The bible says if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t eat, and from a child I was taught this truth both directly and indirectly. I grew up in a very blended and large family. My parents divorced when my brother John and I were toddlers, but my dad has always remained a vital part of our lives. That being said, other than the two of us, John and I have a total of 7 brothers and sisters between my mom and dad. My father has 6 sisters, my mom has 8 siblings and my stepmom has a total of 11 sister and brothers, all of which are very near and dear to my heart. Moreover, all are very hardworking individuals, some poor, others middle class and some, very well off.
Over the years, I have been privy to what it’s like to live on both sides of the isle. Much of my childhood years was spent living with my mother and along with that came living in some of the worst neighborhoods and on a couple of occasions that I can recall, not knowing where our next meal was going to come from. I’ve seen her sell food stamps to keep the lights on and I’ve seen my grandparents come through for us on more than one occasion, loading our cabinets with food because they came to visit and realized we had nothing.
I’m not a fan of the welfare system, but neither do I believe it is a ploy by “the man” to keep people down. I believe it was set up with good intention, but unfortunately, by some recipients it has been used as a crutch and by many politicians it is now, and has been in prior years, used for political gain. And as always, society takes a look at a few bad apples and determines the entire bunch is spoiled. When I was a child I witnessed my mother lose a job two or three times, go to the government for help, use it for maybe a month and as soon as the next grocery store, gas station or fast food restaurant was hiring, she went back to work again. I was only a kid, but I was privy to a lot of things that most kids my age were not.
My mother had six kids and a tenth grade education and I’ve seen her go through hell just to keep the lights on and keep food on the table, and here’s why I’m thankful…She never gave up. She kept trying. Yes, she complained about the boss and wages compared to the work, but she never used it as an excuse to give up, cave in and quit. She was never on welfare for long periods of time because she didn’t care what the job paid, she simply wanted to work. Moreover, my uncles and aunts on every side did the same. My family is far from perfect on any side, whether it’s my dad’s side, my mom’s or my step-mom’s, but this I know…
Not every black man is lazy and not every black man leaves their children behind for someone else to raise. Not every single black mother sits around waiting on a check to come in the mail and not every black woman teaches her daughter to be a promiscuous, gold digging whore. And more importantly, just because I’m black doesn’t mean I’m a proponent of welfare and the welfare system. Some of us are about real change, which requires teaching a man how to fend for himself rather than bankrupting everyone in the process. Personally, I compare that method to pissing in the water and trying to tell us it’s rain.
I’m no expert, but I do realize that poverty in most cases is generational and it is time that we roll up our sleeves and help one another. For those of us who do have, it’s time that we be honest with those we know who don’t, and encourage them to do some things differently instead of walking by as if you don’t see them struggling to pay for bus fare; or buying your families groceries, and walking away as if you can’t see the brother standing next to you struggling to pay for a loaf of bread and pack of bologna to feed his family of five. Why don’t YOU do something, so our government won’t feel like they have to step in and take what is rightfully yours away from you. Why don’t you take the time to ask a person what they do for a living or what they would like to do for a living and counsel them where you can accordingly and where you can’t, introduce them to someone you know who can?
As for those who don’t have enough, and are struggling from day to day just to pay bus fare or keep food on your table… The next time you see a brother or sister stepping out of a Mercedes, Jag or BMW; rather than turning your nose up and forming what’s usually an unfair opinion about them, why not stop them and ask what they do, where they work, or give them your number and ask if you can pick their brain to see if they may be able to help you come up with some ideas to make your situation better. Unfortunately, most of our financial struggles are the same; many are only one paycheck away from poverty, if you’re doing well, maybe two. So it’s usually not others thinking less of you, but you feeling inferior as a result of your own insecurity. It’s unfortunate, but many who live in half million dollar homes are struggling just as much to pay their mortgage as you are to pay your rent, but struggling or not, there is always something to learn from those who are in a better situation than yourself.
I love giving money and being a blessing to strangers. Sometimes it’s scary because you don’t know how people are going to take it, but I would rather be turned down in my effort to bless, than not attempt to do anything. And while giving money away is nice, I recognize it’s not a cure, so my real fulfillment comes from men, women and teenagers who tell me that as a result of hanging with me, I’ve made a difference in their lives.
Let us all resolve to do better.
Other Related Articles: