Personal Essay: The Effects Of Poverty In The United States

Poverty is a never ending, timeless concept. Many people suffer from it, and it has been a topic of concern for great and small people. There have been many discussions and promises to fight and end said poverty, yet it is still something we as a country continue to face. I am one of those considered to be in poverty, and I will not argue that fact. Being impoverished is a sad and overwhelming reality for all too many people. There have been multiple recessions in American, we always seem to bring our economy back. Yet in each and every recovery of the economy, the issue of poverty still exists.

Poverty affects all of us, yet some seem to pretend it doesn’t exist. I am here, as an example, that those people are blind and foolish. If there is a soul that actually believes that our population is not direly suffering from poverty, then I pity them, and wish enlightenment for them. Years ago, both Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King vowed their own wars on poverty. King also of course wanted to end the concept of racism and segregation. At one point, these two great men and absolute forces of power, even joined together to try to work towards ending both national issues.

They both felt that poverty and racism, while at times went hand in hand, were also universal issues that needed dealt with on any and all fronts. Tagree that race does seem to play a part in poverty. However, poverty is truly an unbiased assailant. A large misconception is that most of the people suffering in poverty are of a minority. This is not necessarily true, the fact of the matter is that the minorities seem to be the most advertised and obvious example of it. For some reason, the fact that the white population is experiencing the effects of economical strain is not as publicized.

During the Great Depression, it was widely known and shown how many of the white, and affluent population was affected. Ironically that was the only focus at that time. No one pointed out how the rest of America was affected. Now, in this day and time, it is shown to be a minority based issue. T have personally suffered the effects of poverty and economical strife. I am a single mother, living in an income based apartment, also known as Section 8 housing. I receive government assistance in the forms of SNAP (food stamps), medical coverage, and PIPP (a utilities assistance program).

Without these programs, I would not be able to put a roof over my children’s heads, feed them, get them medical care, or have the electric needed to run the lights and appliances in my home. There are many out there that survive exactly the way I am. Although, sometimes I feel as if I am not surviving but merely existing. The life I lead is not an easy one or a proud one, but it is what I am living at this moment. I have experienced much harder though. I was a military wife and even then we received food stamp assistance.

We still struggled even with my husband’s military salary. When I finally ended that marriage, I hit the lowest point in my life, especially financially. I went from having his income and our military provided home, to having no income and honestly no true home to call my own. I moved in with friends for a few months, but that was not the answer to my problems. In the end, I eventually had to fall back on family to help, although that in and of itself turned out to cause more hardship to befall me. I had to rely on people that turned out to not be reliable at all.

The father-in-law that had promised safe haven, kicked my son and I out of his home after only a month of being there. The mother that had begged me to come back to Ohio from Virginia then decided that she would not let me live with her, because I had yet to find a job in the month I had been home. This is when I found my then four-year-old and I had become completely and utterly truly homeless. We then moved into the Salvation Army Shelter for the homeless. When I went there, I expected to find filthy, unkempt, and by all societal standards, unsavory people.

I was wrong, dead wrong actually. Most of the people in there were just like me. Normal, fully functioning members of society, whose lives had unraveled just as mine had. Homelessness has a stereotype, just as poverty itself does. Guess what? Stereotypes are just that, hyped up, misconstrued, misconceptions created by the status quo, not the ones living it. Teventually pulled us up out of that situation. After three months, I found us an apartment, that while not perfect, was our own. I have never experienced that level of desperation since, but that does not mean I am above it all now.

As | mentioned previously, my children and I, are still the recipients of many governmental programs. We have stood in similar food pantry lines that were shown in the video on poverty in Akron, Ohio, that was presented in class. Even with the assistance we receive, sometimes we need to supplement it occasionally. There is no pride left in me when it comes to providing for my children. So many people have the same story as mine and as of yet there has been no solution given. People often judge me and others for the way our lives are, but trust that this is not our preferred version of life.

Too often, the poor and governmentally assisted are assumed to be less. We are thought to be lazy or uneducated or just not as worthy as others. While this may apply to some, it does not apply to all that take the assistance offered. I did not choose to live like this, but it is what gets me by for now. A lot of us would like to be able to raise ourselves up above where we are, unfortunately it is not as easy as wanting, it takes more than that. Poverty is a devastating and debilitating way of life. Some would not eat if not for food pantries and places like the Salvation Army offering three free meals a day.

The strength it takes to swallow your pride and stand in a line basically begging for food, is a feeling no one can understand unless they have experienced it themselves. To make assumptions about that man standing in the pantry line, or that mother attending a free clothing drive, is presumptuous and arrogant. The prejudice that comes with being unable to provide without help is unneeded, hurtful, and unhelpful. It makes us feel even lower than the asking already has made us feel. I will say one thing though, I no longer let my pride stand in my way of providing for my children.

Something needs to be done about this though. I believe LBJ and MLK were on the right track in 1964, it was just not enough then obviously. And it is definitely not enough now in 2015. There has to be a solution, there has to be a way to fix our country. A way to help people get back on their feet and not rely so much on the assistance of the government and others. I realize we are still in a technically economic depression, but there is always a way. We as a people, a government, and a country just need to figure it out before our entire country is full of either completely rich or completely broke citizens.

The disparity that is encompassing our population is overwhelming and saddens me. I am slowly raising myself and my family above it, by finally getting an education that will provide for us in ways that I have never been able to before. That only fixes me and my life though. Something must change, something must give, and somehow our country needs to be able to pull itself up by its bootstraps and recover. Poverty must end, discrimination must end, and the answer must be found before it gets any worse. We as a people deserve better.