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Breaking Silence

Breaking Silence In her article “What is Poverty? ” Joe Goodwin Parker exposes the struggles that families in poverty endure on a daily basis. The idea that herself, as well as her family are in a vicious cycle of poverty in which there is nothing but dreaming for the bare essentials many of us take for granted. Parker argues that she wants people to grasp an understanding of poverty; she emphasizes the challenges of taking care of her children in her position, yet she is stuck, as there are very few that understands the lengths that people in her situation have to endure with limited resources.

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Parker describes the smell of poverty of being blatantly horrid. A smell in which she has no control over as in order to eradicate the smell she would need to have proper cleansing utensils that in turn costs money. The idea of cleansing oneself seems quite simple to the typical middle class citizen, yet Parker makes it evident that simple is simply not the case for someone in her position proposing: “even the cheapest soap has to be saved for the baby’s diapers” (142).

She touches on the idea of “asking for help” (143), a shameful process that involves searching for money whether that be a relative, or a stranger in the hopes that the small amount of pocket change can go towards possibly a Jar of Baseline for her child, or some dish soap. The deterioration of your pride as you eventually start to look at what your life has come to, and the fate that lies ahead: “a black future”(144), there’s nothing you can do but simply praying for something, anything that could be of some use to you and your family.

For most, we had preconceived notions of people in poverty. The simple “they should get a Job” seems a lot easier said than done, Parker asserts “l made twenty- woo dollars a week, and a good nursery school costs twenty dollars a week for three children. I quit my Job” (142). She’s thrown into a situation in which there is limited opportunity in which she can progress and try to give her family a somewhat of a life.

Asking for help is the best she can do, yet as degrading and pathetic as it is for her, it’s the only thing she has left. Parker illuminates, reminiscing in past events of life where she had all the essential items at her disposal. Happily married and ready to move into the next stages in life, and suddenly it was all stripped of her. The Cubans left, things got worse, and eventually she found herself in a position where the price of a necessity going up by “two cents” (143) had a strong impact on her life.


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