Willie Baptist on inequality and poverty
Willie Baptist’s understanding of inequality is tied to his own experience of being homeless on the streets of Philadelphia. Today, the educator and organizer decries the “contradiction of poverty in the midst of plenty.”
WILLIE BAPTIST: Inequality is inhumane. I’ve been poor all my life. I also was homeless on the streets of Philadelphia for almost a year. And my understanding of inequality is tied to that experience.
[Inequality is logo. A graphic black equal sign with an orange slash through it. #InequalityIs. Willie Baptist, educator and organizer, Kairos Center. An older Black man with eyeglasses, wearing a gray t-shirt. Black and white images of Willie protesting, holding signs that read “Down-sized families count. 57,000 welfare recipients will be cut off and told to get a job”, and “Real jobs with justice”.]
In Kensington, Philadelphia, poverty didn’t discriminate. It had one-third poor Blacks, one-third poor Latinos, and one-third poor whites. There’s no reason why you should have food being thrown away when people are hungry. There’s no reason why there should be empty houses when homeless families, mothers with their babies, are living in the cold. It’s insane in light of the tremendous productive capacity and tremendous wealth that this country has.
[Images of Black activists. One shirt reads “movements begin with the telling of untold stories,” signs read “We work hard”, “Fight big money is politics”, and “America can’t survive on $7.25”.]
The problems of inequality of every dimension, gender inequality, racial inequality, economic inequality, has to be solved together. It’s a problem that because of the scale and the scope, it has to be solved by a social movement, to put before this country the crying contradiction of poverty in the midst of plenty. What’s keeping me going is the fact that there are unsung saints out there who are fighting in the trenches of inequality. This world has the productive capacity to provide for every man, woman, and child. Ending inequality in the world is possible.
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