I Come from Poverty Pimps that Came from Poverty Pimps

Lola Bean - Posted on 11 September 2010

L Rize PNN Washington Intern


Disaster strikes as the phone rings, I don’t want to answer it cause I know nothing will be the same afterwards. My thoughts fall away.  My abdomen starts to cramp sending up tiny little knots slowly making their way up to my throat as I anticipate the news I’m about to hear. The feeling is familiar, the voice on the other end of the phone trembles.  The tremble triggers my body reacts like second nature.  I already know what coming next.  The cancer is back, the job isn’t available, the notice on the door says we owe money, something didn’t work out.  All these things flash through my brain scanning for the most plausible scenario that could cause this voice to tremble so.  Every time I hear that voice the process starts.  Before I can push it all down deep inside like it doesn’t exist this is what I feel.  The few seconds of time I have to really feel what’s happening inside before I have to suck it all in and be strong. This is what happens.  Disappointed, frustrated I can’t take hearing one more loved one call and give me bad or broken news, hope crushed, plans changed.  How many let downs, doors  slammed,  can one life have?  I’ll be there no matter what.  Restless night tonight, sweaty chest turns to itchy red rash, stomach constantly rumbling, never leaving without my Tums in my pocket.  Sleeping with heating pads to soothe my anxious insides even through hot and sticky nights.  Hands trembling and heart in throat I strive to find time and words to defend those I chooses as family to those I was given as family.  The judgment in their eyes feels like daggers penetrating my pride with shame and resentment.  Hate and rage fills me up until I feel tears welling up in my eyes.  I want so badly to not care what they think or what they judge, but my body lets me know that won’t be the case this time.

I come from people who have no land.  I come from people who stick together because when you don’t have land people are the next most stable thing.  The one thing that will never leave and you can never leave behind is your brain, your intellect, your thoughts.  My relatives came from Eastern Europe in a time and a place where Jews lived in constant fear and trust was only reserved for those who shared your same history because anyone else might kill or rape you and burn your house down.  There’s stories of my great, great, great, great grandfather killing a soldier and his horse in order to prevent a rape during a pogrom.  He then buried both the soldier and his horse and fled never to be heard from again.  These were stories my family recited with pride; stories of rebellion and revolution.  There were many Jewish pogroms in Russia around 1917 during the Russian Civil War: an estimated 70,000 to 250,000 civilian Jews were killed throughout the former Russian Empire; there were an estimated 300,000 Jewish orphans.  In 1938 there were 214,000 Jews left, by 1942 only an estimated 2-5,000  Jews existed in the area my grandparents were from.

As far back as 1244 Jews were living under what was called the Bill of Rights for Jews.  This official document placed Jews in the profession of tax collectors and the money lending business.  This was forced onto the Jews, but with a history of being exiled and a nomadic people Jews often found themselves working with what no one could take from them, their mind.  “In a Europe where Jews were always considered resident-aliens, subject to expulsion or expropriation at the whim of the political class, it made sense to have a livelihood not tied to the ground.” (fff.org) Common professions for Jews became teachers, doctors, lawyers and accountants.  These could easily be practiced and moved on very short notice with very few resources.  These were also professions that eventually would earn them favor with the powerful and elite of society.  Since, these were the types of services only they could afford and use most often they found it in their best interest to protect the Jews and keep them in good close by.

“The landlessness of the Jewish people is the source of its malady and tragedy.” (Ber Borochov, 2010).  A Zionist who believed Jews needed land in order to finally be safe.  Palestinians also a landless people, ones we should feel some empathy to are now suffering the same atrocities as Jews, but by hands who should know better.   Jews have become the ultimate pimp.  They became what the powerful and prestigious wanted Jews to become.  They played right into their plan.  My uncle owned a pawn shop connected to a liquor store in  one of the most poverty stricken neighborhoods in Dallas, Texas.  A place were Jews weren’t allowed to practice their religion until 1821.  A place where they were forced to resettle in the Government created program to stop the “crowding” problems on the East Coast.  I remember a dinner when my family was joking about how good of an idea and how genius this business venture of  my uncles was.  I wasn’t laughing;  I was mortified and these conversations are what finally what found me excommunicated from my family’s home and gatherings. 

I come from Poverty Pimps who came from Poverty Pimps who came from Poverty Pimps that can traced back as far as almost 800 years ago.  What happened to my great great, great, great, great grandfather and all those others in my family remembered for their bravery in standing up to evil and oppression no matter the cost?  Why aren’t those stories the ones we liken ourselves to and dream to emulate? Why doesn’t my family see in me what my great, great, great, great, great grandfather saw in himself?  Why do I have to be a Poverty Pimp to be validated and not judged in the Jewish Community?  Legacies of Poverty Pimps litter Jewish pasts displacing and polluting the representations we have of ourselves.  We do not have to be these poverty pimps anymore.  No one will kill us or exile us if we don’t.  I choose not to be and I pursue all paths and people who will keep me on my toes and call me out if I fall into those traps again.  

Religion is often used by the political elite to control people and push their own agendas.  On the local level Christianity today is a clear example.  many politicians claim to be devout Christians and support swing vote issues such as opposing same sex marriage and pro-life, but in the reality of their own lives they do not live by these ideals.  We all are aware of the many homophobic politicians who are bent on withholding rights from the LGBTQ community, only later to be discovered as gay themselves or active in the gay community.   There are also politicians who claim "family values," while soliciting underage prostitution or using illegal drugs at the same time.  This is just on a small scale, fringe issues.  It is easy to see at the international level as well. Financial support of Contras and wars in the name of religion are being funded by governments and banks.  Genocide and racist coups are able to happen in most cases because politicians are funneling money to be used by these passionate zealots to fight wars that will win them land, resources, and power.  Religion has served the elite well and the religious poorly and my family is right smack dab in the middle, a perfect place for finding pimps.

Check out these articles and more on our sister sites at Real Change and the International Network of Street Newspapers: INSP Vendor Blog: http://www.insp-blog.org/ INSP Main Website: http://www.street-papers.org/ Real Change Blog: http://www.insp-blog.org/realchange/ Real Change Main Website: http://www.realchangenews.org/

and ironic. Because remember that, in Germany, those who were ashamed of who they were and where they came from, constituted the backbone of the Nazi movement.


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