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I Don't Think 'Middle Class' Means What Politicians Think It Means

Since you can't go two minutes in this accursed election season without being bludgeoned over the head with a middle-class-themed talking point, I thought it would be a good idea to take a step back and provide a little perspective on what the political status quo seems to think the middle class is. The big picture might surprise and/or horrify you.

I Don't Think 'Middle Class' Means What Politicians Think It Means


Sources

Steve Peoples, "Romney: 'Middle-income' is $200K to $250K and less." The Associated Press, Sept.14, 2012.

George Stephanopoulos, "Full Transcript: George Stephanopoulos and Mitt Romney." ABC News, Sept. 14, 2012.

Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Jessica C. Smith, "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States." United States Census Bureau, Sept. 2012. (PDF)

Phil Izzo, "What Percent Are You?" The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 19, 2011.

"US Poverty Rate to Hit Highest Level Since 1965, Economists Say." CNBC News Desk, Jul. 23, 2012.

"Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines." Department of Health and Human Services, Jan. 20, 2011.

"Measuring Child Poverty." United Nations Children's Fund, May 28, 2012. (PDF)
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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Our collective childhoods have been forever influenced by the imaginative, heartwarming stories of Roald Dahl. Classics like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox continue to grace bookshelves, movie screens, and even the stages of Broadway.

But today, on what would have been Dahl's 104th birthday, we're going to share one of his lesser known- yet arguably most provocative-works of literature.


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