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thoughts on the way

When You Attend a Conference and Presenters Use Charity: Water as an Example of an Exemplary Non-Profit



“Some whites think that the fundamental problem is young black men who show no personal responsibility, screw up and then look for others to blame. Yes, that happens. But I also see a white-dominated society that shows no sense of responsibility for disadvantaged children born on a path that often propels them toward drugs, crime and joblessness; we fail those kids before they fail us, and then we, too, look for others to blame.”

“You know,” says Robert Martin, paraphrasing a speech Anne Shelby wrote for their play, “if you look at the quality of life index, we don’t score very high. We don’t have museums, and we don’t have this and we don’t have that. But how many points would you get for our streams and for people who show up at your door with a casserole and say, ‘Call me if you need anything.’ How many points would you get for being able to grow up in a place where your parents and their parents grew up?”

“And one of the great tragedies of American history is that from that moment to this, no one else has really tried to make King’s point.”

“While that social capital still has undeniable value, it is also true that there is a certain grim egalitarianism to poverty.”

“In lieu of a living wage, in other words, poor whites were given the cherished social capital of whiteness. Said King: “If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man.””

“I think for me, personally,” says Hawkins, “it’s about the difference in the way we present those two stories. We are not defeated. We should not look at ourselves as defeated. We have to acknowledge the challenges that we have, but we have to figure out how we’re going to get stronger moving through those.”

“There is a remarkable consistency to the way citizens of the poor, white mountain South have been portrayed in popular culture and scholarship. In entertainment, they are narrowly defined as naifs whose very innocence and trusting nature insulates them from the conniving machinations of city folk (think Jed Clampett), as lazy sluggards (think Snuffy Smith), as big, dumb rubes (think Jethro Bodine) or as the personification of perverse evil (think Deliverance). Women’s roles are even more constrained: they tend to be either ancient, sexless crones (think Mammy Yokum) or hyper-sexualized young women (think Daisy Duke).”

“As it turns out, our deeply racialized view of poverty bears no resemblance to reality. Though it’s true that African Americans are disproportionately likely to live below the poverty line, it is also true that the vast majority of those in poverty are white: 29.8 million people. In fact, there are more white poor than all other poor combined.”