Sunday, November 8, 2009
Born to a homeless family and pretty much in a barn, with only his parents and some animals to keep him warm, Jesus would have been on food stamps in 2009.
Years later, one of his most memorable miracles was feeding four to five thousand hungry people with a few loaves of bread and a small basket of fish. This is cited in Matthew 14:13–21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:5-15.
I bring this up now because I just got wind of this news: Many US Children May Live In Families Receiving Food Stamps. That's the least offensive link I've found summarizing Vol. 163 No. 11, pp. 973-1072, November 2009, of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine journal. You have to subscribe to read the full article, but you can read their abstract summary here.
It says that up to 50% of all American kids and 90% of black children will grow up in a household by age 20 where they or someone receives food stamps.
As an African American, I felt bad. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Their statistics feel like bullets that wound me.
I also doubted the conclusions. I mean, 90%? Come on. How many times have people lied with statistics? Or been wrong? But still... I wonder. What if it's true, or even remotely true?
Why are their projections so bleak? Research-gathering techniques of that magnitude sucked 30 and 20 years ago. The internet didn't even begin to get good until ten years ago.
If the government wasn't going broke and we hit Great Depression II with a vengeance and could afford to feed that many households of all races, then it might become true. Otherwise I just don't see it.
And, if they redid this study using stats of only the past decade, I wonder what their projections would be?
I know I live in an area of the country that is friendlier toward my people than nearly anywhere else. I speak of the DC-MD-VA beltway loop, where good government jobs, military and corporations abound, where the real estate market has held fairly steady while other areas have plunged, and so forth. Jobs have been tight this year but not impossible to get.
Hardly any the folks in my social circle have ever needed food stamps, and if so, it was only for a very brief time between jobs. Sure, I've had goo-gobs of clients who have relied on them, but the educated black middle and working class is strong in the DC area.
With this in mind - that my culture is only one of many subcultures in Black America - I grieve if the estimates are accurate.
I keep in mind that they are only statistics based on the past 30 years and projections of the future, and are not necessarily reflective of the present.
This is what's missing in so many news stories. It's all over the place and watered down or distorted to make it look like a current reality or a foregone conclusion... and for what purpose?
To give mainstream White America yet another reason to pity us?
To be fairer to us when we apply for jobs and in the workplace?
To throw up their hands and write us off as hopeless cases not worthy of saving when economic shit really hits the fan in 2010?
Or worse, to hate us en masse for our (unwanted) poverty, and at so many of us who are struggling for a figurative meal of fish and bread?
Jesus on food stamps... I picture this in my mind. It's the only thing that keeps me from feeling worse, and that we're not in such in bad company after all.
Posted by Kit (Keep It Trill) at 9:16 PM