Breaking the Cycle

By: Diamyn Rembert  10/27/13

Last Wednesday, the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha collaborated with the Black Student Union to talk about poverty in America. Emma Campbell, the Black Student Union president facilitated the event.

The question of the night was: “Is poverty institutionalized or is it a learned behavior?”

The debate opened with a video that served as an example of poverty being institutionalized versus poverty being a learned behavior.  IU student Rob Sherell made the opening statement.

“It’s hard to escape from poverty,” Sherell said. He believes that poverty is institutionalized.

On the other side of the debate, IU student Noelle Gibson said that she believes poverty is a learned behavior. “To be helped, you must want to be helped,” Gibson said.

Both parties went through a group of questions in which the audience received a chance to view. The side in favor that poverty is institutionalized spoke on several different points. During the first question, the students on that side expressed the fact that poverty is systemic. They also noted that with the government’s loopholes, it has made it difficult to rise above.

The side that believed poverty is a learned behavior stated that we have culturally accepted poverty and that there are always government programs to help us out.

The social bearing of poverty was another issue that was addressed.

Did poverty fall on society or solely on our black communities?

The learned behavior side described that we have to take responsibility and be accountable for ourselves in able to get out of poverty. The side that argued that poverty is institutionalized talked about how we will always see poverty in our society because it’s based off of a system to keep blacks poor.

Both groups went back and forth on such questions but a common theme both groups talked about was the idea that getting an education could be a ticket out of poverty. Both parties spoke on the importance of educating ourselves and the ones in the community as a way of decreasing poverty in the black community.

The final question of the night was: “what is to be done to end poverty in black communities?” The side that believed poverty is taught spoke about the fact that we have to educate ourselves with the knowledge we already hold and we have to get up and do it. African and African American Diaspora Studies professor Valerie Grim said that our community could end poverty by bringing more love into the communities.

“Love is the most radical and revolutionary concept,” Grim said.


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