According to a report released by the Census Bureau this week, more than 49 million Americans — that’s 16 percent of the population — lives in poverty. That helps explains the growing Occupy movement and an increasing identification by Americans with the 99 percenters. The poor are tired of staying poor and watching the rich get richer.
Singer Monica had a reality check from her son, and now she wants to do something to make a difference. Roland Martin caught up with her at the Congressional Black Caucus Weekend in Washington, D.C., where he asked her why this matters to her.
For more information visit actionagainsthunger.org.
MONICA: Well, for me, it started off with – with the fact that children are suffering so much when parents lose their jobs. Poverty-stricken situations affect them the most. That’s the generation that has to be brought up in the things that we’re talking about on a constant basis. And after actually having a hands-on experience with one of my son’s class members, I just felt it was very necessary for me to bring awareness in my world, because a lot of us – we just did not know that people were suffering the way that they were – especially in the United States of America. When you think about hunger, you think about third-world countries and other places, because we see food in abundance.
But the reality is that it’s right here.
MR. MARTIN: Talk about that experience with your son’s classma[t]e. What happened there when you said it really caught your attention?
MONICA: He was taking food to her, and I think that it was amazing that he –
MR. MARTIN: So – so –
MONICA: — knew –
MR. MARTIN: — your son was taking food to her.
MONICA: — yes, he was taking food to her, and he’s six years old. And that reality just spoke volumes to me, because if he’s willing to do something, how could I not be willing to do something, or participate in some way, so that people who are able to maybe help somebody else can do just that?
MR. MARTIN: We’re seeing significant budget cuts, obviously, in Congress. Republicans are saying, “Cut the deficit.” What would you say to other celebrities, or other entertainers – folks who, you know – who talk about the bling, who talk about the lifestyle; but the reality is people are living a different kind of existence every, single day in communities – especially Black communities across the country?
MONICA: And, you know, the funny thing is – is that most of us had nothing in – in the beginning, as well. So, all you have to do is use a little bit of your memory and have some compassion, and you can step up and do what you need to do. You know, for a lot of the celebrities, I don’t think that they know, ‘cause I – I was totally unaware of the amount of people that are suffering. And once you know, you can do some things about it.
So, I’ll be pulling in friends of [mine] as the years go on and as the months go on. The first thing that we did, we actually partnered with Cheesecake Factory, and you had Ali Londry* and a lot of different people there – Rick Fox. And just different people are really starting to become aware, and as they do, they step us. So, we’re just trying to make sure that the voice is heard for the people that can’t speak directly to them.
MR. MARTIN: You don’t have to be a star to help someone living in poverty. Check out actionagainsthunger.org. That’s actionagainsthunger.org.