Della Wells, an artist and community activist, writes that she agrees with Ben Carson that one’s mindset “does affect how one looks at poverty.”
Throughout the American landscape, social and economic myths help promote stereotypes in which many view the poor in America. And too often these stereotypes are used by lawmakers, political pundits and others to provide political scapegoats to deflect from the real problems and issues.
The poor are easy targets. They are viewed as having no political or economic clout. Thus, the promotion of the negative image of the poor provides a political narrative to maintain the political and economic power of a few.
Recently, Ben Carson, the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and noted neurosurgeon, came under fire for implying that it is one’s mindset that determines if one is poor or not. Carson, who himself came from an impoverished background, oversimplifies what it would take to break the bonds of poverty.
However, I do agree with Carson that it is one’s “mindset” that contributes to poverty. It is the “mindset” of politicians like Paul Ryan, the leaders of some corporations and others who shape the political, economic, cultural and social narratives, structures and institutions in America. And often, these people do not have a clue or care how their decisions affects everyday Americans.
And we should shoulder some of the blame ourselves. Often, this means that some workers may have to take low-wage jobs so we may get the benefit of low prices. But it does not have to be that way. Often, it would cost consumers a few cents more to pay a worker a living wage. And CEOs and other executives may want to consider taking a smaller compensation package to provide better wages.
The poor, regardless if they live in urban or rural communities, or their ethnicity, race or gender are often the hardest-working Americans. They do not fit the stereotype of being lazy, unmotivated or having given up. Some of them are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. All are working low-wage jobs. These are people who work in retail or restaurants, are our caregivers or work in other service industries. And they want the same dream for themselves and their children — to obtain the American Dream.
Ben Carson’s mother wanted the American Dream for him and he achieved it. Americans who are poor are no different than any other Americans. They are not lazy. They are not looking for a handout. They are like anyone else; they want to be paid a living wage. They are not all black or brown. They all do not live in urban areas but also live in rural areas and suburbs.
And we need to recognize and remember that our nation was built on the backs of the poor and exploited — the slaves, Native Americans, Chinese labor, child labor, immigrants, prison labor and other free- or low-wage labor. This is the “mindset” that we need to break if we want to end poverty.
I agree with Della Wells.
Oscar Rene Lopez says
Yes, I do agree with Della Wells and Ben Carson, all of people’s minds are the determinating factor for being poor, ignorant, mediocre, educated, well to do, rich,etc.
If we were to justify our poorness or richness for the way we were born, then Donald Trump’s children don’t have a reason to study and work, as are the Kennedy’s, the Huisengas, the Bushes and many other born rich, because they are already already rich.
Likewise, any poor African American or White Trash American is in a much better position when born that all of those illegal inmigrants, white, mulattos or blacks, comming without learning the culture or language, and must of then go ahead in life in the same social enviroment that the American Poors spend all the time blaming this or that for their own falliure.
I was born very poor in Cuban Countryside at the middle of World War II, I think you can realize what that means, if USA poors living conditions were bad in 1944 it is not difficult to realize how were the poors countryside living conditions in Cuba’s 1944 times.
I went to obtain only a fourth grade rural school education while eating corn meal and vegetables as everiday meals. That is my only “formal” education.
I grew older with not any formal education, I came to become a Commercial General Aviation Pilot, flying dustcrop airplanes because I assumed the risk of learning the tricks of the profession or dieying in the process (sorry for my broken English, I have not have the chance to study the language as it should be, now a 73 years old I have no use for formal studies).
Many bad things came my way for many reasons, none of them was for commiting any crime of any kind, just the times I was destined to live, far more difficult than the lives of most African Americans or White Trash Americans living in USA.
God helped me in many a way, I am very grateful for the Good God instilling in me the desire to fight all and every roadblock in my path for always going ahead to become a better and better person with every passing day. For some reason I have always been very grateful for receiving any benefit that I have not earned with my sweathing effort, not many that I got along 73 years of living.
At this old age I am greatful of receiving my Social Security Retirement (earned with my taxed participation into the program for many years, I have always worked by contributing to the Social Security Program, and from a secondary check from the company I worked as a Financial Representative.
Along this past 73 years of living I auto educated ( took several professional and living risks along the way) to become first a dust crop airplane pilot, then an oil field extraction technician, then a heavy construction crane operator, then an electronic communications technician, then (now while living in USA) a large commercial store maintenance technician, then an insurance agent, then a finnancial planner.
Along those years I received only one finacial aid (not earned with my own sweat) a $242.00 food stamps benefit upon arrival in USA, as a male political exiled with a wife and three minor children. The following month my food stamps assignation was suspended because I was already working as an C-46 cargo airplanes airframe washer (along with an African American who I couldn’t talk to due to the language barrier) in the local airport.
Yes Mr. Carson and Ms. Wells, being poor is not an state of mind but STAYING AS A POOR PERSON IN USA it is an state of mind while living in the United States Of America.
I was born very poor in a very poor nation, in very difficult time of the human race (the World War II) but it was my responsibility to read and educate myself when other were drinking beer and inpregnating single women.
I did also got the Grace of God to guide me to look for people to be with who could help me to learn, educate and growth as a living earning person and a human beeing and not leraning to be a criminal or nay sayer.
A person owns his/her life and it is his/her own responsibility what he/she is going to do with any help he/she receives from any source, to become what he/she owes to become.
Thanks a lot for giving me hopes that America is not lost yet, that there are, still, honest and brave people willing to fight for a better world for all to live.
Oscar Rene Lopez
Well said Ms. Well, I agree totally!