually a bologna sandwich with water and back to work til dark. Six days a week for a lifetime.
No, most poor people are not lazy, they just work for rich people who pay them nothing. Poor people are ignorant of education, that does not mean they are lazy or stupid.
An Insipred Australian says
I am so pleased to have stumbled across your website. Your writing is an inspiration, after feeling disheartened and embarrassed by the many rich and lazy white people that I have encountered, in the last few weeks. People that have so much, but manage to complain all the more. Wearing, it would seem, those “collective blinders” as you so aptly described.
So thank you, Ms Darby. For your insight, and for your intelligence.
I have had a dream since being young of adopting kids of a few different races and have a little global family. Kind of along the lines of: defeating racism starts at home.
It’s a scary thing to really do – I am already going to be a new parent with Mike and that’s daunting all on it’s own – but would it be good for the kids? Would it be like it is in my head, where it’s the colourful family down the road, happy kids getting as many opportunities as we can give them? Would they be bullied for being from such a different family model?
I know it’s what the celebs are doing now and taking away all the feelings we may have about how much their lives might be removed from reality, I respect them as they are making families that go beyond blood, color, background. That’s got to help the world if it’s done right, right?!