I want to thank Matthew Desmond for this book, Poverty, by America.

I can’t tell you how much I love this book. I love the title that says to me in big bold letters that poverty is a product produced by America, not a product of poor people who are often accused of just being too lazy to take advantage of what America has to offer.

I hate the fact that poverty even exists in a country that has so much wealth. I am someone who knows first hand about the pain, humiliation and stigma that comes from being poor, that comes from all quarters, even from other poor people. So when Desmond says things like “poverty is the feeling that your government is against you,” and “poverty can cause anyone to make decisions that looks ill advised and even downright stupid, “ and “poverty is often material scarcity piled on chronic pain, piled on incarceration, piled on depression, piled on addiction and on and on,“ I know intimately what he’s talking about.

I hate the fact that poverty gets hidden away, like it doesn’t exist. Desmond puts it this way, “When politicians propose anti-poverty legislation, they say it will help “the middle class.” Even when social movement organizers mobilizing for higher wages, or housing justice, they announce that they are “fighting on behalf of working people “or the many.” And “when poor people take to the streets, it’s usually not under the banner of poverty.”

This is why I am so appreciative of the many years of research by this author, to make his case not only to why there is so much poverty in America, but also how to eliminate it. I totally agreed to his assertion that it will require new policies and renewed political movements, as well as each of us, becoming in our own way, poverty abolitionists.

I am someone who has been active in grassroots organizing for the last 30 years or so, to change the culture of politics, and bring people together, who would not ordinarily even be in a room together, like rich people and poor people, young people  and old people, cops, and kids, people in the corporate world and inner-city youth,as well as working with health providers to promote health and the prevention of diseases to reduce disparities and achieve equity within the black community.

This is why I feel close to Michael Desmond, when he quotes Alicia Garza when she says “to build the kind of movement that we deserve, we can’t be afraid to establish a base that is larger than the people we feel comfortable with. We have to reach beyond the choir.”

And lastly, he states that “poverty abolitionism should transition partisan divides because poor and working class people deserve more than either political party has delivered for them over the last 50 years, and we should not view liberals and conservatives, the young and the old, undocumented, immigrants, and citizens, as adversaries, but political allies in the fight against poverty.” Well stated Michael Desmond.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about poverty in America.

Allen Cox lives in the Bronx and is a lifelong independent and grassroots community organizer. He is an outreach consultant for the Black Leadership Commission on Health.

July 25th at 3pm ET

Join our host, Cathy Stewart, for a Virtual Discussion with author Matthew Desmond


Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

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