Coming back to the struggle was a bitter battle; I’m not a morning gal and I was “getting woke” a little roughly. I didn’t realize how far I had strayed from the truths I had known all my life. I had begun to believe some rhetoric around race relations and discrimination; that the victims needed to change. I began to think what many people from the dominant culture say: the poor need to cooperate more, participate more, be more organized, they need to calm down and they need to take more responsibility for their progress in life. That mentality completely dismisses an entrenched set of problems that can never be solved with cliche or fortune cookie wisdom, especially when it blames the victim. I can’t believe how ridiculous I was in this deep denial of truths I had personally experienced and witnessed in my life.
Somehow I had come to believe the cop-out attitudes that minimize the reality of the truly despicable acts that keep the poor down and trapped in poverty. I had begun to blame the victims, feeling that they are too desperate, too loud, too insistent, too much to bear. I had lost sight of how real this pain is, and how real the transgressions are. For some reason I had managed to forget that this is not just pain from the past that the poor carry, it is current and ongoing and entirely legitimate.
When teachers and administrators disproportionately punish the most vulnerable members of our society (children), as does the court system, when healthcare providers and employers believe and trust marginalized groups less or not at all, when agencies maintain evolving, prohibitive requirements and harsh disincentives around critical social services, when housing, food, sanitary conditions, personal safety and adequate medical care are curtailed or denied, these are acts of psychological and physical abuse, which is violence against the poor, and these are the symptoms of class warfare. This perpetuates and worsens mental health disorders and behavioral health disorders, domestic violence, crime, and dysfunction by antagonizing a class of people who are abused by the only resources they can rely on, so like many an abused person, they end up going back to the abuser and the abuse.
These acts are not done by someone incapable of self awareness, they are not even done by someone unwitting or uninformed, though those have been used as excuses before. Those are thin veils considering the wide body of evidence that proves systemic inequity is a genuine source of oppression. The acts that are so heinous in this struggle are done by individuals who have attained positions of authority and power and they are certainly capable of understanding the affects their actions have on others. Some of the people in power may not realize how much power they wield, but they end up with it and the decisions they can make include those that have ruined lives.
Wether it’s subtle or flagrant, the truth is that many people in the industries of hiring, supervision, management, public service, social service – even philanthropy – feel less comfortable around minorities or otherwise disadvantaged people, leading to further disenfranchisement of the population in the greatest need of support. Many authority figures feel that they are not discriminating, but they engage in favortism, which is essentially equivalent. When an authority figure is more likely to trust/believe/work with someone for any reason aside from their qualifications or their performance, that authority is often engaging in discrimination by favoritism. Authorities conveniently have reasons that are neutral if questioned, but they have enough policy in their favor to make it difficult to question their judgement anyway.
If it is deemed that an authority figure is qualified enough to determine wether or not someone receives assistance or support in the outset, then we can and should hold them responsible when they provide services in a way that is not equitable in the end. Appealing to the organization that the individual authority figure represents does not yield an impartial result. Also, sometimes no amount of compliance will satisfy someone in charge. Anyway, the poor are not in a position to exercise the rights they do have, let alone win those they should have.
Getting support from our own community should not be this treacherous.