Holly Baker of the Farmworker Association of Florida defines poverty this way: "Poverty is not only struggling to have the means to support the basic needs of your family, poverty is living each day feeling and knowing that you are unjustly judged by others and that you don't have an equal voice." (excerpt from the article)
Article by Luz Vega-Marquis (Read full article here)
What does it mean to be poor in America? Just as importantly, who decides how poverty is defined?
Let's start with the dictionary. According to the professional word-wranglers at Merriam-Webster, poverty is "The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions."
Even in the supposedly neutral arena of dictionaries, poverty is defined as a lack of not merely money but status -- a personal failing rather than a social problem. This is poverty as defined from the outside, looking in.
Poverty as an experience -- the father who holds down two $7.25-an-hour jobs and rarely sees the family he works so hard to feed; the baby boomers facing spending their old age in poverty -- is glaringly absent from public discourse about poverty.
Words, however, do hold tremendous power to shape public attitudes and perception, and perception, in turn, shapes policy.