Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers

Dr. Donna M. Beegle

Breaking Barriers -

Concrete tools for working with

people in poverty

Key Terms

Perception: How our mind makes sense of our


Membership: Our description of the world

Identification: Symbolic rebirth

Motivation: The “why” behind our behavior

Empathy: Understanding

Defining Poverty

– Family has never owned land

– Never knew anyone who benefited from education

– Never knew anyone who moved up or was respected in a job

– Highly mobile

– High family Illiteracy

– Focus is on making it through the day

• Working Class Poverty

– Working, but rarely have money for any extras

– Most do not own property

– Live paycheck to paycheck

– Few have health care

– Focus on making it two weeks or through the month

– Poverty seen as personal deficiency

Immigrant Poverty

- Have little or no resources

- Language & culture barriers

- Seem to do better than those born into poverty in America

- Poverty viewed as a system problem

Depression Era Poverty

- A time when the societal message was, “We are all in this together.”

- Poverty seen as society problem

•Middle Class Temporary/Situational Poverty

- Person grows up in stable environment

- Surrounded by people who are educated or able to earn a living wage

- Attends school regularly

- Has health care

- Has crisis (health, Divorce, etc.) and ncome drops

- Generally is able to make it back to middle class

- Has not internalized the poverty as their own fault

• Oral Culture

• Print Culture

• Mentors

Oral Culture

• Relationships: At the heart of everything. First priority.

• Spontaneous: Desire for variety. Ability to “go with the flow.”

Change subjects with ease.

• Repetition: Storytelling and repeating stories are important for

maintaining knowledge.

• Holistic: Focus on the “BIG picture.” Tendency to take in

everything going on around them.

• Emotional: Comfort with emotions. Shows emotions readily in

most any situation. Open to self-disclosing private details.

• Present Oriented: Highly in-tune with the here and now.

• Agonistic: More physical.

• Interrupting: There are no periods in verbal communication.

• Self Disclosure: Share intimate details for connections

Print Culture

• Linear: Organizes thoughts & actions by “first this, then this”

thought process.

• Time: At the heart of everything. High priority on daily activities.

• Analytic/Abstract: Knowledge is outside of self. Ability to step

back from a situation, separate & disconnect self from what is

going on.

• Self-Disciplined/Focus: Strong ability to shut out sensory data

and focus on one idea at a time.

• Delay Gratification: Strong understanding of relationships

between parts.

• Strategize: Ability to plan ahead, set goals, focus on future.

Break things into parts, connect small efforts to reach end


Successful Mentors

• 1. Believe in the person they are

working with

• 2. Believe there is a way out of


• 3. Are bi-cultural:

– * Understand structural causes of


– * Are aware of the history of

poverty in the U.S.

– * Know poverty related facts about

your community*

– * Are able to suspend judgment

• 4. Open your personal network to the

people you are working with

• 5. Teach those you are working with

how to build a network

Family Photos Auctioned Off

Four of Five Brothers - 1999

Met at 12 - Married at 15

Future WIC Baby – Jennifer

Danny - Born Healthy

Daniel Today

Jennifer goes to France - Twice

y Family Today

1)The wealthy Native American woman opened her purse.

2)The purse contained money.

3)The wealthy Native American woman had opened the door to her car.

4)The middle-class African American man was a thief.

5)The poor white parking garage attendant was the man at the car door.

6)The middle-class African American man took the contents of the purse.

7)There was a man inside the car.

8)The middle-class African American took the money.

9)The wealthy Native American woman owned the car.

10) The middle-class African American man was a passenger in the car.

Good ideas are not adopted

automatically. They must be driven

into practice with courageous


-- Hyman Rickover

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