Why the Left Isn’t Talking About Rural American Poverty - Rural America

“American disinterest in the poverty of its own pastoral lands can be traced across the Atlantic Ocean and back several hundred years to the origins of social sciences in academia. The rise of these disciplines coincided with the Industrial Revolution and the mass migration of peasants from the country into cities. As an effect of these circumstances, the leading theorists of the era—Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber—were primarily concerned with living conditions in cities and industrializing societies, setting the foundation for the metro-centrism that continues to characterize the social sciences.

“In academia, there’s an urban bias throughout all research, not just poverty research. It starts with where these disciplines origins—they came out of the 1800’s—[when] theorists were preoccupied with the movement from a rural sort of feudal society to a modern, industrial society,” Linda Loabo, a professor of rural sociology at Ohio State University, tells Rural America In These Times. “The old was rural and the feudal and the agricultural and the new was the industry and the city.”

Similarly, the advent of the study of poverty in sociology departments across the United States during the Progressive Era centered nearly exclusively on the metropolis. In the 1920s and 1930s, the University of Chicago’s influential School of Sociology utilized the city of Chicago as a laboratory for the development of the discipline. According to an article published in Annual Review of Sociology by sociologists Ann Tickamyer and Silvia Duncan, poverty in the city was “one of the many social pathologies associated with urbanization, mass immigration, and industrialization”—issues that were at the heart of the Progressive movement.

Lobao explains that around the same time there arose a “small,” but “vibrant” contingent of rural sociologists at Penn State, University of Wisconsin Madison, Cornell, Ohio State and University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. But the role of rural sociology, she says, has remained perpetually marginalized, a “residual category” outside of the mainstream discourse. Today, it is not uncommon to see rural sociologists placed into colleges of agriculture, where corporations like Monsanto rule, rather than sociology departments—pushing them further into the recesses of the social sciences.”

Being rural poor means being several years behind at best on access to technology.

I’m 26.  I’ve personally lived without running water for periods as long as a month for portions of my life.  I knew kids around my age who lived without indoor plumbing year round.  And then even later in life lost educational opportunities because people refused to believe I had no regular internet access at home (I still don’t, I write and queue up posts when I’m at the public library, which I can only go to when someone else drives me).

The lack of good infrastructure and access to technology in the rural US is massive.
An Indian Inventor Disrupts The Period Industry.

When Arunachalam Muruganantham hit a wall in his research on creating a sanitary napkin for poor women, he decided to do what most men typically wouldn’t dream of. He wore one himself–for a whole week. Fashioning his own menstruating uterus by filling a bladder with goat’s blood, Muruganantham went about his life while wearing women’s underwear, occasionally squeezing the contraption to test out his latest iteration. It resulted in endless derision and almost destroyed his family. But no one is laughing at him anymore, as the sanitary napkin-making machine he went on to create is transforming the lives of rural women across India.

Right now, 88% of women in India resort to using dirty rags, newspapers, dried leaves, and even ashes during their periods, because they just can’t afford sanitary napkins,according to “Sanitation protection: Every Women’s Health Right,” a study by AC Nielsen. Typically, girls who attain puberty in rural areas either miss school for a couple of days a month or simply drop out altogether. Muruganantham’s investigation into the matter began when he questioned his wife about why she was trying to furtively slip away with a rag. She responded by saying that buying sanitary napkins meant no milk for the family…

Though he’s won numerous awards (and won his wife back) he doesn’t sell his product commercially. “It’s a service,” he says. His company, Jayaashree Industries, helps rural women buy one of the $2,500 machines through NGOs, government loans, and rural self-help groups. “My vision is to make India a 100% napkin-using country,” said Muruganantham at the INK conference in Jaipur. “We can create 1 million employment opportunities for rural women and expand the model to other developing nations.” Today, there are about 600 machines deployed in 23 states across India and in a few countries abroad.

The machine and business model help create a win-win situation. A rural woman can be taught to make napkins on it in three hours. Running one of the machines employs four women in total, which creates income for rural women. Customers now have access to cheap sanitary napkins and can order customized napkins of varying thicknesses for their individual needs.

It’s easy to mock goofy and irrational of fears about solar farms, but they are only an expression of deeper anxieties. The land that Woodland is being asked to rezone is currently zoned residential and agricultural. Rezoning it to allow solar panels amounts to admitting that it’s currently going to waste. People aren’t going to be living or farming there. The town is not going to grow — not now, not any time soon.
Born into poverty: Rural Hispanic children face huge obstacles
Today, one in four babies born in the U.S. is Hispanic. Increasingly they are being born into immigrant families who've bypassed the cities — the traditional pathway for immigrants — for rural America.

There’s a really racist line in here about how children of Latino farm workers will “end up in gangs: which sure as hell isn’t how people typically talk about rural poor children/rural poor farmworkers when they are white.

Groups of violent white youth are not even generally called gangs, even though if Black or non-white Latinos did similar things they would be called gangs (white Latinos occupy an odd racial position in the US, but stuff like this is generally targeted mostly at mestizo, Indigenous, and black Latinos).

The majority of Black people in the US live in the South, so why would anyone assume Southern poverty automatically meant white?  It’s not even like Northern Appalachia that is majority white (but not exclusively white, there are POC in Appalachia).

If you hear Southern, Appalachian, or rural and automatically picture only monoracial white people, you need to examine your regional stereotyping.

Photo: My grandpa, Cecil, whose life was a succession of hard times punctuated with the births of 11 children, glorious rabbit hunts, the love of a round woman, coon dogs and beagles, faith in God, and a daily dose of strong coffee, hot biscuits, and nicotine.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

(Chorus “Hard Times Come Again No More” by Stephen Foster)

anonymous asked:

My bf used to live in a rural places growing up. Says teacher's would try and make sure the kids from druggie parents would have food to eat. So sad. They should just legalize drugs, government controlled, so it takes the money out of the drug lords. Plus the terms and conditions are, they have to get their tubes tied, in order to get free drugs, they just live there in a tiny place with food and their drugs. Maybe? It would definitely be less of a burden on society and way cheaper! Remote area.

I am automatically leery of anything that would require sterilization in order to get access. Violating reproductive rights is never going to be a good solution.

I do agree that rural poverty is a huge issue, and there should be solutions in place that don’t require teachers to pay out of pocket for their students’ food.

Generally, I favor a basic universal income and decriminalizing (as opposed to legalizing) drugs in order to make sure addicts and their families don’t go hungry and homeless, and addicts get the treatment they need.

The Atlantic: 

“Rural America’s Silent Housing Crisis

Accounting for only 20 percent of the population, residents of more isolated areas struggle to find a safe, affordable place to live—and to make anyone else care.


Conversations about affordable housing are often dominated with the question of how to get lower-income residents in expensive cities—like New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco (and their surrounding areas)—safe, affordable places to live. That makes sense: Often urban hubs are a good bet for jobs and economic vitality, but they’re also prohibitively expensive for many—creating well-known housing problems. But cities aren’t the only places that are lacking when it comes to adequate housing at affordable prices. In rural America, it’s both prices and the terrible condition of existing homes that are problematic.”
Wal-Mart closure a loss to McDowell food pantry

I know Wal-Mart is evil, generally speaking. But for the people of McDowell County, WV, it is (was) a vital source of jobs and food. Once it closes, the nearest large store will be 20 miles away. The local food pantry, which the entire community relies on, will lose 1500 to 3300 pounds of food donated weekly by Wal-Mart. This is a devastating loss for an area already economically devastated.
The Reality of Rural Poverty - At the Table with April Fiet

I don’t write this post as a cautionary tale against rural ministry. Quite the contrary. The need for compassionate, loving, incarnational ministers in rural communities is staggering. And, yet, many seminaries spend three or four years grooming students for urban ministry, wooing them to larger communities and larger churches.

Courting ministers to come to the cities because this is where the real need is.

Ministers, we need you here in our rural communities.


Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty

Social Protection has been chosen as the theme of this year’s World Food Day (WFD) on October 16th to highlight its importance in reducing rural poverty and granting access to food or means to buy food.

Social protection can be defined as a range of solutions, often combined with one another —such as work opportunities, provision of food, money and services— that are designed to support the vulnerable and help the poor in society move out of hunger and poverty.