I had been struggling to write something that would tug at your heart strings about being thankful and all that, so I was thrilled to see Momo's entry about her sweet, happy family. We all have so much to be grateful for.
But I don't want to forget the flip-side of that coin, which Chris Fitzsimon covers beautifully today in his column at NC Policy Watch.
Thanksgiving is here and that usually brings a flurry attention to the plight of the poor and the hungry, canned food drives at school, news footage of a Thanksgiving meal at the local soup kitchen. Poverty is a news story this time of year.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a report that ought to make it into the coverage. More than one in four African-American families with children will have trouble affording enough food to eat, will lack needed medical care, or will live in overcrowded conditions sometime during the year.
The report finds that almost one in three families headed by a Latino citizen will face at least one of the hardships in the next 12 months. That is double the rate of white families facing the same struggles. Nearly half the families headed by an undocumented immigrant face one or more of the struggles.
The family hardship numbers come the same year that other Census figures show that 18.8% of the population under the age of 18 in North Carolina lived in poverty during 2004-05. That is a lot of hungry children and families.
policies they enact.
Please go read the rest of Chris's excellent column, and join me in being thankful for his steady voice.
As soon as the Christmas trees are removed from the curbside, much of the attention to the poor evaporates and the radical right resumes their poverty-is-a-choice polemics. Many of the politicians scatter too and the sentiments in their holiday greetings are nowhere to be found when policy is made or speeches are given or candidacies are announced.
We need to redefine the holiday spirit this year. Let’s help the poor directly with contributions and volunteer hours, but let’s also make a commitment to hold our leaders accountable to reduce poverty and hunger all year long in the budget they adopt and the policies they enact.