It may be no shocker to most people that poverty rates in Marion County among children are pretty high, 22% to be exact according to the most recent kids count data, conversely so is youth unemployment. Indiana is ranked number thirty-two out of fifty-one states, including the District of Columbia, as far as poverty. Youth unemployment is the highest it has been since World War II! There are many excellent programs designed to aid and assist youth growing up in poverty, yet the cycle of poverty still continuously grows from generation to generation.
In doing my research for MCCOY’s Blueprint for youth, I discovered there is no recommendation to give organizations, youth workers or even individuals on eradicating poverty. As an AmeriCorps VISTA I have made a commitment to this community for a year, with an ultimate purpose of eradicating poverty, which initially seemed like a pretty long time but I will be fortunate to create even the smallest wrinkle in eliminating poverty in Marion County.
At this point you’re probably wondering, what’s her point? – Well let me get to it. What happened to social movements? As an African American Studies major, I have always been compelled by the ability of a group of people, whether in regards to race, religion etc…, to combine forces and create change. Poverty is a large structural issue that no one program or group of individuals can “fix”. According to a study conducted by the Manchester University Department of Policy and Management “relatively few social movements emerge specifically around the issue of poverty, in particularly poverty as defined by lack (of income, capacity, or other assets).”(pg 2)
(Social Movement model)
Most of what we consider to be social movements surrounding poverty are social movements around the symptoms of poverty. Issues such as drug use/abuse, welfare, and even food cost/distribution are all symptoms of poverty in and of itself. While it is crucial to focus on the symptoms, we have to be more intentional about directing our efforts to the question of why individuals are showing these symptoms and be thoughtful about getting to the root of the larger issue not satisfied with scratching the surface.
Advocating at a large structural capacity for poverty is no easy task. However, when has anything worth doing been easy? I don’t have the answer, and I’m not entirely sure I’ve posed a question but it boils down to the fact that in general we lack a cooperatively, engaged sense of community. I feel these are the crux of a social movement. Individuals and groups cannot enter into a social movement with varying goals and intentions. If there is no unity among community leaders and organizations that will be reflected in the atmosphere (as well as data) regarding that community? Most great accomplishments we celebrate throughout history have been the result of some individual of groups of individual igniting a movement around their cause and not only mandating or rallying but inspiring change.