With every word that you are reading right now, your perception of me is changing. Look at my photo after every other sentence or so. Perception is a big deal. Captioned visual narratives are very powerful. We judge one another mercilessly based upon nothing more than perception. The story we are told about people who earn $0-13,000 per year is designed to make the rest of us feel better about ourselves, designed to give some of the more affluent among us permission to bully and demand justification, from those of us experiencing poverty and homelessness, for our insistence upon attainable housing, income-based access to public transit, dignified wages and protection from the police, for example. Years ago, in prison, in one of those moments of clarity, I saw myself as part of the Problem. An African-American male, a convicted felon, a long history of substance abuse and un(der)employment. Many of the traits that the more affluent among us have been conditioned to fear. I am currently working to provide a platform for people who lives are being impacted by economic genocide to share their stories. Stories of multiple attempts, for a single family, at relocation in the wake of gentrification. Stories from people with disabilities for whom the pursuit of employment has become more surreal because they must choose between eating or paying for public transit essential to job search. Working with, and advocating for, people dealing directly with the (political and social) hardship of poverty, homelessness, gentrification and un(der)employment, my perception of the Problem has changed radically.
It is not enough for us to just do things differently. The time has come for us to do different things.
Marucs Harris, Advisory Council Peer Organizer, Bayaud Enterprises
Co-founder/co-facilitator People Rising Against Poverty