As an Americorps VISTA volunteer, barriers to access is constantly on my mind in the fight against poverty. Today, my bus driver accidentally drove past a Black woman and two kids, despite their waving and shouting. I don’t think this was anything intentional on the driver’s part, the family was across the street from a Planned Parenthood and there was an exceptionally large group of assholes protesting women’s rights there (Vice President Mike Pence was in the city yesterday, and I suspect a correlation), I think the driver was just distracted noticing them.
Because the driver missed them, this family is stuck waiting for the next bus which only shows up every half hour–and the family has the pleasure of waiting across the street from Christian fundamentalists. I don’t know this family, so I don’t know their circumstances, but there are many jobs out there which being half an hour late will get you fired regardless of the circumstances. I hope that doesn’t happen to her, but of course it’s possible. When people are living on the edge (and again, I don’t know if that’s true of that particular family) often it only takes that last straw to break the camel’s back. A rich person, if they weren’t driving for some reason, would just take an Uber or a taxi and wouldn’t even notice the inconvenience.
It really has me thinking about the challenges poor people face. Access to transportation has been such a problem for me, living without a car and without access to public transportation, and I just think how much America’s failure to perfect its infrastructure has limited this country’s achievement.
It reminds me of the great suffragette Sarah Grimké’s quote, which I feel applies to economic equality as well as electoral, “I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright on that ground which God designed us to occupy.”(July 17, 1837)