This week, your co-hosts Melissa Harris-Perry and Dorian Warren get personal.
Melissa’s grandma Rosa lived and worked in poverty in the south of Jim Crow. She was a seamstress who suffered from arthritis and she made tremendous personal sacrifices to secure her twin sons. William and Wesley could go to college and create one Legacy of Achievement and Activism. Her story is inspiring, but why did she have to choose between personal comfort and her children’s future?
Dorian’s grandmother also grew up poor on the south side of Chicago. She was born in the middle of the Race Riot of 1919 and grew up during the Great Depression. She taught him “make nickel, save 2 cents,” which proves that while she needed more money, she didn’t need “financial literacy” programs suggested by many think tanks and philanthropy as a solution to poverty.
These were resilient, forward-thinking women – but they still struggled with poverty. This prompts Melissa and Dorian to ask the key question for this episode: “Why are people poor?” Why does the richest country in the world still tolerate millions of our poor neighbors? And why is it so rare to hear about people living in poverty in the media, in the philanthropy boardrooms, in the halls of power in Washington, DC?
To answer all these and other questions, we turn to our experts. Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Stepping stone to opportunities talked to System check about the Magnolia mother’s trust. The Trust is the first guaranteed income project in the country to explicitly focus on racial and gender equality. Magnolia Mother’s Trust donates $ 1,000 a month to extremely low-income black women who live in government-subsidized, affordable housing. Nyandoro started the program in 2018 as a little pilot with just 20 women in Jackson, Mississippi. Today, 110 women are paid $ 1,000 a month for a year and the results are amazing.
The last word of the week is offered by Tiana Gaines-Turner. Despite working as a Housing Stabilization Specialist at Eddie’s house In Philadelphia, this woman and mother are still struggling with poverty, housing instability and food insecurity. In her final word this week, Gaines-Turner explains why she and others in her community should be at the political table. “Nothing about us without us” is their lesson for System check.
We hope that after listening to our guests this week, you feel inspired to put the analysis into action. Here is this week’s system checklist.
- Fight at 15: Set a monthly reminder on your calendar – for example, the 15th of every month or any day that works for you. Call or email on that date each month Your senators and your Representatives in Congress. Call on them to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 / hour. Involve your family, friends and social media contacts. Let them know, “Every month on the 15th we will ask for 15!” Make sure you follow and support them Fight for 15.
- Give on site: Take a small step to have an immediate impact in your community. If you have the financial means, set up a recurring monthly contribution to Your community food bank. Just $ 10 a month can make a huge difference. While you’re at it Find out if your employer matches your contribution. Many companies will double or even triple the charitable donations made by their employees.
- Act on site: When you are ready, you should take an even bigger step in your community. Find ways to deal with families suffering from poverty, hunger, or homelessness. Contact your local social services department United way, the homeless association at your local school or religious organization to find out where there is a need in your community, to see how your time and talents can contribute to a fairer and more equitable system.
- Water the base: If you are really rTo get involved in this work, join a local grassroots community that is committed to upgrading the poverty system on which our country, and especially the 1%, depend. Join or support the union effort. Support collaborative efforts in your workplace, support friends and family members organize, and vote for candidates and policies that give workers more voice and power. Make a personal promise to show solidarity for someone else’s struggle at least five times in 2021 – be it a town hall, a digital rally, or reaching out to your local elected officials, especially for people struggling to make ends meet to come amid a catastrophic health and economic crisis.
System Check is a project by The nation Magazine, moderated by Melissa Harris-Perry and Dorian Warren and produced by Sophia Steinert-Evoy. Support for System Check comes from Omidyar Network, a social change company that is redefining the way capitalism works. Learn about their efforts to align our economy for the good of the individual, community and society Omidyar.com. Our executive producer is Frank Reynolds. DD Guttenplan is the publisher of The nationErin O’Mara is President of The nation. Our themed music comes from a Brooklyn based artist and producer Jachary.
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