Maya Angelou

How poor were you?

We were so poor we thought the only thing, edible about a chicken was it’s feet, about the cow it’s tail, about a hog it’s intestines and its ankles.

Such one liners can amuse because the listener knows that the person who isn’t aware of poverty is spared its most cruel lash. For it is hateful to be young, ambitious and poor. The added insult is to be aware of one’s poverty.

Before television brought pictures of luxurious living rooms and glistening kitchens into the view of the impoverished, they could pretend, tell themselves that only the few, the lucky, maybe just their employers, lived lives of refined comfort.

But today, when every soap opera is rife with characters whose great wealth is only equaled by their moral neediness, paupers watching in shacks on every street are forced to admit that they are indeed poverty stricken.

With that knowledge and acknowledgment, there comes inevitably a lingering despair and a puzzling wretchedness. Why them not me? Those questions are followed by a sense of worthlessness a remorseful regret at being alive. Then comes full blown anger, resentment, a ranking bitterness that, if directed outward, can foment riots, revolution and social chaos. Most often, however, the convulsions of anger are directed inward. Thus the poor, the needy, the misfits of society implode. After the debris settles, they appear to the onlookers as dry husks of hopelessness.

If it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, isn’t it also true a society is only as healthy as its sickest citizen and only as wealthy as its most derived?

I believe so.

Source: Maya Angelou, Even the stars look lonesome, p107

Maya Angelou writes with depths of knowledge. How true her understanding of poverty and how difficult it is to get out of a cycle of poverty when you want better. Again my thoughts go to the black young men in England who need understanding of their life in England. All that talent needs to be directed in the right place. The youths are saying that they need facilities. David Lammy is MP for Tottenham he needs to listen and act. These young people are the future their backgrounds are common knowledge so acting today is crucial.

#rootsandculture

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