My Mother Wasn't White Trash

from Jesse’s Café Américain: "At first reading, the story of my mother's life seems like little more than a tragedy. However, it is much more than that. Her story reveals the stark realities of growing up poor. All across Appalachia, there are thousands of women just like my mother working, striving, struggling, just to exist. So many people in Appalachia have broken minds and broken bodies and broken hearts, and they do nothing more than survive because that's all they can do.

It is as popular now as ever to blame poor people for their station in life. Republican politicians love to talk about how poor people could stop being poor if only they made better choices or worked harder. If only they'd stop buying iPhones, they could afford insurance! These assholes - and I do not use that slur lightly - have no clue what it is like to grow up poor. They have no clue how hard it is in many places in the US just to keep the lights on and food on the table.

It is easy for them, from the comfort of their cushy offices and homes, with full bellies and bank accounts, to pretend that poor people like my mother are poor because they are stupid or lazy or ignorant or irresponsible rather than confront the broken systems that perpetuate poverty in Appalachia and all across the US.

Poor people don't contribute to reelection funds, but those who profit from poor people sure do. Therefore, truth be told, most politicians couldn't care less about the plight of the poor. There's so much profit to be made from poor people - think payday loans, high-interest rent-to-own stores, for-profit colleges, and overpriced mobile homes - that politicians and their crony-capitalist donors have a vested interest in

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