Analysis of the Article "The Logic of Stupid Poor People" by Tressie Mcmillian Cottom

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Analysis Of The Article “The Logic Of Stupid Poor People” By Tressie McMillian Cottom

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Logic Behind the Survival of Poor People
  • The Moral Reasons Behind Poor People's Purchases
  • Conclusion


In the article “The Logic of Stupid Poor People” Tressie McMillian Cottom shares her insight on how important it is to have items that ultimately represent social status.

There is a huge debate whether or not the less fortunate should purchase things outside of their budget, such as a $2500 handbag just to increase their own social ranking in society. With the majority of the votes noting that it is not a good idea for them to invest into such materialistic items. The author utilizes logical points of view to show relevance of the topic, while continuing to fortify her bias on the claim she has made. The author claims that by owning certain materialistic items, that the individuals belongings will help increase their social status. Making note of how owning such items, regardless of your low income lifestyle, can be a huge advantage in modern society. This applies to being able to present yourself to show that you fit in and how having a presentable appearance is beneficial to the poor. Within her writings in the article, she emphasizes her own personal experiences, such as the times where she felt accepted because go the way she presented herself to others. Finishing her article, she makes a heavy statement that people are completely unaware of how to live a poor lifestyle, until they are poor themselves.

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The Logic Behind the Survival of Poor People

Tressie McMillian shares her thoughts about the logical standpoints of her writing, specifically how survival skills can be viewed various ways. She connects her claim to her own personal experience, which makes her opinion more credible. Cotton states, “there is nothing more logical than trying to survive” as a supporting statement that fortifies her argument about the poor people. Even if someone might not agree with how an individual survives in today’s society, the way of survival is actually still logical. This leads the reader to understand why the less fortunate purchase the overpriced belongings as a survival choice. She displays this point of view throughout her article, noting that the minds of the poor view expensive purchases as a way of survival. The author continues with her logical standpoints through the use of history. She makes the statement of how black and white males are different from one another, emphasizing how it is a privilege to be fortunate enough to display yourself in a presentable manner. Cottom makes the analogy that due to an individual’s background, the way that the present themselves is not enough at times. She also believes that the colored folks and women are viewed differently than men because of the roles they play in the household. This furthers her claim on how important status symbols are and how everyone who isn't a privileged Caucasian male is at a disadvantage.

The Moral Reasons Behind Poor People's Purchases

Aside from the logical standpoints, Cottom also perceives the moral points of view she has. Such as why do poor people chose to purchase items in order to show status. In the article she asks why do poor people make illogical decisions, then she responds by saying how they do it as a means to obtain the feeling of belonging. This affects the readers emotions because it is something that they could possibly relate to. The reader doesn't necessarily have to be poor, but they are only relating to the fact of wanting to belong to something. Through this the author appeals to the readers’ emotions by showing them the underlying reasons as to why the poor buy items to increase their social ranking.


In the end, the author connects back to her family and how they utilized what they had in order to help others. They believed in helping others to the best of their ability, regardless of how limited they are in terms of belongings. This continues to strengthen her argument because she gives the reader something to relate to. By making her arguments relatable, the author can strengthen her arguments form all aspects. She uses evidence and her own personal experience as a creditable source while staying logical. The viewpoints she gives allows the reader to see why the poor people made their decisions to increase their social status, but in various perspectives.

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