The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn’t True | Mia Birdsong | TED Talks

“I am the exception, not because I’m more talented than Baakir or my mother worked any harder than Jobana, Sintia or Bertha, or cared any more than Theresa. Marginalized communities are full of smart, talented people, hustling and working and innovating, just like our most revered and most rewarded CEOs. They are full of people tapping into their resilience to get up every day, get the kids off to school and go to jobs that don’t pay enough, or get educations that are putting them in debt. They are full of people applying their savvy intelligence to stretch a minimum wage paycheck, or balance a job and a side hustle to make ends meet. They are full of people doing for themselves and for others, whether it’s picking up medication for an elderly neighbor, or letting a sibling borrow some money to pay the phone bill, or just watching out for the neighborhood kids from the front stoop. I am the exception because of luck and privilege, not hard work. And I’m not being modest or self-deprecating – I am amazing. But most people work hard. Hard work is the common denominator in this equation, and I’m tired of the story we tell that hard work leads to success, because that allows – because that story allows those of us who make it to believe we deserve it, and by implication, those who don’t make it don’t deserve it.”

– Mia Birdsong


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