I’m tired, y’all!!!! Increasing homelessness, soup lines, unemployment, failing schools, crime, police brutality, discrimination, inequality, poverty and extreme poverty! It’s enough to make you sick. These issues are on my mind constantly. So much so that at times, it’s hard to breathe…literally. It’s a depressing state of affairs and it leaves me feeling so incredibly helpless and perplexed. Personally, things are going well. The people in my life are, in the grand scheme of things, doing okay. I, actually, am doing okay. But that doesn’t stop the noise in my head. That doesn’t dull the pain I feel when I see homeless people sleeping on the street and begging for food, nor the overwhelming heartbreak I endure when I see young men walking the streets of my neighborhood with their pants hanging down way below their waist. Poverty’s impacts are great and affect people in different ways. The poverty I see on the streets of America pale in comparison to the images of poverty I see in other countries that spread across independent news outlets and PBS documentaries and the like. (Mainstream really doesn’t want to talk about it.) But poverty and its related issues are on the corner of just about every street. Lately, poverty and its effects have become more visible even in the area where I work. Most everyday now, as I enter and exit the subway or walk down the street, I’m confronted with the realities of poverty and homelessness. I find it ironic that homelessness has found its way to the gates of the Ivy League fortresses where I work. Do the homeless know how much money exists beyond those gates? Do they know what those buildings represent? Seeing them there is a stark reminder of the great divide; the ever-widening wealth gap that is not sustainable and whose effect will soon impact those at the top. Sooner or later, poverty will affect us all. And I can guarantee with certainty that there will NEVER be real solutions, real changes at the legislative level, until it begins to affect people who control the purse strings. Poverty, while it is a global issue, and is being fought on the front lines by hundreds of organizations globally, nationally and locally, will never truly be eradicated. Poor people are needed in this world. Everybody can’t be at the top. The issue being eradicated is the lack of people’s basic rights to food, clothing shelter and clean water. People can be poor, but on the extreme end, can we at least make sure they are equipped with the basics. Poverty will never go away because, well, humans will always be humans. And humans can give as much as they can take. Some are ambitious while others are completely apathetic, some are courageous while others are cowards. Some get it and some don’t! Lot’s of pieces to the puzzle. Which brings me to the reason for this post.
I’ve stated before that I live in two worlds. Well those worlds are beginning to intersect. It was like one day, they were separate and distinct and now they don’t seem so far apart anymore, nor do they seem very different from one another. I’ve been struggling to pinpoint what’s been different and I think (out loud and on this post) I’ve discovered an answer. The things that distinguish one from the other is purely material and cerebral. In one world things are cleaner, more organized and costly and maybe even of better quality; however, in the other world there’s chaos and all its effects. But what’s beginning to intersect is the moving part – me! I flow between these worlds feeling just as out of place in one as I do the other and see much of the same things in one as I do the other. Crime in one, crime in the other, homelessness in one, homelessness in the other, good people in one, good people in the other, and bad people exist in both worlds, as do smart and intellectual, as do poor. We are not separate, nor distinct. We are one and becoming more so everyday. Being poor in my community often means that you can’t afford the things to live the life you want to live, in some parts of the world it’s a lack of necessities in order to live life comfortably at all. And while we have organizations working on absolute poverty around the world, there are as many working on relative poverty right here at home, fighting to give people access to better jobs, education, housing and safe neighborhoods.
This weekend all concerned with this issue will be watching the Global Citizen Festival in New York. The festival is a tool which will be used to amplify this generation’s voice in a call to end extreme poverty by 2030. It is meant to motivate those who care to find opportunities to support campaigns working to create sustainable change. It is my hope that while we’re all holding hands and singing we also begin the dialogue about justice and inequality. That is as real and important and issue as any and in many black environments, it’s just as much about the economic, social, and political inequalities as it is about the lack of material possessions.