Poverty Class Caucus

Given the uncertainty of job and income availability in our current economy, as well as the falling percentage of unions to ensure a living wage, there is a growing need to address precarious employment and poverty within the larger discussion of working-class studies.

In its current state, there is little discussion of poverty and the poverty class within the WCSA and academia. When poverty is discussed or studied, our stories are told for us in often-skewed or overly-academic ways by working-, middle-, and upper-class individuals. Poverty class academics, researchers, and even community organizers are all but absent as equals in the discussion.

At this year’s conference in Stony Brook, three of us raised in poverty class environments held a roundtable discussion about the importance of including and lifting up poverty class voices in the larger scope of working-class studies. Attendees’ interest in the discussion validated our sense that our experiences and perspectives are a necessary addition to the WCSA. The goals of the Poverty Class Caucus are to increase the visibility and participation of raised poor people within the WCSA.

The Poverty Class Caucus of the WCSA will focus on the poverty class experience from a poverty class viewpoint. The caucus’s will be created by and for folks that have experienced poverty with the opportunity to educate people from other classes about our unique struggles. Caucus membership is open to all, regardless of past or current income level. However, if you wish to join as an ally to the poverty class and you do not have personal experience with poverty, we ask that you come with an open mind, willing to center and raise the voices and experiences of those that have experienced poverty. Allies are welcome to join together with poverty class members to advocate for the wider inclusion of poverty class individuals and concerns in the WCSA and working-class studies in general.

Membership to the Poverty Class Caucus is free or on a sliding scale with no obligation to pay. Membership fees will be used to put toward a scholarship fund or sponsor program to assist those in poverty with attending WCSA conferences, paying WCSA membership fees, or furthering work in their field. A General Caucus Fund will be created that is specifically set aside for Poverty Class Caucus members to be able to access in times of economic need. Non-members can donate to the General Caucus Fund to support this vital work.

If you are interested in joining or have questions, please contact Megan Osborn at osbornmr@vcu.edu.

Signed,

Megan Osborn

Adj Marshall

Rachel Rybaczuk