About Poverty – A reading list

I grew up on a steady diet of lies from the mass media about what poverty is, what it means, and what it says about those affected. My parents taught me differently.

My family was comfortable middle class and strong proponents of social and economic mobility through education. It was critical for our psyche that we had constant examples of black and brown excellence. We recognized how unique we were as an ethnic majority region and respected our Afro-/Indo-/Chinese/European/Middle Eastern blended societies (my long way of saying “diverse”).

It also helped that education was mostly paid for by our governments as part of strong political investment in manifesting an educated population. As I got older, I understood that I had the advantages I had in life because my parents had the advantages that they had in life, and the advantages their parents parents had in life…and so on.

When I decided on a major in University, I knew that as the first lawyer of the family, this would be a big step for future generations. I can admit, I went on a talk show once and stated that I chose the profession because I never want to be at risk of being poor. The presenter outlined how chaotic the world was and that this might not be as guaranteed as it was in the past. I really didn’t understand it then.

Loving history as much as I did, I read everything I could. I voraciously absorbed the learned expositions of strong Caribbean authors and I felt I understood a little bit more. Still I felt a piece was missing.

Then the 2007 recession happened and I continued to live with my parents as many young professionals had to do. Observing the tumbling dominoes as they knocked pieces in a chain all over the globe, I couldn’t help but wonder about how much I didn’t know. My mission then became to understand more about the world around me, the balance of power, political economies and globalization.

We were witnessing a global crises that turned everyday people homeless, destitute and broken. So many dreams were destroyed. We also saw how those responsible for “breaking the world economy” were not punished, but provided with massive bailout packages. Many already wealthy business people got rescue packages, bonuses and golden parachutes. Most affected home owners lost their sole source of shelter and saw heir savings disappear.

The reading list during my Masters program proved very informative. I saw more of the big picture. Still I felt a piece was missing.

Then I worked at one of those fine international institutions claiming to have superior knowledge and effective solutions for the largest problems. I learned then of so many things – lies and prejudice.

My reading list expanded even further until I met the “aha” moment…

I’m grateful to these authors and their often contrarian views. I mostly appreciate their way of challenging the status quo and voicing their perspectives. They contribute a new thinking by examining these topics, and going against many mainstream point of views with a more critical eye. A diversity of participants is needed to solve the world’s greatest challenges…business as usual has not gotten us anywhere thus far.

There’s a lot to be said about solving poverty. I find however, that too many of the wrong people have too great a say on things that they know nothing about. That is all.

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