Nov 14, 2006
Are the poor still with us?
by Kari Mitchell, Editor in Chief
The amount of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina over a year ago was incredible, almost unbelievable. Many people lost their homes, their jobs, and worse – their families. There were over 200,000 homes in the city of
Now think about the people who were living without food or shelter before the hurricane even hit. Were these people shown the same empathy? The aftermath of Katrina put the issue of poverty in the news. Bruce S. Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP was quoted in a Washington Post article saying: "Katrina has been an attention-getting experience for this administration. It's clear that the administration has not had [black and poor people] as high on their priority list as they should have."Poverty is a problem that thousands of people in this country are experiencing on a daily basis, and not simply because of a natural disaster. However, little compassion is given to the poor. Those that have the ability to help are unaware that poverty exists; they don’t want to acknowledge that it exists or they just don’t understand the nature of poverty.
Poverty does exist in . All states experience some degree of poverty, as statistics show. According to the 2002 U.S. Census bureau, about 27 percent of the
Women head about 40 percent of the families in poverty. The stereotype is of the woman who became pregnant outside of marriage. This is only the case in a small percentage. Other factors include divorce and lower wages paid to women. Explain the 35 percent of those in poverty who live in married-couple families. What about the 20 percent who live alone or with non-relatives? About five percent live in other settings.Poverty also affects all races. About 11 percent of white Americans are poor and about 26 percent of African Americans and Latinos live in poverty. Many believe that there are more blacks and Hispanics in poverty since the percentage is higher, but there are more whites in the overall population. Over half of poor Americans are actually white. Anyone, regardless of age, sex or race, can be affected by poverty.
Why don’t we help the 35,000,000 Americans? It would be impossible for one person to help them all. That is why poverty has become a dichotomy, having two causes which evoke either empathy or judgment.
A person in poverty typically will not suffer long. It’s possible to create a better life, despite the many hindering factors. The American social system provides opportunities for mobility to every individual. One of the most common forms of mobility is intergenerational mobility, in which children end up in a different class than their parents. Poverty is dynamic and ever changing. Despite what many believe, positive statistics show that, on average, people live in poverty for less than a year. Only about 12 percent remain in poverty for five or more consecutive years. And children born in poverty are not likely to be poor as adults. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was passed. The law set a cap of five years on welfare and required recipients to look for employment. The idea is to encourage recipients to get back on their feet sooner and prevent people from “abusing the system.”
Due to poverty’s negative connotation in the , little sympathy is given to those who are struggling financially. Critical action can not be taken unless people are aware that poverty exists, acknowledge that it is affecting people in the and understand the nature of the problem. Only then will advancements be made in eliminating this serious problem.Contact Kari Mitchell at email@example.com.
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