I am having to reach way back into my Brooklyn roots to respond to yet another example of how privilege and the system continue to maintain the status quo while those truly in need stay getting screwed. I like many others discovered Linda Tirado’s essay on Huffington Post (rethinking keeping the RSS feed for this site). The article as penned was a view from inside the life of someone who purportedly was considered to be working-poor, and living in poverty.

The story was complete with visual references and the angle as presented was somewhat of an explanation as to why people in poverty make bad choices. Clearly, it resonated with a lot of people as the article went completely viral and it’s hard to find a Facebook timeline that hasn’t seen at least one version of this article. As it usually happens with stories which paint a picture of hopelessness and a brave soul struggling to live amongst the figurative rocks, like Tirado’s story, many people turned around after reading her article and donated to Ms. Tirado, with the best of intentions. To date Ms. Tirado has raised over $60K from a gofundme.com page she created after writing the piece.

Problem is the story as written was a discussion of Ms. Tirado’s bad choices and life lived in poverty when in fact, her life has been everything BUT poverty-stricken. Yes, I need Shirley Ceasar to come sing “Hold My Mule” right now….

Ms. Tirado grew up in a UPPER middle class family and attended boarding school. She currently lives in a house that her parents generously funded and footed the bill for. She is married to a Marine and has allegedly met President Obama once in person. She lists as occupation, freelance writer and political consultant going back to 2010. Oh and she attended boarding school growing up because of course that was what all middle class families did – send their kids to boarding school…..

“Hold my mule…”

If this is not the epitome of white privilege and an example of the systemic economic disparity in this country I will give completely up.

People were feeling some kind of way because they felt Miley Cyrus appropriated tweaking and is making bank of “black culture”? It’s ok though for this paragon of virtue to write about poverty and profit from it. How do these things get decided? Somebody let me know when the next “Important topic for black folks to get mad about” meeting is going to be held so I can be sure to attend.

In a country where an overwhelming amount of the populace has been brainwashed to believe that the majority of black and brown folks are collecting a welfare check and running off to buy Cadillacs, diamonds, and pearls this story sticks so deeply in my craw that I am choking on cuss words as I type this.

Let me just clear up things RIGHT up front… Those of you who are averse to profanity can click off now because there will be cussing

I can speak to poverty I HAVE lived it, I have been working-poor most of my life and I grew up in a working class family who did NOT have the funds to send me to boarding school even though academically I might have benefitted from it – instead, I attended a public school for Gifted and talented children.

Unlike Ms. Tirado, my parents (my father died when I was 14), could not afford to BUY me a house. I was happy enough for my mother who after working for fifty years was able to retire and buy the house of her dreams. My mother is now living on her retirement and pension and is taking care of HER own mother who also managed to buy a house of her own without the help of RICH parents. In fact, she was sending money TO HER PARENTS while saving up for the house she ultimately bought.

Linda-Tirado-PovertyAS to the choices that she lied about in her article, I have had hard choices, I have had to live on potato chips for months because there wasn’t enough money to buy much of anything else. Choosing between paying a bill and eating is a regular occurrence. There are way too many situations where the choices are between bad and worse; and if you don’t develop a way to put all that into perspective, you can add mental health issues and hypertension to the list of negatives that go along with the list of so-called bad choices.

As far as the roaches story Tirado tells, not everyone who is poor has roaches…. it’s stereotypical bullshit that poor people are dirty and live in hovels. You would be surprised at how some people living in McMansions are REALLY living and what goes on behind closed doors. But stereotyping is easier and more fun so I see why she went there with that one.

To the millions of Americans of all ethnicities like myself who have not had insurance or seen a doctor in years I say, forgive her ignorance. In writing about her long-standing inability to get dental care even when she had resources available to her to get care but (made bad choices), it minimized the struggle that we all as uninsured go through in this country. Each day hoping the sniffle doesn’t turn into a full-fledged cold or that the stomach ache goes away and praying to never have to wind up in the emergency room. Or just walking around in pain hoping it goes away at some point.

It wasn’t bad enough that this out of touch, class-unconscious pseudo-progressive decided to write a pack of lies and pass it on as her own experience, she actually decided to profit from it assisted by those bleeding heart folks who read her story – published on one of the leading news blog sites and got out their credit cards, checkbooks etc. and sent her money to ease her non-existent poverty.

The system then did what it was supposed to. A writer with the level of exposure reserved for celebrities and other public figures, wrote a call to action and people acted and sent her money for a story that wasn’t really hers to begin with. For this I reserve a big fuck you to Ms. Tirado for feeling “entitled” to those donations even though it wasn’t actually Her OWN experiences she was writing about.

I am struggling to make ends meet with NO HUSBAND and NO children. I am gone 12 hours a day to work in an “at will” work state which means I can lose my job at any minute for no reason. I am at the same TIME attending college where I actually STOPPED looking at the student loan balances because it was making me sick to see how much those were racking up. Fuck you because I can’t even get money to help buy my textbooks or offset some of those student loans which I will probably be paying back for the rest of my life. But YOU write a fictitious story about your experiences with poverty and get $60k that you plan on taking a trip to Vegas with? Really?

I have never been to Vegas, I can’t remember the last time I went on anything remotely resembling a vacation – (2008 – spent weekend in Washington D.C.). Hell I have never been to Disneyland but this “well it’s not my fault that people took what I said out of context” trick is laughing all the way to the bank and collecting paper

See this is not our system. Black people did not create the current economic system in this country. We did not create a system by which a white woman can write a screed on poverty that she never personally experienced and get published on the leading news blog site on the net.

There are far too many talented sistas out here who can make Shakespeare sound like Mother Goose for that. None of them are getting the same opportunities for exposure. Heck those who are living in some form of poverty may not even have access to a pc to write in the first place. Some like me do not have wealthy family and friends to siphon money off to go buy a home or any other big-ticket items.

But the need was felt by this writer to compose this piece that speaks from the perspective of someone who has lived the struggle of poverty, when in fact that is not the case and is profiting from it on top of it.

If white America, and or the so-called public wish to know about the bad choices made by those in poverty just ask. There are PLENTY of us out here that would be more than willing to tell you from our OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE what its like living not even pay check to paycheck; not knowing where your next dollar is going to come from or what you will have to DO to get money to pay that bill, rent, etc.

  • Great piece Beattitudes.

    I’m still reeling from this broad’s “poverty fan-fiction” (as it was described elsewhere). I think the thing that irritates me the most, is how she scrambled to try to clean up her Twitter feed so she can insult people’s intelligence* by claiming we read ‘out of context.’

    She also admitted that while she’s able to make enough to pay her monthly bills and have resources from her family when the billing cycles don’t match up, how she’s “exhausted” from working. (0__o)
    She essentially misled other hardworking folks to donate to her cause so she can vacay and stay home and write her book. Privilege is a helluva drug.

    See, a black or brown woman would *not* have gotten away with this shit, because she’d’ve immediately come under heavy scrutiny after having written the essay and the outpouring of support would *not* have been immediate… trust. This is b.s. and Linda Tirado *should* be ashamed of herself; but judging from her statements and Twitter feed, I doubt she does.

  • beattitudes66

    Thanks for checking out the article. This IS white privilege because neither you nor I would ever get away with writing a piece like that in such a visible forum as huffpo and have it be thoroughly debunked in this fashion. The article would have been PULLED.

    She could have just written it from the perspective of observation and would have been just fine. Instead she chose deliberately to set the perspective as being in poverty and USED it as a mechanism to get money. In her mind because she is “poor”.
    Only now she is 50K richer? Meanwhile there are people who are going hungry with no roofs over their heads? There are working poor people who are not even making it paycheck to paycheck and they have no means to solicit funds like this ? But oh poor Linda she didn’t really mean to be taken out of context?

    Now we are all supposed to feel sorry for her because she didn’t mean to write it that way? Nope I am calling utter BS on the whole thing.

  • Bryan Ortez

    dammit! I feel like an idiot. Reading that story I felt something was up.. I checked out her blog and someone commented they didn’t understand her gofundme.. she kept raising the amount of money she was trying to get.

    of course, leave it to a person of color to do the critical thinking for me.

    Thank you.

  • I read that piece *at least* three times, and not ONCE did she ever suggest that she was speaking about anybody or any hypothetical situation other than *hers*, so she’s full of it, with the ‘out of context’ b.s. There are folks *still* trying to defend her deception, and coming for the writer who wrote the take-down article on the Houston Press blog, that unraveled her story.

  • Damn. I got caught up in a lie. Thanks for bringing this up.

  • loungecat

    Thank you for writing with common sense and well-argued indignation. I’ve been getting increasingly angry at the pathetic ‘reporting’ on the whole Tirado scam — so-called journalists presenting Tirado’s story as fact, misquoting bloggers who dare to question the veracity of her claims, and failing to ask Tirado any hard questions at all. While people obviously have the right to waste their money by sending it to her virtual panhandling page, the sad thing is that if she fails to write her book (as apparently she did when supposedly offered a book deal 2 years ago), the backlash by disappointed supporters will be against ‘irresponsible poor people’ rather than Tirado herself. And do I think she would have raised $60+k if she were black and had penned a truly coherent, well-written essay? Sadly, no. Her essay didn’t ‘accidentally explain poverty to a nation’, it encouraged people to pay her a few bucks so they wouldn’t have to really think about the issue.

  • Katherine McChesney

    So, the writer is just another member of the Black Grievance Industry. White, historically, have worked for a living. Blacks, on the other hand, have always been parasites, living off the contributions made by White tax-payers. Blacks have had it good.

  • Jenny

    I do not understand why it matters whether she is white or not. There will always be someone who has it worse off than someone else. It baffles me when people complain that they are more entitled than someone else. Your so-called “poverty” isn’t much different than hers.