One of the themes I explore in my books is poverty. Most of my main characters are poor or live in a society that has a huge disparity between those with financial resources and those without. While browsing twitter I discovered this interesting article about poverty myths. Here is a summary of the myths below:
- Poverty is the fault of the individual, people only have themselves to blame
- Children from poverty have the same opportunities as children who do not live in poverty
- Getting a job is the key to avoiding poverty
- There is no real link between poverty and health
- We can’t afford to end poverty
- Job creation and a strong economy will help poor people
- People who are living in poverty are uneducated
I think the article is worth a read. The article provides its own rebuttal to these myths, but there’s something I want to discuss that often isn’t brought up in these conversations about poverty. I want to first point out that the cause of poverty is complex. But I believe that one of the root causes of poverty is a disconnection from power bases. For example, in my novel New Hope City, the protagonist is a poor teen born into poverty. Her poverty makes her a social outcast because some people equate poverty with criminality, lack of moral character and a host of other bad qualities. She can’t make friends with the “rich” kids because she is considered unworthy of friendship by both adults and youth. A matter of fact, the only friends she can make are the people who are like her and who may be looking to exploit her for their personal gain. And her poverty makes her vulnerable to exploitation. She can be exploited by adults in her small town because she is invisible and considered unworthy of the full protection of the law. Her exploitation is ignored because it is assumed that she is a bad, inferior and less than. And some may assume that she caused her own troubles. And the irony is that because of her lack of social connections and her lack of life experience she does make decisions that deepen her own troubles. But this is how poverty works. Youth born into poverty are often cut off from the part of society that could help alleviate their condition. Many impoverished youth are raised by single parents who work several jobs to improve their financial conditions, but they can’t get ahead because they lack skills, social connections or they live in areas with terrible job prospects. Or maybe parents become so depressed and disheartened that they give up and fail to provide for their children. These kids may even have parents who are themselves troubled emotionally, psychologically or have become burdened with legal troubles. It’s all of these things that can cause impoverished youth to have a stigma placed against them causing them to become isolated from power bases (jobs, resources, social connections) that could help them overcome poverty.
SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.