Mother To Son by Langston Hughes
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor–
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where ther ain’t been no light-
So boy, don’t you turn back.
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now–
For I’se still goin’ honey,
I’se still climbin’
And life ain’t been no crystal stair.
Children in Poverty
Children living in poverty in South Carolina, shot for the New York Times Magazine story, Why Is America Failing Its Children ©nubar alexanian, 1998-2000
I remember reading the above poem for the first time when I was in elementary school. I was standing in front of a class of about 25 students. The 4th grade was one of the hardest years for me growing up. It was then when I realized that unlike most kids in my class, there was a lot of things my family didn’t have. I looked down at my 2nd hand clothes that were usually bought from a thrift store, or given to us by my older cousin, I saw that my sneakers were worn down and that I had my ‘free’ lunch ticket in my pocket. As I was reading the poem, I remembered all the times we were ‘in the dark’ because our utilities were shut off and we had to do everything by candlelight. As I was reading the poem, tears started to stream down my face. Of course my classmates looked at me as if I was crazy, they had no clue as to why I was crying. For a lot of my younger years, the struggle was there, for my family to maintain. My siblings and I didn’t realize we were ‘poor’ until someone pointed it out to us. We usually stuck to ourselves, just so we wouldn’t have to deal with the teasing from the kids. We had each other and that’s the only thing that mattered. Nowadays, when I look back at the struggles and sacrifices we went through growing up, I feel that it definitely made us stronger and more appreciative of what we had and what we have now.
In my spare time, I volunteer at a woman’s and children short term shelter. I have seen first hand the issues of poverty and how it affects women and children. I’ve looked into a few woman’s eyes and saw the despair and desperation that they have. They can’t seem to fathom thinking about the future when they don’t even know what is in store for them the next day. When you see children having to live in a shelter, it makes you realize who the true victims of poverty are. These children didn’t ask to be brought into the world they’re being subjected to. They’re the innocent victims who have to see their mother’s cry at night because their life truly hasn’t been a crystal stair.
Today is Blog Action Day and thousands of people in the blogosphere have come together to discuss poverty. Poverty in America is a serious issue. According to the Census Bureau Married-couple families had a poverty rate of 4.9 percent (2.9 million), compared with 28.3 percent (4.1 million) for female-householder, no-husband-present families and 13.2 percent (671,000) for those with a male householder and no wife present at the end of 2006. The areas with the highest poverty rates ironically included the District of Columbia and Mississippi. Poverty and the lack of health insurance go hand in hand, in 2006 8.7 million people were without health insurance.
Will there ever be an end to poverty? I doubt anyone has a right answer for that. Everyone will always have solutions, but what part do people truly play in trying to end poverty? It takes a village to affect change. No matter how much or little time or money you can donate, every little bit makes a difference. All it takes is a point & click of your mouse to start affecting change, below are a few links to help you get started!