voiceless: a documentary on systemic poverty: is a poignant portrayal of the complexity and humanity of poverty in the United States of America. this documentary illuminates the hypocritical paradox of inequity and disparity in the “land of opportunity.” the primary vehicle for accomplishing this end is through the self-narrated stories of several individuals who are suffering through the imposition of homelessness.
in their own voices, viewers hear of how the problem of poverty is exacerbated by social location. sexism, racism, immigration status, criminal history and generational poverty produce nuanced intersections of suffering, immobility, and hopelessness. through their stories, people like Erica, a single mother of three, weave two common threads through the film. the first common thread is the idea that no one ever desires to be homeless, and the second is the fact that despite their greatest efforts, systems that were built to privilege the wealthy make it impossible for the poor to change their circumstances.
in the wake of the “tax cuts and jobs act,” these people and their stories are the clarion calls to conscious advocacy, self-surveillance of privilege and doing justice. enter Terence Lester, the starter of Love Beyond Walls. in this film, he gives an insider perspective on his March Against Poverty from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the poor. montages of his daily musings and meetings punctuate the film with images of the costs, challenges and joys of doing justice with and for the poor.
as a clergywoman, i am especially convicted by the critique of the church as an institution that does good only on Sundays, conflates justice with charity, and exchanges the poverty of Jesus for capitalistic prosperity. there is a flailing faith center in the fight against poverty, which is unfortunate because religious traditions, including but not limited to, Christianity, possess the means for leveling economic fields, galvanizing political resources and making lasting transformation. altogether, this documentary is a formidable, motivation, and it calls viewers into the fight. more importantly, it calls viewers into relationship, thereby humanizing the numbers and statistics of poverty through personal engagement with the poor and taking on their pain as our own, to feel and to eradicate.
rev. neichelle r. guidry, phd