To the Rich Minimalist from a Poor one,

I hear you speak to how liberating minimalism is. How you gave up your six figures a year job, sold all of your possessions, moved into a small living space and now you feel free. I squirm uncomfortably in my seat when I hear you repeatedly speak on liberation from consumerism, on freedom from long hour workdays.

Yet, I hear you. Now hear me.

You say become a minimalist and you will feel liberated like us.

Poverty and minimalism (the trend you have created) do not fit together.

You say consume less so you are more appreciative of what you have. As if I do not already appreciate what little I have. As if each article of clothing I buy my sons, is not necessary, therefore appreciated. As if I have never had to decide between buying food and paying for gas to get to work.

You say opt outside, opt out of consumerism; just opt out of Black Friday. It has become something of a laughing stock, the long lines, the fights, and the need for things. Yet we the poor are those consuming on Black Friday. How ironic that you helped to create a world of competition then laughed at us for competing in it.

Trust me when I say, as a Xicana woman, I want to opt out of Black Friday for so many other reasons than being told to do so. Than being told yet again how to live, how to survive.

You say sell all of your things so you will feel free. You do not account for the number of things that I own that were given to me. That these things remind me of my community that supports and loves me. You neglect to understand that my income is not stable, that I am unable to save money and that mis hijos will grow and need the bags of hand-me-downs that fill their closet.

You say if I consume less I will have more time con mi familia. I laugh at how naïve you are. I already consume less, yet to survive my husband and I must work long hours, early mornings, and late nights. You certainly do not consider how many hours someone else is raising the very children that lend me breath, in order for us to buy what we have.

You say become a minimalist and you will feel liberated like us. Showing your arrogance that living with less is not always a choice. Romanticizing poverty. Disregarding our day-to-day struggle. Discounting how we must pinch pennies to pay rent, how we are living paycheck to paycheck and sometimes beyond. How liberated will I feel when the lamp and the end table I worked my ass off for I later donate? Not even sell because lets be honest it was not good quality to begin with.

I am not shaming you for wanting to do different. I am calling you out for claiming liberation in something that has left me imprisoned for years. For declaring freedom in minimalism when there is no freedom in minimalism for the poor. For assuming that living with less will make everything better, when there are days I weep from the stress of this life.

I tell you rich minimalist, to be mindful when you speak to me on the life I am already living and barely surviving. There is harm in the message your trend is spreading. I will hold you accountable for that harm until you recognize that your liberation is not mine.

Sincerely,

A Poor Minimalist (not by choice)

by contributing writer, Amanda Tello

“As woke as you may think you are, you can’t be free until everyone is free” Mom. Latinx. Activist. Theologian. Unapologetically Brown.