Poverty as Pathology


A multi-generational legacy of poverty and its deficit-laden narrative is often discerned as a barrier to growth and achievement. Elements include under educated relatives and parents, dysfunctional families, hunger, homelessness, violence, cultural deprivation, and a diet of inferiority.

Because poverty is defined as a social and political barrier compounded by a racial narrative, students cocooned by the elements of poverty, a social and political definition that further diminishes African Americans and other people of color, poverty is often viewed as a pathology that precludes the social mobility that education can, and has, delivered.

So insidious is poverty as pathology that families and communities embrace the mindset that short circuits efforts to break the cycle of poverty that corrupts and compromises motivation. Sometimes the professionals employed to lift children out of the self-fulfilling prophecy are themselves paragons of the very pathology that undermines human potential.

In recent times glass ceilings have been smashed in every sphere reserved for White supremacy and privilege by persons birthed in the bottom of society’s barrel and ordained to stay there. Trouble is, too many children do not breakthrough and the underground economy persists and flourishes putting civil society at risk.

It is in the schoolhouse where the tyranny of poverty and its debilitating mindset must be broken. But the schoolhouse is a mirror of the community where it sits. The resilience of people living in poverty is omnipresent. It is the work of professional educators to harness the assets that exists in every community into the service of lifting the demonized and underserved out of the doldrums of poverty and its devastating mindset into the stratosphere where the best and brightest define and shape the now and future realities of humankind.

Poverty can no longer be a barrier to human potential. We know too much and have come too far to be barricaded by the manufactured pathology of poverty.

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