I am not one to use the word “poor” when referencing someone’s financial status for reasons I consider pretty simple: being financially challenged—or broke, is temporary. The word “poor” reflects a deeper and embedded state that prevents the infiltration of hope or the pursuit of opportunity.
Unfortunately, the word is commonly used and has become synonymous with those who occupy urban areas and are often the brunt of disasters or social circumstances, and are then dependent upon the help of government entities or the general public’s kindness and generosity as we see playing out currently in Flint, Michigan with the water crisis.
Everyone wants to help the “poor” people in Flint. Constantly saying and repeating that title is almost as insulting as the crisis itself. It paints the picture of black, broken, hopeless and helpless, none of which are true in their totality. There are people of other races and cultures that live in Flint (and in conditions around the country that mirror those in Flint) and who are negatively impacted by the water debacle. They are human, have families and lives outside of just giving sound bites and providing photo opps to the endless news inquires of late.
Using the word “poor” makes for a better story, and fuels and helps to sustain the negative perception we have of those who may be in need, short or long term. It makes us feel bigger and maybe even better about giving but we’re doing so at the expense and exploitation of those we say we want to help.
To me, “poor” is a state of mind, not a socio-economic condition. Being economically challenged or broke is repairable; believing you are poor of spirit, opportunity and a solution is a psychological condition for which there is no cure. As we see, it can permeate generations and overshadow opportunities that would otherwise cure this ailment.
So if you want to do something to help others, who are in need, then do so without the title and leave the condescending and incorrect stigma behind.