Horror and Pornography

I hesitate to link to this; take care, because it’s a genuinely horrible story of the death of a small child.  Newspapers acquire, justified or not, reputations for certain kinds of stories. The Lexington Herald Leader, it seems, almost invariably has some terrible tale of something awful befalling a toddler, whether shooting or car accident or fall from great height or some other mishap.

For reasons I haven’t been able to fully articulate, this story affects me more than most.  I’ve thought about it since the incident first hit the news, for reasons that should be obvious.  The story of the last moments is incomparably horrible, both for mother and child. At the same time, the participants oddly defy blame.  The father will likely go to prison, but this is clearly not a case of intentional homicide; it is perhaps too easy for parents to imagine something like this happening, if they ever found themselves with the misfortune of being forced to live in a trailer-turned-meth-lab.

While we can make social-science-laden-public-policy observations about events like this, in a country as large and varied as the United States, the overall impact of any public policy shift is simply to marginally increase or decrease the number of toddlers who die horrible deaths.  Policy shifts can have an impact that is hardly trivial; any of more investment in schools, an easing of drug prohibition, anti-poverty programs, greater access to and information about birth control, and better funded social service programs might have made a difference in this case.  Nevertheless, people are going to die in ways that shock and horrify; state policy only changes the “who” and “how many.”

I should also say that I’ve been reluctant to post on this because of a nagging feeling that, for the family, there ought to be something deeply private about this event. Reading the story, especially in the excruciatingly clinical style of the first link, feels like watching pornography; there’s something wrong about the notion that I have the right to know about it.  The story activates my horror/outrage/despair centers in an almost voyeuristic manner. That the story happens to be true only enhances the emotional rush. Surely the state needs to intervene, even if the principles have already been horribly punished.  Clearly, the media should stand as watchdog to the state, and evaluation of the events should inform our politics and policy. Still, I can’t help but feel that the combination of righteous outrage and horror that I feel when I read about the case is inappropriate; this belongs to someone else, and I have no right to this sense of despair.

71 comments on this post.
  1. Bill:

    I’ve been horrified by that story since you posted it on twitter. It’s nightmarish like the nightmares I occasionally have about my toddler son

  2. DocAmazing:

    It is a horrible story, and it’s going to go over in a big way with finger-wagging types whowill alert us that You Can’t Expect Anything Else From Those People, but like all man-bites-dog reportage, it obscures the statistics. A child is far, far more likely to die as the result of automobile misadventure than anythign remotely related to drug manufacture. Despite this fact, it’s very difficult to get the police in my area interested in traffic enforcement. Attempts to address the subject in the local paper are met with derision (with a sizable community of online commentors bitching endlessly about bicycles, which are orders of magnitude less likely to kill one).

    State policy to change the “how many” directed at demonstrably more common causes of injury and death would be very welcome.

  3. Malaclypse:

    Read the second link, can’t bring myself to read the first.

    Last summer, I decided that MiniMal, then six, was ready to ride her bike on the street. She’s been around bikes since one, riding with training wheels in the office park on weekends since three, on a trailabike since four, when she lost the training wheels as well. She knows bikes. Bikes are her and my thing.

    Two blocks to an ice cream store. All on the sidewalk, first 1 1/2 blocks on a side street. Went through safety, instructions, everything. And on the last part of that last half-block, she made a hard left off the sidewalk straight onto the middle of the busy street, without looking. And for the two seconds it took me to scream to GET BACK ON THE SIDEWALK NOW, and for her to comply, I had that horrible feeling that I might be about to cause the death of my child. And for days, every time I tried to sleep, I kept seeing her make that left, and knew it was only blind luck she escaped with no injury.

    Parents can fuck up. It is really easy to fuck up.

    I’m not gonna judge that guy. I’m guessing he’ll do enough of that on his own.

  4. John:

    God, the mother was just a child herself – she was 14 when her 20 month old died…that makes her 11 when she conceived. Jesus.

  5. Speak Truth:

    Geeze….as much as I can sympathize, parents are charged with the safety of their child.
    The parents are not victims, the child is the victim.

    The parents are culpable.

  6. Jerry Vinokurov:

    There’s never any shortage of people willing to deny cyclists the basic right to use roads without being killed. It’s actually amazing to me how callous people are about this.

  7. Timb:

    The first link said 12.

    I have a niece who conceived at that age and is preggers with her third by a third different man at 17…the white rural hinterland is no different Han the ghetto — no hope, not much opportunity, no jobs. It’s an underclass beset with with meth and Big Lots and trailers and it breaks my eart that none of them will listen to me, since I’m just a stuck city-slicker

  8. Timb:

    At 14 and 17? One hopes, Jen, that you have no kids, because, although my kids aren’t around meth, they have, each one of them, taken that turn Mal spoke about and I was helpless

  9. daveNYC:

    For me, the actual death of the child was less horrifying than the situation into which it had been born. 12 year old mother (at time of birth) and a 16 (I think) year old father living in a meth trailer that they were being allowed to stay in when nobody was cooking because the grandmother had no utilities after selling her food stamps for drug money.

    Obviously the solution is to cut the safety net further, lower taxes too. Sigh.

  10. Bill:

    Living in NYC, my aforesaid nightmares usually involve traffic

  11. Karen:

    I have nightmares about losing control of my car when I’m driving with my sons in the car, ending when I wake up in the hospital hearing someone tell me they were killed. At this point I wake up screaming. My husband has not been helpful.

    As for this story, I couldn’t read it. There is nothing about this that isn’t horrifying. I still played with Barbies when I was 14; this mother already had children.

  12. STH:

    Yes, the whole thing is tragic from beginning to end.

  13. Major Kong:

    Very much so. Is it really worth my life to get where you’re going 30 seconds earlier?

  14. Patrick:

    I have a similar reaction to these stories. I try to stay away from them. It’s not my place.

  15. redwoods:

    The parents were children themselves, you pig. Having children that young does not instantaneously warp your brain into a parental mindset, especially for that poor girl, who was fucking 12 when she got pregnant and had no one to model after as a mother. Those poor kids, all three of them. They never had a chance.

  16. Anonymous:

    Well, for what it’s worth, the derisive reference to Big Lots does make you sound an elitist city-slicker.

  17. Leeds man:

    Sometimes it takes the horrific deaths of children for us to do something we should have done anyway. We’re probably not the sharpest tools in the cosmic shed.

  18. Vance Maverick:

    For us to do…what? No question about the horror, or the lack of sharpness, only about the implication that there’s a step forward here.

  19. Leeds man:

    “For us to do…what?”

    In this case, probably nothing. Ending poverty would be a good start, with guaranteed basic income the simplest single component. But this is the real world, so that will never happen.

  20. Vance Maverick:

    I’d support that. Also less impossible-sounding steps toward poverty reduction, should they bob up above the threshold of plausibility.

  21. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    I’m sure abstinence-only sex ed served them well, too.

  22. BigHank53:

    There’s nothing wrong with Big Lots. On the other hand, have you ever lived someplace where the Big Lots and the Dollar General were the nicest stores within an hour’s drive? When Wal-Mart has decided they can’t make enough money from you to open a store, it’s a good indicator that you’re living in an armpit.

  23. Kalil:

    I was stuck on a boat during the Newton massacre, and the news channels of choice in the mess deck were HLN and CNN. I was really horrified by the voyeuristic nature of their coverage, compounded by their inability to get any of the basic facts of the case correct in the first 48 hours.
    I can’t shake the feeling that there must be a better way to report on tragedy.

  24. 8:

    Rural poverty is often more hopeless than urban.
    The community programs that help a few city kids get out
    just don’t exist.

  25. mark f:

    There was an interesting study being discussed around the blogosphere maybe a year or so ago, in which teenaged mothers were interviewed about why they decided to have babies. The findings were that a significant number of them were becoming pregnant intentionally in an effort to add some semblance of agency and control into what otherwise seemed to them to be hopeless lives. As someone who read about it as a newish father twice as old as many of the people interviewed, it made me especially sad. When you’re charged with caring for a mobile toddler, one thing you become very aware of is how much of your environment you need to control at all times to keep your kid from drinking, if not acid, your glass of beer or cup of hot coffee, or from doing something else that might harm her. I’ve done all the usual difficult physical activities of modern life at one time or another — big hikes, moving from one upstairs apartment to another in a different building, whatever — and nothing I’ve experienced is as exhausting as the busiest days with a toddler. I can’t imagine being in that position at 14.

  26. Timb:

    It’s a whole in the ground where the walking dead shop.

  27. Timb:

    Don’t forget the influence the anti-choice movement has had in these places. Not only is the nearest clinic hours away, but most of the rural teenagers I know have been told since day one that it’s a baby at conception. Despite the legal definition of rape committed in these cases, these girls, even the un-churched ones, believe the pro-life bs

  28. c u n d gulag:

    In rural areas, guns are easy to get.

    Abortions… Uhm, not so much.

  29. c u n d gulag:

    Oh, and the “Pro-Life” folks did their job.

    This girl, not a young woman – GIRL! – had the baby.
    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

    However, it doesn’t seem as if there’s much of a ‘pro’ to any of the ‘lives’ involved here.

    Oh well…
    It was an accident…
    Or, it was God’s will…
    Or, God lets people make choices (irony, fully intended)…
    Or, they have no one but themselve to blame, since they were sinners…
    Or, whatever the feck it is that religious people tell themselves, when the horrible circumstances in which people find themselves, end in horrible results.

    After all, what can we do?
    Be a more empathetic and caring society?
    No! That would mean taxing “The Job Creators,” and wasting their money on jobs, education, parenting classes, drug rehag, health care, child care, etc.

    No, the American Christianista’s answer to any and every thing is, “Just say, NO!”
    To sex.
    To drugs.
    To caring…

  30. Speak Truth:

    Exactly how you blame Christians for this is a (twisted) work of bad art.

    Everything they teach helps young people not to wind up in this position.

    Your hatred and frustration of not working is now flowing through the keyboard that you operate at least half the day.

  31. Leeds man:

    See Figure 6. Damned Texas atheists.

  32. c u n d gulag:

    I don’t blame all Christians, by any means.

    I specifically said, “Christianista’s” – and, by that, I mean America’s Conservative “Pro-Life” Dominionist Christian Evengelicals, whose only concern is that sex is only for procreation, and, once an embryo is formed, it must be brought to term.

    You wrote:
    “Everything they teach helps young people not to wind up in this position.”
    Define “the.,”
    And then tell me, what it is the “they” you refer to, “teach?”

    I must be missing a whole lot of ‘turning the other cheeck,’ and ‘let those among you who have not committed a sin, cast the first stone,’ and ‘love,’ and ‘compassion,’ and ‘forgiveness.’

    Maybe it’s because the Christians that are most on public display in this country, don’t really represent Christianity as it was meant to be.
    And I hope that’s true.
    Because I don’t think Pat Robertson, or Bryan Fischer, or Tony Perkins, should speak for anyone but themselves – and, certainly NOT Jesus Christ.

    And finaaly, for the life of me, outside of God v. Allah, and Jesus v. Mohammed, I can’t tell the difference between them, and the Taliban, and other Conservative Muslim sects.

    There are many fine Christians of all denominations in this country, and the world. Just as there are many fine Muslims of many sects in this country, and world.
    I admire people of faith.
    I admire people who have faith.
    I wish I had some, but I don’t.

    And I admire people who use that faith to help others, and not those who use religions and faith to keep others in their “places,” or to make money of the fear and hatred of “others.”

    Those kind of Christians, I don’t disparage.
    Those kind of Christians, I don’t mind – not one little bit.

    I eagerly await your response.

  33. mark f:

    Oh, absolutely. Of course multiple factors combine to create the conditions in which early motherhood is seen as an empowering option. But it’s still true that some girls do make an affirmative choice to become pregnant and have a baby, and the fact that they can’t possibly understand the extent of the responsibility nor really be prepared for it at that age makes me sad for all involved.

    This is the study I was thinking of, by the way:

    “A culture of despair” is the argument put forward by researchers Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine, with the University of Maryland Population Research Center and Wellesley College respectively.2 Their hypothesis follows the classic work of sociologist William Julius Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged (1987). Wilson argues that specific places become characterized by persistent poverty because of lack of opportunity, social isolation, and exclusion from the job network. In such places, hopelessness generates despair.

    On teenage childbearing, Kearny and Levine argue that “when a poor young woman perceives that socioeconomic success is not achievable to her, she is more likely to embrace motherhood in her current position … When there is relatively more hope of economic advancement, it is relatively more desirable to delay motherhood and invest in human or social capital.”

  34. witless chum:

    Big Lots, and it’s retail chain ilk, are part of the reason that people in such communities are in such a bad situation. It’s owners are waging class warfare on TimB’s fam as sure as Mitch McConnell is.

    /Guy currently reading about the evils of modern day retail chains

  35. spencer:

    Can we please ban this fuckstick now?

  36. cpinva:

    is this a trick question?

    “Is it really worth my life to get where you’re going 30 seconds earlier?”

    of course it is, because, by god, they hold the fate of the western world in their ipod! ok, maybe not, but they are late for work at mcdonald’s, so it’s kind of the same thing.

  37. witless chum:

    Even for girls where that’s not the case, it’s probably also an easy thing to rationalize and say after the fact. “Oh, yeah. I meant to do that” just feels better than “Oh, I fucked up big time.”

  38. cpinva:

    lots of things, but none of it having to do with any part of their responsibility in this mess.

    “Or, whatever the feck it is that religious people tell themselves, when the horrible circumstances in which people find themselves, end in horrible results.”

    sure it is:

    “Exactly how you blame Christians for this is a (twisted) work of bad art.

    Everything they teach helps young people not to wind up in this position.”

    they (rightwing, fundie “christians”) are first in line to deny tax dollars to (primarily) poor women’s health care providers, such as planned parenthood, because the fundies lie about abortion being such provider’s main stock in trade. they screach to high heaven, if a school district even thinks about instituting a realistic sex education course, in the local public schools.

    i could go on, but the point is made. nearly everything they teach is designed to make these children reliant on magic, not science/medicine. from my view, that’s about as destructive an influence as you can get.

  39. cpinva:

    actually, in a very significant way, it is:

    “the white rural hinterland is no different Han the ghetto”

    there are far more white people on welfare in this country (simply because, there are far more white people in this country), than there are black people. most of those poor white folks live in the rural hinterlands. yet, those are not the people their representatives point to, when complaining about “welfare cheats”, those are always inner-city, black ghetto queens, with their “dozen children, by 13 different, drug-dealing daddies”.

    if you didn’t know better (and the majority of the country doesn’t), you’d have no idea there were any white people on welfare, you would reasonably assume they were all black (and now, hispanic). and that’s how they get away with cutting those programs (or stopping them, before they even get started) that might help those people because, god forbid, they might just help “those” people.

  40. Speak Truth:

    People have a constitutional right to an abortion, if they are competent.

    People don’t have a constitutional right to have others pay for that abortion.

    If you disagree, then perhaps you would also like to subsidize handguns for the poor that cannot afford one. It’s also a constitutional right.

  41. sharculese:

    I know you’re dumb and don’t understand what a government is, but it turns out there are other reasons to do things then ‘it’s in the Constitution.”

  42. sharculese:

    Seriously, are we really at the point where we have to explain, ‘actually no, what fundies teach does the opposite of prevent pregnancy.’

  43. Speak Truth:

    Shorter c u n d gulag: “As long as I approve of their religion, then they’re OK.”

    News flash: The most fundamental right of this nation *is* freedom of religion. And this was put in the constitution to protect people from YOU.

    This right is more important than your opinion.

  44. Malaclypse:

    And this was put in the constitution to protect people from YOU.

    Is there anybody you are not scared of, Jennie?

  45. Speak Truth:

    You cannot argue why one, but not the other.

    Both are constitutional rights and I’m not saying people don’t have these rights.

    I’m demonstrating your inconsistency and bad reasoning. And you apparently have no answer. That’s why you wish to attack me instead of offering up a real answer.

  46. sharculese:

    Yes people generally only approve of people who do things they think aren’t terrible.

    We cover this in Introduction to Reality.

  47. c u n d gulag:

    “People don’t have a constitutional right to have others pay for that abortion.”

    Oh, well done!

    Went off in a completely different direction, just like the pro’s would teach you at FOX.

    I never said anything about subsidizing abortions!

    Speak “Truth” – that last word – I do not think that word means what you think it means.

  48. sharculese:

    Because I think the government should subsidize basic medical care and don’t think they should subsidize weapons.

    The world isn’t limited to arguments that don’t make you throw a tantrum, kid, no matter how much you might wish or want it to.

  49. Speak Truth:

    Because I think the government should subsidize basic medical care and don’t think they should subsidize weapons.

    Not all agree that abortions should be considered “basic medical care”, but it’s an argument that you can make.

    What I don’t want this to devolve into is the whining that if taxpayers don’t subsidize abortions, it’s somehow unconstitutional.

  50. sharculese:

    Since you were the first one to bring the Constitution into the discussion I’ll just have to congratulate you for your passionate display of offense of an argument that has nothing to do with the conversation.

    Truly, you must be the reincarnation of Socrates.

  51. bradP:

    But it’s still true that some girls do make an affirmative choice to become pregnant and have a baby, and the fact that they can’t possibly understand the extent of the responsibility nor really be prepared for it at that age makes me sad for all involved.

    While I’m not a woman, my wife is pregnant, and even at thirty I expect to have to work hard to make up for all the things I didn’t know. I have gone about strengthening my relationships with my local family, especially those with children of their own, to help overcome for my own shortcomings.

    That these girls have children that they are unprepared for in ravaged families and communities that cannot support the new mother and child makes me sad.

  52. Speak Truth:

    “An ounce of prevention……”

    But the discussion in this thread doesn’t focus on prevention.

    And in all fairness, Christians are all about preventing unwanted pregnancies. Just attend church once in a while and see how many 12 year old members of the congregation wind up pregnant.

  53. Malaclypse:

    Just attend church once in a while and see how many 12 year old members of the congregation wind up pregnant.

    No, fuck you, Jennie.

  54. delurking:

    Please. Please.

  55. todd.:

    I don’t read the Lexington Herald Leader, but Google News definitely has a new similar story every day. I have a pretty confusing ambivalent relationship with them, which I think is related to Professor Farley’s. Especially once my own son was on the way, I find them impossible not to click on. But I always feel a little inappropriate reading them. Interesting to know there are others who have a similar experience.

  56. sharculese:

    And in all fairness, Christians are all about preventing unwanted pregnancies.

    Just not about doing so effectively.

  57. Julia Grey:

    for reasons which should be obvious

    My son was the same age as Baby Jessica when she was trapped down that well in Texas back in the 80s. I didn’t sleep until she was rescued. I kept thinking of my son’s little body stuck down there in that muck, in the dark, on the verge of suffocation, not understanding what was happening to him…

    I was a madwoman about it. I watched television coverage for hours. In short, I took it too personally.

    So yes, I certainly understand that feeling of being drawn into inappropriate voyeurism/emotional involvement when I hear stories like this, but I believe that it’s worse when you are a parent of children who are close to the same age.

  58. c u n d gulag:

    And to protect ME from YOUR religion, or ANYONE else’s religion, for that matter – thank you, very much!

  59. c u n d gulag:

    Speaker of Something or Other,

    “…how many 12 year old members of the congregation wind up pregnant.”

    Yes, take a look at the statistics for that – especially in Red States.
    More particularly, in state in The Bible Belt.

    I’m sure all of those pregnant 12, 13, 14, 15, etc. year olds, never went, or still go, to church.

    All of those knocked-up little darlings must all be the children of Atheists and/or Agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Hindu’s, etc.

    You, Jenny, are one dumb motherfecker!

  60. Timb:

    It actually says Congress, jen, not cund gulag

  61. DocAmazing:

    So close to haiku!

  62. brewmn:

    Yeah, I’m guessing ST is childless. The second summer in the house we bought for our new family, my fifteen-month old walked into the garage, and within the ten seconds or so it took me to walk over to get him, he came out with the nozzle of a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid in his mouth. He was perfectly fine, but I’m still terrified at how he honed in like a laser on probably the only thing in that garage that could have killed him (he wasn’t strong enough to have pulled anything heavy over on top of him at the time).

    There is no parent that can read about a kid killing himself by taking a drink out of a abandoned coffee cup and not think but for the grace of God…

  63. Leeds man:

    Years ago, I was raving enthusiastically about Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor to my sister, who had two young sons. She cut me off a few seconds into a brief synopsis.

  64. snurp:

    My parents were the compulsively over-protective sort, and most of my childhood stories nonetheless involve various times I ate iron pills/a glass ornament/silica packets/dishwashing detergent. Having kids doesn’t make people omniscient and omnipresent, and it sure as shit doesn’t stimulate prefrontal cortex development in 14 year olds.

  65. Pat:

    In a normally functioning family, children are considered not legally competent to make their own decisions until the age of 18. Parents must sign off on school field trips, support the child for a driver’s license, approve medical care, etc. Most of us let our kids make many decisions for themselves before this, because it’s good practice for them.

    Everybody here acknowledges that the girl was 12 years old, a middle-schooler, when she got pregnant with her first baby. Then she’s cut loose. We can say, yeah, her mom was a druggie, and she was doing her best, but all of that ignores the fact that she is too young to be held responsible.

    She and her children should have been placed in a foster home together.

  66. MosesZD:

    My step-brother, when he was a toddler, drank liquid plumber. Ate off half the front part of his tongue and he has splash scars from when he spit it out.

    Nobody was charged with a crime or even negligence. I suspect that was because the parents (my step-mother and her ex (not my father)) were good, upstanding white people with a socio-economic lower-upper-class background.

    I suspect if the little boy drank drain cleaner, and his parents would have been like my step-brother’s parents, nothing would have happened. Or, at worst, some sort of low-grade manslaughter charge and probation.

    And yet, here we are, same accident, only a worse out-come and the man is being charged with murder. I can only imagine it’s because he and his wife are unsympathetic, meth-making ‘white-trash.’

    I remember when Edwards talked about two justice systems when he talked about America. He was wrong, I think there are three: upscale white people, other white people, poor and minorities.

    And I don’t mind, so much, they’re charging him in the death of his son, it was criminally negligent. What I mind is different prosecutorial out-comes and risks for different groups of people.

    My step-mom leaves liquid plumber lying around and almost kills one of her kids, nothing. This guy is up on murder. Laura Bush kills a man in an at-fault auto accident and nothing. But you get some black kid doing the same thing and it’s prison.

    And that’s just wrong. At least to me and my (silly) belief in equal justice for all…

  67. MosesZD:

    I drill my daughter’s on patience regarding this all the time. I point out that you’re not even likely to gain 30-seconds as all the weaving and speeding does very, very little as almost all gains are lost at the next stop light…

    So, you’re not likely to be run-over by one of my spawn (or me, or my wife).

    OTOH, I no longer ride my bike on the street. Too many idiots…

  68. Anonymous:

    Thanks for the book-learnin’ wisdom, bro. You’ve totally blown my mind.

    Now, getting back to why Big Lots is shit: it is. Bitching that it spoils the atmosphere for your one pompous relative who rarely visits, however, is prattish.

  69. Greg:

    I clicked the first link, confident that whatever it was I would be able to handle it, since I can usually maintain a certain emotional distance from the daily parade of horrible stories. And I don’t know if it’s because we now have a seven-month-old daughter (our first kid), but I got as far as the part about the child seeming like he was afraid to drink when his mom tried to get him to drink cool water. I couldn’t read any more. It’s the fear and incomprehension on the part of a child that gets me. I’m honestly not sure how much of my inability to keep reading had to do with being a parent.

    This reminds me of an amazing piece that appeared in the Washington Post–I think in the Sunday magazine–a few years ago. It was about parents of babies who died because a parent forgot the child was in the backseat of the car, and accidentally leave them behind, while they run into a store or wherever. The baby, left in a hot, locked car, suffocates or gets heat stroke. It sounds almost absurd, but the article did a really good job of demonstrating how easy it would be for that to happen. These parents can’t believe they did it–it boggles their minds how they could have been so careless. But the writer talks to psychologists who have theories about how and why it can happen, and you come away from the article thinking it really could happen to you. You really do empathize with these people. Their cases are also problematic from a criminal justice standpoint. They are all in such obvious hell that it’s not clear what point there is in prosecuting them.

  70. Malaclypse:

    It sounds almost absurd, but the article did a really good job of demonstrating how easy it would be for that to happen.

    I remember that article. I doubt I’ll ever forget it, actually.

  71. numb3rs:

    there are far more white people on welfare in this country (simply because, there are far more white people in this country), than there are black people. most of those poor white folks live in the rural hinterlands.

    Whites have not been the majority of AFDC/TANF recipients since at least 1985. (they have not even been the largest group of recipients for most of that time.) For the past few years the breakdown has been about 32% white, 33% African American, 29% non Hispanic. Since 2000, the percentage of whites has stayed fairly stagnant while it has declined for blacks and risen for Hispanics. The vast majority of recipients are still going to be women with childern so the demographic change in the under 18 pool certainly plays a role. (DoC numbers cover a broader spectrum of programs and the percentages of recipients is about 38% white, 39% black and 16% Hispanic)

    Furthermore, the majority of whites receiving aid are residents of urban areas. Nearly 75% of the 442 counties the USDA classifies as rural high poverty are actually majority minority.

    Whites are receiving a disporportional percentage of federal anti-poverty funding considering their poverty rate is less than half of that for blacks and Hispanics

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