"Poor-nography," Poverty, Privilege, and Me
I just finished reading a blog posted by The Establishment called Kim Kardashian And ‘Poor-nography’: The Dangers Of Celebrities Romanticizing Poverty by Kat George and another blog post called The Troubling Trendiness Of Poverty Appropriation by July Westhale.
I love this particular blog because they offer thought-provoking, subversive, and in-your-face critiques about modern life. This post made me think about my current life and examine my motivations.
I am someone who has always bounced between lower and upper-middle class. There were times that I was poor, and there were times, such as now, when I am a bit more comfortable. I remember moments with my mother when we walked to the grocery store since we didn't have a car. I remember washing clothes in the bathtub because we didn't have a washer and dryer. There were times that I was teased by the judging eyes of other mothers because I was growing faster than my mother could replace my "too tight" jeans. We never used the heater, due to the cost, and I was home one day while my mom was at work, and the electricity was disconnected.
I also remember living in large homes, in beautiful locales, and taking ballet, tap, gymnastics, Judo, piano and guitar lessons. I remember our timeshare in Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. I remember cultural events and plays. I remember always having food.
I am thankful that I always had a roof over my head. I am grateful that my parents were always gainfully employed (though, perhaps, under-paid at times). I recognize that I had just enough privilege to learn how to maneuver in society. I had enough privilege to assume that college was a forgone-conclusion.
This has been a positive experience in my life because I can truly understand both points of view. I know how much it sucks to eat cheap and filling popcorn at night because you're hungry. I also know how spiritual it is to stand on a mountaintop and look out over the valley below. As a poor kid, I know the shame of not having the best and newest clothes. As a business owner, I know the aggravation of taxes and regulations.
It is in this climate, that when my children grew up and went out on their own, I looked at my life, and realized that I had no need for the years of accumulated stuff that I carted around with me. I looked back in the hours that I missed my children's youth because I had to provide for them. I look toward my future, and I realize that I felt weighed down, much like the junk lady from the movie, The Labyrinth.
I began my journey of downsizing, eliminating, and simplifying my life. I realized that I could easily live in a small home with minimal furnishings. I realized that if I lived in a small home, and even better, one with wheels, then I would be "at home" no matter where I wanted to roam. It was with surprise, then, that I read about a backlash against this movement. The authors in the aforementioned posts are railing against people who embrace these lifestyles because they have the choice to live as they choose.
I understand the political and societal deck is literally stacked against the poor and marginalized people. I even understand the desire to lash out at pretenders who have the option to adopt a lifestyle, then leave it when they have had enough. As I am writing this, I am also reminded of a blog post I read yesterday from an African American woman lashing out at liberals for scolding them for directing their anger at the people who are helping them, instead of directing it at conservatives (read Your Calls For Unity Are Divisive As F*ck by DiDi Delgado, Black Lives Matter-Cambridge). I am trying to avoid rationalizing. I am also trying to avoid scolding anyone for their anger. They are right to find frustration in systems that are stacked against them.
I also know that I am getting older. I feel like I have lost one too many fights, and I don't feel the same passions I once did. I know there is a place and power in anger that is appropriately directed, and yet, I find when faced with injustice, I do what I can, then capitulate. One of the problems that I have is that the very people that we fight against are often our fathers, grandfathers, and sons. I feel like, as a white woman, my role is to attempt to speak for the underprivileged with my father, my lover, and my son. I feel like every time "they" say something sexist, classist, racist, and I am in a position to address it, I do. Perhaps that is not enough.
I admire righteous anger. I admire social warriors. I vote. I am quietly working with you. Please be patient with me, and tell me what you would have me do.
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