As I recently told a social work class, one of the unique perspective of social workers, is understanding a client and the environment around them. This is certainly something that I practice daily, and has informed me in the various clients that I have/had work with. Whether it was a child from a single parent home living in public housing, or an adult with chronic mental illness who’s longing for connection.
An issue that is commonly known, but is complex is low socio-economic status or poverty. Poverty is more than just one’s annual total income, or whether one has a job, and its affects all aspects of daily life that can become emotionally, mentally, and/or physically traumatic- trauma that can affect one’s DNA and future generations.
So here’s what I listened to a couple of weeks ago:
- On the Media is not a podcast on my regular rotation, but I could not pass up their 5 part series entitled, Busted: America’s Povety Myth. To be honest, I have not yet finished the series, but it’s something that I have to be in the right head space to digest it all. Back when we watched TV without the ability to skip commercials, remember how you would feel when there was an ad appealing for donations for the children in Africa, which often had depictions of kids who were malnourished, bloated stomachs, etc. This is akin to how Americans feel about the poor in our own country. It’s sad, overwhelming, and there’s a shared helplessness. Rather than compassion, we turn the other way to an issue that is more tangible. Myths that are covered: Who are the poor, work ethic, equal opportunity, safety nets, and the media’s portrayal of the poor.
- Death, Sex, and Money is just a gem of a show that is not afraid to talk about the topics related to its title. Have you ever seen those ads about the riches one could earn by donating eggs or sperm (although less $ than eggs)? Well, this is an account of a woman on how and why she decided to pursue donating eggs, only to find out that she was not a good fit, and eventually became a surrogate (carrying someone else’s baby/-ies), because it pays, and she was in need of money- I Had Babies to Pay for My Baby. Is surrogacy for everyone? Definitely not, but sometimes people are forced to make a decision based on the options in front of them, even if it’s less than ideal- a great listen.
- When I grow up, I would love to be Terry Gross, to talk and interview with interesting people is not unlike my work, but ya know it’s a bit different. Fresh Air is just consistently good. every. day. How the Systemic Segregation of Schools is Maintained by ‘Individual Choices,’ is a story that probably occurs in any public school system, but more likely in a large school systems like public schools in a city or regional/county school systems. In Boston I worked at a health center that was directly between two public elementary schools. In nearly 10 years there, I got to witness the gradual gentrification of the neighborhood. Which also led to the new families systematically getting together to pre-plan where their kids would attend school, raise funds for their public school of choice, which is just one example of how segregation by choice works, as well as what happens when families are not able to move to a different school zone, or unable to provide transportation for magnet or charter schools. Socio-economic status is a huge driver of what schools a child may or may not attend., which of course is tied to achievement and opportunities.
- Another person who I envy is Shankar Vedantam, a man who’s paid to look at social science research, and report how it explains why humans do the things we do(or do not do). For that reason, the Hidden Brain podcast is ear candy for me. In Strangers in Their Own Land: The ‘Deep Story’ of Trump Supporters, is about an author’s account of getting to know and spending a lot of time with rural working class Americans in Louisiana, and their support for Donald Trump prior to November’s election. This is very much an anthropological look on working class Americans, shrinking incomes, and the fears of “new” values and ideas which helped earn the votes of this particular demographic last November.
Poverty is a multi-faceted issue that requires many levels of change to make an impact, I don’t have the solutions, but change can begin at a community or local level. There are no shortage of ways of giving back either through time, sweat, or dollars. Helping others is a form of radical love that will be reciprocated.