The media source I chose to watch was a documentary called Line: Poverty in America. This documentary follows several hard-working individuals who fell below or are on the poverty line in America. The poverty line in America is classified as those who make only $23,000 a year. These individuals bring to light what it is like to have everything fall out beneath you and have to live without knowing if they are going to lose their home or where their next meal is coming from. The documentary also gives an inside to the violence within the lowest of low-income neighborhoods. This documentary shows the public that anyone can become a victim of poverty. It also explains the misconception the public has about those who do live in poverty.
The key points presented in this media source were that poverty isn’t just a homeless individual in the inner city. Poverty in America is a little section of a town or county that know one talks about. Those living above the poverty line do not go to that section because they see it as a violent place or rock bottom. The documentary pointed out that those who never grew up or fallen below the poverty do not want to help fix the problem or care. Another key point the documentary pointed out was the violence within the communities in these low-income neighborhoods. One individual explained that children that grew up in poverty do not expect a future and they don’t plan for a future. The reality is that a large portion of these children will either be killed or resort to criminal behaviors. The criminal behavior starts out as running drugs for the local gangs and gradually increases to more serious violent crimes.
Some of the discrimination and inequality shown toward the lower class is that society labels them as lazy, violent, alcoholics, drug abusers, etc. The reality is that those who fall below the poverty line are hard-working Americans who are two times more likely to lose sleep to work two low-income jobs. The one individual in the documentary talked about how her sister was walking to the store in a low-income neighborhood in which they lived and she was shot for no reason. The police only showed up one time and never did an investigation. This is an example of inequality that low-income neighborhoods face when crimes occur. They do not receive the same treatment from the police as those living in the upper- and middle-class neighborhoods.
We discussed in class what comes to mind when you think about poverty and homelessness. Most people said unemployed, living on the streets, no possessions, etc. This documentary expanded my knowledge on poverty, it opened my eyes to the reality that people who live in poverty are not just runaways or senior citizens, poverty can affect everyone. This documentary interviewed individuals who were living comfortable lives then just one day everything fell out beneath them. One man in the documentary found himself homeless because he moved to a different state and could not get a job because he had his previous job for 22 years and had no other skills. Another man had a good paying job at a company then one day he lost his job and could not get a new one so he relies on the food pantry in his neighborhood to provide food for his three children.
These stories relate to what we discussed in class about criminalizing homelessness. Society targets the homeless by making laws forbidding them from camping, sleeping, loitering, etc. on the streets. By displacing the homeless or arresting them it makes it harder for that individual to get a job because it shows that they had run-ins with the police. This media source suggests that individuals living in poverty need assistance in gaining training to be able to get a job. The problem is that those who don’t live in poverty or never experienced it often ch0ose to ignore it.
The content that was covered in this documentary helped me to understand more about living in poverty and dealing with violence, and how it’s a lot harder to get a job if you were born into or fell below the poverty line in America. While the documentary showed a few non-profit organizations that are helping the homeless get back on their feet, I believe there needs to be more training opportunities for individuals who can work. Most of the people who find themselves in poverty were fired or let go of their job and they only know how to do one job because they had been doing it for most of their life. I think its important for those who never experienced poverty or lived in a bad neighborhood that those who do live in poverty are not all lazy, inexperienced, or homeless but, they have families and they are able to hold a job if someone would give them a chance. I would recommend that everyone watch this documentary to better understand how poverty works and how society can help to fix the problems with homelessness and violence. If society begins to show support and provides communities living in poverty the programs they need, than children in the communities will see that they can have a future that doesn’t involve violent and criminal behavior.
By Allison Toth
Edelman, P. B. (2019). Not a crime to be poor: the criminalization of poverty in America. New York: The