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Poverty in America: Enough Sideline Watching! It’s Time for Action!

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

“Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit.” — Eli Khamarov

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

Many people have been affected by poverty while living in Philadelphia either directly or indirectly. I have personally seen the negative effects that poverty has on people’s lives, and some use it to their advantage, and some people allow it to define who they are. Issues like hunger, crime, illness, homelessness, domestic abuse, poor sanitation, unemployment, and much more can all be caused by someone living in poverty. The vicious cycle of poverty has resulted in lifelong barriers and troubles that have been passed down from generation to generation unconsciously. Poverty affects children as well, and some tend to grow up seeing no way out of this vicious cycle. Children also fail to see how working hard could possibly improve their lives as they grew up watching their parents struggle daily. Ultimately, poverty is a major cause of many social tensions and continues to threaten to divide a nation all because of income inequality. Poverty could destabilize an entire country as it has caused things like riots and crime all over the world. Society has learned that poverty is not just based on the individual person, but more on the larger scale of inequality, marginalization, poor infrastructure, lack of education, etc.

Having money and being considered in a higher socioeconomic status has afforded people so many opportunities as they become part of a group who has privilege. Wealth based discrimination has also individuals as laws and policies disadvantage or punish people simply because they are poor or live below the poverty line. Let’s be honest with ourselves, how many times have you said to yourself. “I’m sure that person would have received a lesser sentence if they had some to obtain a better lawyer, etc.” I agree with this as I have seen countless stories of people who were sent to prison on a longer sentence all because they may be of a minority group but also because they are viewed in society as people who lack motivation. These people are penalized just for lack of financial means, as they are kept in jail prior to trial simply because they can’t afford bail, while those who can afford bail tend to go free. Most of the prison population is made up of the most disadvantaged individuals in the nation, as researchers have also reported that people who experience poverty are at a greater risk of being arrested and incarcerated for minor offenses than wealthier Americans.

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