Thursday, May 23, 2024

Poverty is Traumatic.

November 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Money, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( My great uncle Gerald was a man of immense pride. He made a career out of the military. Everything about him was very ordered. It was important to him that things were don’t in a decent and timely manner. There was a routine that he stuck to every day. It was as if every minute was assigned a purpose…even if that purpose was watching TV or taking a nap. Uncle Gerald was a very financially responsible person, and he was always willing to share with the young people how to manage a dollar. When we were kids, he would tell us stories about the war. The boys in the family loved those stories the most; he was a great storyteller and every story he told was lively and colorful. I, on the other hand, preferred the stories he’s tell about his childhood growing up.

He was born in 1924, and the storied he would tell often times would walk me through history. He lived so much of what I read about. One day uncle Gerald was having an argument about money being an identity…if you don’t have any, you’re nobody. I didn’t know how I felt about that, but I began to pay attention to the things my uncle didn’t have…or wouldn’t do.

money black family

One of the children complained one evening about dinner. This triggered Uncle Gerald, and he began to say we chirren were ungrateful. He explained that he grew up poor. His parents were sharecroppers, and there were many nights he barely had anything to eat…and some nights he “ate air biscuits”. He talked about having holes in his shoes, and when he was older, he would rummage through the trash for scraps to eat. This was traumatic, and I don’t know if he realized how much it effected how he was living. You see, my uncle could squeeze blood from a nickel. He wasn’t just frugal…he was out right cheap. Uncle Gerald would share knowledge about finance, but part of that knowledge included not really spending money, “you can’t lose what you don’t spend”. I noticed that my uncle could use a pair of shoes, new socks, a new wardrobe period, but he was too cheap to buy one. He believed the path to financial freedom was to have nothing…but money in the bank.

This led me to understand that poverty is traumatic as money can be seen as the primary mark of success. This man would have a half a million dollars available to him but wouldn’t buy a descent pair of shoes…because it cost too much. The trauma my uncle, and many like him, experienced caused him to live in poverty per se even though he had the means to be comfortable. He would do without just so that he could say he had a particular amount of money in the bank. With that mentality one is not living. It saddened me to think my uncle was diligent and worked so hard in life and was unable to see past the trauma of poverty to truly live his life. Poverty effects everyone differently, but for some it is arresting, and it literally leaves them frozen in a space whereby they become a slave to their bank account. It is very important to work hard and manage one’s resources wisely. However, we don’t exist merely to pay bills, load a bank account and die.

There is so much more to life and living, and poverty trauma can steal life. In honor of my uncle many of our family members decided to remember to live. We all understood, in addition to taking life, this mentality has the power to kill relationships as well as money could become valued higher than people. Poverty trauma is something that has to be addressed in family. If we suffer from it healing is necessary, and we’ve got to find a way to protect our children from this trauma.

Staff Writer; Chelle’ St James

May also connect with this sister via Twitter; ChelleStJames.

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