Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Language Matters

October 31, 2015

Any valid points “allies” to trafficking/prostitution survivors otherwise make in articles like this one in Huffington Post, are fully negated by calling crime victims (trafficking survivors) “prostitutes.”

How we are labeled and named determines how we are treated by everybody else—for the rest of our lives. Because what was done TO us was used to define us and STILL is many years later, even into our 40’s and 50’s (if we live that long and have not died from unrelieved abject poverty and total social neglect in a country where the middle class/rich refuse to provide any real, decent non-discriminatory and uniform social safety net for the unemployable/jobless poor whom no one will hire)

Over 75% of the adults in prostitution were initially trafficked into it as minor children between the ages of 11-14, which means they are trafficking victims—victims of a crime. No magical Choice Fairy pays you a visit on your 18th birthday after you’ve been trafficked into prostitution since age 12 or 13, and gifts you with all the options and access to opportunity that middle class privileged NON-trafficked people get.

in 44 states here in the US, 12, 13, and 14 yr old trafficked girls are still arrested for prostitution, and that automatically slaps a 99-year “sex offender” status on them, rendering them unemployable for life. In other words, a 14 yr old trafficked child arrested for prostitution won’t be able to pass the background checks and be able to get a job, rent an apartment or even get food stamps (in many states) if she manages to exit and get any education or build any “in-demand” marketable skills in order to make herself “worthy” of a chance for a job. (Gee, ask me how I know this.)

In other words, in most states in the US, that 14 yr old trafficking victim won’t be able to get even a minimum wage job at McDonalds until she reaches the age of 113 years old—if she lives that long.

Which is a joke, considering that plenty of unemployed, NON-trafficked/prostituted women over age 40 with years of work experience and employment references to put on their resumes can’t get jobs because no one will hire them due to age discrimination.

So what chance does a poor marginalized 48 yr old woman who’s a trafficking survivor have after she was unable to get ANY job at all when she was younger due to her un-expunged/vacated prostitution record? The US only pays lip service to helping poor trafficking survivors.

When you refer to an adult trapped in prostitution, operating under the control of brutal pimps/trafficking rings, who initially got trafficked into prostitution as a homeless 12 or 13 year-old child, as a “prostitute”, that very damning and deeply stigmatizing label harms ALL the victims/survivors, everywhere.

It perpetuates oppression through the imposing of “middle class values” and top-down paternalism. And it puts the onus of responsibility for abject poverty on the individual poor marginalized woman instead of addressing the systemic and structural causes. (And let’s be honest here: Middle class/rich women can be victims of incest and have drug addiction issues, but they’re not usually trafficked into prostitution as a result.)

Especially in countries like the US where 12 yr old trafficking victims get arrested for prostitution and that prostitution arrest record results in them getting slapped with a 99-year “sex offender” status which renders them unemployable for life—IF they can ever manage to escape their trafficking situation alive (as opposed to leaving “the life” in a body bag only to lay unclaimed in some morgue).

The language used to describe us, whether in front of us or even when you think we’re “not in the room”, dictates what kind of helping hand up we get to rebuild our lives (if we get ANY help at all, since the majority of American trafficking victims in the US don’t get anything while all these anti-trafficking charities are making bank off of this trendy ’cause’).

For far too long, the voices of poor women and girls who always were traffickers’ and johns’ primary targets, have been ignored and once again, our voices are being shoved aside in this ‘movement’ for some long overdue justice for us.

Too often, poor women and kids who are trafficked are pathologized. As in, “there was/is something wrong with us.” And it was the very damning label of “prostitute” that caused that.

I was a human sex trafficking survivor DECADES before the term “human trafficking” became part of the public lexicon. The human sex trafficking of poor, disposable women and children was always a problem in the US and across much of the world, even during the “better” economic times.

But abusive social and economic policies (like Welfare Reform here in the US) caused it to reach a crisis level because NOBODY ever gave poor, marginalized women a fair shot in life. Instead, they blamed the poor for being poor and refused to take any responsibility for unequal opportunities and lack of enough jobs for all. Why? To preserve their own privileges and status by eagerly serving as “gatekeepers” to economic opportunity.

Fact: Human trafficking was not made an issue and concern for trafficking victims was non-existent until: (1) it started happening to middle class women and girls, and; (2) upper-middle class white Christian males were able to monetize this ’cause’ via Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” which he signed into law by Executive Order #13199 on Jan 29, 2001.

What that did was redirect any public tax dollars earmarked for “welfare” to private “faith-based” charities instead of giving that money directly to the poor who need it.

Being a trafficking survivor who gets referred to as a “prostitute” and who sees other victims of human trafficking labeled as “prostitutes” reinforces the message from society that I don’t deserve a chance for a good job, a chance at love, the experience of being treated like a princess (even if only for ONE night—like the prom I never got to have since traffickers don’t let their victims go to school, never mind go to the senior prom), to be treated like I mattered, to be wanted and to be socially accepted.

Calling women like me “prostitutes”, “child prostitutes”, or even “former prostitutes” reinforces the message so often said by pimps and traffickers: “Once a ho always a ho”—which calcifies the gutter and an early grave as the ONLY place in society we’ll ever be allowed to have.

Language matters. Make NO mistake about it: it is NEVER acceptable to refer to human trafficking victims/survivors as “prostitutes”, “child prostitutes”, or “former prostitutes.” There is only ONE acceptable accurate term for us: CRIME VICTIMS. You blame the victim, you become an accomplice.

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A Little Walk Through History

October 31, 2015

Poverty is the worst form of violence. And systemic discrimination to ensure a permanent underclass is force added to that violence.

When society collectively denies poor women any real equal job/economic opportunity and refuses to provide a livable Guaranteed Basic Income and universal healthcare as an adequate safety net for those who’ve been shut out or pushed out of the economy so that NO woman or girl is forced to “choose” between dying from unrelieved abject chronic poverty, or death from prostitution, the entire society is collectively guilty of democide against the poor and guilty of human sex trafficking by proxy.

When vulnerable, disadvantaged women are forced into prostitution and homelessness due to  chronic abject poverty from which escape has been made impossible due to the politics and policies chosen by middle/upper class “gatekeepers” who shut poor women out of jobs while blaming the poor for being poor, compounded by job discrimination against women with POOR women bearing the brunt—that makes this entire society guilty of human sex trafficking. Just as guilty as armed, dangerous gangs of traffickers, predatory “Romeo” pimps and their predatory middle class/rich male customers (the “johns”) whose money drives the $32 billion/year global sex trade.

Almost immediately after LBJ (who created anti-poverty and welfare programs which mostly helped poor women who’ve always suffered the most and the worst effects of sexism and discrimination) left office and Nixon got elected, there was an immediate backlash against LBJ’s Great Society social programs for the poor. In fact, it began even before that—resistance was mounted by well-heeled interests, and led by professional middle class academicians while Johnson was trying to get his poverty relief measures pushed through during his 1963-64 Poverty Tour.

In the early 1970’s, lawmakers in the state of Nevada where prostitution is legal and “regulated” and most of the brothels are owned by members of the Bonano crime family, passed a law forcing poor younger women who applied for welfare to first take “work” in the legal brothels (since prostitution is legal there, it is a “job just like any other”).

The National Welfare Rights Union, which was a grassroots org spearheaded by poor single mothers receiving a paltry welfare benefit under AFDC, launched a massive protest right out in front of Nevada’s infamous Mustang Ranch brothel to protest poor women being forced into prostitution by the state (which essentially made the state of Nevada guilty of human trafficking). Several feminists, including Gloria Steinem, joined in and protested with the National Welfare Rights Union.

The protests forced the state lawmakers (many whom were brothel owners themselves) to back down because the public outcry was tremendous.

As a poor older woman who is a survivor of child sex trafficking, I never got a chance for a job after escaping my traffickers 31 years ago no matter what/how hard I tried in order to be “worthy” of a chance for a job. I was shut out of any and all jobs my entire working age life due to the visible conditions of poverty and an unfair prostitution record that held me back and rendered me unemployable—a record I incurred from when I was trafficked into prostitution as a homeless orphaned child from age 12/13 -17.

After I managed by sheer dumb luck to escape that hell, I never got a chance for a job no matter what hoops I jumped through in order to be “worthy” of a chance for a job—while getting told by smug, arrogant middle classers that I “have it made compared to the poor in other countries”, and that “no one owes you a job” and that if I was poor and not making it, it was my own damn fault for “not trying hard enough.”

While middle class and rich women get 77 cents to every male dollar, POOR women from the permanent underclass who’v been shut out of any chances for jobs all our lives get ZERO to everyone else’s dollar.

I never in my entire 48 years of life had access to adequate medical and dental care and some semblance of a stable life. Ever since I was trafficked, and throughout the past 31 years since escaping my traffickers, I have never known what it was like to be able to experience one full year of not having one or more basic utilities cut off for lack of any money or income to afford the bills. I have never known what it was like to be able to get decent medical, dental, and (very badly needed) vision care.

I don’t know what it’s like to be able to afford three meals a day. I often can’t afford just one meal a day and when I can afford food, it sure isn’t poached salmon, filet mignon, or whatever else that privileged people can afford so they don’t end up malnourished and fat (therefore socially unacceptable) in their 40’s and 50’s even though they certainly got a lot more to eat than I ever did.

I don’t have the luxury of being able to afford basic things such as a hot shower to bathe properly when I need one, or the ability to afford the “right image” of having all my teeth so I can smile with confidence without revealing evidence of my extreme poverty for which I will be judged and punished by those who are better off—just like I always had been throughout my entire life.

I don’t have the privilege of being able to afford professional clothing that flatters my fat, older lady figure so I can try my best to look as good as I can for any kind of professional setting.

Physical attractiveness, beauty, etc. is a luxury that I’ve never been able to afford—and lacking it meant getting nothing but abuse, and heaps of scorn, personal value judgments and ridicule from the professional middle class who never let the jobless poor have a chance no matter what impossible hoops we jumped through, while those with privilege have the pustule-infested balls to then blame the poor for being jobless and poor.

The ability to afford to be well-groomed enough to “pass as middle class” in order to be socially accepted by the upper-middle class in order to have any chance at all for getting a job—as slim and elusive as that is with barriers of age discrimination, sex discrimination and vicious classism—is a luxury that is out of reach for me as a poor older marginalized woman who was never able to win at the whole getting hired at a job thing. No matter what I tried or how hard I tried throughout my life, it was never good enough to make me “worthy” of a chance for a job. It doesn’t even pay to try when you’re from the very bottom of the social heap—nobody else will ever accept you or cut you a break anyway. I’d have gotten just as far in life with a lot less pain and aggravation NOT trying.

Getting a job—after struggling to get an education and teaching yourself computer programming around hunger, cold and utility shut-offs and life-threatening health crises without access to medical care—is a convoluted middle class ritual of secret passwords, mannerisms, and life experiences that the poor have been excluded from. And THAT is by deliberate intent on the part of class-privileged gatekeepers who feel it is their “divine right” to bar poor marginalized women’s entry into the middle class fold.

I may not have any middle class “soft skills”, but I’m not so stupid that I don’t see just how rigged the system is. I experienced and observed this classist, sexist, misogynous “Me First” male-dominated society in its shit-stained underwear—not its fancy lecture suit.

The very short-lived Great Society programs “failed” because they were sabotaged by the servants of privilege and power: privileged academicians from elite universities, policymakers, Congress and every president after LBJ. The sabotaging of anti-poverty programs began almost immediately after LBJ implemented them, thanks to the middle class/rich white male dominated political climate that has always been deeply entrenched in this country.

Upper-middle class academicians deliberately stood on their privileges to lead the War on the Poor, particularly against poor women, starting with the Moynihan report. The Moynihan report not only racialized poverty to the point of pathologizing female poverty (especially white female poverty—we’re just “poor white trash”), it also dehumanized ALL of the poor in general.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report was influenced heavily by Harvard urbanologist, Edward C. Banfield who was a “leading scholar of his generation.” Banfield was also one of Moynihan’s drinking buddies. According to Banfield, “the poor have no interest in the public good” and are “pre-occupied with having sex.”

Banfield held that the only way to ensure that the poor got chances for jobs was to abolish the minimum wage. He also suggested that the only way to get rid of poverty was to get rid of the poor—preferably by “auctioning off poor women’s babies to the highest normal class bidder.”

Banfield not only influenced Moynihan’s report, he also served as an advisor to former presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan.

Since Ivy League academia as a bastion of privilege produced “scholarship” claiming that poor women couldn’t keep their legs shut because of the lower class’s “pre-occupation with having sex”, it’s no wonder that America’s privileged classes decided that prostitution was the only thing poor women were good for.

When Clinton “ended welfare as we know it” in 1996, nothing was done to ensure that this country’s poorest women would be welcomed into middle class jobs during those “better times” when there were a lot more jobs to go around than there are today.

Nothing was done to remedy the problem of sex discrimination in hiring/firing/ promotion/pay.

Nothing was done to ensure that poor women being thrown off of their measly $4K annual AFDC aid, which never was enough to live on, would have access to advanced educations, apprenticeships, and have any legally enforceable and protected right to a toehold onto even the lowest rung of the middle class jobs ladder.

Nothing was ever done to guarantee 100% full employment for all who are able to work so that nobody—regardless of age, race, gender or disability—would be socially and economically excluded and left unable to economically fend for themselves.

All of the funding cuts to welfare and the elimination of other social programs for the poor starting with Reagan leading up to Clinton’s Welfare Reform was a real boon for pimps, trafficking rings, and johns—men with middle class incomes who use their money to enrich pimps by buying rape tickets, who are nothing but socially shielded child rapists if we’re going to be honest about it. [According to a 2014 study by the Urban Institute, the average pimp in the US makes $32,000 PER WEEK]

These same rape ticket buyers are also the most ardent opponents of equal opportunity employment laws with teeth and any legitimate welfare social safety net for the jobless poor—things that would greatly reduce (if not eliminate) the number one condition of vulnerability that forces poor women and girls into homelessness and puts them at high risk of being trafficked: Absolute poverty due to structural oppression and systemic economic/job discrimination.

Our domestic sex trafficking crisis in The US is one of the most shameful, darkest legacies of America’s War on the Poor because poor women and girls were not merely collateral damage in these past 40+ years of the War on the Poor—we were the primary target.

Those with the most privileges in this country say “well why aren’t the poor dying in the streets like over in the slums of Mumbai?” without looking at the countless POOR WOMEN who died out on the streets of America that were written off as “No Human Involved” as official police procedure on official homicide reports because of being “only prostitutes” by cops—who often extort money and “free samples” from poor prostituted/trafficked women while these same fascist jackbooted thugs are enjoying middle class incomes, job security plus medical and dental benefits, paid vacations, and pension plans.

And of course, no one questioned how/why so many poor women and girls got pressed into prostitution in the first place, either—they already knew the answer to that. Society already decided long ago that the gutter and an early grave was the only place poor women deserved ans should ever be allowed to have.

I don’t know how many of my fallen trafficked/prostituted sisters’ bodies have gone unclaimed in morgues after their deaths didn’t even make a blip on the news. Nobody has been counting them. Nobody ever cared.

For those tiny few of us who managed to escape and survive, I don’t know of more than two who ever made it to even the lowest rung of the middle class. We’re mostly all poor. We’re STILL treated as sub-humans and denied jobs and looked down on as garbage by everybody else in society—even those of us who are accomplished self-published authors, even those of us who managed to get educations and built high tech skills around the obstacles of extreme, soul-crushing poverty.

You would not believe the degree of danger and the constant threats of harm that are aimed at the few of us who escaped and survived. For speaking our truths, we get doxxed, stalked, threatened, slandered and discredited—by very privileged people with upper-middle class jobs and the luxury of lots of free time to spend attacking poor trafficking survivors who dare to hold personal fundraisers as our only way of getting any money to be able TO survive.

We literally have NO support at all. Not socially, economically, or otherwise.

But plenty of middle class issue tourists have no problem using poor trafficking survivors’ stories and this ’cause’ as a platform for boosting their own upper-middle class careers while those of us who actually suffered and who still are being denied our basic human rights aren’t getting any of the benefits as these privileged status-climbers are padding their resumes along with their wallets at our expense while doing fuck-all for us

Nobody cares about us. They never did. Those who’ve “got theirs” want poor, marginalized women dead. They never let us get chances for jobs, and they won’t even let us survive with just a little bit of basic human fuckin’ dignity—because “their taxes.”

And of course, not a single middle class raindrop ever believed they were responsible for causing the flood.

Systems of oppression do not happen by accident in a fit of collective absent-mindedness; they’re upheld and perpetuated by deliberate intent. And that deliberate intent is all about preserving privileges for some at the expense of others—those without privilege.

Systemic oppression is a privilege transfer vehicle that serves up the human rights of consumable, disposable people in economies of scale. Privilege occupies the space where someone else’s human and social rights belong.

Every poor dead trafficked and prostituted woman and teen who wouldn’t have been trafficked or otherwise forced into prostitution in the first place if not for a real lack of equal opportunity and the absence of an adequate economic safety net—are the dead albatrosses that the Left should hang around every middle class and rich liberal’s necks, starting with both of the Clintons.

As for the misogynist far Right, we already know they’re sexist, racist, fascist, scum—including every boot-licking misogynistic self-propelled shitcannon who supports their policies and votes for them. We got the memo on them decades ago, as we saw liberals and Democrats getting pulled farther and farther to the Right as a result of their political “pragmatism” in every compromise they’ve made with the Right. We now effectively have one political party with two right wings: Republican-Lite and Teapublican. (And THIS is what upper-middle class/rich liberals call “progress.”)

The Diversity Algorithm

July 19, 2015

The Diversity Algorithm.

Whom Does the Grail Serve?

September 1, 2014

Rules never serve the interests of the poorest and most downtrodden and vulnerable. Be it “The Rules” of local, state and federal law, “The Rules” of qualifying for help from a charity or social service agency, or “The Rules” of qualifying for a good job, or “The Rules” outlined in a social justice/political activism movement, or “The Rules” of discourse in a Facebook group.

Like the very last radical feminist group I retained membership in but was just kicked out of per the “No Blocking of Other Members Rule” for refusing to unblock another member, Terri Strange—one of several prominent Internet radical feminists who spread libelous lies about me and completely trashed my fundraiser by calling me a “con artist” who was “running a scam” for being a poor sex trafficking survivor in desperate need of some financial help and support.

Ms. Strange was REPEATEDLY abusive, and one of the main parties that viciously slandered me all over social media for several months, ensuring that NO ONE would donate any badly needed money so I wouldn’t lose my home over being financially unable to comply with an order and a citation from the City of Erie Code Enforcement.

It didn’t matter that this same Facebook group also had a rule that said ALL women would have their right to participate in a safe and inclusive group and NOT be subjected to abuse or harassment and stalking/doxxing by other members. (Apparently, that doesn’t apply to women who are disprivileged sex trafficking survivors even though there are laws against slander and harassment.)

“The Rules” are completely circumvented by the privileged in their treatment of the poor marginalized woman who is a sex trafficking survivor who shows up on feminist groups’ doorsteps, expecting to be able to walk through the front door of the feminist movement and be treated like a full human being with unmet needs and concerns that actually matter. She gets told she is unwelcome because “We don’t serve your kind.”

“The Rules” in my state hold that a 13 yr old child who is raped by grown ass men are crime victims with a right to restorative justice and every conceivable social support imaginable. But “The Rules” did not apply when it came to protecting me because I was trafficked and forced into prostitution as a homeless orphaned 13 yr old. Instead, “The Rules” ensured that I as a trafficked homeless teen—NOT the grown ass men who bought rape tickets—got criminalized, ostracized and stigmatized FOR LIFE, and consequently being rendered unemployable for the better part of 30 years no matter what I did to improve my situation.

And now that this society is finally starting to see that women like me were actually crime victims and my record is finally being expunged at age 47, I am “too old” for ANY employer to want to hire at a good job with a stable salary and the health benefits I desperately need (but never EVER got to have). Gee, how convenient.

If I would have been a wrongly convicted male felon that got wrongfully imprisoned for 30 years before finally winning vindication and freedom, “The Rules” are that I would have legal right of redress. I would be entitled to sue the state of Pennsylvania for those 30 years of my stolen life, and anything I suffered as a result of it. Three decades of ALL job opportunities denied, and ALL the social opportunities and life experiences that middle class non-survivors take for granted as “normal” are things I was DENIED—things like being able to get my actual high school diploma at the same age as everybody else or go to the prom, get a toehold on the jobs ladder, build/establish credit, and prepare for a home and a partner and a family.

These are ALL things I never got to have because “The Rules” NEVER protected or served poor marginalized and unwanted women like me—they only ever served and benefited people with privilege.

If you didn’t have a life that entailed having to eat out of garbage cans for YEARS, getting your hands cut up foraging for scrap metal for salvage money just to NOT die from abject poverty, and DECADES of no access to medical and dental care due to total social/economic exclusion from even a chance for a job at McDogfood’s over a prostitution “past”—you’re privileged and NOT truly poor and oppressed compared to the destitute trafficking survivor with no family, trapped in chronic abject poverty, that never got a chance for anything after escaping commercial rape hell.

Because no matter how hard we work at rebuilding our lives and no matter how long we keep trying, people with privilege keep pulling the rug out from underneath our feet to KEEP us from ever getting a chance, and “The Rules” let them get away with it while punishing us for trying to speak out when they step all over us.

“The Rules” are nothing more than a mechanism of privilege transfer payments—a wealth and power protection racket that serves the haves at the expense of the have-nots.

One thing that being from generational poverty and being a trafficking survivor has taught me about ANY rules was this: Exclusions Apply.

Because “The Rules” NEVER serve the interests of the poor, disprivileged, and marginalized. They are never written to benefit us or protect us, and they are not enforced to do so. Instead, they are set up to keep us “in our place”—under the middle and upper class designer jackboot.

“The one thing I can tell you: when I was branded, when I was stabbed, when I was chained in a closet like an animal, and when I was held at gunpoint to dig my own shallow grave—all of those happened at the hands of the purchasers of sex.” ~ Christine McDonald, sex trafficking survivor and author of Cry Purple

Except for the branding part, I had experienced similar horrific torture and abuse from johns, too—and these johns ALL were men old enough to be my father, and even my grandfather. They had kids older than me who were in college, for fucks sake. And they were/are also those who make and benefit from “The Rules.”

And in my case, ALL of them were white and middle to upper-middle class and “respectable” members of society (most were police officers!), and they ALL knew I was under-aged and did NOT want to be where I was. They knew that “The Rules” make it illegal to force or coerce sex on someone else—including sex with 13 year old girls. But they didn’t care. Their money and their privileges entitled them to buy rape tickets and go on with their lives, enjoying their careers and expensive toys and nice homes and families as if nothing ever happened.

And the majority of these socially shielded rapists were married—they were NOT “lonely and just looking for some company.”

And yet WHO do their rich white wives/ex-wives hate, resent and blame and wish death on because of what their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons were doing to poor throw-away and trafficked women and kids upon whom this unwanted outsourced sex was forced upon?

Me. And not just me—ALL the VICTIMS of commercial rape (which is exactly what prostitution really is).

And it’s not like these smug privileged handmaidens—these john protectors and enablers—didn’t know what was being done to us by their men. They knew because we are the ones whom they knowingly had the luxury and privilege of outsourcing unwanted sex onto.

And yet these trick wives hate us—the VICTIMS of sex trafficking—who were the unwilling recipients of that outsourced sex. They resent us just for being there for their precious Nigel to abuse, humiliate, rape and degrade in exchange for money we weren’t allowed to keep.

WE are the ones who did not have the privilege of having boundaries and a right to the language of “NO!” and a right to refuse.

Yet they hate and blame us for it. At best, they look down on us as “fallen women”, as children of a lesser god, while holding their noses far above the trafficking victims they “minister to” who were unjustly condemned to the brutal realities of street life and torture without any due process—something else that “The Rules” say all American citizens, including poor trafficked women, are entitled to.

No one can ever convince me that the johns, these filthy rapist scum—AND their handmaidens, their supporters, protectors and enablers—are not the biggest part, if not the entire cause, of the problem here. Because not a single pimp or human trafficker would be in business if not for privileged people’s dollars enriching them in the first place while the victims of this crime against humanity are stigmatized and repeatedly punished and ostracized, FOR LIFE.

A pox on all their houses!

Where’s the Help For Pre-Anti-Trafficking Movement Survivors?

June 3, 2014

Where’s the Help For Pre-Anti-Trafficking Movement Survivors?

“I am hoping that you will all do your best to look into your hearts and ask “what would I do if this happened to me?” To tuck your judgement away and to discover what gifts you have to contribute to fighting this horrible, destructive trade. The truth is that no one has the right to pay to have access to another human being. This is exploitation and it is not okay. We all have our causes, and this is mine. I promise to do all that I can with all of the gifts that God has blessed me with to fight for justice and stability for Jacqueline and people like her. They are human beings and deserve all of the rights and respect that any human being deserves.

They did not deserve what was done to them. And they don’t deserve to have to continue to struggle to get even their basic needs met in a society that didn’t protect them in the first place.” ~ Lucinda Ulrich

Lucinda Ulrich is the VERY talented and hard-working filmmaker/documentary maker that set up this (now expired) fundraiser on my behalf after a significant number of women in feminist groups sabotaged the first one set up on YouCaring by Marley Cote.

But apparently, nobody cares about this country’s poorest and most marginalized and disprivileged women—as evidenced by the LACK of donations this fundraiser received, despite getting well over 800 Facebook shares and thousands of views from people lucky to have incomes to live on who are getting their basic needs met because they weren’t denied any and all job opportunities their entire lives due to discrimination and the added oppression of deep, lifelong stigma and unjust criminalization for being victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

Would it really kill anybody fortunate to have a job to give up the cost of just ONE latte to help poor sex trafficking survivors who are NOT being served and helped by all the new “non-profit” NGO’s springing up like weeds that completely overlook the unmet economic and medical needs of survivors who had been trafficked and managed to escape BEFORE there even was any anti-trafficking movement?

Would it really kill those who have high paying jobs to participate in some job-sharing—i.e. share some of their paychecks and work opportunities with disadvantaged women who have nothing, struggling to NOT die from poverty and economic exclusion due to a legacy of oppression and discrimination—rather than offer poor formerly sexually exploited women nothing but unpaid internships and calling that an “opportunity”, while having the nerve to bitch about begging through fundraisers for that same poor woman who is a sex trafficking survivor that got held back her entire life because of it?

As an impoverished trafficking survivor with NO income, fighting for human dignity to abolish slavery and fighting for restorative justice for those of us who are struggling for our lives and basic human rights as victims of an industry of sexual torture, slavery, and the added oppression of stigmatization which has barred me from any employment in post-Welfare Reform America, your support is desperately needed so I may have a chance to rebuild my life, mentor other poor trafficking victims who want to learn software development, and continue my work in educating the public about this very important human rights issue. Please donate to support my work and my quest for restorative justice. Thank you.

Jacqueline S. Homan

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We Don’t Serve Your Kind—Dispatch From the Anti-Trafficking Trenches

May 1, 2014

Jacqueline S. Homan, author of Without Apology and Classism for Dimwits

An anti-trafficking activist shared an article in a Facebook anti-trafficking group addressing how orphans are particularly vulnerable socially and economically to human traffickers for exploitation in the commercial rape industry.

Yep. No Earth-shattering news there. Children who enjoy the least opportunities, social value and status and family protection are ripe prey for pimps and traffickers. I can totally relate. I was orphaned. And because I was orphaned, female and POOR, this whole society threw me away right into the clutches of traffickers and left me there to die, long before there ever was an anti-trafficking movement.

And instead of taking any measure to make any of this right for me throughout the past 30 years that I had been struggling just to NOT die from poverty since escaping from my traffickers, this society continues to hide its failures behind abusive social and economic policies, laws and unfair and discriminatory employment practices that blame the victim.

“Fallen woman” my ass—I was PUSHED. And if we’re honest about it, “pushed” is putting it very mildly. “Pushed” is something that kids do at the pool. Deliberately discarded and condemned to SLAVERY and slapped with lifelong dehumanizing stigma and total social exclusion (for those lucky to escape and survive) is more accurate.

The hatred and stigmatization of commercial rape victims resulting in the economic abuse of life threatening jobless poverty forces many to return to prostitution where they end up dying in “the life”—the average life expectancy for victims/survivors of commercial rape is only 34 in the US.

And what does society—including many of the privileged “do-gooders” getting donations and government funding for their “faith-based” anti-trafficking NGO’s—do when the women and kids they “rescued” are left homeless and unable to support themselves after leaving “faith-based” safehouse facilities because NO ONE will give them a chance for a real job, or allow them to rent an apartment, and no one will welcome them into their workplaces and into the community because “we don’t serve your kind?”

They go Pontius Pilate. They wash their hands of it. It’s no longer their problem and “we can only pray for them”, they say.

And when destitute pre-movement survivors—who have been PREVENTED from being able to get ANY chances at all for jobs with livable incomes to survive with just a little bit of human dignity for YEARS after escaping our traffickers, as opposed to struggling just to NOT DIE FROM POVERTY—are forced to BEG for money just to get SOME of our basic unmet needs met, we are told to “look to god to provide” by comfortably-off, privileged people who cannot seem to practice what they preach by giving away their money, their cars, and their nice houses filled with nice things to the poor disprivileged women with nothing whom they’re “ministering to” and then “looking to god to provide” in order to replace their stuff and meet their own basic needs.

This is how poor survivors with ZERO privilege are often treated by the very same people who raise millions in charity fundraising drives that never seem to go directly to resource-starved survivor-run organizations and to neglected older survivors in need of real material support and a real helping hand up (without the judgments and sermons and browbeating).

Too many people with privilege seem to feel that it’s OK to blame the victims, and look down on us and talk down to us with assumed superiority. Too many feel justified in using us for their own agenda, including using this movement as a platform for their war on women’s access to birth control and other forms of misogynistic abuse and re-exploitation.

Many feel that by “serving” in the anti-trafficking movement they can buy the right to be selfishly myopic by going out on “prayer walks” instead of actually giving up some of their privileges, comforts and luxuries to provide the social and economic resources needed to exit for the “fallen women” trapped in prostitution whom they are “ministering to.”

And of course, they deliberately ignore the pre-anti-trafficking movement survivors whose needs continue to go unmet.

People think that women and girls are trafficked because poor women are too mentally defective or culturally brainwashed and morally inferior and that this was how they ended up in the commercial rape trade.

They persist in pretending that there are NO other forces acting on commercial rape victims—like the socially constructed barriers of poverty, institutionalized misogyny, discrimination and abusive social and economic policy that put them there in the first place—all which act in synergy to ensure there is never any other place in society for POOR women, for abused, unwanted and unvalued women and girls, except the gutter and an early grave.

And as a 47 year old survivor of commercial rape who escaped from my traffickers thirty years ago when I was 17, I will NOT shut up about this compounding of injustice until this is made right.

Justice does not descend from its own pinnacle.

As an impoverished trafficking survivor with NO income, fighting for human dignity to abolish slavery and fighting for restorative justice for those of us who are struggling for our lives and basic human rights as victims of an industry of sexual torture, slavery, and the added oppression of stigmatization which has barred me from any employment in post-Welfare Reform America, your support is desperately needed so I may have a chance to rebuild my life, mentor other poor trafficking victims who want to learn software development, and continue my work in educating the public about this very important human rights issue. Please donate to support my work and my quest for restorative justice. Thank you.

Jacqueline S. Homan

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Not a Single John Ever Cared About the Trafficking Victims They Harmed

April 4, 2014

Only 15% of all men are johns (socially protected and approved rapists). At least 60% are married or are in long-term relationships. And 100% of them drive the $32 billion/year commercial rape industry. Everyone claims to be against sex trafficking. Everyone claims to care about sex trafficking survivors. So then why does everybody go out of their way to deny sex trafficking survivors reparations and restorative justice?

Instead, society is more concerned with protecting the privileges of these johns. Because these johns are “nice guys” who are “pillars of the community”, they somehow are more deserving of protection than the women and children they pay to degrade, humiliate, rape and harm, and even kill while society is convinced that they aren’t doing anything wrong, that they’re not monsters who are destroying real victims’ lives.

But not a single john cares if the woman or girl he sexually abuses, violates, humiliates, degrades, beats up, and tortures and penetrates and ejaculates inside of and on just for kicks is being forced to open her legs for him under very real threat of harm or death by traffickers or a pimp.

Not a single john cares that she does NOT want to be there for him and wants out but has no way out—except maybe suicide.

Not a single john cares if she is younger than his own daughters—whom he would not want other men doing to them what he just did to the girl that he paid for the “right” to do things to that his own wife or girlfriend would not have to tolerate.

Not a single john cares if she is left with disabling and debilitating urinary incontinence for the rest of her life as a result of the sexual injuries he inflicted on her adolescent body. Don’t like what I’m doing? Hurts? Tough shit. I’m paying. Shut up. You’re nothing but meat.

Not a single john cares if his bed victim did not want to go “bareback”—it’s not that john who will suffer an unwanted (and probably very high risk) pregnancy with a “trick baby” as a result.

Not a single john cares if he infects the woman or girl with a deadly and incurable disease that she can’t get medical care for (but he can)—that is what his money and male privilege entitles him to do to her.

Not a single john cares if the girl he feels entitled to fuck isn’t even old enough to get a paper route job.

Not a single john has a vested interest in working towards a more fair and equal society for women so that his own daughters won’t be poor because of having their job opportunities limited due to discrimination against women with prostitution being offered up as the ONLY “option” left to them.

Not a single john cares about anyone or anything except being able to have access to an entire class of women and kids that the rest of society offered up to him on a silver platter as human shields for him to vent his sickest, darkest urges upon so that women and girls from the “better ” social classes might be spared from having to experience it.

So WHY are so many people in society—including highly privileged professionals who call themselves “objective”, “unbiased”, “enlightened” and “logical”— MORE concerned with protecting HIS reputation and career and HIS “right” to further enrich pimps, to dehumanize and rape, to crush women’s and girls’ hopes and destroy their lives—than they are with protecting and supporting poor sex trafficking survivors’ human rights and valid claims for reparations and restorative justice?

I was only 13. What did I do to deserve to be thrown away and allowed no other place in society except the gutter and an early grave from being trafficked at 13 with NO help to escape when I was 17, and then left to die from poverty due to being stigmatized and excluded from jobs for the rest of my life because of what was done TO me by others?

How the fuck can ANYONE claiming to be a supporter of sex trafficking survivors’ human rights and claims for justice be OK with ANY of that shit in the name of “liberty?” Liberty for WHOM?

As an impoverished trafficking survivor with NO income, fighting for human dignity to abolish slavery and fighting for restorative justice for those of us who are struggling for our lives and basic human rights as victims of an industry of sexual torture, slavery, and the added oppression of stigmatization which has barred me from any employment in post-Welfare Reform America, your support is desperately needed so I may continue my work in educating the public about this very important human rights issue. Please donate to support my work and my quest for restorative justice. Thank you.

Jacqueline S. Homan

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Jobless Women, the Economically Disappeared, Betrayed by Progressives and Petty Bourgeoisie Feminists Again

August 5, 2011

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author: Classism for Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

The middle class “feminists” who claim to be allies of their poorest and most downtrodden “sisters” haven’t a clue what a poor woman’s daily struggle in deep poverty is like.

Even the most generous, non-materialistic middle class “allies” of America’s poorest women refused to comprehend or accept the poor welfare mother’s preoccupation with their very urgent and pressing need for money.

Most of these so-called allies, who have never lived the savage realities of destitution and being among the ranks of America’s economically disappeared, viewed poor women’s concerns about money as an “entitlement mentality.”

Petty bourgeois feminists referred to poor single mothers as “con artists” who wanted to get money for “doing nothing”, accusing poor women of “only getting pregnant for the welfare check” — buying into the sexist, patriarchal capitalist idea that pregnancy and childbirth is “nothing” for women to go through even though pregnancy and childbirth complications still kill more women in the US than in many other countries, and that the unpaid work that women have always traditionally done is “nothing”; that home-making, care-taking or child-raising isn’t “work.”

What care-takers do IS work — just ask anyone who has ever had to choose between their McJob or their sick child, or forego a job search in order to take care of an aging parent or a terminally ill spouse (or domestic partner). And mothers need a hell of a lot more than a cheap box of chocolates and a ten cent Mothers’ Day card. Poor women need money.

Yet, because of being sold out or abandoned altogether by Eurocentric middle class feminists, America’s poorest of the poor — women on welfare (before Welfare Reform eliminated AFDC and reduced benefits) — found themselves in situations where those who didn’t have to live with the consequences of “pragmatism” and political “compromise” were the ones defining the situation.

There’s a huge difference between the slightly better off working class guy in temporary poverty who just needs a job and a chronically poor woman who has been out of the job market for many years, serving as a care-giver or as a sole parent. Care-givers and mothers really need, and deserve, an adequate income.

Yet, as the Reagan Revolution’s War on the Poor right along up to Clinton’s Welfare Reform Act, which was driven by most middle class “feminists”, each subsequent part of “welfare reform” grew more punitive as America’s poorest women were told by suburban-dwelling soccer mom feminists who claimed to be allies, that poor women on welfare had to be “pragmatic” because “compromise” via benefit reductions and 2-5 year time limits coupled with “work requirements” were necessary. But all of those pragmatic “compromises” were no compromise at all because America’s poorest women got nothing but subjected to economic terrorism with a proverbial gun pointed right at our heads. We gained nothing at all, and lost all the way around.

The final slap in the face was that there wasn’t even a guaranteed right to a living wage job as part of this “welfare reform.” No one knows exactly how many poor, hard-to-employ women remained jobless and were plunged into homelessness and utter destitution after being thrown off of welfare at the end of their 5 year lifetime benefit limit. Homeless people have been criminalized and driven underground, including children, who were also denied a basic public education for lack of an address.

Middle class “feminists” ignored that issue, after talking down to their poorer “sisters”, lecturing us on the need to be “pragmatic.” Well, with poor people’s life expectancy rates, preventable blindness and other disability rates, infant death rates, and maternal mortality rates that have now surpassed those in several other Third World countries; we see exactly what middle class pragmatism gets us.

This is what happens when middle class “allies” and activists lead and run social justice movements, presuming the right to “speak for” the poor. They think they’re the only ones qualified for the job to act as brokers and middle-men for the poor, and that their class status gives them that qualification. Others end up having to suffer the losses they personally won’t ever have to live with (or die from). And they expect poorer people to do all of the really hard, thankless and unpaid work while they get to speak at all the events, collect all the honorariums, get all the media attention and press coverage, and take all the credit for brokering the deal.

But they don’t want to do all of the unglamorous, energy-sapping and time consuming and grinding work of survey-taking and petition-signing, and doing what it takes to get 200 people to a rally. And that does take a lot of work. All those people don’t just show up simply because they saw someone’s name on a flyer!

While the bourgeois feminists’ movement was preoccupied with battling lifestyle-related issues, poor women have been fighting in the trenches for our rights to equal access to societal resources and benefits — including equal rights to the living wage jobs and equal pay. We didn’t care if we could burn our bras or publicly make out with a partner of the same sex. We care about being able to survive. We’re struggling for equal access to adequate employment, educations, and for the legitimization of income support as compensation and recognition for care-givers and mothers.

The class restrictions that kept white middle class women in the kitchen wasn’t our reality; poverty, racism, and sexism was. Although NOW made an official statement saying it was committed to protecting the now-extinct miserly and inadequate safety net of AFDC, including abortion and dental care covered by Medicaid for poor women, the majority of NOW ‘s petty bourgeoisie membership didn’t follow through. The rights of gays and lesbians to marry (albeit an important right) was far more important than poor women’s fundamental human right to life, to adequate food, utilities, shelter, a job and/or income support, and to birth control and abortion access and the right to medical and dental care — all of which are life and death matters for poor women.

In wandering into the morass of the trivial issues of bra-burning and trashing Playboy, petty bourgeoisie feminists completely betrayed the struggle for women’s most fundamental human rights and that has had a devastating impact on the lives of poor women without jobs or any means of income support.

Women suffering the real oppression of daily economic terrorism that poverty is, including the repercussions of forced pregnancy and forced childbirth-promoting laws that led to the criminalization of miscarriages and stillbirths, and the conscription of poor women into reproductive chattel slavery at peril to our health, wellbeing and lives — all of this has been ignored by middle and upper class feminists.

What they won’t ever admit is that they have benefited from the ongoing oppression and exploitation of their much poorer “sisters.” They never intended for poor women to benefit from all that equality they were seeking for themselves.

They’ve been silent for over 30 years since the passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976 followed by the Rapists’ Rights Lobby’s “conscience clause” and “fetal personhood” laws that have cropped up over the last 20 years, and the decimation of the meager and inadequate safety net that welfare was prior to 1996 when Slick Willy eliminated welfare as we know it, plunging 14 million poor single mothers into instant destitution and homelessness under the guise of “tough love.”

There is no comparison between the “quiet desperation” of affluent women like the late Princess Diana of Wales who got tricked into miserable marriages with over-privileged inbred crowned heads or members of the financial aristocracy merely to serve as an incubator for the economic cannibal class’s parasitic progeny after buying into the Cinderella-Prince Charming myth and wanting all that royalty has to offer, versus the very real crushing and life-endangering exploitation and abuse suffered by poor women and girls from the underclass — like 15 year-old Rennie Gibbs, who began her life imprisonment sentence this 4th of July (ironically, on the day American’s celebrate “Independence”) by a Mississippi court for the “crime” of delivering a premature stillborn, thanks to all of the “pro-life” laws and a Christian Right state in which there is no Planned Parenthood or any abortion clinic.

We still do not know anything about the male co-conceiver, such as whether he drank or did drugs which resulted in defective sperm which could have precipitated a miscarriage or stillbirth. We don’t even know if the sex (or the resultant pregnancy) was consensual.

But nobody cares about the plight of poor women, especially those of us who have been marginalized and excluded from the workforce for two or more generations — due in no small measure to the stigma of poverty and all the other barriers of classism that go with that which serve as obstacles to beat poor women down over and over and over, as vacuous middle class spoiled brats who are lucky enough to have good jobs tell us that no matter what we’ve tried to do to be “deserving” of a chance, we’re not doing anything right, not trying hard enough, not responsible, or just plain not good enough.

Dealing with issues of race and gender doesn’t meant you’ve dealt with classism and unearned privilege. There’s a world of difference between the working poor who struggle to get by from paycheck to paycheck who are one car breakdown away from losing everything and the very poor who’ve been trapped by generational poverty and all of the stigma and obstacles to getting a job (when there’s never been enough jobs for everyone anyway) that chronic poverty imposes.

The long-term poor who have been excluded and marginalized suffer the worst; neglected and abandoned on the outer fringes of society, struggling in destitution outside of the “primary labor market” of steady jobs. Those who are lucky enough to have enjoyed steady employment think that those of us with nothing in chronic poverty lack work ethic and discipline.

But it takes a hell of a lot more work ethic and discipline to survive even just one day in our lives, than it does to simply show up and perform some tasks assigned by some boss at an office.

Try scrounging money for food or a utility bill by salvaging scrap metal off the street in all kinds of weather, stripping wire until your hands are bleeding and calloused, and getting all cut up from handling scrap metal for 80 hrs/week just to get maybe only $100 (or whatever meager price the salvage yards feel like paying out based on prices that they set, depending on what the metals commodity brokers dictate). Then come and talk to me about “being responsible” and your “work ethic.”

Try having to live like that, hoping to get enough money to put towards a cheap prepaid cell phone just so you have a means of communication for things like being able to call the police or fire department in an emergency, or being able to keep trying to get a job while suffering from dental problems that you can’t get treated because you have no money and no job with dental benefits — never mind maybe eventually being able to repay that unaffordable student loan debt you incurred in hopes of being “worthy” of a chance for a job so you could climb out of poverty before getting “too old” for anyone to hire.

And of course, those of us in poverty who tried to do “all the right things” get nothing but slapped in the face by middle class snobs who always tell us how “irresponsible” we are if we have no income and have no way to document the fact that we have no income to the satisfaction of some snippy rude middle class bureaucrat at the student loan servicing center, and therefore we’re told we can’t qualify for any deferment or income-contingent repayment plan.

Middle class snobbishness and pragmatism blinds society’s more fortunate and luckily employed from that savage reality of poverty and classism. For those of us who have never had a moment’s comfort and security throughout our entire lives, pragmatism is merely a license for maintaining a status quo in which nothing ever gets better for us and there is no hope that anything will ever change.

Middle class (and often working class) pragmatism really amounts to “how can I get a better deal for ME” by using those of us at the very bottom as their poster child to further their own agenda while never sticking by the poor to help us get a better deal, too. Instead, we get jettisoned the minute they get a few token bones tossed their way. And what do chronically poor women get? Nothing. Or worse.

We get our food stamps and Medicaid cut, our LIHEAP funding cut while utilities skyrocket and things like heat in the winter or a hot shower are unattainable luxuries. Now we got our social security cut, and we lost our access to reliable birth control through Planned Parenthood as defunding Title X caused them to close their doors in several states already.

Chronically poor and jobless women like those of us from generational poverty were never included or accepted in the job market even during the “better times” — and we’re supposed to grateful to our middle class “benefactors” for their “wins” of pragmatism that always benefit everybody else except us? For us, these are life and death realities; not a tally of “wins” in the game of political football.

Until middle class feminists and the steadily employed working class “social justice activists” realize this and deal with their classism, they will continue to alienate the very poor and lose what little bit of trust we may have had in them in the first place. They have yet to do right by their poorest and most marginalized “sisters.” I won’t hold my breath in hopes that they ever will.

Because poor people never win in coalitions. Cross-class coalitions mean using the chronically jobless poor for the ends of middle class people. Those of us from generational poverty were never meant to be included. So what’s the point in voting when we’re always neglected or offered up as the convenient sacrificial lambs at first chance?

While women lucky enough to have a job, even if only a crappy one, can now get their birth control through Obamacare without co-pays, chronically poor women without jobs (or any chance of ever being able to get one) have lost everything with cuts in Medicaid and Planned Parenthood closings, leaving us with nothing — not even basic maternity and post-partum care to at least reduce the already higher chances of death and disability for us as a result of having no options other than carrying unwanted pregnancies to term. And for this, we’re supposed to be grateful to our middle class “saviors?” When we get a share of the pie for once and get access to real choices and options, then we’ll do the victory dance, too.


How the Middle Class is its Own Worst Enemy

June 19, 2011

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author: Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

Pseudo-progressive group MoveOn.org posted on its site a 2 minute video featuring Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary under the Clinton presidency. The video, titled “The Truth About the Economy”, gave a very abbreviated half-of-the-story illustration of the cause for the middle class’s current plight. But it completely whitewashed and ignored the role that the middle class played in its own demise by deliberately hurting the poor during the “better times” of the Reagan Revolution followed by the Clinton-era of prosperity.

The middle class suburban-dwelling voters — most of them white males with “soccer mom” wives — literally drove the Welfare Reform engine which eliminated what miserly inadequate safety net there was for the poorest of the poor on the very bottom economic rung (most whom are women).

Now that many in the middle class are falling into poverty as the long-term unemployed middle-aged are jettisoned and left on the permanently unemployable scrap heap, the middle class is outraged. They’re demanding a bigger share of the pie for themselves while still begrudging the very poor even the tiniest morsel. They never learn. You’d think that the middle class would “get it” by now, but I won’t hold my breath.

Almost all of the posters commenting on the Robert Reich video whined about the loss of their middle class living standards. But they refused to see that what is now being done to them they first did to the poor, and therefore set the stage for their own demise. Karma is a bitch.

None of them cry “restore the safety net for the poor” — it’s all about the middle class, as if they’re the only ones with valid economic claims. They refuse to admit that in order to “save America” by “saving the middle class”, they first needed to start by defending the least empowered and most vulnerable citizens at the very bottom economic rung that were targeted by the Reagan Revolution. But instead of saving the poor, they destroyed the poor and they’re still doing it. And by the evidence in the voluminous comments stream on MoveOn’s site, no one in the middle class has any remorse about that.

Major Disconnect is What Happened to the Middle Class

Between 1990 and 1997, the National Student Loan survey by Nellie Mae reported that students borrowed $140 billion to meet their college education expenses. Over 25% used credit cards to help augment their education costs. All of the surveyed respondents had non-education related debt, too. The majority of respondents also said that unaffordable student loan debt caused them to do one or more of the following: drop out of college, delay or forego homeownership and buying a car, or having children.

According to Business Week in 1994, “Tuition and fees have risen 94% since 1989, nearly triple the 32.5% increase in inflation. Even as a college education has become the litmus test in the job market, the widening wage chasm has made it harder for low-income people to go to college. Kids from the top quarter have no problem: 76% earn bachelor’s degrees today vs. 31% in 1980. But less than 4% of those in the bottom quarter families now finish college vs. 6% back then [in 1980].”

While job opportunities rapidly disappeared for women without college degrees, wages for the working class were falling and college costs surpassed the cost of living index — leaving America’s poor marginalized and economically excluded from the dot com prosperity of the Clinton years — former president Bill Clinton didn’t lift a finger to help the poor who had been devastated by the previous 12 years of Reaganomics as the Reagan Revolution machine mowed down the poor and crushed the underprivileged underfoot. Reagan was twice elected by a middle class voting majority.

During Clinton’s two-term presidency, not one of the budget cuts to the now-eliminated social programs for the poor (including restoring the funding for Pell grants that the Gramm-Rudman Bill slashed) had been reversed. While the poor suffered from being trapped in miserable poverty with no way out, the middle class was living large; buying suburban McMansions, mutual funds, stocks and bonds — while criminalizing the homeless and scoffing at the poor who weren’t making it, telling us that our conditions of poverty and deprivation were our own fault for “not trying hard enough.”

How the poor were supposed to “bootstrap” their way up out of poverty and into mainstream middle class America remained unanswered and ignored. All was well in white male dominated middle classdom, to hell with poor women who had no chance at all of ever being able to make it thanks to a legacy of sexism, job discrimination, and pervasive misogyny on top of the additional systemic barriers of classism. It was the middle class majority voting constituency that voted for Reagan (twice), George Bush I, George Bush II (twice), and former-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and shaped economic and social policy during Clinton’s presidency.

Public opinion polls and Freudian psychoanalysis techniques were used by Stanford researchers to help the Clinton administration get a feeling for the political pulse among the middle class majority. The feedback provided by those research polls shaped social and economic policy and dictated the language of the draconian Welfare Reform Act of 1996.

Now in 2011, many who had previously enjoyed middle class comforts and security are crying foul. They wonder how the government could let things get so out of hand and ask how a regime of inverted totalitarianism could sneak up on them. Wiping the Rip van Winkle sleep dust from their eyes, they angrily blame the Republicans and sell-out “Blue Dog” Democrats for the assault on unionized public sector employees. But where were these same disgruntled middle class voices these last 30+ years that the War on the Poor was launched in full swing? What did they think would eventually happen to the middle class after three decades of destroying the poor? The writing was on the wall in 1985, in 1996, and in 2001.

The red flags were raised repeatedly throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s by scholars and researchers like the folks at United for a Fair Economy, the Brookings Institute, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; homeless activists like Marian Kramer and Cheri Honkala with the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, and Keith McHenry who founded Food Not Bombs.

Scholars and authors like Dr. Michael Parenti, Jonathon Kozol, Vine Deloria, and indigenous law professor Robert A. Williams had all in their own ways made multiple contributions to the literary world highlighting the mounting despair, injustices, inequality and poverty. How many educated middle class folks read their works? It’s not like all the warnings weren’t there. The middle class knew. They chose to ignore it when all was fine in their own little worlds.

In Michael Parenti’s 1997 book Blackshirts & Reds, everything was practically drawn out in crayon for middle class Americans who love to boast of their superior literacy and academic achievements while praising the unparalleled value of their “print culture.” Too bad most of these educated high achievers didn’t read Parenti, who eloquently mapped out for them how “rational fascism” renders service to capitalism and how corporate power undermines democracy because plutocrats always choose autocrats. They put their literacy on a permanent vacation as they swayed to the seductive tempo of the “ownership society” song that the klepto-plutocracy sold them.

When the Chickens Come Home to Roost

In 2011, public sector employees in Wisconsin — from teachers to police to firefighters to welfare caseworkers — howled in protest at the looming specter of more measures assaulting what remained of unionized workers’ rights. They’re up in arms that Democrats operated in cahoots with Republicans and powerful union bosses to sell them out.

But who did these disgruntled middle class workers vote for during these past 30+ years? Did they vote for some of the same elected officials and lawmakers that built lucrative political careers by hurting the poor, particularly poor single mothers? Did they heed the previous warnings of creeping fascism and the rise of inverted totalitarianism?

Instead of being too preoccupied with reading their 401(k) statements and the latest issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, they should have read Michael Parenti’s Blackshirts & Reds. Everything now being visited upon the middle class now was done before in history; workers and the poor were crushed underfoot to protect the interests of capital, which finally turned with rending claws on the middle class.

In 1924 in Germany, Social Democrat officials in the Ministry of Interior used Reichswehr and Free Corps fascist paramilitary groups to attack leftist demonstrators. They imprisoned 7,000 people. In 1932, three candidates ran for president in Germany: Conservative Party candidate Paul von Hindenburg, Communist Party candidate Ernst Thaelmann, and Nazi candidate Adolf Hitler. In his campaign, Thaelmann argued that a vote for von Hindenburg was a vote for Hitler and Hitler would lead Germany into war. The bourgeois press, including the Social Democrats, denounced Thaelmann’s claims as “Moscow inspired.”

Right-wing governments have always been about maintaining the existing order of unearned privileges and calling it a “free market”; keeping the world safe for the empowered hierarchies and wealthy classes of the world which overwhelmingly have a white male face. Meanwhile, leftist “totalitarians” wanted to abolish exploitative property systems and create a more shared and egalitarian economic system. The left’s favoring the have-nots over the haves made them the hated targets of the unjustly enriched beneficiaries of unearned privilege.

That’s why any real democratic movement that tried to relieve the misery and suffering of the poor has been villainized over and over; having to defend their position. And when the majority of that public is comfortably middle class, they’re not interested in rocking the boat to save the poor whose life chances and human rights they’ve jettisoned. Even the most sincere anti-communist progressives wilted in fear of being accused of being “Communist” or a “socialist.”

Many of the so-called leftist intellectuals cheered the undermining and overthrow of communist and socialist governments in the former Soviet Union and the East Bloc nations throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. They thought that democracy would finally have its time in the sun. But they knew better because among these left-leaning intellectual circles it was widely known that the IMF and the multinational corporations of Western Europe were the prime forced that actively undermined and overthrew Soviet communism and socialist economies in the former East Bloc. The pseudo-left thought they would finally be free of the communist albatross, or, as Richard Lichtman put it, “liberated from the incubus of the Soviet Union and the succubus of Communist China.”

As part of the overthrow of communism, “free market” right-wing forces in various Eastern European nations received financial backing and organizational assistance from US-financed agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy — the AFL-CIO’s Free Trade Union Institute, which was in bed with the CIA.

Meanwhile, capitalist restoration impoverished the former East Bloc countries and the former Soviet Union and undermined many Third World liberation struggles against the tyrannical yoke of colonialism. Those Third World nations no longer received any aid from Russia and the fall of Soviet communism and East Bloc socialism opened the door for a whole new crop of neo-fascist right-wing governments to spring up; ones that worked hand-in-glove with US/Western Europe counter-revolutionaries and trans-national capitalist interests around the world.

In the immortal words of Richard Levins, “Capitalism with a human face has been replaced by capitalism in your face. So, in the new exuberant aggressiveness of world capitalism we now see what communists and their allies have held at bay.”

That Dreaded C-word

Because American-style cowboy capitalism has enjoyed cult status, it was taboo to utter the C-word (“class”). The only times the C-word may be used is in its linguistic power to reaffirm the rights of the exploiter classes and defend the system of unearned privileges that serve to guarantee a permanent pool of exploitable surplus labor — most whom are members of oppressed groups, women and racial minorities.

The C-word is allowed to be used when prefaced with the word “middle” or as a suffix on the word “under” — as in “underclass”, the desperately poor struggling on the margins of society on the very bottom economic rung, who get the least of everything while being blamed for their victimization. Political pundits, poverty pimps, talking heads, and right-wing hacks in the media and well-heeled “experts” get offended at any reference to an owning class and screech “class warfare” at the most subtle hint that the rich are oppressing the poor.

But references to the negative stereotypes of the very poor in the underclass are acceptable because they reinforce the existing social hierarchy of unearned privileges and justify the abuse and deprivation routinely heaped upon America’s most downtrodden. The savage realities of classism and the oppression of the very poor by the middle class is whitewashed and obscured by an ideology summed up in the following credo: “We’re all middle class and we’re free to be as economically successful in life as we want because America is the land of opportunity.”

What they leave out, however, is “whom.” America is the land of opportunity for whom? In a capitalist society, somebody always has to lose so that someone else wins. Somebody always has to get left out. Somebody always has to be at the bottom. The “opportunity” to escape the crushing stranglehold of deep poverty is nearly non-existent for the majority of the poor, especially for poor women — particularly poor women over age 40 that have been unable to get any kind of job after several years of searching. There just aren’t enough opportunities, jobs, and lucky breaks to go around for everybody. And it is overwhelmingly poor women who are bypassed for what scant opportunities remain.

All conservative ideologies justify the draconian treatment of the poor and discrimination against women and all other existing inequities as “the natural order of things.” But if the rich and comfortably off middle class — who are overwhelmingly white males — are so naturally superior in talent, skills, and social worth, why then must those who already have everything be provided with so many unearned privileges under the law, so many bailouts, tax write-offs, subsidies, price supports, and a host of other special considerations at the public’s expense?

And what exactly are those naturally superior talents of society’s favorite sons? Their naturally superior abilities seem to lie within an array of unethical and illegal subterfuges such as job discrimination, price-fixing, collusion, stock and commodities manipulation, insider trading, fraud, tax evasion, harmful products, unsafe workplace conditions, environmental destruction, and the violent enforcement of unfair competition and stealing credit for others’ work and ideas. At that, the overprivileged overclass is a resounding success.

So what exactly are these self-appointed demi-gods contributing or producing to justify their favored treatment over everyone else? By all accounts, the only things being produced and reproduced are oppression, discrimination, theft, social misery, and injustice. Not exactly the stuff they deserve so many rewards for. Yet, middle class America bought into the “ownership society” lie propagated by rich white men who elected themselves king of the planet. The middle class shut their ears and eyes to the harsh truth about poverty in their own backyards. The middle class has always been part of the problem.

Those who have never gone without medical and dental care, heat in the winter, or hot water to bathe properly because of being repeatedly denied opportunities for a good job due to gender/race/age discrimination on top of the barriers of systemic classism had convinced themselves that bad shit only happens to bad people, that “giving money to the poor only hurts them” (justification for being selfish), and that George W. Bush was right when he said, “We’re all middle class now.”

No Virginia, We Are Not “All Middle Class Now”

In 1999 just three years after the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 was passed, a study by the Urban Institute found that nearly 3 in 10 low-income families were unable to pay their rent or mortgage or utility bills and nearly half of all low-income families had difficulty affording food. Low-income workers increasingly had to turn to food pantries which, like homeless shelters and other charities, could not meet the rising need.

In its 1998 survey, the US Conference of Mayors found that requests for emergency food assistance rose by 14% in 1997 and 1 out of 5 requests for food assistance went unmet. The American Journal of Public Health reported in 1998 that 10 million Americans (including 4 million children) didn’t have enough to eat. The majority were families with at least one employed adult.

In 1999, a team of researchers, scholars and social justice advocates published a 94-page booklet citing all of the growing problems of mounting poverty that was becoming increasingly inescapable, a burgeoning permanent underclass, and a shrinking middle class. The booklet includes 9 pages of credible source citations from reports compiled from the data provided by multiple government agencies and private charities and university studies. Some of those reports were from those who were on the inside of policy-making; not people with a “political agenda.”

A February 2006 report from America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s food bank network, found that 45% of their clients reported having to choose between buying food and paying utility bills.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that is supposed to help the poor with basic utilities has always been underfunded. Since utilities have been deregulated and public protections from price-gouging in the form of rate caps have been removed, the problem has been made worse.

In 2002, the Joyce Foundation reported that in the wake of welfare reform and utility deregulation, those who had left welfare after their five-year lifetime limits were up were still poor, if not poorer. Throughout the American Rust Belt, the following percentages of people whose utilities had been cut off as of 2002 were:

  • 15% of Wisnconsin’s poor
  • 15% of Ohio’s poor
  • 25% of Indiana’s poor
  • 11% of Michigan’s poor

In 1988, only 37% of the poor got energy assistance from LIHEAP and what they got was not enough to stave off utility shut-offs. In 2000, only 20% of the poor got helped due to LIHEAP funding cuts. The middle class convinced themselves that “there is all this help out there” for those in dire straits. But nobody wants to talk about the outcomes for all the poor people who are increasingly turned away: all the hypothermia deaths and residential fires caused by desperate poor people resorting to unsafe alternative heating sources.

In March of 2010, David Fox of the National Low-Income Energy Consortium said that prior to funding $1.8 billion in funding cuts for LIHEAP in 2010; only 20% of all eligible extremely poor households were able to be served. After the funding cuts in 2010, only 10-15% of the poorest of the poor will be able to get helped.

Given the number of long-term unemployed whose benefits ran out in 2009 (only 40% of American workers are eligible to receive unemployment benefits), in addition to the already suffering 5 million jobless poor who were poor single mothers booted off of welfare but unable to get or keep any job and whose sole income is food stamps, the number of US households without life-sustaining utilities reached 10 million as of December 31st 2010. Consequences of utility shut-offs include homelessness, illness, death, poor child development, and the disintegration of families.

According to the annual survey conducted by the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), 60% of LIHEAP recipients couldn’t pay their utility bills because they lost their jobs or had a reduction in income. 92% of LIHEAP recipients had a pregnant woman, an elderly person, or a child in the home.

The truth about unearned privileges, job discrimination, and lack of enough jobs for everyone in need of a job who is able to work, poverty in America with a wealth of information about it has always been out there. This isn’t news. How can anyone lucky enough to be middle class today in 2011 say they “didn’t know” what was going on and where this country was headed? Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Like the “good Germans” 75 years ago who claimed they “didn’t know” what the industrial and financial elite and their Nazi government was doing to the Jews, America’s middle class has always known what was being done to America’s poor. 84% of those struggling below poverty in this country are WOMEN. The middle class didn’t care. They didn’t have a problem with all of the redistributive injustices caused by capitalism (which is, essentially, a gender war) until they found themselves under the firing line of capitalism’s Hotchkiss guns.

And even now, most of the middle class you see whining and howling about assaults on their “rights” are cutthroats and back-stabbers who would stick it to their own less fortunate family members who have fallen on hard times in order to “keep theirs.” Trickle-down economics was supposed to stop at the middle class and never reach the “undeserving” poor whose throats they’ve always been eager to cut to advance their own agenda and class interests — which almost always, without exception, are aligned with the rich whom they jealously aspire to become.

If the poor on society’s margins on the very bottom economic rung harbor any hostility, resentment, and distrust for the now-disgruntled middle class, it is wholly justified.

http://youtu.be/JTzMqm2TwgE

Feeding the Poor — An Act of “Terrorism”

December 30, 2010

Jacqueline S. Homan, author: Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

Last week when I had the pleasure of speaking with 53 year-old Keith McHenry, the founder of Food Not Bombs, the true depth and degree of the establishment’s malevolence and contempt for the poor was made vividly clear. Unemployed since 2003, he has been living in his van after all of his resources ran out during his futile struggle against long-term unemployment.

McHenry, a computer graphics designer by profession, was fired from his job at United Way after being blacklisted by Raytheon, a well-heeled defense contractor. He did not know why he was abruptly let go after getting stellar reviews from his superiors for his performance.

It took another year or two before McHenry landed another job — another non-profit organization, Radio For the Blind in Tucson, Arizona. He was terminated from that job, for reasons that had nothing to do with his work performance or ability to fit in with the office culture. His supervisor called him into her office one morning and apologetically told him she had to let him go.

McHenry and other key employees of Radio For the Blind are listed in company emails that routinely go out to the non-profit’s corporate contributors. Many of Radio for the Blind’s corporate donors are the same companies that give to the United Way, one of them being Raytheon.

This apparently led to the phone call from Raytheon to Keith McHenry’s supervisor, the managing director of Radio For the Blind. She explained, “I got this call from the vice president of Raytheon wondering why you work for us when you’re on the blacklist. He said, ‘Didn’t you know he [McHenry] was on the list and you’re not allowed to hire him?’ ”

The “transgression” that landed Keith McHenry on the list was his starting up the secular humanitarian group Food Not Bombs back in the 1980’s. This humanitarian organization is listed by the FBI as one of the most prominent “terrorist” groups in the US, for the “crime” of feeding the poor through direct actions such as setting up a folding table in public parks and offering delicious, hot prepared vegetarian meals free of charge to anybody who is hungry, or simply curious about the friendly activists with Food Not Bombs and their promotion of ethical eating, the humane treatment of animals and sustainable living.

Food Not Bombs was the only group that dared to cross the line by getting food to survivors of Hurricane Katrina when the Red Cross and other “official” charities were denied entrance to the sealed off flooded city of New Orleans. Food Not Bombs volunteers fed everybody, including FEMA personnel, police, and National Guardsmen.

Food Not Bombs gets organic vegetarian food donated from supermarkets and places like Rainbow co-op, and other local stores. Each local chapter of Food Not Bombs is democratically organized and run. There are chapters in approximately 1,000 cities around the world, involved in the humanitarian work of sharing food and community spirit with people. So how is it that the FBI, the CIA, and other components of the national security state decided to target Food Not Bombs for harassment and label it as a terrorist organization?

Simply put, Food Not Bombs embarrasses the establishment by doing what they do: feeding poor people for free without sermonizing them. Even if it means committing an occasional act of civil disobedience, like violating local ordinances capriciously enacted and aimed specifically at the poor and homeless; such as “progressive” San Francisco, the home of Nancy Pelosi — the liberal heart of America — which gentrified its poor out of the only homes they could afford and then criminalized them for being homeless by enacting a law that forbids anyone from sitting or lying down in the public parks.

Three members of the Philadelphia chapter were arrested on charges of terrorism for feeding the poor. Eric McDaniel got sentenced to 19 years in prison on trumped up fabricated charges during a direct action community meal in San Francisco. Bill Rogers died under mysterious circumstances after he was accused of burning down a Colorado ski resort. Keith McHenry was arrested for serving food in San Francisco with Food Not Bombs for “assault” and “criminal conspiracy to serve food in violation of a court order.” He narrowly escaped life imprisonment under the Three Strikes Law after the charges were dropped when Amnesty International and the UN got involved.

When Eric Montanez with the Orlando, Florida chapter cooked up and served vegan cuisine to the hungry homeless “tent city” residents — most whom are middle-aged long-term unemployed casualties of America’s social holocaust — he was arrested for violating a local ordinance that criminalizes the poor as well as those who want to freely share food with the poor.

Food Not Bombs currently operates in 12 countries worldwide without humiliating, patronizing, or lecturing the needy people they serve; but only in America does the group face resistance and repression. That is par for the course in the “land of the free.”

America is a “Christian nation” that wears its “pro-life” patriotic morality as a fashion (fascist?) accessory — like its “freedom” and “democracy” that it peddles to the world the way Hitler sold Nazism. May our Statue of Liberty rest in peace.


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