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How we see the poor, of whom I am one


“Hi, I’m right here”: An open letter to Paul Ryan about poverty and empathy

I recommend the article above about how we see poor people. It made me a little tight in the chest because it describes the way I live. I don’t talk much about my finances, but at this exact moment I have negative $41 in the bank and, with any luck, enough food to get me to payday, one week away.

In 2012 I turned my homelessness into the Jazz Or Bust tour, which allowed me to sleep on the couches of friends and strangers for six months. Without that tour, I don’t know where I would have lived. I haven’t had health insurance in years, and have only been to a doctor (out of pocket) to renew the anti-depression medication I take, which of course I pay full price for each month. All kinds of people fall into poverty, for all kinds of reasons. And often there’s no more belt tightening that can be done, and no family safety net to fall back on.

I’m not writing this for sympathy. I’m figuring my way out and I’m doing OK. I’m just letting you know that you know a poor person. And there are, of course, people with even less than I have, both materially and in terms of privilege. (Thanks to Gina Marie Thompson for sharing this article with me.)

Published in Politics & Activism Random Musings


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