Unwed Mothers and Deadbeat Dads

April 25, 2014

Poverty in the U.S. comes with its own stereotypes and stigma. Depending on who we ask, different demographic segments will be called out as the culprits: unwed mothers, deadbeat dads, lazy people, black people, white people, immigrants, welfare “queens,” and food-stamp “fraudsters.” The issue generates various types of political monologuing and sound-bites, almost all of which feature the worst representatives of whatever class of folks any given pundit doesn’t happen to like. The truth, as we might expect, is much more complicated.

In this Link of the Day, Mother Jones columnist, Stephanie Mencimer, tours the wrong side of the tracks with sociologist and truth-teller, Kathryn Edin. Edin’s strategy is not to study “those poor folks,” from the comfort of her office but rather to become a neighbor (a real neighbor), by moving to the neighborhoods where the impoverished live. What she discovered is bound to challenge at least a few of the stereotypes and assumptions we make about “those” people.

Her critics say that Edin is too compassionate, but it must also be considered that the rest of us are not motivated enough to abandon our mistaken presumptions about poverty (or fight it). May we be enlightened.

Read “What If Everything You Knew About Poverty Was Wrong?

posted by Corbin Lambeth

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