Poverty and Classism: The Silent Diversity Issue

If you’re unwilling to stop silencing the voices of poor people and relinquish any of your socio-economic privileges in order for marginalized poor people struggling just to keep themselves alive in deep poverty while striving against impossible odds to gain a toehold onto even just the lowest rung of the middle class IT jobs ladder, then this article is not for you.

If you are active in promoting and supporting tech diversity initiatives then this article most definitely is for you.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s move on.

Why aren’t poor people motivated” is the wrong question to be asking because those of us at the very bottom know all too well just how badly the entire game is rigged and that we don’t stand a chance.

When I started learning programming at the age of 46 in 2013 at the behest of an advocate and ally to desperately poor, marginalized, unemployable human trafficking survivors, I had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. Not because I really didn’t want to learn programming or learn a difficult new skill, but because I had every reason to believe that learning software development would be just one more thing I’d put a 1,000% effort into trying only to not have it work out for me so I’d be able to get a job and climb out of extreme poverty anyway.

Because nothing ever working out for me no matter what I tried and how hard I tried was the sum total of my entire life experience ever since I got trafficked as a homeless 12 year old from generational poverty, escaping my traffickers at the age of 17 over three decades ago with a deeply stigmatizing prostitution record that rendered me unemployable throughout my working-age years. I did not get helped with getting that record expunged until I was 47 years old — “too old” for any employer to want to hire me.

Unlike most other 17 year olds preparing to enter the mainstream world of college, jobs, building credit, preparing for a home an a partner, I entered adulthood with a 7th grade education, nothing to wear but the clothes on my back, dental problems and other visible conditions of poverty that set me apart as “the Other” — not good enough to be “worthy” of a chance for a job and a good life in post-Welfare Reform America because of not having the “right image” (on top of not having the right friends and social class connections to the job market).

Visible conditions of poverty, the toll that lack of access to dental care (beyond just brushing and flossing) takes on one’s appearance, on top of having several missing teeth that a “john” old enough to be my grandfather knocked out when I was 15 for no reason other than just because he could. Because society taught him that that’s what “prostitutes” exist for — to absorb the all the rapes, abuse, degradation and misogyny so that women and girls from the “better” social classes can be spared from having to experience it.

Because society decided that the only place that should ever be allowed for poor women and girls from the permanent underclass like me was the gutter and an early grave.

My friend and ally, Ed Drain, a former combat vet in Afghanistan who led the social media campaign to free Sara Kruzan, pested me into learning computer programming. I didn’t feel it would be worth my time because I knew that this was a field where I’d probably never be accepted into and allowed to join because of being extremely disadvantaged as somene from the permanent underclass. He would not let up until I agreed to at least try. So I agreed to do it just to shut him up. He told me that if I learned this incredibly difficult new skill at such a late stage in my life, I would have the opportunity to be a real game-changer and help other poor marginalized trafficking survivors without any social and economic resources built into their lives just like me.

Accomplishing something that would be really effective to combat child sex trafficking was the only carrot that anyone could have dangled in front of me that was a strong enough motivator for me because being trafficked as a homeless youth ruined my life. I endured an entire lifetime of trying so many other things that never opened a single door to a job opportunity and a good life for me, including earning my GED followed by my Bachelor’s degree in math from a state college while homeless and eating from garbage cans as a non-traditional aged student — only to never get a chance for a job anyway.

I don’t know of anyone who is middle class/rich that started out their life in generational poverty, spending their early childhood years in a run-down house with lead-based paint located next to an industrial waste site, trafficked into forced prostitution at age 12, that had to try/work as hard in their lives against odds just like that (like I did) — without any social and economic support, any helping hand up — to get what they’ve got and where they’re at.

From what I have seen, those who have good jobs in software development are nearly all 20-something year old middle class/rich kids. Some are in their 30’s. I have not seen more than five who are in their late 40’s or older. And I have yet to meet any who managed to successfully enter the field and get a toehold onto the IT jobs ladder as poor human trafficking survivors from generational poverty who are well north of age 40, coming from an entire lifetime of deprivation and total social exclusion.

Poverty and classism as an issue, as the most brutal form of systemic oppression there is in our society, was a taboo subject until only very recently. And the only reason it’s being discussed now is because lot of middle class people fell into deep poverty with no way back up as a result of 40 years of abusive social and economic policies aimed at punishing the poor for being poor, the elimination of what stingy inadequate “safety net” that we once had with AFDC, and our global free-from-rules market crashing in 2008.

For decades, the only thing that the truly poor got (besides thrown under the bus with Welfare Reform — a policy that Hillary Clinton remained publicly supportive of as recently as 2010) was a generous dose of victim-blaming from the middle class and the rich.

Poverty was a nearly-insurmountable barrier just for getting into Rails Girls Summer of Code-2013 as a poor woman with absolutely nothing and no computer skills.

After Ed spent a couple of months bringing me from the point of “what the hell is a computer terminal?” to actually learning some basic shell commands, he managed to help me knock down one barrier of classism to get into the Rails Girls Summer of Code paid internship: The Rails Girls Summer of Code Selection Committee was reticent to sponsor a team that was 100% remote (I live in a poor rural Pennsylvania Rust Belt town, Ed as my coach lived three states away in Virginia, and my teammate lived in Great Britain).

Ed managed to convince the selection committee into extending a three-month paid internship opportunity to me as a poor marginalized woman with no access to any resources at all, not even enough money to afford any online coding classes or computer programming books. But that was only part of the battle. The other part was getting what I needed in order to be able to participate.

Just being able to get a computer I could use specifically for software development using Ruby on Rails for the three-month long Rails Girls Summer of Code pilot program was a huge hurdle. Ruby, specifically Rails, does not work very well (if at all) on Windows. And there’s a certain amount of RAM that you need to be able to run Rails, which meant I needed something with a little bit more RAM than just enough to check emails with.

Plus with very bad eyesight that is getting worse as a result of untreated glaucoma from lack of access to ongoing medical care, I needed a computer with a big enough display so I could see in order to learn programming.

But I had no income. I had no money to be able to buy a computer and keep my Internet and electric on so I’d be able to participate.

As a poor, marginalized (and plus-sized) middle-aged woman who is a human trafficking survivor with no professional clothes to wear and no money to buy clothes that fit, with visible dental problems, that was barred from getting any jobs when I was younger (due to an underaged prostitution record that was not expunged until I was 47 years old), I had no way of getting any money at all to survive on for an ongoing basis other than to run personal fundraisers — for which I got nothing but a mega-shit-ton of abuse from privileged people who’ve never had to eat from a garbage can and sleep in a rat-infested abandoned building for a single day in their lives.

At age 46 I was no longer young and healthy and able-bodied enough to haul heavy appliances, scrap metal and car parts out of other people’s trash to prep/strip and take down to the salvage yard for barely enough money to buy groceries(which is what I did for years after graduating college at age 34 failed to get me a real chance for a job).

I didn’t even own a computer until I was in my 40’s because I was too poor all my life to afford even a bottom-end PC (never mind a refurbished Mac) totally on my own. I would not have even had a stable place to live to have Internet and a place to put a bottom-end Wal-Mart clearance model desktop with less RAM than your average smart phone, if I had not gotten married at age 37 to a 60 year old man, a widower that was willing to support the both of us on his $937/mo social security disability check he got as an illiterate, physically disabled foundry worker who provided me with a run-down home in rural northwestern Pennsylvania so at least I’d have a roof over my head, if nothing else, since no one ever gave me a chance for a job and a good life. No one else ever cared about any hopes and dreams I might have once had before the last shred of hope was crushed out of me.

Even though he had so very, very little, he was far more generous and supportive of me than anyone from the middle/upper-middle class, and he was certainly more willing to economically provide what economic support he could for me, a woman with zero income who was unable to economically support herself, out of that $937/mo social security check — $11, 244 a year total income for TWO people to try to live on — which was far more than the absolute zero economic support I got from any upper-middle class “feminists” lucky to have their $100,000/yr IT jobs, or from any rich Silicon Valley venture capitalists (even female ones) for whom $30,000 in seed money wouldn’t even be missed if some poor trafficking survivor’s idea for a startup project failed (provided I could even get said project off the ground in the first place).

My husband was also from generational poverty so he “got it” whereas those who are from any level above absolute poverty don’t get it and refuse to even try to get it because that would make them “too uncomfortable.”

Crowdfunding in order to get necessary equipment and money to survive on while working to bring their projects to fruition is something that only benefits middle/upper-middle class women. Poor women who really need money desperately and try to run personal fundraisers get nothing but attacked. We get very little money at all. We get accused of being con artists and “lazy moochers” for “panhandling,” or accused of just trying to get money to blow on drugs — regardless of the fundraiser’s purpose.

Middle class elitism holds with the notion that poor people cannot be trusted to handle money responsibly, yet those with privilege never think about how they would get what they needed in order to be able to survive (never mind live comfortably) if they were unable to get any money and no one was giving them a chance for a job.

Upper-middle class and rich women who crowdfund their “diversity in tech” work get money thrown at them. Their intentions are never questioned. The merit of their project is never judged. But it’s a whole different story when you’re a poor woman for whom the cost of a computer is out of reach, who doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from, who doesn’t have the income to maintain steady Internet access and keep the electric on (never mind afford heat in the middle of winter in sub-freezing temperatures).

The people who are the most vicious about attacking poor trafficked women’s fundraisers are other women, including those claiming to be “feminists.” Women who are economically better off, who have stable incomes and are able to support themselves totally on their own and afford emergencies like car repairs or replacing a broken appliance without a cash transfusion from their middle class families.

Privileged people who dominate and control the entire discussion of “diversity in tech” did not come from generational poverty. They did not grow up in a run-down rented house with lead paint next to a “brownfield.” They were not trafficked into forced prostitution as homeless 12 year old girls. They did not suffer an entire lifetime of poverty due to job discrimination, hunger and malnourishment, and no access to medical and dental care. They have not lived the experiences of being a poor woman with no way of being able to survive other than marrying a slightly less poor disabled widower that’s 25 years older who was getting a $937/mo social security check — and they have no clue how that is a step up for a poor woman at rock bottom who’s a human trafficking survivor.

None of the privileged middle class and rich people who worked overtime attacking me for running personal fundraisers, including women who dominate the feminist movement, ponied up with a job and a paycheck for me so I wouldn’t have had to make spoiled privileged people uncomfortable by “begging for handouts” in the first place.

What privileged people call “begging for handouts” is really poor marginalized people’s desperate struggle to survive in a society that collapsed the floor out from underneath the poor “just for the principle of it.”

If not for a little bit of money left over from one medical fundraiser I ran three years ago (which was only enough to provide me with a pair of eyeglasses, an eye exam and one glaucoma monitoring appointment when I need ongoing care that I’m still unable to get), I wouldn’t have even been able to get a PC laptop that was marked down at a clearance price, which I bought and turned into a Linux computer so I’d be able to participate in the 2013 Rails Girls Summer of Code program.

And that’s not even getting into the gratuitous cruelty and bullying I was subjected to for the duration of the program by my aggressive, domineering Rails Girls teammate — a middle class British woman of color who did not suffer from a learning disability, or from long-term untreated health problems, or the lifelong effects of malnutrition and going without medical and dental care.

In a program that was one of the “diversity in tech” initiatives, I got abused by someone who sought self-empowerment by smacking down a poor person in a much weaker position at the bottom of the socioeconomic food chain: a poor disabled human trafficking survivor with a STEM degree that I struggled to earn while in my late-20’s and early-30’s — despite being on the losing side of the “digital divide” and having dyslexia, plus having complex PTSD — while living in an old used car and eating from garbage cans. A degree that I might as well use for igniting my propane cook-stove with for all the job opportunities that it failed to make available to me.

The only thing my degree got for me was a mountain of student loan debt that I’ll never be able to repay since I have yet to get a chance for a good job, and at my age now (48) I don’t believe that a good job with health benefits and a stable salary will ever materialize for me.

Teach a man (or woman) to fish…” yeah, sounds great. Except you first need money to buy fishing gear, you still need to eat while you’re fighting for the right just to get access to the fishing hole to learn how to fish in the first place. That’s not even getting into the barriers that are erected and maintained by those who’ve already caught plenty of huge fish to feed their families several times over who are determined to keep you out, not letting you near the fishing hole to cast your rod to try to make your first catch of just one small fish — while they berate you for daring to think that you had the right to even try to fish instead of remembering to stay in “Your Place.”

“We don’t serve your kind”

About a month after graduating from the Rails Girls Summer of Code program in 2013 and succeeding in spite of a very unsupportive teammate and an often-unavailable coach (due to family problems) on a 100% remote team as someone struggling to cross the digital divide, I decided to try to take a coding class put on by another non-profit “diversity in tech” initiative that was having the class in Pittsburgh — about 120 miles south of where I live. I had to apply for a scholarship because I couldn’t afford the $80 fee for the intense two-day long, 8-hour per day class. I had to panhandle off of an I-90 exit about 5 miles from my home just to try to raise the money it would cost for gas to drive down there plus one overnight stay at the cheapest motel. Since panhandling is a “crime” subject to selective enforcement, it was a huge risk for me to do that just to be able to attend that class.

When applying for the scholarship, I had to disclose why it was a financial hardship for me to pay for the class, and why I was a woman that was a member of an underrepresented and marginalized group in tech. I told the truth. Because I don’t know of any other 40-something year old disabled human trafficking survivors from generational poverty that got to make it out of poverty and land a job as a software developer and get a nice life.

So that makes me not only a member of a very marginalized and disadvantaged group, it also means that I am a member of a totally un-represented group in the IT field.

Unfortunately, the old adage that “honesty is always the best policy” does not work for the truly poor and disadvantaged because those with privilege use that against us. It was certainly used against me.

Once I arrived for the class (after getting lost in a very confusing city I had never been to before), I was placed in the very back of the room (at least 15 feet away from all the other attendees) where I could not see the presentation at the front of the room nor hear the lecture very well. I followed along as best as I could by downloading the presentation slides onto my laptop and working through the exercises at my own pace while unable to hear the teacher’s instructions or see her presentation at the front of the room.

After the end of the first day of the coding class, the class’s organizer and teacher and three of her friends/colleagues cornered me as I was packing up my gear and getting into my coat. “We need to talk with you about something”, they said.

I told them that due to my very poor eyesight and inability to see well enough to drive at night, I really needed to leave right away so as to be able to have plenty of time for finding my way back to my motel room before it got dark so I wouldn’t end up lost and all alone with no one to help me in a strange big city 120 miles away from home. (I had some very legitimate concerns here.)

But they would not let me pass them so I could leave until they said what they wanted to say.

“Your status as a human trafficking survivor is problematic for the feminist political position of our organization. We support the right of poor women to engage in sex work in order to support themselves and we have friends who are sex workers.”

They kept condescending down to me, bullying me to tears, when I finally pushed my way past them in order to leave. They followed me out of the building across the parking lot, haranguing me all the way to my 20 yr old Ford truck (which I drove down there on a wing and a prayer that it would not break down and leave me stranded with no way home).

I was deeply traumatized by the incident and I am convinced that I was deliberately targeted and set up for abuse. They knew about my status as a destitute human trafficking survivor before I had to make arrangements to drive all the way down there because I disclosed that on my application for the scholarship. Why have me travel so far from home just to kick me out of the class if I’m not really wanted there anyway? Is shitting on the poorest and most marginalized women their idea of “entertainment?”

Shaking and crying, I struggled to calm down so I could see to drive myself safely to my motel room that I had already booked the night before driving down for the first day of class. By the time I found the right exit to get the motel, it was dark. I phoned home and told everyone what happened.

The long silence from my adult step-daughter, her 20 year old son, and my elderly brother-in-law on the phone said it all: I had foolishly forgotten the very first lesson that all of us from generational poverty are taught long before we learn how to write our own names:

Every place is 100% middle/upper class space where the poor are not wanted.

The unmet needs, unaddressed concerns, and voices of poor people in the permanent underclass are not welcome. If you’re truly poor and oppressed, you’re not welcome anywhere (except maybe jail or the morgue), because “we don’t serve your kind.”

Because I am white and from the permanent underclass, I have no language available to me that would include my experiences in the mainstream social justice conversation — unless the only people who treated me unfairly were male. But where is the language to describe the experiences of being oppressed and discriminated against by other women — not just men — who were (or are) middle/upper-middle class?

Very few people in the professional upper-middle class (who are really economically in the top 10% of the population) have been genuinely sympathetic to the special problems and extra oppression that women like me face every single day of our lives. Of the very few who might occasionally show some small inkling of sympathy, it is usually not genuine and it usually only happens if poor women’s voices can be used by privileged women as part of promoting their own agenda — which is not about empowering the poorest and most marginalized women from the permanent underclass who need opportunities the most.

I’ll never forget being outted on Twitter as a human trafficking survivor by one IT feminist who claimed to be in my corner (but whose track record of empty promises and failure/neglect to provide any help so I could succeed says otherwise). She outted me on her page, which has a lot of followers in the IT community including potential employers, by tagging me so I could back her up and give credibility/legitimacy to her claim in a Twitter fight she was having with some rich white dude and needed my voice to win their little debate. Not really a cool thing to do, but whatever.

The very next day on a different Twitter discussion thread about poverty and classism as a barrier of entry into tech that was started by a woman with middle class privilege who wanted to write an article about it and was seeking input, I spoke up and told what happened to me and how I was treated for being a poor, marginalized human trafficking survivor that never got a chance in life to have any job — only to be bullied into taking down my Tweet by the same privileged IT feminist (and her current boyfriend and her ex-boyfriend) who outted me as a trafficking survivor in order to use me to give her credibility in her Twitter fight the previous day because my Tweet made her “look bad” because it “alienates” the rich women in tech whom are funding her startup, rich women like the one who targeted and bullied me and kicked me out of a class.

If my speaking up about the barriers to entry I face due to classism and poverty as a disadvantaged trafficking survivor was something that “made her look bad” posed the risk of alienating venture capitalists and angel investors whom she’s been getting funding from for her startup, then why wasn’t it risky for her to publicly pull me into a Twitter debate to support her with my real lived experience in her sparring match with some guy?

NOTE: This same IT feminist also previously ran around telling everyone she was my mentor/teacher, yet she left me hanging without any help with a trashed dev environment that occurred as a result of trying to get my dev environment set up for PHP, vagrant, Nginx, and the PhPStorm IDE per her instructions for working with her on a legacy PHP Cake project. I was completely stuck and unable to fix my computer all by myself for over a week and a half. She ignored my repeated pleas for help. If not for a Facebook friend who has extensive sysadmin experience spending 5 hours helping me to fix it through TeamViewer, I would have been totally screwed because I don’t have anyone I can reach out to for help with that whom I can count on.

I was told by another party to that Twitter conversation that the reason my voice as a poor woman was censored on that Twitter discussion about poverty and class oppression (dominated, ironically, by upper-middle class women with good jobs and nice lives): The truth made privileged rich women who are investors/venture capitalists “uncomfortable”, which made the female-only dev groups “look bad.”

I was also told that I “need to learn how to find the right time and right place” for speaking up about how poverty class oppression has been a barrier to entry for me — even in “diversity” initiatives.

If a thread specifically about poverty and class oppression as an entry barrier is not the “right time and place” for speaking up about my experience of poverty and class oppression in tech as a poor woman, then where the hell is the “right time and place?”

No one has the right to silence the voices of oppressed people no matter how unaware of their privilege they appear to be. People need to understand that not everyone trying to get a toehold onto even just the lowest rung of the IT jobs ladder is a middle class/rich 22 year-old who went to college right after high school (especially a prestigious school that is as out of reach for the poor as a daytrip to Sedna), or someone that was able to afford to attend a dev bootcamp after getting to enjoy many years of middle class employment.

Some of us struggling to break into dev are so incredibly poor we can’t afford basic needs such as clothing, food, housing, utilities, medical and dental care — never mind a decent computer plus up-to-date programming books and online video courses in order to teach ourselves programming without the benefit of mentors or the social capital gained at Ivy League Schools and exclusive dev bootcamps that practically guarantee you a job, even if you fail out of the bootcamp and don’t make it all the way through.

Some of us are poor marginalized people who are trying to dig ourselves out of really shitty situations and have been struggling our entire lives, and our only access to learning programming is through whatever resources we can access for free (which is precious little).

One of those “free” resources, the FreeCodeCamp, is fraught with landmines for someone in deep poverty without a strong computer education. When I got stuck on one of the JavaScript/jQuery Waypoints and reached out for help on the FreeCodeCamp’s help channel, one of the other participants told me, without knowing anything about my skill level, to run the command rm -rf / in my terminal — which would have nuked my root directory and turned my computer into a paperweight, had I listened to him. The other CodeCampers on the help channel that day who were more skilled at programming than I was, thought this was very funny.

If you’re a leader in “tech diversity” circles and you’re worried about a poor person speaking up about their oppression and asking for some accountability from those who abused them, and if you don’t want them to potentially “embarrass” you by telling an inconvenient truth because that truth might make you/your “diversity” initiatives “look bad”, then maybe you should think about all of that before standing on your privilege to shove poor people down in the first place. Maybe you should try learning how to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong” and then try to make shit right to those whom you’ve hurt. (Of course, “accepting personal responsibility” is something that only ever applies to poor people.)

If this so-called “mentor”/”teacher” would not have ignored my repeated requests for some help (she “didn’t have time” to help me even though she had time for picking fights on Twitter with rich white dudes) with getting my dev environment sorted out since I am new to learning the Mac operating system and not experienced with the IDE and the other stuff she wanted me to install and set up for working on that Cake project with her, I would not have jumped on Twitter for the specific purpose of trying to find her to ask her for help to get the project and its required tools (that I was not familiar with) set up in my local dev environment.

Had she helped me and, you know, actually been the mentor/teacher to me that she told everyone else that she was, I would have been helped with getting set up and I would have been too busy working and being happy about getting hired and included on a project to have time for fooling around on a Twitter discussion about poverty and class oppression where I might — however unintentionally — make any privileged women “look bad.”

Classism and poverty as barriers to entry into dev is the silent diversity issue. The “diversity in tech” initiatives don’t seem to be about helping the poorest and most socially disadvantaged people from the permanent underclass into jobs and out of the total hopelessness of abject poverty.

From everything I have observed and experienced so far, “diversity” has never been about helping poor disadvantaged people get a leg up, or putting any resources into our hands so we can eak out some small slice of economic opportunity in tech for ourselves since no one else in tech really welcomes poor women like me, much less hires women like me from the permanent underclass.

From what I’ve been told by other poor women from the “unexotic permanent underclass” who are not human trafficking survivors, they got treated the same way as I did— and for the exact same reason: We’re not really welcome in IT — not only because we’re women, but because we’re poor women from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds in the permanent underclass.

And the middle/upper-middle classes never really wanted anyone regardless of race, sex or age from deep poverty to really have a chance. We were prevented from breaking free from abject poverty our entire lives due to deeply entrenched systemic barriers that are deliberately erected and maintained by those with social class privilege.

Some of us are now in are 40’s and 50’s, and thanks to entire lifetimes of poverty, systemic class oppression and total social exclusion, we don’t have 401(k)’s to cash in or nice homes to remortgage in order to get money to reinvent ourselves or transition our way into any good-paying IT jobs. And the real crime is that IT is one of the few jobs that poor older women could do since poor 40 and 50 year old women from the permanent underclass are not physically able to do any “shovel-ready” infrastructure jobs or jobs that require us to be on our feet for any long periods of time.

The “diversity” initiatives don’t seem to be about allowing poor people from the permanent underclass to have any “safe space” to seek support and talk about our problems, to promote real systemic change for our benefit in real, meaningful ways that would not only help us and lift us up out of extreme poverty, but also truly increase diversity in IT in a real honest way.

Middle/upper-middle class women talk about getting sexually harassed at a tech conference, or at their high-paying dev jobs, and no one ever silences their voices and bullies them into taking down their Tweets about it. But the minute a poor woman from the lower social classes — especially a poor older woman from the permanent underclass — speaks up about being targeted, harassed and denied opportunities because of being poor and old, and subjected to extra discrimination and oppression due to classism on top of ageism and sexism, we get silenced. We get told to STFU.

Voltaire was right: “You learn who rules over you when you first learn whom you may not criticize.”

Poor people lose. Poor people lose all the time.

Yep. We sure do.

Although I really wanted to continue learning and building skills to get really good at coding, it’s really really hard to find the motivation to keep trying if it’s always going to be all for nothing anyway. My entire life experience as someone in deep poverty has taught me the same exact thing that poverty and class oppression taught Steve Avery, the controversial person of focus in the Netflix film “Making a Murderer” who said in part 3 of the 10-part documentary : “Poor people lose. Poor people lose all the time.”

Not only do poor people lose all the time, we’re also victim-blamed and further punished by those with middle/upper-middle class privilege for it even though they’ve poisoned us with “brownfields” and lead paint, starved our pregnant mothers, and then punished some of us for having learning disabilities as a result. They’ve gentrified us into homelessness, used militarized police forces against us, incarcerated us unfairly, forced us into prostitution with no way out except a body bag and they do all these things to us while justifying it by saying that we’re “social parasites” — even though they are subsidized by the poor. They get all the opportunities by making sure we get nothing.

They pay discounted prices for everything from basic electric and gas utilities to food to car loans and mandatory insurance at the expense of all the “poor taxes” (aka “ghetto taxes”) we’re forced to pay (as much as 50% higher rates) with much lower incomes than the middle class has (and that’s if poor people even have any incomes at all thanks to no job opportunities for us ever). They get home mortgage interest tax deductions paid for by the reduction/elimination of government aid for the poor who have no homes.

Those with privilege tell us that this is what we deserve as punishment for being poor because our poverty and oppression is somehow always all our own fault for being “losers” who “blame society for our failures.” Being poor means being hated for being born into “their” world.

We get punished for it. We get trafficked into prostitution for it. We get criminalized and brutalized by police and civilians alike for it. We get kicked out of “diversity initiatives” for it. We get denied jobs for it. We get further excluded for it. And we have the lower life expectancy rates to prove it. We get barred from the public square for it. We get politically and legally erased for it. We get censored for it. We get punished for telling the truth. Our voices are silenced any time we try to speak up about our oppression — even on “tech diversity” Twitter discussion threads about poverty and class that are always dominated entirely by those with middle/upper-middle class privilege.

There’s no “safe spaces” allowed for us — and no job opportunities either. We’re denied access to any language to describe our oppression and the injustices we suffer on a daily basis in a society that decided we were the one group that doesn’t deserve the most basic human and social rights.

“Equality” and “diversity” only applies to the better off: those who are not from generational poverty and trapped in the permanent underclass, who have some support network and resources built into their lives, who have some means of being able to economically fend for themselves because they were not completely economically pushed out and totally excluded from the job market their entire lives for being nothing but “poor white trash” ( “ghetto trash”/”thugs” if poor and black).

Poor people lose.

If you want to support and help THIS extremely poor marginalized woman in tech who hasn’t gotten any real opportunities due to age and sex discrimination, on top of the barriers of being a survivor of child sex trafficking, then become my patron and support my Patreon — my sole means of getting any income. You can help and support for as little as $1/mo:

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