People area always complaining how hard it is to get out of poverty if you’re born poor. I get it. I’ve been there. But why is it that the worst offenders are American born, English speaking, able-bodied white people?
Being an immigrant myself, born in the poorest slums of Chicago, I clawed my way out of poverty and by most people’s standards, I’m now a successful entrepreneur living the American dream.
But I never considered being “poor” as a handicap like so many people do.
What I did consider a handicap was being called a chink on my way to school, or people constantly asking me “do you speak English, you slanty-eyed bastard?” A real handicap was being dyslexic and trying to learn to speak English in the crappiest schools in the state, and watching my parents work 4 night shifts to survive — because no one would hire a non-English speaker as a cashier. I think about all these handicaps — and then I add being poor as the cherry on top. Now those are handicaps. But being poor itself wasn’t ever something that held me back, and I don’t get people who stay poor because they were born that way. Surely you have other handicaps holding you back besides just being born poor?
Poor white folks complain a lot — and I just don’t understand what there is to complain about. You’re poor? So what? At least you can still get a job as a cashier because you speak English, and at least you can read the street signs and read English textbooks. At least people aren’t profiling you based on your small eyes and dark skin or avoiding hiring you because they don’t want to get hassled by immigration officers.
What I would have given to be just another poor white guy, instead of a dyslexic, super-ethnic looking immigrant with no grasp of English, that also happened to be dirt poor.
White people will never understand it — but if you’re an immigrant, you know that just being white like everyone else and speaking English naturally is an enormous advantage when it comes to success. Especially when you’re trying to escape poverty. They get to the front of the line. You know who has to wait in the back? The Asian guys. The Hispanic and black guys. But not the white guys. The person interviewing you looks just like you. How great is that?
White people don’t understand true inequality
Of all the people I’ve worked with in my various businesses over the years, I just don’t understand why the poor white guys complain more than the poor immigrants. Don’t they realize how good they have it? Seriously.
Don’t get me wrong — I have nothing against white people. Some of my best friends are white. But I just can’t relate. I grew up with a lot of white guys in the projects, and we all had dreams of getting rich and living “the good life.” Being born poor makes it much harder to become “un-poor” — but what about being poor and being racially profiled because you look different and talk different than everyone else around you? That’s what I would consider a true handicap — when you’re both poor and and an immigrant.
How can swarms of immigrants, myself included, face such handicaps and rise to the top to quickly, while American-born, English speaking white folks are staying poor at an alarming rate — far more than many minorities? They’re already at a huge advantage, even if they’re poor. So what’s the deal?
I’ve heard a lot of poor people say the system or the “man” is holding them back. But if you’re white, aren’t you the man? Unsuccessful people seem to have an unlimited number of excuses as to why they’re unsuccessful, yet they can’t come up with even one solution or step to take in the right direction…and so many of them aren’t even handicapped. They don’t know what it really means to be handicapped and frankly, I find it insulting when yet another poor white guy complains about injustice, while a hundred Mexican guys are working their asses off to get ahead right next door.
When I was poor, I had to work 10 times harder to get the same job a white guy could get, because I looked different and talked different than everyone else in line. I looked like an alien. Small eyes, really dark skin, the works. Then when I opened my mouth, my broken English and slurred speech and dyslexia became evident, and by then, my interview was over.
I realized that being an immigrant is a real handicap. Being poor, as hard as it was, just isn’t one.
There are literally millions of living examples — immigrants who defy the odds and make it big in America. They’re all poor, just like the white folks, plus a lot of other handicaps that make it all that much harder.
If you’re poor, yet you’re able-bodied, white and speak perfect English, what exactly is holding you back? Surely you can’t say that being born poor is why you’re still poor. Being poor is normal for immigrants. It’s just one of a hundred other handicaps they have to overcome. The way I see it, if immigrants can do it, what the hell is everyone else’s excuse?
Comparing apples to apples
There are a few common excuses the chronically unsuccessful make every day as to why they haven’t gotten anywhere in life. Many of these people aren’t immigrants. So in my book, they’ve already got a huge advantage over any immigrant they compete against.
Even the worst “poor person” and their definition of “challenges” pales in comparison to what immigrants, like myself and my friends, had to overcome to achieve success. Let’s take a look and see how it really stacks up.
Over the years, I noticed that the standard “poor white guy” has the same few excuses as to why he’s still poor. They don’t see a land of opportunities. They see a land of difficulties…and what’s their difficulty? That they’re poor right now.
They believe they really have it harder than anyone else. Immigrants share the same challenge — times 10. But in the end, every unsuccessful person I’ve come across has the same few excuses and I’m determined to put an end to this bullshit — because if small eyed, dark skinned, shitty-English me was able to become successful, the normal eyed, light skinned, perfect-English white guy surely can do it, too.
Here are a few excuses the chronically unsuccessful person loves to use.
The “I was born poor” excuse
This is the same excuse as people who say they can’t escape their circumstances.
They came from a poor family and live in the projects — so how can they every escape poverty?
Not all poor people have this problem. Many unsuccessful people I’ve met aren’t born poor or live in the slums. They come from middle or lower middle class families. But regardless, they’re still poor and broke.
On the flip side, just about every single immigrant that comes to America is poor and living in the slums. They didn’t accumulate lots of money and decided to come to America to become even wealthier. They likely spent all their money to get here and are only here as a last resort to give their children a better life.
So whenever someone uses the “but I was born poor” excuse, know that every immigrant you’ve ever met has dealt with this exact same issue. They arrived penniless to this country. At least you were born here.
The “system” or the “man” is holding me back excuse
This is a popular one. Poor people love to say there is some magical force called the “system” or the “man” that’s keeping them down. It’s the rich or the economy that’s holding them back from being successful.
Again, if you’re white, aren’t you talking about yourself? To an immigrant, the “system” or the “man” is the white man. Talk to any self-made immigrant, Mexican or black guy — they’ll tell you what it’s really like when someone is holding you back.
I’ve been to a million job interviews. I was laughed out of a few. I failed many business ventures. When you look ethnic, you can actually feel this “system” holding you back — because when you walk into a room full of powerful people, they’re usually white people. What I would have given to look and talk just like them.
But if you’re white, there’s no one holding you back. People like you. They like the way you look and talk. This is a non-issue to American born white folks. If anything, immigrants should be the ones that should be using this excuse. We’re the outsiders. You’re the “man.”
So before you make this excuse, think about what you’re saying. You’re saying that you, being born and speaking the language, are being held back from success? By who? Have you walked into a room or interviewed for a job and that person on the other side of the table is scared of you? They’re uncomfortable by your ethnicity. They know hundreds of people that all look alike, and you’re the only one that looks totally different.
If you’ve experienced this, that’s the “system” at work. If you’re white, you haven’t ever been held by any system. It doesn’t exist in your world.
For immigrants, there are actually a lot of systems holding them back from success. One of them is called immigration. Just getting to America is a struggle. You guys are already here, so stop complaining.
The “I have no opportunities” excuse
For most immigrants, simply getting to live in America is a challenge. When they are here, there are endless amounts of paperwork and other obstacles to face. Try getting a job, even a remedial job, when you don’t speak English. Or when you have to deal with a VISA or foreign exchange papers. When there are endless amounts of English speaking, American born citizens lining up for the same job, it’s pretty damn hard to even get employed in the first place.
What many poor white folks don’t understand is that simply being born here is a huge advantage. The fact that they can be an American citizen is enormous. It means you don’t need to check the “Are you an American citizen” box and explain why and how you got here.
It means you’re starting at zero. No matter how poor you are, you’re here and a citizen. For immigrants, just getting here is a challenge. Their opportunity starts with getting off the boat, while everyone else is already here.
Immigrants don’t speak English. They have to dig, claw and hunt for opportunities in any form just to survive. If you were born here and you speak the language, you can bet that finding an opportunity, any kind of opportunity, is going to be a hell of a lot easier than if you’re a foreigner.
Once we get here, we have to learn the language, overcome racism and a million other challenges, before we can look for any opportunity. Then, the hard work begins.
You’re already here. You’ve got the road map. You’re already light years ahead of an immigrant, so stop making this excuse.
The “I can’t be successful because I’m not educated” excuse
This one is downright idiotic. Even if you come from the crappiest neighborhood and school systems, at least you have access to something. Most people don’t understand that outside of America, most other countries have terrible access to education or none at all. Even getting hold of a computer with internet access is difficult in most countries.
In America, you can hop on the bus and get to a library. They have free internet access and free books you can read and educate yourself all day long.
I was too poor growing up to afford a computer, so I hopped on a bus every day and rode it to the nice part of town, and got free education.
Even the poorest, worst educated white guy is in a better place than the most educated immigrant.
I know many immigrants who had great education in their countries — but when they arrive in America, it’s worthless. I have a friend who’s entire family has to escape a communist dictatorship overseas. His parents were both doctors. When they arrived here, they both became janitors and they were grateful for the job. They worked nights cleaning floors and scrubbing toilets, and spent their days learning English and reading books so they could get their GED.
They eventually started a small ice cream stand. Then two. Then three. Fast forward 20 years, they’re worth millions. All the education they got was from the streets and from free books at the library.
If you think you’re unsuccessful because of your lack of education or access to it, talk to an immigrant. They’re the most creative people in the world because they have no choice but to educate themselves. They find ways to do it because they have to do it.
So the next time you hear a poor white guy complain that he’s not being given the right education and it’s keeping him poor, tell him to talk to an immigrant and learn the true meaning of “no education.”
The “poor pitiful me” excuse
This excuse is interesting because it seems to exist only in America. It’s exclusive to the poor white male. Poor people in America have gotten sort of a “victim status” associated with them over the last few decades and it’s just weird.
Here’s an interesting fact. In most countries outside of America, being poor is considered shameful. Unless you suffer from some severe handicap, being poor in most other countries is simply unacceptable.
In places like India or Vietnam, being poor is something people avoid like the plague. When you’re poor, it’s considered a huge failure to both your character and your family. They have no time to feel sorry for themselves. They’re too busy trying to not be poor.
In countries like these — there are no government programs or food stamps. If you’re poor, you don’t eat. Period.
How can you possibly sit around, being poor and feeling sorry for yourself? Do you think when my family immigrated here 40 years ago, they got off the boat and sat around feeling bad for themselves? Do you think they said “poor me” and complained to everyone about how unfair their lives were and how bad their luck was? No, they didn’t.
Why? Because if they did, they would starve. Their kids would starve. You would be shocked at how many immigrants, even today, have no idea what food stamps or government housing is. They don’t exist in their countries and the concept is foreign to them. In many countries outside of America, starving is something that can actually happen. The systems are broken in those countries. Not in America. No one starves and no one stays poor if they can help it.
Immigrants work hard. They get off their asses, work 3 jobs and put food on the table. They don’t complain and they don’t feel bad for themselves. They do whatever it takes and however long it takes to survive. Once they are able to sustain, they keep running forward. They don’t get comfortable. They strive to get off food stamps because it’s embarrassing. They work harder and smarter and try everything to become successful and create a better life for their children.
It’s cultural. Being poor is unacceptable to many immigrants, and that’s the reason they come here. They come to America because we have a system that allows even the poorest immigrant to make it — and make it big.
If you want to be successful, act like an immigrant
Now let’s get back to the poor white guy. Let’s assume you’re one of the vast majority of white, American born, English speaking poor people. The worst times in your life, where you “feel” like you’re at rock bottom, doesn’t pale in comparison to the “normal” circumstances that every immigrant has to deal with.
To many average, mediocre white folks born and bred in America, their hardest challenges are pretty much normal growing pains for the average immigrant. They do the jobs no one else wants to do. They claw and sacrifice and work.
How is it that some of the most successful people I know are immigrants? Why is it that immigrants are out-earning and out-performing American born citizens year after year? The statistics are scary — immigrants keep succeeding while everyone else — who are born here, speak the language, and look like everyone else— are lagging behind.
So if you’re one of these offenders — the mediocre, poor white guy — take your long list of excuses and compare them to any immigrant. We all know most unsuccessful people use these excuses to avoid trying or to remain in a constant state of self pity — they’re poor by choice.
Take that big long list of reasons why you’re broke, poor and unmotivated. Make your list as sad and pathetic as possible. Then compare it with the same list from any self-made immigrant and you’ll see, your list is absolutely nothing when compared to true handicaps and challenges that immigrants are guaranteed to face when they arrive.
By the logic of poor people, who claim being successful is virtually impossible if born poor, immigrants should all remain poor forever, right? Wrong. They succeed…and they do it in droves.
So before you start complaining, think long and hard what real difficulties look like — and instead of being a victim, think like an immigrant. Honestly, if immigrants like me can succeed in America, you have no excuse. You’re poor because you’re lazy, filled with pity or a combination of both.
Take a lesson from immigrants who have actual challenges to overcome — not your bullshit challenges — but actual challenges, and ask yourself why immigrants are kicking your ass in every area of life.
Because no matter how bad you think your circumstances are, immigrants have it much harder and they succeed nonetheless. Be like them.