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  • Reverend James Squire

A One/Two Punch

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

We are all familiar with filling out a survey where we check the boxes of some of those parameters that define us. When it comes to the issue of race it is an easy choice for me because white is such a norm in our country. But when it asks for socioeconomic group, the question always stays with me much longer before I answer. A lot of my feelings put me in the low socioeconomic group even now when my life’s work has lifted me up in that category. Even now when I have all of the trappings of the higher socioeconomic strata, I retain those feelings of economic insecurity because that is one of the dynamics of class.

When you grow up in an underserved culture as I did, you are always thinking about money. That orientation stays with you no matter how much wealth you accrue. People who come from a low socioeconomic group always have money on the mind.

I like to think about this as the “Great Depression Syndrome”. People who have gone through the depression, always had overstocked food pantries later in life. They thought that with one bad financial moment they would be back in the food line again. Costco patrons have to buy everything in bulk. We have friends who shop at Costco. They have large pantries in their homes they call “Costco Closets”. This would be the kind of thing that people who went through the Great Depression would have loved to have had later in their life as “a lot is never enough” to combat that worst fear of when the next meal would be had.

The Black Lives Matter movement has helped people to focus on the issue of humanity. These folks are my brothers and sisters. Black Lives Matter reveals pain that has been there for over two centuries. The pain is always there but becomes more focused during times such as the present. It is heart breaking to witness businesses and livelihoods destroyed. There are so many lacking resources to save their businesses. You can bet that they are constantly thinking about money. That pain is particularly great for those who have dedicated their lives to working their way into a degree of financial security. Listen to the people in line for food. I hope and pray that their future lives will yield happiness and financial security. But there is a truth that needs to be told. They will never forget this point in time, no matter how much they gain back. It will form and shape their lives forever.

Imagine a black person filling out that survey. They have to pause twice if they were or are in a low socioeconomic group. Skin color matters. Money and security matter. The “one/two punch” is a boxing phrase to describe a tactic that can result in a knock out. That combination of class and race can put our black brothers and sisters on the mat unless we can effect positive change that is specific to make their lives better, their lives matter.

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