Conversations about poverty are too often missing a vital element: the voices of those who live it every day. People like Melissa Harris-Perry guest Tianna Gaines-Turner know better than any politician what it means to struggle for food, housing, and decent wages, and she came to Sunday’s show with advice to anyone interested in determining what works.
“Invite me to the table, invite my brothers and sisters to the table,” she said. “Don’t assume you know what it’s like.”
Gaines-Turner, a mother of three and a member of Witnesses to Hunger, an advocacy group that helps mothers and caregivers tell their stories about dealing with hunger and poverty, spoke about the time her family spent being homeless and about her firsthand knowledge of how hard it is to feed a family on government benefits.
During a two-hour discussion about poverty that ranged from income inequality to housing, criminal justice reform, hunger, and more, Gaines personalized what remains an abstract concept for most people in the United States. With more than 46 million people living in poverty and millions more struggling to stay afloat, these issues aren’t going away.
People who have waited for years for Section 8 housing, who have used government food benefits, Gaines-Turner told Harris-Perry, “know the solutions” and act as “mythbusters,” who can counter assumptions many people have about who lives in poverty.
“Until we can all sit at more tables like this, nothing is going to happen,” Gaines-Turner said.