TheRoot published an article recently that says the national conversation around poverty has been discussed as if its just a black issue. White people have poverty issues, too.
If white America would come face-to-face with white poverty, it would realize that these anti-poverty programs are needed in their communities, too. And we would move beyond a view of poverty as the pathology of a specific racial or ethnic group. Would white people casually accept Newt Gingrich telling them that their children have no work ethic and need to start cleaning school bathrooms?
Most likely, no. Moreover, the piece highlights some unfortunate realities of what it takes for human beings to make responsible moral decisions.
For sure, poverty is not experienced equally across racial lines. With poverty rates in black and brown communities twice that of whites, we need to look at race-specific solutions that take into account how racially discriminatory practices have exacerbated poverty and its effects in black and brown communities. A rising tide may lift all boats, but not all boats are equal in their structural reinforcements to respond favorably to that tide.
Indeed, a poor white poster child is not going to solve all our problems. But for a nation that still thinks so tribally and racially, it opens the way for collective empathy. Ideally, the sight of any person in need should inspire our better selves; but conditioned as we are to think as racial families and ethnic blocs, seeing one of “our own” (however we define that) may be the little nudge we need.