The Poverty Report

Urban poverty affects too many people to ignore.  Weave blogger Steve Peraza is exploring the problem's many dimensions and thinking through possible ways to solve it.

The Poor Don't Matter to Presidential Candidates

A recent news report on al-Jazeera has raised an important question: Why aren’t presidential candidates in the United States paying attention to America’s poor? Two reasons come to mind…

The Politics of the Poverty Line Revisited, Pt. I

186 A little more than a year ago, I wrote about the Census Bureau's effort to redraw the poverty line and the political clashes it might cause. Now the Bureau has worked out the kinks in their new formula and plans to reassess poverty statistics.

Great timing, no? As thousands of Americans protest economic inequality, and presidential hopefuls pander to rival classes for votes, this new wrinkle in the debate promises to stir the pot politically. Perhaps inadvertently, then, the Census Bureau has ensured that poverty will be a campaign issue in 2012.

What it hasn't done is offer any meaningful way out of the problem. As part of academia I support the Bureau's efforts to study the problem. Yet as a poor American I'm not sure I care about statistics. I'd prefer change.

Reporting Poverty

126 As farsighted Americans focus on problems abroad, those beneath their noses worsen. As of late, however, the national media has begun to cover the social issues troubling the United States, especially poverty. What has prompted this change and how long will it last?

Credible but not Confirmed


When airplanes flew into the Twin Towers, I was in Boston, visiting a friend at Tufts University. I watched the tragedy unfold on TV, the whole time thinking “my friends must be freaking out right now.” I couldn’t return to Manhattan for several days, but when I did, my shuttle bus brought me to Brooklyn, and I had to take the D-train onto the island. From the Brooklyn Bridge I saw the smoldering rubble, plumes of smoke where the towers once stood. For a few moments I was the one “freaking out”…

Food Stamps, Anyone?

102 An article in Reuters today dubbed the United States a “food stamp nation.” It reported that 15% of the population, or 46 million Americans, received benefits from the

Shared Sacrifice, Pt. II

101 The Poor Man's BurdenWarren Buffet’s call for fiscal reform has been lambasted by conservatives, especially on Fox News. Calling him a “socialist” (of all things!), these critics claimed that Buffet had waged class warfare against the rich—the so-called “most productive” people in American society. Rather than increase the tax rates for the top 2.3%, critics asked, why not demand that the nation’s poor—that is, those who earn less than $23 thousand for a family of four—actually pay income taxes?

Shared Sacrifice?

100 Warren BuffetMr.

The Poverty Tour

97 The Poverty Tour logoWhen will our mainstream news media start paying attention to the problem of poverty? African-American activists like TV talk show host Tavis Smiley and Yale philosopher Cornel West believe that the time is now, and have been working to put the poverty issue back on the map.

Campaign Poverty

90 Will poverty in the United States be a campaign issue in 2012? I sure hope so…But I also hope any national debate about this issue is less about partisan politics and race-mongering and more about helping the hungry find food, the homeless find homes, and the unemployed find jobs. Right now it looks like we’re going to get a heavy dose of political theater, with the national media headlining all acts.

In Memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

77 “The Drum Major Instinct"

April 4, 1967. New York, N.Y.

This morning I would like to use as a subject from which to preach: "The Drum Major Instinct." "The Drum Major Instinct." And our text for the morning is taken from a very familiar passage in the tenth chapter as recorded by Saint Mark. Beginning with the thirty-fifth verse of that chapter, we read these words: "And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came unto him saying, ‘Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.’ And he said unto them, ‘What would ye that I should do for you?’ And they said unto him, ‘Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.’ But Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye know not what ye ask: Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ And they said unto him, ‘We can.’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.’" And then Jesus goes on toward the end of that passage to say, "But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your servant: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."