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Poverty Stereotypes

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

Warm Greetings to you all!

This week our focus is on poverty-related stereotypes. The Conversation is still on, and it is all about Mind Poverty. I am pretty sure you know where I am driving to with this. Unless the world does away with poverty stigmatizing, there is no hope to eradicate Poverty.

Poverty stereotypes the world over have programmed mindsets in believing that the deprived are less human than the privileged. Stereotypes and myths on poverty worldwide are common, crosscutting the west, east, north and southern hemispheres. It is a known fact that many people who do not live in poverty tend to criticize the perceived poor for all kinds of wrongdoings. They are labelled as being lazy, of low intellect, tendency to make bad decisions, alcoholics, dishonest and so forth. Some believe that the perceived poor must have done something wrong to deserve their fate. These belief syndromes boil down to Mind Poverty as they help fuel the many myths and stereotypes that negatively impact not only those living in poverty but universal efforts geared towards poverty eradication.

For example, another common myth is that only poor people tend to abuse drugs and alcohol. However, the same scenario is more prevalent among the well-offs, not only because they do have the means but many times as a scapegoat for numerous routs. Although drug sales are more visible in neighbourhoods of mainly the marginalized, drug usage is equally distributed and abused across low, middle class, and wealthy communities worldwide. A related stereotype, and one that is featured prominently in the "culture of poverty" or "mindset of poverty" model (Payne, 2005), is that low-income people are seemingly ineffective communicators. This is absolutely a deadly myth proven contrary to the reality on the ground. Above all, there is a strong belief that poverty is a minority issue.

On the contrary, poverty is not solely a minority issue. It affects people of all colour, sex and race. Mind Poverty, therefore, is inherently multi-coloured.

Quite befitting, Gorski (2008) argues that cognitively speaking, our stereotyping is a natural and necessary human response in the face of limited context-specific knowledge. He further submits that stereotypes grow from how we're socialized (Shier, Jones & Graham, 2010). They are the result of what we are taught to think about poor people and how to treat them. They grow, as well, from a desire to find self-meaning by distinguishing between social and cultural in groups with which we do and do not identify (Homsey 2008).

Mind Poverty is a mind game, a breeding ground for stereotypes and myths. It deprives one of a sense of honesty to oneself and fellow human beings, maturity and security. It destroys self-worth, dents plans, aspirations and hopes for the future. Mind Poverty manifests itself in governance systems, both at policy and technical levels, within work environments, education systems and societies in a global context. Ultimately, Mind Poverty leads to mind-destroying ailments capable of destroying the universe if not treated from a psychosomatic point of view. It remains an enemy No. 1 to humanity!

Therefore, being poor, is not a sin, not a sign of being less human, lazy or of low intellect. You are simply deprived of opportunities; basic amenities or resources your peers have access to in abundance. Therefore Mind Poverty is a human rights concern.



One reason global poverty has been so intractable is that it remains largely out of sight for those who are not living it, safely somebody else's problem."

Kaushik Basu

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