Tuesday, June 19, 2012


While I find discrimination of any kind to be offensive, I must say I’ve been fortunate to not experience much of it. But recently on Pinterest I was kind of put down because of something that I think is ridiculous and is just the result of someone spouting off at the mouth and not thinking and just being ignorant in general and refusing to listen to reason.

The picture was one of those ecards that said something along the lines of being on food stamps and having an iPhone, the joke obviously being that if you can afford to get an iPhone then you shouldn’t be on food stamps.

Now, I know that there are people that abuse the system; I do not deny that. However, since I’ve had the experience of being very poor I know that there are ways to procure certain things for dirt-cheap that are otherwise expensive. I mean, honestly, who wants to look poor?  The first time I went into the welfare office, I felt embarrassed, even though I had every right to obtain assistance. So you learn things, like the best thrift store to go to that has designer clothing or that sells used electronics.

When I got my iPhone, yes, I was on food stamps. The reason I got it wasn’t just because I wanted an iPhone, I actually did need a new phone. The old phone that I had – one of those crappy free phones – was getting majorly buggy. It would randomly shut off, cut off calls in the middle of the call, and when I would call someone it was about a 50/50 shot that when they answered they would be able to hear me. It was then that I heard that because the iPhone 4S was coming out soon that AT&T was dropping the cost of the iPhone 3GS to free with an upgrade. Hmm, let’s see, another crappy quality free phone, or an iPhone 3GS for the same price? Uh, no brainer there! You bet your ass I snatched that shit up. We didn’t have a home phone so I had to have a way to communicate with people, like my family, my friends, my doctors, my caseworker, etc. And hey, iPhone, right? For free, no less. Several months later when Jason needed a new phone, he got an iPhone 3GS, too, though he did have to pay for his. A whole $1.99.

So, anyway, I pointed this out in so many words. I didn’t mean to sound uppity or rude, I just wanted to try to educate someone on something that they obviously didn’t really put much thought into and was probably just following the crowd. Honestly, when I do this, most people are appreciative, usually because I offer a point of view that they haven’t even considered. But the reply that I got? Something along the lines of I’m on food stamps and have an iPhone but I rationalize it because it was cheap, followed by an “interesting…” Okay, whatever, I haven’t really given up yet, so I replied again and stated my reason for getting it (the fact that I actually needed a new phone and since it was free, I jumped at it). The response to that? Basically this person is glad that they pay their taxes so I can get on food stamps and get an iPhone, it “totally makes sense now.”

At this point I know I’m getting nowhere with this person, they are obviously willingly ignorant, so I simply replied with, “Yeah, because I used money I could have used on food and got an iPhone instead … except it was free. So, yeah.” Needless to say, I don’t expect an intelligent reply.

I know the whole thing about arguing on the internet, that nobody really wins, but I honestly didn’t start out to argue, simply to offer a different point of view that they obviously hadn’t considered. I like to hear other people’s point of view, I find it to be interesting. Sometimes just listening to someone else’s point of view has changed my mind on things. Maybe it’s a little presumptuous of me to assume that other people like to let others educate them – even if it’s just a change in perspective – but it’s something that I can’t really help sometimes.

Anyway, getting to my actual point of discrimination … while I haven’t experienced a lot of discrimination in my life, I have been discriminated against because of poverty. That I shouldn’t wear certain clothes or look so nice or have certain things. Because I’m poor I don’t deserve anything, apparently. That I obviously spent money that I could have used to support myself better to get other, miscellaneous things. What they don’t understand is that I am a very thrifty person. Like I said before, most people don’t like to look poor even if they are poor, and most – like me – have discovered the wonder of thrift stores and garage sales. I have seriously found the best stuff there, designer labels, top-of-the-line stuff, all for dirt-cheap. During my extreme poverty phase, if I needed clothes, I never paid more than $3 for an item. I’ve actually always been pretty thrifty, even when I worked and had a steady income I preferred thrift shops or discount stores. Now, the kind of thinking that I shouldn't have these things because I’m poor, that I obviously paid top dollar for something, just disgusts me. Have they not heard of places like thrift stores? Discount outlets? While not every store has such a great selection, there are certainly places out there to get nice things at for a very low price.

Now, this is just me thinking – or, rather, typing – out loud here, but does it have something to do with social status? That because a person has an iPhone or designer-type clothes that they have to have good money, and that anyone below a certain income level can’t possibly obtain these things because, well, they’re poor? And if a poor person has managed to obtain something like that because of an extremely good deal they found … what then? If someone managed to find such a great deal and take advantage of it – like a free iPhone – why does their income matter? Shouldn’t you be glad that they were able to find such a great deal? Or are they possibly, subconsciously jealous that they didn’t see that deal first?

I don’t know you guys, all I know is I’m sick of being discriminated against because I’m poor. Like I said before, I know that there are people that abuse the system. But the majority of people that I personally know that are on assistance don’t want to be on assistance! If they had their druthers, if they were able to secure a stable job with a steady income, they’d drop their food stamps, cash assistance, Medicaid, and subsidized housing in a heartbeat. I know I would have. And you know what else I know? That I am not unique. There are other people out there that are in the same position I was/am in and they feel the same way I do. And let me tell you, we are sick of being called lazy-ass leeches that just sit on our ass and bleed the system. We know that those people exist and trust me we hate them just as much as the average person. In fact, we hate them more, because they give people like us a bad rap. We get lumped into the same category. And that is frustrating beyond belief.

So next time you want to make fun of someone on assistance, someone that you don’t really know, just stop for a minute and consider the fact that you don’t know everything, you can’t possibly know someone’s situation, and you therefore have no right to judge them as if you do. You know that old saying, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? Yeah, whoever said that was a fucking liar.

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