Welcome to Operation Reach B.L.A.C.K.

Operation Reach B.L.A.C.K. is a Pan-African Blog with an acronym that stands for Building Leadership Awareness and Cultural Knowledge.

The goal of this blog is to become a "Blog of Black Thought" focusing on matters of social, economic and political awareness through education (re-education), self-affirmation and cultural expression. Above all, this blog will DEMAND respect and appreciation for one another as black men and women.

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(Opinions, Observations, and Commentary)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Putting a face on poverty

"I would like everyone to understand that it's not just hitting the very poor poor, it hits everybody. Even someone that's out like me - that's working and trying hard to take care of their family - and I'm not talking about just any family. My kids are great kids, but it hits us hard, harder. So, I want them to see a face on how this economy is affecting us." - Joyce Washington, Single Mother

It's unfortunate that the "poor" makes for terrible politics in our national discourse. Politicians and the media frame the debate in a way that cuts poverty almost completely out of the picture. You have the wealthy, and then you have the "middle class."

Well, in actuality, you have the "middle class," the "working class," the "working poor" and the poor. We allow ourselves to ignore poverty because it's easy to pathologize. In our short-sightedness we point the finger at the poor and say, "It is your fault that you are in this predicament."

It's as if we've come to believe our own hype. It's as if we've come to believe that an education and solid work ethic is all you need to get by these days. Such qualities count for a lot. But, at the end of they day, there are still a great deal of obstacles that are beyond one's control. Like when your company downsizes you out of a stable job. Or when a family member falls ill and hospital bills drain all resources and savings. Or when you've obtained multiple degrees, but no one is hiring.

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 15: Demonstrators carry signs as they stage a protest demanding government action to create jobs outside of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) office on September 15, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Dozens of protestors demonstrated outside of Sen. Feinstein's office urging the senator to end the recession by creating jobs. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
There's a lot to gain from incorporating poverty into our national discussions on the economy. It's not sexy. The poor can't rely on the sympathy of others. The poor have no "boot-strappers" benefit so often afforded to the "middle class."

But consider this . . . the middle class is shrinking. And when that happens you are left with only two options. You are either a member of the haves, or you're a member of the have-nots. It's as simple as that.

And, in a day and age where some of us wish to qualify annual incomes of $200,000 as "middle class"? Well, all I can say is that the majority of us are much closer to the Joyce Washingtons, Tanisha Phillips and Ann Valdezes of the world than we'd like to admit.

Remember that this November.




Video: Perspective Piece