Opinion: Obama Has Condoned Marriage Inequality, but Will He Ever Condemn Poverty?
Lauren Brown Jarvis wrote an article for AOL Black Voices calling for the Obama Administration to be as diligent in condemning poverty as it has been in condoning same s*x marriage. She mentions the oft-ridiculed poverty tour of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley and how American liberals seem to care less about poverty and other forms of inequality than they care about gay marriage.
Now that President Obama has spoken out about marriage inequality for same-s*x couples, when will he do the same about a greater injustice, poverty in America? It’s a question authors and activists Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West are posing as they conclude a cross-country book tour focused on poverty in the United States.
It was less than a year ago when Smiley and West teamed up for an 18-city, 11-state Poverty Tour, but decided even this was not enough to make poverty matter to the masses. Moved by the stories and families Smiley and West encountered all over America, they’ve written a new book The Rich & the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. Smiley and West are also calling on the president to transform “biased apathy to engaged advocacy” by holding a White House Conference on the Eradication of Poverty.
It is no coincidence the Pew Charitable Trust released findings from its Economic Mobility Project this week. Much of the study reinforces the ideas Smiley and West present in The Rich & the Rest of Us . The report examined Americans’ ability to move up or down the economic ladder. Pew identified education, access to capital, savings and neighborhood poverty during childhood as key drivers of economic mobility. These factors determine whether one can rise out of poverty, or remain in its cycle for generations.
Poverty is unquestionably linked to jobs and the economy. Yet, in the current race to determine our next president, neither party nor their candidates have been willing to make poverty a priority in America. According to Smiley and West, the real problem lies in politicians’ insistence on “demonizing” the poor. Smiley cites statements made by Republicans campaigning for the GOP nomination as examples of how misunderstood and maligned the poor have become in America.
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