Post the Sixth or On how Poor People aren’t Lazy

This is the status that I’m seeing posted around Facebook these days.

Thank you Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri, which are the first states that will require drug testing when applying for welfare. Some people are crying and calling this unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional? It’s OK to drug test people who work for their money but not those who don’t?… Re-post this if you’d like to see this done in all 50 states.

And it pisses me off! What pisses me off about it is the underlying classist assumption that poor people are lazy. The underlying classist assumption that all you have to do to be successful is work hard. That if you are poor or struggling that all you have to do is pull yourself up from your bootstraps and give it the ole’ college try.

This is an incorrect assumption!

Its incorrect not only because poor people are the most hard-working people but also because all their hard work amounts to little. People who are poor NEED to work hard because otherwise they go hungry. People who are poor have to do the shittiest jobs because they don’t have any other choice. They need to work their shitty jobs to get by to pay rent, food etc.

Some might cry at this point, “But Morgan why don’t they just go get and education! That’s the way to get ahead!” To which I would reply that going to school is all well and good and education is the quickest path to liberation. However, people who are poor often can’t afford to go to school. Either because the high school they were educated at was unable to educate them properly due to lack of resources or because they have a family to support and literally can’t afford to go school because if they do they aren’t able to work the hours they need to pay rent, food etc.

The capitalist system that we live in keeps these people trapped in a vicious cycle where it’s all they can do to survive. And in this state of desperation we wonder why they do drugs. Why does anyone do drugs? For amusement, for escape. For people who are poor, drugs are often the only way to escape the despair that so often surrounds their lives.

And while I recognize the importance of taking responsibility for ones own actions and the fact that it’s a lot easier to deal with life and escape poverty if one isn’t addicted to drugs, I still think that legislation like this hurts poor people more than it helps. I would argue that we should be funding schools and MEANINGFUL job opportunities. I would argue that we should be organizing a grass-roots campaign showing people that drugs and alcohol are tools that those with privilege use to keep us oppressed. We need to foster a culture that show compassion for the downtrodden not by telling them to work harder but by working with them to liberate all of us.

And most of all we need to BUST the apocryphal nature of the American Dream. We need to educate those around us and show them that the American Dream is unattainable for most people for reasons that involve privilege and different forms of oppression. That it is the exception and not the rule. We have to liberate people from the delusion that the American Dream is real and show them instead how to organize and fight for their own liberation.

Liberation won’t come if we fuck other people over. Liberation won’t come for anyone if we continue to oppress each other in these small little ways. The bottom line is only this.

We all need to work together for liberation.

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About witchymorgan

I'm a 22 year old womanist, sex positive, pansexual, polyamorous, queer, bruja, transwoman. Social justice activist by day, social justice activist by night. Fun! View all posts by witchymorgan

4 responses to “Post the Sixth or On how Poor People aren’t Lazy

  • Nicole

    Hey Morgan! This is an amazing piece..my partner and I in the past few months and just recently this week (especially with news of these absurdly classist, racist, sexist laws being passed) have been discussing the points that you addressed in this piece.

    Society, even many activists and writers at times, all to commonly neglect class and/or throw it into the race, class, gender analysis without really unravelling it.There is a lot of neglect in emphasizing the way class is inherently interconnected (and I would argue inseparable) with race and gender. I think you illustrated quite well the deeply rooted classism that exists not only in fb statuses ( which is an important point because like it or not facebook has an influential pull and catalyst on national dialogue that makes me quite weary and scared for the great ignorance people espouse) but in policy and our common cultural dialogue and discourse.

    One thing I would add is that these policies play into the racist,classist,sexist discourse of the welfare queen sucking the money from the system and doing drugs while at it, which is an attack on Women of color, especially and historically, poor/working-class Black women. There are two great pieces that hit on (and diverge in different, but interesting ways) what you wrote above (you may already know them). “Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” by Cathy Cohen and “What (N)ever happened to Aunt Jemima: Eating Disorders,Fetal Rights, and Black Female Appetite in Contemporary American Culture” from the book Black Hunger: soul food and America by Doris Witt.

    What a fresh breath of fiery, intersectional and engaging truth! Im excited to read more of your amazingly insightful radical work : )

    ps-you may not remember me but I was the vegan cupcake dyke at TransScriptions in JP : )

    And apologies for writing an essay, coffee and your insightful writing got me kinda excited : )

    • witchymorgan

      Apology completely unnecessary 🙂 And how could I forget you and your badass cupcakes? I have heard of the first article but not the second. I’ll definitely look into both again. Thank you so much for your praise! It means a lot 🙂 I sometimes wonder if my blog is reaching the people it needs to and if its understood and its good to know that there are people who get it! It can be really discouraging to do this work when there is no response so this response is very encouraging.

      If I have learned anything in this life its that all the different systems of power and oppression support and reinforce each other and that if we are to ever achieve liberation we need to have concerted efforts to fight all of them.

      Good luck in the struggle!! ❤

  • rtyecript

    I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

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