Poor is the new Black.
Now that I have your attention. What do I mean by that? America is a society where historically someone (or some group such as women) has to be “the lower caste”. I have a feeling that the rising number of poor people in America just may become the new “Out” group. By using the word “caste” I mean to put emphasis on the fact that in the near future people may not be able to raise themselves up out of poverty by their book straps, just as for generations many people in places like India have never escaped the stigma of the caste they were born into. I wonder if we are seeing the foundations of a society where poor is the new untouchable.
Will race still be a factor in the way groups are divided up in the U.S.? Sure, but let’s face it, my fellow Negroes. Many of us are educated enough and make enough money were we don’t have to worry about the daily trials and tribulations faced by our fellow American who live below the poverty line. Sure, there is still racism to content with. But you cold, hard, green cash and plastic is accepted as widely as Visa most of the time. Race is not the main qualifier in the American caste system these days.
However, I’m also not ignoring the fact that many blacks are in the ranks of the poor as well…every ethnic group is. White, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow…Technicolor…doesn’t matter. If you don’t have money in America, you are in a really tight spot right now.
Ask someone who doesn’t have a job. Ask a recent grad who’s been looking for work since January. Ask a Baby Boomer who keeps being told they are over qualified, but they look in the interviewer’s eyes which seem to say, “You’re too old for us to take the chance that you’ll wreak havoc on our insurance policy and we already have too many folks on disability.”
I was just reading this morning that U.S. Income inequality is at its highest level since the Census started tracking it in 1967 (Gini Index). The number of U.S. households getting food stamps increased by 2 million last year to 11.7 million. This is the highest number on record. That means 1 in 10 families are getting government aid to feed themselves.
If we keep going in this direction, how poor you are will determine your place in society more than how Black you are. A caste system focused on economical attainment is not far-fetched.