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<nettime> Jacqueline S. Homan > Poverty and Classism: The Silent Diversity Issue


< https://medium.com/ {AT} jacquelinehoman/poverty-and-classism-the-silent-diversity-issue-5568c9c29013#.yvcp7zua7 >

Jacqueline S. Homan

Jan 31

Poverty and Classism: The Silent Diversity Issue

If you're unwilling to stop silencing the voices of poor people and
relinquish any of your socio-economic privileges in order for
marginalized poor people struggling just to keep themselves alive in
deep poverty while striving against impossible odds to gain a toehold
onto even just the lowest rung of the middle class IT jobs ladder, then
this article is *not* for you.

If you are active in promoting and supporting tech diversity initiatives
then this article most definitely *is* for you.

Now that we've got that cleared up, let's move on.

 ## *"Why aren't poor people motivated"* is the wrong question to be asking
because those of us at the very bottom know all too well just how badly
the entire game is rigged and that we don't stand a chance.

When I started learning programming two years ago at the age of 46 at
the behest of an advocate and ally to desperately poor, marginalized,
unemployable human trafficking survivors, I had to be dragged into it
kicking and screaming. Not because I really didn't want to learn
programming or learn a difficult new skill, but because I had every
reason to believe that learning software development would be just one
more thing I'd put a 1,000% effort into trying only to not have it work
out for me so I'd be able to get a job and climb out of extreme poverty
anyway.

Because nothing ever working out for me no matter what I tried and how
hard I tried was the sum total of my entire life experience ever since I
got trafficked as a homeless 12 year old from generational poverty,
escaping my traffickers at the age of 17 over three decades ago with a
deeply stigmatizing prostitution record that rendered me unemployable
throughout my working-age years. I did not get helped with getting that
record expunged until I was "too old" for any employer to want to hire
me.

Unlike most other 17 year olds preparing to enter the mainstream world
of college, jobs, building credit, preparing for a home an a partner, I
entered adulthood with a 7th grade education, nothing to wear but the
clothes on my back, dental problems and other visible conditions of
poverty that set me apart as "the Other" -- not good enough to be
"worthy" of a chance for a job and a good life in post-Welfare Reform
America because of not having the "right image" (on top of not having
the right friends and social class connections to the job market).

Visible conditions of poverty, the toll that lack of access to dental
care (beyond just brushing and flossing) takes on one's appearance, on
top of having several missing teeth that a "john" old enough to be my
grandfather knocked out when I was 15 for no reason other than just
because he could. Because society taught him that that's what
"prostitutes" exist for -- to absorb the all the rapes, abuse,
degradation and misogyny so that women and girls from the "better"
social classes can be spared from having to experience it.

Because society decided that the only place that should ever be allowed
for poor women and girls from the permanent underclass like me was the
gutter and an early grave.

My friend and ally, Ed Drain, a former combat vet in Afghanistan who led
the social media campaign to free Sara Kruzan, pested me into learning
computer programming. I didn't feel it would be worth my time because I
knew that this was a field where I'd probably never be accepted into and
allowed to join because of being extremely disadvantaged as somene from
the permanent underclass. He would not let up until I agreed to at least
try. So I agreed to do it just to shut him up. He told me that if I
learned this incredibly difficult new skill at such a late stage in my
life, I would have the opportunity to be a real game-changer and help
other poor marginalized trafficking survivors without any social and
economic resources built into their lives just like me.

Accomplishing something that would be really effective to combat child
sex trafficking was the only *carrot* that anyone could have dangled in
front of me that was a strong enough motivator for me because being
trafficked as a homeless youth ruined my life. I endured an entire
lifetime of trying so many other things that never opened a single door
to a job opportunity and a good life for me, including earning my GED
followed by my Bachelor's degree in math from a state college while
homeless and eating from garbage cans as a non-traditional aged
student -- only to never get a chance for a job anyway.

I don't know of anyone who is middle class/rich that started out their
life in generational poverty, spending their early childhood years in a
run-down house with lead-based paint located next to an industrial waste
site, trafficked into forced prostitution at age 12, that had to
try/work as hard in their lives against odds just like that (like I
did) -- without any social and economic support, any helping hand up -- to
get what they've got and where they're at.

>From what I have seen, those who have good jobs in software development
are nearly all 20-something year old middle class/rich kids. Some are in
their 30's. I have not seen more than five who are in their late 40's or
older. And I have yet to meet any who managed to successfully enter the
field and get a toehold onto the IT jobs ladder as poor human
trafficking survivors from generational poverty who are well north of
age 40, coming from an entire lifetime of deprivation and total social
exclusion.

Poverty and classism as an issue, as the most brutal form of systemic
oppression there is in our society, was a taboo subject until only very
recently. And the only reason it's being discussed now is because lot of
middle class people fell into deep poverty with no way back up as a
result of 40 years of abusive social and economic policies aimed at
punishing the poor for being poor, the elimination of what stingy
inadequate "safety net" that we once had with AFDC, and our global
free-from-rules market crashing in 2008.

For decades, the only thing that the truly poor got (besides thrown
under the bus with Welfare Reform -- a policy that Hillary Clinton
remained publicly supportive of as recently as 2010) was a generous dose
of victim-blaming from the middle class and the rich.

## Poverty was a nearly-insurmountable barrier just for getting into Rails
Girls Summer of Code-2013 as a poor woman with absolutely nothing and no
computer skills.

After Ed spent a couple of months bringing me from the point of "what
the hell is a computer terminal?" to actually learning some basic shell
commands, he managed to help me knock down one barrier of classism to
get into the Rails Girls Summer of Code paid internship: The Rails Girls
Summer of Code Selection Committee was reticent to sponsor a team that
was 100% remote (I live in a poor rural Pennsylvania Rust Belt town, Ed
as my coach lived three states away in Virginia, and my teammate lived
in Great Britain).

Ed managed to convince the selection committee into extending a
three-month paid internship opportunity to me as a poor marginalized
woman with no access to any resources at all, not even enough money to
afford any online coding classes or computer programming books. But that
was only part of the battle. The other part was getting what I needed in
order to be able to participate.

Just being able to get a computer I could use specifically for software
development using Ruby on Rails for the three-month long Rails Girls
Summer of Code pilot program was a huge hurdle. Ruby, specifically
Rails, does not work very well (if at all) on Windows. And there's a
certain amount of RAM that you need to be able to run Rails, which meant
I needed something with a little bit more RAM than just enough to check
emails with.

Plus with very bad eyesight that is getting worse as a result of
untreated glaucoma from lack of access to ongoing medical care, I needed
a computer with a big enough display so I could see in order to learn
programming.

But I had no income. I had no money to be able to buy a computer and
keep my Internet and electric on so I'd be able to participate.

As a poor, marginalized (and plus-sized) middle-aged woman who is a
human trafficking survivor with no professional clothes to wear and no
money to buy clothes that fit, with visible dental problems, that was
barred from getting any jobs when I was younger (due to an underaged
prostitution record that was not expunged until I was 47 years old), I
had no way of getting any money at all to survive on for an ongoing
basis other than to run personal fundraisers -- for which I got nothing
but a mega-shit-ton of abuse from privileged people who've never had to
eat from a garbage can and sleep in a rat-infested abandoned building
for a single day in their lives.

At age 46 I was no longer young and healthy and able-bodied enough to
haul heavy appliances, scrap metal and car parts out of other people's
trash to prep/strip and take down to the salvage yard for barely enough
money to buy groceries(which is what I did for years after graduating
college at age 34 failed to get me a real chance for a job).

I didn't even own a computer until I was in my 40's because I was too
poor all my life to afford even a bottom-end PC (never mind a
refurbished Mac) totally on my own. I would not have even had a stable
place to live to have Internet and a place to put a bottom-end Wal-Mart
clearance model desktop with less RAM than your average smart phone, if
I had not gotten married at age 37 to a 60 year old man, a widower that
was willing to support the both of us on his $937/mo social security
disability check he got as an illiterate, physically disabled foundry
worker who provided me with a run-down home in rural northwestern
Pennsylvania so at least I'd have a roof over my head, if nothing else,
since no one ever gave me a chance for a job and a good life. No one
else ever cared about any hopes and dreams I might have once had before
the last shred of hope was crushed out of me.

Even though he had so very, very little, he was far more generous and
supportive of me than anyone from the middle/upper-middle class, and he
was certainly more willing to economically provide what economic support
he could for me, a woman with zero income who was unable to economically
support herself, out of that $937/mo social security check -- $11, 244 a
year total income for TWO people to try to live on -- which was far more
than the absolute zero economic support I got from any upper-middle
class "feminists" lucky to have their $100,000/yr IT jobs, or from any
rich Silicon Valley venture capitalists (even female ones) for whom
$30,000 in seed money wouldn't even be missed if some poor trafficking
survivor's idea for a startup project failed (provided I could even get
said project off the ground in the first place).

My husband was also from generational poverty so he "got it" whereas
those who are from any level above absolute poverty don't get it and
refuse to even try to get it because that would make them "too
uncomfortable."

Crowdfunding in order to get necessary equipment and money to survive on
while working to bring their projects to fruition is something that only
benefits middle/upper-middle class women. Poor women who really need
money desperately and try to run personal fundraisers get nothing but
attacked. We get very little money at all. We get accused of being con
artists and "lazy moochers" for "panhandling," or accused of just trying
to get money to blow on drugs -- regardless of the fundraiser's purpose.

Middle class elitism holds with the notion that poor people cannot be
trusted to handle money responsibly, yet those with privilege never
think about how they would get what they needed in order to be able to
survive (never mind live comfortably) if they were unable to get any
money and no one was giving them a chance for a job.

Upper-middle class and rich women who crowdfund their "diversity in
tech" work get money thrown at them. Their intentions are never
questioned. The merit of their project is never judged. But it's a whole
different story when you're a poor woman for whom the cost of a computer
is out of reach, who doesn't know where her next meal is coming from,
who doesn't have the income to maintain steady Internet access and keep
the electric on (never mind afford heat in the middle of winter in
sub-freezing temperatures).

The people who are the most vicious about attacking poor trafficked
women's fundraisers are other women, including those claiming to be
"feminists." Women who are economically better off, who have stable
incomes and are able to support themselves totally on their own and
afford emergencies like car repairs or replacing a broken appliance
without a cash transfusion from their middle class families.

Privileged people who dominate and control the entire discussion of
"diversity in tech" did not come from generational poverty. They did not
grow up in a run-down rented house with lead paint next to a
"brownfield." They were not trafficked as homeless 12 year olds. They
did not suffer an entire lifetime of no access to medical and dental
care. They have not lived the experiences of being a *poor* woman with no
way of being able to survive other than marrying a slightly less poor
disabled widower that's 25 years older who was getting a $937/mo social
security check -- and they have no clue how *that* is a step up for a poor
woman at rock bottom who's a human trafficking survivor.

None of the privileged middle class and rich people who worked overtime
attacking me for running personal fundraisers, including women who
dominate the feminist movement, ponied up with a job and a paycheck for
me so I wouldn't have had to make spoiled privileged people
uncomfortable by "begging for handouts" in the first place.

What privileged people call "begging for handouts" is really poor
marginalized people's desperate struggle to survive in a society that
collapsed the floor out from underneath the poor "just for the principle
of it."

If not for a little bit of money left over from one medical fundraiser I
ran three years ago (which was only enough to provide me with a pair of
eyeglasses, an eye exam and one glaucoma monitoring appointment when I
need ongoing care that I'm still unable to get), I wouldn't have even
been able to get a PC laptop that was marked down at a clearance price,
which I bought and turned into a Linux computer so I'd be able to
participate in the 2013 Rails Girls Summer of Code program.

And that's not even getting into the gratuitous cruelty and bullying I
was subjected to for the duration of the program by my aggressive,
domineering Rails Girls teammate -- a middle class British woman of color
who did not suffer from a learning disability, or from long-term
untreated health problems, or the lifelong effects of malnutrition and
going without medical and dental care.

In a program that was one of the "diversity in tech" initiatives, I got
abused by someone who sought self-empowerment by smacking down a poor
person in a much weaker position at the bottom of the socioeconomic food
chain: a poor disabled human trafficking survivor with a STEM degree
that I struggled to earn while in my late-20's and early-30's -- despite
being on the losing side of the "digital divide" and having dyslexia,
plus having complex PTSD -- while living in an old used car and eating
from garbage cans. A degree that I might as well use for igniting my
propane cook-stove with for all the job opportunities that it failed to
make available to me.

The only thing my degree got for me was a mountain of student loan debt
that I'll never be able to repay since I have yet to get a chance for a
good job, and at my age now (48) I don't believe that a good job with
health benefits and a stable salary will ever materialize for me.

*"Teach a man (or woman) to fish..."* yeah, sounds great. Except you first
need money to buy fishing gear, you still need to eat while you're
fighting for the right just to get access to the fishing hole to learn
how to fish in the first place. That's not even getting into the
barriers that are erected and maintained by those who've already caught
plenty of huge fish to feed their families several times over who are
determined to keep you out, not letting you near the fishing hole to
cast your rod to try to make your first catch of just one small
fish -- while they berate you for daring to think that you had the right
to even try to fish instead of remembering to stay in "Your Place."

"We don't serve your kind"

About a month after graduating from the Rails Girls Summer of Code
program in 2013 and succeeding in spite of a very unsupportive teammate
and an often-unavailable coach (due to family problems) on a 100% remote
team as someone struggling to cross the digital divide, I decided to try
to take a coding class put on by another non-profit "diversity in tech"
initiative that was having the class in Pittsburgh -- about 120 miles
south of where I live. I had to apply for a scholarship because I
couldn't afford the $80 fee for the intense two-day long, 8-hour per day
class. I had to panhandle off of an I-90 exit about 5 miles from my home
just to try to raise the money it would cost for gas to drive down there
plus one overnight stay at the cheapest motel. Since panhandling is a
"crime" subject to selective enforcement, it was a huge risk for me to
do that just to be able to attend that class.

When applying for the scholarship, I had to disclose why it was a
financial hardship for me to pay for the class, and why I was a woman
that was a member of an underrepresented and marginalized group in tech.
I told the truth. Because I don't know of any other 40-something year
old disabled human trafficking survivors from generational poverty that
got to make it out of poverty and land a job as a software developer and
get a nice life.

So that makes me not only a member of a very marginalized and
disadvantaged group, it also means that I am a member of a totally
*un-represented* group in the IT field.

Unfortunately, the old adage that "honesty is always the best policy"
does not work for the truly poor and disadvantaged because those with
privilege use that against us. It was certainly used against me.

Once I arrived for the class (after getting lost in a very confusing
city I had never been to before), I was placed in the very back of the
room (at least 15 feet away from all the other attendees) where I could
not see the presentation at the front of the room nor hear the lecture
very well. I followed along as best as I could by downloading the
presentation slides onto my laptop and working through the exercises at
my own pace while unable to hear the teacher's instructions or see her
presentation at the front of the room.

After the end of the first day of the coding class, the class's
organizer and teacher and three of her friends/colleagues cornered me as
I was packing up my gear and getting into my coat. "We need to talk with
you about something", they said.

I told them that due to my very poor eyesight and inability to see well
enough to drive at night, I really needed to leave right away so as to
be able to have plenty of time for finding my way back to my motel room
before it got dark so I wouldn't end up lost and all alone with no one
to help me in a strange big city 120 miles away from home. (I had some
very legitimate concerns here.)

But they would not let me pass them so I could leave until they said
what they wanted to say.

## "Your status as a human trafficking survivor is problematic for the
feminist political position of our organization. We support the right of
poor women to engage in sex work in order to support themselves and we
have friends who are sex workers."

They kept condescending down to me, bullying me to tears, when I finally
pushed my way past them in order to leave. They followed me out of the
building across the parking lot, haranguing me all the way to my 20 yr
old Ford truck (which I drove down there on a wing and a prayer that it
would not break down and leave me stranded with no way home).

I was deeply traumatized by the incident and I am convinced that I was
deliberately targeted and set up for abuse. They knew about my status as
a destitute human trafficking survivor before I had to make arrangements
to drive all the way down there because I disclosed that on my
application for the scholarship. Why have me travel so far from home
just to kick me out of the class if I'm not really wanted there anyway?

Shaking and crying, I struggled to calm down so I could see to drive
myself safely to my motel room that I had already booked the night
before driving down for the first day of class. By the time I found the
right exit to get the motel, it was dark. I phoned home and told
everyone what happened.

The long silence from my adult step-daughter, her 20 year old son, and
my elderly brother-in-law on the phone said it all: I had foolishly
forgotten the very first lesson that all of us from generational poverty
are taught long before we learn how to write our own names: *Every place
is 100% middle/upper class space where the poor are not wanted.*

The unmet needs, unaddressed concerns, and voices of poor people in the
permanent underclass are not welcome. If you're truly poor and
oppressed, you're not welcome anywhere (except maybe jail or the
morgue), because *"we don't serve your kind."*

Because I am white and from the permanent underclass, I have no language
available to me that would include my experiences in the mainstream
social justice conversation -- unless the only people who treated me
unfairly were *male*. But where is the language to describe the
experiences of being oppressed and discriminated against by other
women -- not just men -- who were (or are) middle/upper-middle class?

Very few people in the professional upper-middle class (who are really
economically in the top 10% of the population) have been genuinely
sympathetic to the special problems and extra oppression that women like
me face every single day of our lives. Of the very few who might
occasionally show some small inkling of sympathy, it is usually not
genuine and it usually only happens if poor women's voices can be used
by privileged women as part of promoting their own agenda -- which is not
about empowering the poorest and most marginalized women from the
permanent underclass who need opportunities the most.

I'll never forget being outted on Twitter as a human trafficking
survivor by one IT feminist who claimed to be in my corner (but whose
track record of empty promises and failure/neglect to provide any help
so I could succeed says otherwise). She outted me on her page, which has
a lot of followers in the IT community including potential employers, by
tagging me so I could back her up and give credibility/legitimacy to her
claim in a Twitter fight she was having with some rich white dude and
needed my voice to win their little debate. Not really a cool thing to
do, but whatever.

The very next day on a different Twitter discussion thread about poverty
and classism as a barrier of entry into tech that was started by a woman
with middle class privilege who wanted to write an article about it and
was seeking input, I spoke up and told what happened to me and how I was
treated for being a poor, marginalized human trafficking survivor that
never got a chance in life to have any job -- only to be bullied into
taking down my Tweet by the same privileged IT feminist (and her current
boyfriend and her ex-boyfriend) who outted me as a trafficking survivor
in order to use me to give her credibility in her Twitter fight the
previous day because my Tweet made her "look bad" because it "alienates"
the rich women in tech whom are funding her startup, rich women like the
one who targeted and bullied me and kicked me out of a class.

If my speaking up about the barriers to entry I face due to classism and
poverty as a disadvantaged trafficking survivor was something that "made
her look bad" posed the risk of alienating venture capitalists and angel
investors whom she's been getting funding from for her startup, then why
wasn't it risky for her to publicly pull me into a Twitter debate to
support her with my real lived experience in her sparring match with
some guy?

NOTE: This same IT feminist also previously ran around telling everyone
she was my mentor/teacher, yet she left me hanging without any help with
a trashed dev environment that occurred as a result of trying to get my
dev environment set up for PHP, vagrant, Nginx, and the PhPStorm IDE per
her instructions for working with her on a legacy PHP Cake project. I
was completely stuck and unable to fix my computer all by myself for
over a week and a half. She ignored my repeated pleas for help. If not
for a Facebook friend who has extensive sysadmin experience spending 5
hours helping me to fix it through TeamViewer, I would have been totally
screwed because I don't have anyone I can reach out to for help with
that whom I can count on.

I was told by another party to that Twitter conversation that the reason
my voice as a poor woman was censored on that Twitter discussion about
poverty and class oppression (dominated, ironically, by upper-middle
class women with good jobs and nice lives): The truth made privileged
rich women who are investors/venture capitalists "uncomfortable", which
made the female-only dev groups "look bad."

I was also told that I "need to learn how to find the right time and
right place" for speaking up about how poverty class oppression has been
a barrier to entry for me -- even in "diversity" initiatives.

If a thread specifically about poverty and class oppression as an entry
barrier is not the "right time and place" for speaking up about my
experience of poverty and class oppression in tech as a poor woman, then
where the hell is the "right time and place?"

No one has the right to silence the voices of oppressed people no matter
how unaware of their privilege they appear to be. People need to
understand that not everyone trying to get a toehold onto even just the
lowest rung of the IT jobs ladder is a middle class/rich 22 year-old who
went to college right after high school, or someone that was able to
afford to attend a dev bootcamp after getting to enjoy many years of
middle class employment.

Some of us struggling to break into dev are so incredibly poor we can't
afford basic needs, never mind any programming books and online video
courses in order to teach ourselves programming without the benefit of
mentors and the social class connections forged at dev bootcamps that
practically guarantee you a job, even if you fail out of the bootcamp
and don't make it all the way through.

Some of us are people who are trying to dig ourselves out of really
shitty situations and have been struggling our entire lives, and our
only access to learning programming is through whatever resources we can
access for free (which is precious little).

One of those "free" resources, the FreeCodeCamp, is fraught with
landmines for someone in deep poverty without a strong computer
education. When I got stuck on one of the JavaScript/jQuery Waypoints
and reached out for help on the FreeCodeCamp's help channel, one of the
other participants told me, without knowing anything about my skill
level, to run the command rm -rf / in my terminal -- which would have
nuked my root directory and turned my computer into a paperweight, had I
listened to him. The other CodeCampers on the help channel that day who
were more skilled at programming than I was, thought this was very
funny.

If you're a leader in "tech diversity" circles and you're worried about
a poor person speaking up about their oppression and asking for some
accountability from those who abused them, and if you don't want them to
potentially "embarrass" you by telling an inconvenient truth because
that truth might make you/your "diversity" initiatives "look bad", then
maybe you should think about all of that before standing on your
privilege to shove poor people down in the first place. Maybe you should
try learning how to say "I'm sorry, I was wrong" and then try to make
shit right to those whom you've hurt. (Of course, "accepting personal
responsibility" is something that only ever applies to poor people.)

If this so-called "mentor"/"teacher" would not have ignored my repeated
requests for some help (she "didn't have time" to help me even though
she had time for picking fights on Twitter with rich white dudes) with
getting my dev environment sorted out since I am new to learning the Mac
operating system and not experienced with the IDE and the other stuff
she wanted me to install and set up for working on that Cake project
with her, I would not have jumped on Twitter for the specific purpose of
trying to find her to ask her for help to get the project and its
required tools (that I was not familiar with) set up in my local dev
environment.

Had she helped me and, you know, actually been the mentor/teacher to me
that she told everyone else that she was, I would have been helped with
getting set up and I would have been too busy working and being happy
about getting hired and included on a project to have time for fooling
around on a Twitter discussion about poverty and class oppression where
I might -- *however unintentionally* -- make any privileged women "look
bad."

Classism and poverty as barriers to entry into dev is the silent
diversity issue. The "diversity in tech" initiatives don't seem to be
about helping the poorest and most socially disadvantaged people from
the permanent underclass into jobs and out of the total hopelessness of
abject poverty.

>From everything I have observed and experienced so far, "diversity" has
never been about helping poor disadvantaged people get a leg up, or
putting any resources into our hands so we can eak out some small slice
of economic opportunity in tech for ourselves since no one else in tech
really welcomes poor women like me, much less hires women like me from
the permanent underclass.

>From what I've been told by other poor women from the "unexotic
permanent underclass" who are not human trafficking survivors, they got
treated the same way as I did— and for the exact same reason: We're not
really welcome in IT -- not because we're women, but because we're poor
and from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds in the permanent
underclass.

And the middle/upper-middle classes never really wanted anyone
regardless of race, sex or age from deep poverty to really have a
chance. We were prevented from breaking free from abject poverty our
entire lives due to deeply entrenched systemic barriers that are erected
and maintained by those with social class privilege.

Some of us are now in are 40's and 50's, and thanks to entire lifetimes
of poverty, systemic class oppression and total social exclusion, we
don't have 401(k)'s to cash in or nice homes to remortgage in order to
get money to reinvent or transition our way into any good-paying IT
jobs. And the real crime is that IT is one of the few jobs that poor
older people could do since poor 40 and 50 year old women from the
permanent underclass are not physically able to do any "shovel-ready"
infrastructure jobs or jobs that require us to be on our feet for any
long periods of time.

The "diversity" initiatives don't seem to be about allowing poor people
from the permanent underclass to have any "safe space" to seek support
and talk about our problems, to promote real systemic change for our
benefit in real, meaningful ways that would not only help us and lift us
up out of extreme poverty, but also truly increase diversity in IT in a
real honest way.

Middle/upper-middle class women talk about getting sexually harassed at
a tech conference, or at their high-paying dev jobs, and no one ever
silences their voices and bullies them into taking down their Tweets
about it. But the minute a poor woman from the lower social
classes -- especially a poor older woman from the permanent
underclass -- speaks up about being targeted, harassed and denied
opportunities because of being poor and subjected to extra
discrimination and oppression due to classism on top of ageism and
sexism, we get silenced. We get told to STFU.

Voltaire was right: *"You learn who rules over you when you first learn
whom you may not criticize."*

## Poor people lose. Poor people lose all the time.

Yep. We sure do.

Although I really wanted to continue learning and building skills to get
really good at coding, it's really really hard to find the motivation to
keep trying if it's always going to be all for nothing anyway. My entire
life experience as someone in deep poverty has taught me the same exact
thing that poverty and class oppression taught Steve Avery, the
controversial person of focus in the Netflix film *"Making a Murderer"*
who said in part 3 of the 10-part documentary : "Poor people lose. Poor
people lose all the time."

Not only do poor people lose all the time, we're also victim-blamed and
further punished by those with middle/upper-middle class privilege for
it even though they've poisoned us with "brownfields" and lead paint,
starved our pregnant mothers, and then punished some of us for having
learning disabilities as a result. They've gentrified us into
homelessness, used militarized police forces against us, incarcerated us
unfairly and they do all these things to us while justifying it by
saying that we're "social parasites" -- even though they are subsidized
by the poor.

They pay discounted prices for everything from basic electric and gas
utilities to food to car loans and mandatory insurance at the expense of
all the "poor taxes" (aka "ghetto taxes") we're forced to pay (as much
as 50% higher rates) with much lower incomes than the middle class has
(and that's if poor people even have any incomes at all thanks to no job
opportunities for us ever).

Those with privilege tell us that this is what we deserve as punishment
for being poor because our poverty and oppression is somehow always all
our own fault for being "losers" who "blame society for our failures."
Being poor means being hated for being born into "their" world.

We get punished for it. We get trafficked into prostitution for it. We
get criminalized and brutalized by police and civilians alike for it. We
get kicked out of "diversity initiatives" for it. We get denied jobs for
it. We get further excluded for it. We get barred from the public square
for it. We get politically and legally erased for it. We get censored
for it. We get punished for telling the truth. Our voices are silenced
any time we try to speak up about our oppression -- even on "tech
diversity" Twitter discussion threads about poverty and class that are
always dominated entirely by those with middle/upper-middle class
privilege.

There's no "safe spaces" allowed for us -- and no job opportunities
either. We're denied access to any language to describe our oppression
and the injustices we suffer on a daily basis in a society that decided
we were the one group that doesn't deserve the most basic human and
social rights.

"Equality" and "diversity" only applies to the better off: those who are
not from generational poverty and trapped in the permanent underclass,
who have some support network and resources built into their lives, who
have some means of being able to economically fend for themselves
because they were not completely economically pushed out and totally
excluded from the job force their entire lives for being nothing but
"poor white trash" ( "ghetto trash"/"thugs" if poor and black).

Poor people lose.

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