The firing squad of poverty

The firing squad of poverty

The traditional number in a firing squad is six, but there can be more. One person is issued a blank round so that no one can blame a single person or the entire group for a condemned person’s death. 

In the United States, those deemed guilty of poverty face the firing squad. 

The firing squad names are often teacher, police officer, caseworker, human resources, the low-level criminal, and probation officer. These are not the people who make the policy, but they shoot the gun on orders.

The gun can be policies like standardized testing or checkboxes. It can be punitive drug laws, or it can be an actual gun in the case of police officers or low-level criminals. 

But it’s never the firing squad’s fault because they, at least in their mind, didn’t condemn the person who is now a target, case, or mark to poverty; it was a higher authority. 

An authority more important than the person holding the gun. 

The firing squad says, “We are just trying to make a living. It is not personal.” 

It is never personal.

The professional working class is the firing squad in the United States, and each member is sure their gun holds the blank. 

“A F can’t kill anyone.”

United States’ lines of figurative and literal are never clearly defined. 

Poverty does actually condemn you to death. 

A low test score, the wrong checkbox, a criminal conviction, or being at the wrong place at the wrong time can be one of the precise reasons that you die. 

Being denied economic access kills you. If you are poor, you are more likely to get thrown out of school. You are more likely to go to jail, which gives labor more reasons not to hire you. Consequently, you continue to stay poor, which increases your chance of dying from being poor. 

Poverty impacts every facet of your life. Your house is more likely to be built on or near a waste dump. If you’re poorer, you are closer to arterial roads that emit more pollution. 

During COVID-19, the “higher” authorities —the funders of nonprofits, the policymakers, and the super PACS, have decided that the poor will toil in the service industry’s chain-gang or they will sending the firing squad to kill them. 

The economically oppressed grandmother will die when they contract COVID-19 on overcrowded public transit and don’t go to the hospital because they are afraid of its costs. 

The working-poor parent will die when their child doesn’t do their homework, and Child Protective Services are called and smells weed. Then will then take the child away and jail the parent on an old warrant they got when they were still poor, but younger. 

The 29-year-old will die when the dive bar they wash dishes at shuts down, and the rent for their illegal apartment comes due, they cannot pay it, and the $1,200 they got six months ago is gone. 

They will die when shot in a mugging gone wrong on their way home from the nightshift. 

Effective December 24, 2020, they may die by a literal firing squad for a crime they commented at 18-year-old, forty years ago per a rule change by the Justice Department. 

Dying by literal fire squad is a horrific and barbaric way to die, but so is dying on the streets, because you could not get a job, and both scenarios are part of the modern-day United States, regardless of who is president. 


Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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