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Interactive video lesson plan for: Born Poor, Stay Poor: The Silent Caste System of America | C. Nicole Mason

Activity overview:

There's a lot missing from debates and policy surrounding poverty but the biggest deficit, according to Dr C. Nicole Mason, is in honesty. Impoverished people aren't poor because they're lazy, they're poor because social mobility is institutionally suppressed. Mason's latest book is "Born Bright: A Young Girl's Journey from Nothing to Something in America" (http://goo.gl/AOsgVz).

Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/c-nicole-mason-on-poverty-in-america

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Transcript - We’re not talking honestly about what it really takes to get from poverty to the middle class. So, for example, we know that only four percent of people who are born into poverty will ever make it to the upper middle class or to, you know, have middle class success. And so what that means is that 96 percent of people are not making it out. And I think we’re being dishonest when we say everybody has a fair and equal chance of achieving the American Dream. So it wasn’t until college that I figured out that I was poor. I hadn’t – before then I had no context for what it meant to have less than other people who lived around me or across town. And I certainly didn’t know that I was outside of what was considered the middle class. And the first time that I heard about people living in poverty was in a political science class. In there we were talking about welfare policies. And one of the big policies at the time was welfare reform. And the debate was raging about what should be done and a lot of the conversation was up here and really detached from the women and families that were going to be directly impacted by the policy.

So we heard a lot of things about welfare queens, people living off the system, not wanting to work, women being lazy, having multiple children. And that really wasn’t the reality for the women who were actually impoverished. And so when we look at the kind of policies that result – the kind of policy, the welfare reform policy that we got on the other end we got a policy that said well, you can’t – if you don’t work you can’t receive benefits. And you have time limits. And if you have another child you’re penalized. Those policies and that restrictiveness was counter to the everyday lived experiences of the women who were actually receiving the benefits. So what was excluded from that policy was a clear pathway out of poverty like education. There missing – in the very beginning there was very few provisions for childcare and a lot of other things that we know family and women need to be able to chart a path out of poverty. Read Full Transcript Here: http://goo.gl/BwXuen.

Tagged under: C. Nicole Mason,poverty,America,middle class,upper middle class,success,American Dream,dishonest,political science,college,university,education,welfare,policy,women,families,welfare queens,lazy,multiple children,impoverished,welfare reform,restrictive,benefits,childcare,resources,social networks,institutions,leaders,children,opportunity,community,infrastructure,libraries,hospitals,unemployment,crime,Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU

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