Stacey Loscalzo

Apr 29

Why Is No One Talking About Poverty?

by Stacey

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I’ve written about poverty here a few times before.

I think the first time was when I went to Caroline and Katherine’s school library right before volunteering at a school in a high poverty area located only about fifteen minutes away from us. That school had no library because their budget did not allow for a librarian. The doors were locked. On the flip side, our library was full of books, a full time librarian and so many parent volunteers that we had to take turns volunteering with our children’s classes.

I also wrote about poverty after participating in a poverty simulation. My post about this event is long but please go read it. I know I still don’t understand what it is like to live in poverty but I know more for having participated. For one hour, I played the role of an extremely poor person. It was a truly eye opening experience.

With only these very minimal touches in to the world of poverty, I am incredibly confused. I am confused that the ‘people in charge’ don’t understand what a huge role poverty plays in all that is broken in our country.

Where is the word poverty in our discussions about Baltimore? Does being poor excuse rioting and looting? Absolutely not. But does being poor contribute a whole lot to the culture that lead to rioting and looting? Absolutely.

And how about all the energy that we are putting in to reforming our public school system? Where is the word poverty in that discussion? If children are coming to school hungry does it matter what curriculum their teachers are teaching? If children have no books at home, does it matter what standardized test they take? If parents are working three jobs and there is no one at home to read aloud to a child, will that child learn to read at the same time as my girls who have been read to since they were in the womb?

I certainly don’t know how to erase poverty in this country but I do know we need to start talking about it. What happened in Baltimore this week makes me incredibly sad. My only hope is that these events will further and create a much needed conversation.

6 Comments

  1. Kristen says:

    Oh, Stacey, it’s staggering how much we think alike sometimes. I am on the board (4th year) of a nonprofit that helps harvest surplus local farm produce and deliver it to emergency food providers in eastern MA. The fact that we have 11% of MA residents who are food insecure–they don’t even know where their next meal is coming from in many cases–is wholly ridiculous. And, as I’m sure you know, hunger is one of the fundamental reasons why there is a cascade of other problems that follow as a result. What child can concentrate in a classroom if they are hungry? Who can hold down a low-wage job when it means missing the two hours that the food pantry is open, across town? How can low-income children be expected to compete with their better off peers when their parents cannot afford the technology that will be needed to keep up in the classroom? I truly get your astonishment about the utter lack of honest, and certainly hard, conversations about poverty in this country. I like to think that I am doing some small part, but it feels woefully inadequate, especially when so few people (it seems) want to talk about poverty.

    • Stacey says:

      So interesting Kristen. And yes- we are on the same page yet again! I truly feel like we can trace nearly every problem in this country to poverty. What the solution is, I don’t know but I don’t feel like we are really even trying as a country right now.

  2. Sandy Sullivan says:

    Stacey, this topic weighs heavily on my heart, too. I just listened to Krista Tippett’s “On Being” podcast with Greg Boyle, who has worked for 20 years in the poorest parish of LA with gang youth and young adults. (Also read his book “Tatooes on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion”). Great conversation at the end on this topic.

    • Stacey says:

      So interesting. I can’t wait to check out both the podcast and the book. They are both new to me. Thank you for reading and for sharing.

  3. Jen Robinson says:

    Hi Stacey,
    I happened to read an op-ed piece in the WSJ today that does talk about poverty (and schools) as contributors: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-blue-city-model-1430263661 
    Personally, I tend to agree with this piece that the right long-term solutions are going to have to involve better economic prospects for young men in communities like the ones in Baltimore. How to get there …. that I don’t know. 

  4. Pamela says:

    Thank you for writing this. We are moving and I am getting rid of so much stuff. And it feels terrible to have so much waste when so many have so little. The fact that kids are hungry would make anyone desperate. Thank you for starting this conversation.

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