For Arthur McWilliams IV, he wants the world to know there is no universal image for poverty. For him, poverty is not an image – it’s a reality and he grew up in this world.
In “Poor, Deaf Kid,” the symbolic piece written, performed and signed by McWilliams, he reveals how language barriers can affect the ability to obtain education. Through this emotional and deeply moving monologue, McWilliams’ story radiates the pain, promise and misunderstanding that are often times seen in the face of students dealing with poverty – especially those experiencing a disability, trauma or violence.
“Poverty affects people of all groups,” the former Nebraska high school student said. “However, certain differences affect the experience – particularly disability, race and sexual orientation. Poverty does not discriminate.”
For McWilliams, economic situations and classism is not black and white, and while his story is an indirect experience about his time in public schools, his story reiterates a common idea: the experiences students face outside of the school hours often come to meet them in the classroom.
Poverty: Not a Choice is a special Nebraska Loves Public Schools video series featuring the stories and talent of Nebraska Youth in Poetry. Directed by Patsy Koch Johns, performed by Nebraska students and inspired by true stories of students facing poverty in Nebraska, each segment in this series explores the day-to-day realities faced by public school kids who are living in poverty across the state.