Strides: Update 7 Rural Poverty, Law School & Housing

Saving is a waiting game, but I can still be active in budgeting, learning and looking ahead.

This post is a somewhat shorter, quickly assembled, download of subjects related to rural living and a couple personal updates. I’ll cover the following:

  • Upcoming Posts
  • Please Note: The Face of Rural Poverty
  • Law School
  • Housing Update

Upcoming Posts

My intentions for the upcoming posts on this blog are:

  1. Racial Justice
  2. *Economic Opportunity & Racial Reconciliation

*Economic Opportunity and Racial Reconciliation are combined because I view them as interdependent. I view them as interdependent generally speaking, but also in the specific context of rural living as it relates to economic revitalization, entrepreneurial and home ownership opportunities, access to quality primary, secondary and higher education, and greater accessibility to nature and its emotional, physical and spiritual benefits. I think of benefits for low-mid-income urban populations of color as visitors and hopefully as thriving residents over the short- and long- term. I think of benefits for ageing rural communities experiencing population decline and its economic and social consequences. As I try to outline these posts, I’m increasingly aware that my ideas are pretty specific to New England and research on Vermont.

Please Note: The Face of Rural Poverty
Maps showing race, place, persistent poverty

It is impossible that my thoughts on these topics could be one size fits all for the entire nation. I am aware that there are regions of the country with sizeable populations of color who already live a rural life. I am also aware that many of those same areas experience economic injustice and adversity to this day out of accumulation of the ills of US history compounded over generations. These areas include the Black Belt, tribal lands and areas with a history of exploitation of immigrant labor in the agricultural sector. While highlighting impoverished rural communities of color, I have not forgotten the poor white rural communities. What stands out to me is that even as these rural communities are the most economically disadvantaged nationally-compared to urban poverty rates-rural populations of color still have higher poverty rates than their rural white counterparts and receive fewer government resources in trying to alleviate their condition. Of the poor, the rural poor of color tend to face deeper poverty than both the white rural population and the urban poor. Nuance in how we consider rural adversity and address regional obstacles to justice, opportunity and prosperity is a must-have.

Soap Box: As predominantly urban/suburban-dwelling people (most of you on the email list), we urbanites need to educate ourselves on the diversity, complexity and history of the rural American experience. Especially in our politically polarized world so often damningly depicted as a binary “urban-rural” divide, we need to think about the rural poor from a posture of learning, compassion, and humility if we sincerely desire peace and justice in this country. We need to care about amplifying the voices, needs and desires of the marginalized, both urban AND rural, and scrutinize convenient, overly/overtly-simplistic rhetoric intended for political expediency to the detriment of intellectual honesty and truth. If there is no peace without justice and there is no justice without truth, then let’s learn the truth about each Other so that we can better discern justice with precision nearer to that of a surgeon’s scalpel as opposed that of a wooden spoon.

Urbanite, suburbanite, rural resident–we need to recognize the scope of our own ignorance, our collective power to perpetuate harm and stoke discord in that ignorance, and then actively enlighten ourselves.

OK, stepping off my box.

Please check out the following podcasts and articles that can give more insight into the topics of rural demographics, rural poverty, rural life and disparities in government support:

  • Rural Matters (podcast)
    • Rural Poverty with Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer” June 2020 – “Edin, one of the nation’s leading poverty researchers, describes how stunning it was to take a deep dive into interviewing entire rural communities to find out more about the social determinants of persistent poverty. …for persistent poverty to be prevented and alleviated, we need to address inequitable situations in which emergency relief administered after natural disasters disarmingly favor those who have clear title to property, which is an integral, historical component of persistent poverty.” (emphasis added)
    • Rural Poverty (Part II) with Lanora Johnson, Jasmine Simington, and Meg Duffy” June 2020 – “[Simington] describes how the project holistically ranked the most disadvantaged counties and cities in the United States and notes those locations were spatially clustered in Appalachia, the rural Southeast, deep South, border towns in Texas, and tribal lands. Poverty Solutions researchers went on site visits to several of these counties and were embedded in these communities for a couple of months… The bottom line, [Johnson] explains, is that, in terms of FEMA support, there was a notable disparity between assistance provided to white communities compared to those given to black communities. This episode truly paints a vivid portrait of several under-resourced communities in the United States and the challenges residents in those communities face every day.”
Law School

A lot goes into a law school application! I still have more research to do on different programs in order to compare, contrast and better articulate reasons for my preferences. I have a growing list of people with whom to schedule informational interviews. All of this data collection will help me with my personal statement.

My personal statement is on the forefront of my mind. Frequently, thoughts of updating this site compete for that mental space, time and energy. Initially, I desired to publish the posts on race prior to the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, but this will not be possible. My reasons for pursuing law school are tied to the topic of racial justice and my reflections from Summer 2020. I cannot finish the posts on race and economic opportunity until I have completed my application. I’m typing this out as a commitment to myself as much as to let you know not to wait up. ❤

God willing, I’ll submit my application for 2022 this fall. Please keep me in your prayers.

Housing

No news on affordable housing. There’s no estimated timeframe on when I’ll hear news. While waiting in an affordable housing pool is indefinite, my lease is not. I am sincerely tired of renting in an economically healthy but personally unaffordable urban area, including the labor of navigating brand new housemate relationships in a shared apartment- my affordable “option”. I feel for the many other households who do not have my income-to-household size ratio and who are waiting on and/or competing for affordable housing pools. How are they managing housing in the meantime? We need more solutions! A variety of solutions!

When it comes to housing, God has shown up for me every single time over the years. I trust Him, mostly. May He help my unbelief. God’s plan hasn’t always been convenient, smooth sailing, predictable or observable as a path shared by peers at my similar stage in life. (For the record, comparison really helps no one!) It has be good, though. I can afford to “let tomorrow worry about itself” for some time longer. Please keep me in your prayers. Thank you in advance.


Copyright © 2021 A.M. Wilsonne

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