It's True: Nobody Cares About Poor Whites

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poorwhitesmiss
On a recent visit to a poor white community I was reminded that the evangelical church and the US government doesn't give a rip about poor whites. I was in a town, Scottville, Mich., of mostly poor whites and felt heavy by what I saw. Most of the families there are on welfare. For example, about 90% of the kids get free or reduced lunch at school. Teen suicide is a regular occurence (much like the poor whites of Boston). I'm beginning to get suspicious of churches claiming to have "compassion for the poor" but you have to be a poor minority in order to receive help.

According to the last census there are about 15.3 million poor whites in America. What's the evangelical church doing? As far as I know nothing really. (The black population has about 8.1 million below the poverty line). With the total number of Americans below the poverty line at around 33 million this means that nearly half of the poor people in America are WHITE!! If nearly half of America's poor are white what's up with all the "minority" and "urban" stuff churches do? Can anyone explain this?

And then it hit me AGAIN that Chrisitian schools and seminaries have "urban ministry" tracks but no one has "rural ministry" tracks. People are applauded for having "hearts for the city" but no one is encouraged about having a "heart for rural America," where most of the poor whites live. Why is this?

What have poor whites done to deserve such neglect? For 2005, I've decided to do more research on white poverty. I hope to also ditch the sub-urban church speaking circuit this year and accept invitations to speak to mostly rural church groups when I get the chance.

Is there a CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) organization that seeks to help poor whites in rural America. Why is the eye of compassion only directed at "the city?."

Tim Wise has written a really cool article on poor whites describing some of the trends of poor whites, their neglect, and how they actually benefit ironically from raced-based poverty programs that keep poor whites shackled long-term in poverty. Wise explains here how America's concern for poor whites shifted from white to black:

Not all that long ago, the poor in this country were typically thought of and represented as white, especially white and rural. Images from the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl were among the first mass-distributed visuals of the poor in the U.S., and along with early 1960s media and political attention to conditions in Appalachia, helped frame poverty in a way that was just as likely to conjure up visions of whites as anyone else. morepoorwhitesIn line with the mostly white representation of the poor, came a significant degree of sympathy for those in poverty. During the Depression and for several decades after, most Americans viewed poverty as something that was at least in large part the result of forces beyond the control of the poor themselves.

But by the 1970ís, the discussion of poverty had shifted dramatically, thanks in large part to a transformation of media imagery. Whereas in 1964, only a little more than one-quarter of all media representations of poor people in the U.S. were representations of blacks, by the early 1970s, over 70 percent were, and three out of every four stories on so-called welfare programs featured African Americans.

Hey, here's something brave to do: if your church says it cares about the poor ask them why they don't have any programs that help poor whites in rural areas?

(If anyone has examples of good programs for poor whites please link me to them!!)

43 Comments

This is a very well written and interesting post thinks for sharing.

www.asphome.org

I have friends who are working with this organization this summer.

Yeah, it's hard. Everyone has a different calling to help, but we shouldn't ignore the rural areas. I think that the Church is very much, as Keith Green said, "asleep in the light."

Thanks, Tony. . .

Foolish, you rock, thanks for the site!!

Good questions. I attended a few CCDA conferences and there was a vocal and "hungry for answers" contingent of rural community development workers there each time. The first time I encountered this was in '99, so I hope that some momentum has picked up since then.

Homer Simpson once said: "It's funny because it's true." In this case it is not funny but it is true. I actually pastor a multiethnic church but a lot of our work is with urban trailer Park kids and families...While I was trying to raise support for our plant in this area my mentor and Friend summer it up best when he told a board of Ministries "No one gives a danr about poor white people..."

Hey, I like your blog. Your posts definitely encourage me to think about some different issues than I normally do.

I like your take on this. The article you link to, though (by Tim Wise), made we wonder what planet the guy is living on. I realize his focus is more on the political implications of poverty, but his contention that poor whites are portrayed in a "more positive way...relative to poor folks with darker skin" caught my eye. Look at the portrayal of poor folks in the popular media. How many ignorant black rubes do you see? Now think of the trailer park trash roles you see.

I think he might have wanted to at least mention this inaccuracy.

Hey, thanks Beth, that's good to hear. Thanks for checkin' it out!!

No one cares about middle class Black people either. Both of us are one the no care list. I tried, I worked for 25 years and college ed. now I am disabled. I lost my leg, I am a woman. No one cares about me, I can't get disabilty and I worked and make money. I feel your PAIN

No one cares about Americans!!! I am Black and middle classed, paid my dues. I worked hard to be me and now I lost my leg. I can't get help either. Why!!? Cause I worked

I read you blog, and I feel you miss the point. You fall into the same trap as so many others. You break this down by race. It has never been about skin color. Itís about the haves and the have nots. My friend I work in an urban community and if you believe the government is taking care of poor black people you need to take a second look. If this is help, you can have it! This is all about funding. If sticking a black face on a billboard will bring funding that is what they will do, and I can give you my word that money never makes it down to these people. These communities have been destroyed by agencies coming in and telling these people that they canít do for themselves. Then these agencies create programs that do nothing, but creating jobs for themselves, and keep them in control. You seem like someone who has a lot of passion, you need to share that passion for the have nots be they black, red, yellow, brown or white.

Go with God.

Milton, yeah, totally! William Julius Wilson is big on the meritocracy problem.

Do you know why liberals will never help poor whites? They dismiss them as "stupid", "ignorant", "racists" and Republicans. Why would they help a whole class of people who are underprivileged if they won't vote for their candidates? It's easier for them to concentrate their efforts in the cities where voter turnout can help them in elections.

I disagree with part of what Tim Wise is saying. Poor whites don't cling on to white privilege, even the ones who are supposedly "racists". Their anger comes from the fact that they think people of color are responsible for their misery. The poor whites see institutionalized racism against whites, even though there also exists evidence of racism against blacks. Affirmative Action programs that don't even intend to help poor whites are not helping them. It's the same mentality that many blacks have, a feeling of the "world is against us", namely the white people. Like poor whites they can point to institutional barriers that do not benefit them, racism against blacks when there also exists racism against whites.

I agree with the aricle about poor whites being neglected, and I know exactly why. America likes to promote an image of White people being respectable, wealthy, and intelligent individuals, if the media started to shine the light on the fact that there are so many poor whites, and that the majority of people on welfare are single white females then that image would be shattered. Its all a plan, the real issue in America is not about race, but about social classes. If you research the first slave uprisings that occured in this country you will find out that most of the time white indenture servants, and the black slaves would run away or revolt together. It became a time when poor white people could not compete with inexpensive slave labor, and they were forced out of work. Alot of times the poor whites identified with the black slaves more than their fellow white brethren, and this became a problem for the Southern aristocracy. After numerous revolts with poor white people, and black slaves working hand in hand the Southern governments engineered the racism that we know today in order to seperate the two. Knowbody is ever going to care about poor white people because Republicans play on racism to get their votes, and Democrats by pass them all together. Why do you think Dick Cheney raised so much hell about Eminem, because Eminem represents a side of white America that the government wants hidden. It amazes me how so many people focus on racis, and black this, and white this. THAT IS WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS YOU TO DO, SO THE OLD ORDER CAN BE MAINTAINED IT IS ABOUT SOCIAL CLASS FOLKS. DON'T BE BRAINWASHED. RACISM IS A TOOL/

it's as much rural poverty thats ignored as it is just white poverty. In the deep south, you'll find innumerous small towns with poor blacks and whites. although, yes we do ignore poor whites. But if we did go out to rural areas and helped too much, i think a negative effect would be that their rural cultures would gradually disappear.

i like this white girl she is not rich but rich at heart she is ,she is so nice n caring i surely love her i wish ya govt did smthn for my lovely girl perhaps help her find a very good job may god bring her everlasting happiness..ya whites are rich is not surely true..

Where are you getting your statistics from? Teen suicide a regular occurance in Scottville, MI? And where did you get the photo's from?

This article is very well written and insightful however, do you want the honest opinion of a minority in this country? "The chickens have come home to roost." Sorry to use such a frank and insensitive statement but had Malcolm X said it here, it would be applicable. After all the things white people have put Indigenous peoples, Africans, South Americans, Asians, Middle Eastern peoples through in America, worldwide and over time, a little dose of poverty for them in America isn't shaking up any communities. While I agree that the population of poor whites in America is an interesting and overlooked topic, I ask you who will care about them on a large scale considering the history of white people in America and globally?

Exactly LaSane. As a white person why in the hell should I care about you. I have read history for years and I can assure you whites are no different from any other race in terms of dominating and exploiting other people and resources. There are no races or religions that can look in the mirror straight as far as I can see. Look at all the white people in Dafur, Tibet. The invasion of India by the Muslims over three centuries made the Crusades look like a picnic. Without the assistance of other black people your ancestors would never have been enslaved.You are a racist with hindsight who only looks in the one direction so that you do not have to look at yourself. With people like you the world will never change all you do is look backwards with satisfaction.

fuck whiteys poor or rich

Same to you Tariq,

While I would be justified to rant about the failures of the current administration, I won't. It is worth pointing out that the church is in the real estate business. The poor, widows and orphans stopped being a concern a long time ago. I doubt the subject is taught in seminaries anymore. It was replaced with fund raising and wealth management.
regards

In South Africa we have a white tribe and nobody cares. What are we going to do about it?

The problems facing poor whites are being (and have always been) swept under the rug because the very existence of poor whites challenges the assumptions middle-class and wealthy whites have about themselves. End of story.

I am always struck by the gorilla in the room, nobody wants to see. I guess it hasn't occured to anybody that the church is in the real estate business. Do you follow christ or do you follow paul? I would urge anyone that can find a copy to read the social gospel. It is out of print, but is still to be found. The church does this every hundred years or so. A few folks wake up and look out the front door. The conscience awakening is followed by a slow push out the the door of those very same folks.
regards

I'm an Appalachian migrant and come from generational poverty. I see and live the racism that exists against, and I see and feel the effects of racism, generational poverty, and internalization of external stereotypes. It's sad and quite frankly 99% of the supposed "anti-racists" are nothing more than racists themselves. Affirmitive Action gives tax credits to companies that hire racial minorities and women. But where is the same for us ? These policies turn us into literal third class citizens. This coupled with racist funding policies, racist welfare policies, and with the racism of a paticular party that starts with a D. It's either outright hatred or subtle ethnic cleansing. They wonder why we vote Republican so much, well they should look at their arrogant and racist attitudes against us. And there's the odd coincidence that when a Democrat President enters the White House they soon turn their government guns against us and our suffering increases along with the attacks against us.

I think it's more about the rural poor being "out of sight, out of mind", than about their skin color. Do you really think people would care any MORE about rural poor minorities? I sure don't.

I think it's more about the rural poor being "out of sight, out of mind", than about their skin color. Do you really think people would care any MORE about rural poor minorities? I sure don't.

Interesting posts. I'm from Appalachia, and now live in a big city. Was blown away by what many blacks see as poverty in NYC. I grew up in the proverbial place with refrigerators on the lawn and duct taped cars. Didn't think anything bad about it, either. Only when I came to NYC and saw what all is done for blacks did I start to get an attitude. I work on it. It's not their fault. HOw race attitudes are taught in US brings in a lot of money---different races and classes buy into it for different reasons. Some whites are arrogant and want to be above blacks, so they ignore white poverty. Many work in the "helping" industries stepping on the dollar going to the poor, and now the democrat party is basically a race-based and sex-based coalition (not a labor party, fighting for fair wages for workers). Blacks dont' want whites included (less money for them). Besides, lots of poor whites where I came from are proud and would rather be poor than have agencies setting up shop, getting in their business, and for nothing, since it never pays. Anyway, interesting topic. Have been many many places like the picture shown here, and like I say, I never thought much of it. Rich in spirit.

Our middle class is slowly disappearing and the discrepncy between rich and poor is getting larfer. Only a privaleged few continue to run and rule the flow of the economy. Look at the stock market where one man's decisions and words can affect everyones net worth and job security in one day. Who are we kidding when we blame the race factor? Old money and power with the occasional fortunate new entrpeneurs, super-stars and athletes horde and lavishly spend all their millions while we watch in awe and disgust. Do you really think they care about the suffering and day to day struggles of the poor? The fact is that the upper class people in our society are basically greedy and have all the advantaages working for them to maintain their status. Democrats or Republicans the outcome will always be the same.

Funny how they love to say whites caused all the world problems and they deserve to be poor.. Blacks were responsible for the genocides in Rwawnda, Sierra Leone , Uganda and many massacres of their own people. SOme of these maasscres are far worse than even what white people have done to them. So, perhaps black people deserve to be poor too..

I been to Africa and I seen how poor Africans are, it goes beyond any poverty of any color in USA.. MY heart goes out for poor people all around the world. Lets not forget poor white people in Eastern Europe who live in a state of poverty like that of many third world countries..

I find black people who say whites deserve to be poor, every bit as wicked as slaveowners. In their eyes a black man can kill and steal its ok,, cause whitey made him do it.. The welfare and I am victim mindset.. Black americans behave like spoiled hot-headed brats compared to thier more humble and hard-working brothers in Africa.

Let people find God and work for the good of humanity and not depend on governmetns who do not care about you to save you.

NOW YOU KNOW Y I HATE DEMOCRATS and the likes' of the NAACP, JESSE JACKSON, AL SHARPTON and all the Hollywood TRASH.

I see such horrendous, WHITE POVERTY IN AMERICA and nobody cares.

The "chicken's" came home to roost, what chickens- Don't tell, me don't tell me the whites deprived all african-american's and deserve this-YOUR AN IDIOT!

Go invent the wheel!

I agree with your article. I wish to do something good this holiday season. I am sick and tired of the poor "inner city". I have 3 children and I am a little more fortunate and I have many clothes and things I could ship to a family in need. Please put me in touch with a poor "white" family in need!!????
I am a true American born and breed. I love our American traditions and wish to help a fellow brother or sister in need. Only on requirement They must be an American family of American decent.

Check out Donna Beegle's book, See Poverty...Be the Difference. I have also heard her speak. She is from generational poverty and has so many good ideas. www.combarriers.com

Really feel sad for those poor White people. I'm Black and I would want charity services to feed, clothe, educate everyone regardless of race. Something is f'ed up about our country and has to be fixed. No one deserves to live in that kind of poverty.

.....ummmm....how about the government?....
.....maybe the churches do not have enough money to support the rural area so their budget is limited on the urban zones.....

....but maybe....there are really people who teach christian living but do not exercise it like the church ....

"White poverty is ignored because it does not serve the interests of middle and upper middle class white america who perpetuate the ideology of white racial superiority."

Nice try. It's actually amazing the radical left hasn't launched a total genocide against poor whites, since poor whites have consistently rejected useful idiot type radicalization to a leftist agenda, consider the marxist drivel that Steinbeck types have tried to push socio-economically desperate whites into. The very existence of poor whites is not just of no use anymore to manipulative leftist types, but throws a huge monkey wrench into the whole myth of "white privilige." No wonder trailer trash stock piles weopen-I would too. They don't have "hate crime" protection/real privilege-remember.

In leftist reeducation camps, ie grad school, I was taught white shame, taught so called white privlege. Funny I kept being so puzzled that I kept seeing those white male janitors. Where the hell is their privilige? (Esp. considering the left doesn't believe in personal responsibility.) I walked over white male homeless men on the way to my car. Hmmm. I kept noticing my father's "poor white trash" relatives' mouths were missing teeth. I kept hearing about their ancestors' share cropping past. Hmmmm-so strange.

As for color blind, 60s style black civil rights activists, they don't exist any more for PWT to "roll" with. Just race baiting merchants like Jesse Jackson. Duh. Such white liberal fantasy is a dead end, I know. The whole modern day PC nightmare is geared so that if you're white, no matter how disadvantaged, you can't win-no matter what.

And Montu "scholar" did you read the article? Half of the poor in America are white. Got that? I suspect, should you respond, you'll perform some more "logical" sommersaults and find some way to to still blame whitey-after abusing me for this. Sort of like water off a duck's back for me at this point.

I myself am a father of 4 and could be classified as the working poor. I have been talking about this for years , and people look at me as if I were crazy. it drives me nuts why this happens to poor whites.

its a very touchy subject,( POOR WHITES IN AMERICA )my family has been here a very long time and have been welthy not with cash but with there hard work on there farms all this is gone now we cannot get by on our hard work the farms are gone im looking at the pictures and im realy suprised that these poor folks in michigan havnt been kicked from there homes by the state or have they by now i wonder ?

Yep and ya wonder y we want ya gone

It seems that everyone overlooks the fact that the problem is one of distribution of wealth; not that there is no money in America. Who orchestrates this distribution of money in America? Who sent all the manufacturing jobs overseas? The corporations with the help of your elected representatives; that's who. So get smart.

White poverty exists to keep marxist traitors in elected office by dangling the carrot of a promise of welfare. Those responsible are the tax leaching bureaucrats who produce no goods or services aka parasites. This combination of left wing crackas and khazar pornographers seek to destroy the white middle class who they see as a threat to their 'eliteness'.

this is so true

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This page contains a single entry by Anthony Bradley published on December 22, 2004 9:01 AM.

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