Poverty By America Book Summary

education poverty Jan 24, 2024

My solutions look at the different ways to AVOID the poverty mindset. I did not like most of Matthew’s Desmond’s solutions to poverty except one. His solutions included


  1. Expanding existing government programs
  2. More marketing to get people to apply and accept government benefits
  3. Increase tax rate on wealthy
  4. More spending on public works so that less people “opt out” of shared resources
  5. More diversity through zoning through building mixed income communities


In his first book, Evicted, Matthew provided first hand accounts on the lives of poverty. What struck me about Evicted was his vivid points about poverty and the exploitation that makes poverty beneficial for capitalism.  In my research, I focus on WHY poverty exists in the land of opportunity. We are still living in the 20th century economy - job, house, car  instead of the 21st century economy - COLLABORATION that has successfully grown many shared resource services like lyft, uber, clothes sharing websites, etc..


Poverty exists for African American men through high unemployment and the injustice system starting in childhood with the school to prison pipeline. Poverty exists for African American women through out of wedlock childbirth, racial discrimination and sexual discrimination. These environmental conditions provide a mindset of hopelessness where there is too much mental strain just to survive. The mental energy is so draining that it leaves too little energy to fight systemic injustices needed to thrive.


More diversity through zoning in building mixed income communities 

I did enjoyMatthew Desmond's final solution.  The last chapter talked about the classism that separates poor (public housing), low-income, middle class, wealthy families in Amerikkka. Chapter 9, pages 161 to 182, explained the problem of redlining and zoning which is essentially separating people by money. When I read that chapter, I could see how my mother OVERCAME the zonig/classism problem using $$$. Unlike me, my mother did not buy a house but used financial mobility to "move us on up" The author wrote "Stacks of social psychological evidence confirm that when we feel our resources are scarce or could be, when we sense that our status (or that of our racial group) is slipping, we discard commitments to equal opportunity. If you survey the Amerikkkan public, you learn that most of us want less poverty and less inequality in general, at least in principle. But when you ask us about specific policies to accomplish those ends, we begin to equivocate, especially if we feel those policies could cost our families somehow" Basically, a wealthy neighborhood, like Ardmore, wrote zoning laws to FORBID affordable housing and keep people without money AWAY from people with money. My mother used her money to “move us on up” like the Jeffersons to neighborhoods and schools, sometimes diverse communities, that intermingled with the middle class. 

My solution is to bring money INTO urban neighborhoods instead of African Americans always having to move OUT to DIVERSE neighborhoods. This diversity is evident in Prince Georges county of Washington DC. My strategy is just a different strategy. Not a right or wrong strategy as I believe we need BOTH types of strategies to bring a WEALTH mentality to the African American community that defies systemic injustices.


What Matthew failed to mention is that America is the land of opportunity. Matthew talked about the working poor, i.e. those making between $8 and $17 dollars an hour. He mentioned the struggle of one woman making $15.89 per hour. Once I realized how much money the middle class was costing me, I looked for and found a way out by using low income tools. The $40,000 house in Philadelphia came with an affordable mortgage of $265.00. I could avoid having to scrape dollars together to pay rent.


I needed a low mortgage because my child care costs were extremely high. I needed childcare to get a job but the money I made was not enough to build the capital necessary for wealth.  I waited a whole year to get accepted in CCIS for 85% subsidized childcare. 


The wealth mentality did not come naturally. Once I realized I was on a hamster wheel going now where fast. I actively sought knowledge of the financial game. My credit score would not go above 620 because I didn’t know the rules. I scraped together my last dollars to INVEST in credit education with Terri Couser. Terri had worked at TransUnion and could tell me what I was doing wrong. With her help, my score went to a 700. Then I could leverage ASSETS to gather the capital needed for the INVESTOR mindset. Wealth is built on INVESTING in assets that generate money. 


When I made $15.00 an hour working at Amazon, I RENTED a car from Lyft for $225 a week. The rent for the car was paid out of the earnings. The car pool ran 3 nights a week making an additional $100 per week. I had a job and a business. The land of opportunity ONLY works if one is willing to SEE an opportunity. What most low-income families fail to see is the opportunity. That’s why my mother told me that poor was a mindset. Our family was broke at times but never poor.


Low income is supposed to be temporary. Low income doesn’t stop people from going back to school or pursuing a higher paying job. My son started working at Burger King when he was 16 years old for $8.25 per hour. 4 years later, at the age of 20 without a college degree, he is making almost 3 times as much with $22.75 per hour at a job that provides flexibility to INVEST in college! My son quit one job because he thought $11.00 per hour was too low a salary.

It is a mindset that STOPS people from pursuing more…

That’s why throwing more money through more government programs CAN NOT solve poverty. Even the uptick in getting people to file for government programs is akin to using money to solve poverty.  Poverty, like WEALTH is a mindset and, as usual, my mother was right! Poor people are not poor because they don’t have money. They are poor because they don’t have an investor mindset. In addition to Matthew Desmond’s solutions to poverty, which is not a lack of money, we must encourage people to take the risk and INVEST in their own mentality. Once they are confident in themselves, how they spend money starts to change. The change is evident in how much money is invested versus how much money is consumed.

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