Darlena Cunha, a writer and a mother, was like a lot of people when it comes to having it good and losing it all. Cunha and her husband were once the typical white couple, living a privileged life, until job loss and unexpected health bills took over their lives. Then they had a walk on the poverty side.
Well technically they didn’t walk, they drove their older model Mercedes to get welfare.
Cunha’s op-ed for the Washington Post has her on the end of receiving tons of backlash. Not because she received food stamps and government assistance, but because she drove a Mercedes down to the welfare. Cunha wrote in her article “poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgment.”
But damn, she received some harsh judgment.
People commented that she should have sold off the car that was already paid for, so they could buy a cheaper car. Where they do that at? I’m still trying to follow the rationale of the idiotic commenters.
Why sell a car that you know is reliable and paid off, for a possible clunker?
Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.
“You can’t be that bad off,” a distant relative said, after inviting himself over for lunch. “You still got that baby in all its glory.”
Sometimes, it was more direct. All from a place of love, of course. “Sell the Mercedes,” a friend said to me. “He doesn’t get to keep his toys now.”
It’s opinions like these that leave those facing the difficulties of poverty open to judgmental jerks. There’s this notion that poor people can’t have nice things. Better yet, if you weren’t poor previously, and you become poor, you’re not entitled to those things you worked hard for.
Sell your iPhone.
Sell your car.
Sell your electronics.
Sell your soul.
You don’t deserve nothing, according to those who allegedly have never been poor before. Because as we all know, people living in glass houses never throw stones. Hashtag sarcasm.
Cunha wrote about being judged from doing simple things like going grocery shopping and using her WIC card.
Once, a girl at the register actually stood up for me when an older mother of three saw the coupons and started chastising my purchase of root beer. They were “buy two, get one free” at a dollar a pop.
“Surely, you don’t need those,” she said. “WIC pays for juice for you people.”
“To this day, it is the single most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done,” she said.
She said that the reason she felt embarrassed was not fair.
“I still have to remind myself sometimes that I was my harshest critic. That the judgment of the disadvantaged comes not just from conservative politicians and Internet trolls,” said Cunha.
To read the entire account of how she ended up in the situation, click here to link to the Washington Post.