Sherman Alexie on poverty

I really enjoyed reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian a few weeks ago.


…we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams. We don’t get those chances. Or choices. We’re just poor. That’s all we are.

It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you’re poor because you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian. And because you’re Indian you start believing you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly circle and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor. (p 13)

It has plenty of parts that made me laugh, too, but those don’t work well as block quotes since they depend on tension Alexie has built up over time.

This has me thinking about fiction as a way to understand poverty. I think I want to be the kind of person who crunches data sets and discusses novels in order to try and understand this odd world of ours.