Let Me Explain Poverty

Let Me Explain Poverty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing up:

  • Your dad goes to jail on your birthday
  • Vietnam veterans smoke pot and party with your dad
  • Your dad hits your mom
  • You hit your dad with a bag of diapers
  • Your mom points a gun at your dad’s face
  • Your parents divorce
  • You move in with your grandmother and uncle
  • You remember the sound of your drunk, angry uncle throwing your grandmother’s cat down the stairs and breaking it’s tooth. He’s mad for who knows what, and you avoid him as much as possible
  • You are hungry toward the end of every month because the food stamps run out
  • You change schools every year, sometimes you go back to schools you have already went to
  • You have barely any friends because you change schools every year
  • Kids steal your stuff because you live in a poor neighborhood
  • During a summer program at the local school, you and your friend get handcuffed to the jungle gym for hours and chased around by older kids. Nobody helps
  • Your electric, gas and phone are off randomly. Friends call, and get the disconnected message – the next day at school, everybody knows your phone is disconnected
  • A kid that hates you, trips you at recess, while you are running full speed, and you have a scab along the ridge of your nose for months. Nothing happens to him
  • One of the kids from school sees you buying milk with food stamps and tells everyone at school. They make fun of you, even though most of them are probably getting food stamps as well
  • You know and understand all of your parents financial struggles
  • You watch your cousin’s cat fly up in the air, land on the ground, and die in convulsions after two kids in an old sedan speed up on purpose to hit it. They are in a gang, so there is no recourse
  • Your mom tries to enter you into a better school where all the kids have more money than you
  • You are too poor to get braces and have huge, bucked teeth
  • At the beginning of each year, the teachers are mad at you because you don’t have the “folder” they told you to buy. You’re too embarrassed to tell them that you are begging your mom every day, but she just doesn’t have the money until…
  • You wear used clothes on the first day of school, everyone knows and laughs
  • You wait for your mom’s income tax return so that you can actually get something that is brand new – you wait and plan for it, scheming, seething with desire. It’s almost sensuous planning for that one moment of pleasure.
  • No girls want to date you
  • All the kids make fun of you because you “are ghetto”
  • They make fun of you because you “talk like you are black”
  • You sit alone at lunch because you barely have any friends
  • You get “jumped in” to a dumb local gang by having four kids “fight” you for five minutes (probably because you are lonely)
  • You get taken hostage by two of the toughest kids at school. They punch you in the face, pour soda on you, and hold you for hours. Eventually, you escape on your bike while they chase you. Your heart pounds.
  • Because you hate school so bad, you miss so much that you fail a semester, then another semester…rinse, repeat
  • You tell the principal about how bad it is and he doesn’t care
  • You tell your guidance counselor and he says you should drop out and join the military because you will never amount to anything
  • You barely graduate high school with a 1.66 grade point average – mostly because you failed so many classes because of absence
  • You know you have no future

Then you:

  • Constantly struggle to keep a car running, so you can get to your job at a grocery store
  • Rebuild the motor on your car to keep it running
  • Have a suspended license because you can’t afford insurance
  • Learn to “act white” as demanded by society
  • Figure out how to get into college anyway
  • Beg your single mom who is depressed and alone to fill out the financial aid forms, always late, and barely ever receive any money
  • Struggle to work in a warehouse loading and unloading trucks while going to college on loans
  • Eventually get a job in computers, as a lab assistant for minimum wage
  • Survive on $20 a week after bills, eating macaroni and cheese, and 99 cent whopper juniors
  • Eventually, you start to know more about computers than some other people
  • You stop dying your hair dumb colors, take off the combat boots & chain wallet, and start interviewing for jobs
  • Eventually, you weasel your way into a real computer job supporting developers, and servers
  • People think you work really hard at work
  • But, you are rough around the edges, and everyone knows it
  • You are not calm and patient, and you speak your mind too much
  • You eventually have an offer at another company to make more money, but your dad and you get into a screaming match because he doesn’t think you should “give up a good thing”
  • 10 years later, you are still going to school
  • People still look at you a little weird because you can’t quite hide it all….

Eventually you:

  • Graduate college with 3.9s and 4.0s every semester
  • Get a job with a major technology company and make more money than you ever believed was possible
  • Learn to speak well, write well, and influence
  • Travel the world
  • Learn to speak three languages
  • Become just another white dude in tech
  • Gain expertise in several different disciplines including engineering, sales, marketing, and product management
  • Work too much and struggle to balance it with life
  • Bring others along for the ride
  • Try to be a good ally
  • Google offers you a job, finally. You turn it down.
  • Gain weight from working too much
  • Are attracted to adventure sports because of baggage in childhood – but it helps you hide it all
  • Freak out and loose all the weight
  • You put on a great show
  • You finally get over the fear of bringing children into this world
  • Even though you have significant expertise, you struggle to figure out whether you have enough life left to start a business and try your hand
  • Try to explain to others that choosing to “take risk” is a luxury

Or

  • You fail at any step of the way and go back to the beginning…

4 Comments

  1. Not pot, but cheap convenience store wine. And not a gang, but not having heat in your bedroom until high school was almost as much fun. Variations on a theme.

  2. You are an inspiration and I can definitely relate my friend. We come into this world and go of this world the same way and it’s what we do in between that defines parts of who we are. I would like to thank you for sharing your post.

    Kind regards
    [email protected]

  3. It’s super brave and inspiring for you to post this. I have a similar background – worse in some ways, but similar. We should commiserate over a few adult beverages sometime.

  4. “You fail at any step of the way and go back to the beginning”

    As someone who has absolutely no idea how I got here or deserve to be here this one statement is heavier than the world.

    Thank You,
    Colombo

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