The Strengths of Poor People

By Harvey Jackins, from page 539 of “Draft Program for Poor and Raised-Poor Liberation,” in The Benign Reality

[There is a current RC Draft Liberation Policy for People Raised Poor. You can find it on the RC website at <>.]

Capitalistic society encourages poor people to believe that we either deserve or are to blame for our condition. Poor people, damaged by such widespread invalidation and lacking correct information, often accept and internalize these ideas and attitudes. Some characteristics of the internalized oppression include feeling that we must be of little or no worth, that we are inadequate, that we are not welcome, that we are powerless and invisible. We often feel isolated, blame ourselves for the oppression, blame each other, and treat the employed working class as if they were our oppressors. The employed and better-off [wealthier] members of the working class can sometimes be manipulated against us politically.

None of the invalidation or self-invalidation of poor people is justified. Each person presently poor or from a raised-poor background deserves to think of herself or himself with great pride as an intelligent, competent, . . . powerful, self-respecting, loveable human being.

Poverty is not our fault, even if we have been told repeatedly that it is. We don’t deserve poverty, we don’t have to accept it or be ashamed of it. We can assist each other to discharge any feelings of discouragement or helplessness that may have come with poverty. The poor will not “always be with us.”

The strengths of poor people are numerous. People who have experienced poverty have much to take pride in. For any person surviving poverty, the depth and scope of physical and emotional hurts have frequently been such that simply to have survived is a testimony to the resiliency and capacity of our intelligence, skill, and courage. Some of our strengths are

  • we model the efficient use of natural resources;
  • we are not wasteful;
  • we have a keen understanding of all oppression;
  • we have a sense of responsibility;
  • we know how to survive;
  • we are persistent;
  • we have a sense of our self-strength;
  • we can count on [rely on] one another in times of crisis.

Harvey Jackins

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00