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Lee Stringer Writes About Being Poor in America on Alternet

April 26, 2013

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Seven Stories author Lee Stringer described a life of poverty in America in an article for Alternet’s Hard Times, USA series. The article, entitled “How Being Poor in America Shaped Every Part of My Life and Forced Me to Live on the Streets,” details his childhood, his parents struggles to make ends meet, and the circumstances  that led Stringer to live on the streets of New York City for a dozen years.

Stringer tells of living in a rooming house with his mother and brother; of his mother having to rely on public assistance; and of how he, deemed economically and culturally disadvantaged by his school, was “summarily consigned to the slow classes and systematically steered towards developing [him]self into a capable factory worker.”

Through his experiences with poverty, Stringer notes a series of ironies–how pride, which he was taught in church was a sin, was actually a virtue for the poor; how charity, which he was taught was a virtue, was tinged with shame for the recipient; how when a poor person self-advocates, they are a beggar, but when they are advocated for, the person who does so is lauded for their humanity; and, ultimately, how only when he was no longer poor did people begin to care what he had to say about being poor.

Stringer’s books Grand Central Winter and Sleepaway School are available through Seven Stories Press.

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