Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Surprising, heart-breaking poverty in Dallas

Monday it happened to me again.

I spent about three hours driving through various parts of some of the poorest sections of Dallas.
The images posted below don't adequately capture what I saw, but they help.

The scale of the negative environment overwhelms the soul.

As you view the images, imagine being 8-years-old and living here.

No matter how many times I have the experience two things continue to happen to me.

First, I am surprised again by the depth, the weight of the poverty and by the fact that so little seems to change between my tours.

Second, my heart breaks for the people I see as I drive. Children, elderly men and women, mothers, fathers, the housed, the homeless, the employed and the unemployed. . .neighbors of mine.

People who need better and more accessible. . .everything!

Pick you category.

Education--public for children and workforce for adults.

Health care and wellness.

Improved nutrition.


Decent, fit, affordable housing.

Personal voice--political influence, power, collective lift.

Social capital.

Buying power.

Retail development and economic development.

The list remains the same. The needs stick out everywhere. We continue to act as if they don't exist, and we do so to the absolute peril of our entire community.

Dallas doesn't need a new vision, though vision is important.

Dallas needs a new courage.

Dallas needs a new heart, not for charity, but for fairness.

Come ride with me sometime soon. You'll see for yourself exactly what I mean.


Chris said...

Dallas is not alone. That looks like a service project about 200 people worked in Saturday. (43) 21 feet dumpsters of trash were picked up and from 700-1000 old tires were also picked up. Over 100 new garbage cans were given out. We fed the community both lunch and dinner, thanks to Fiesta for furnishing the food!

I'm just saying this to let you know that Dallas is not alone.

Larry James said...

Chris, thanks for the post.

I know.

Sadly, poverty, concentrated poverty is a national problem. . .and growing.

Michael Davis said...

The fourth picture down is the Summer Breeze apartments. It's ridiculous that people live in that complex even though some of the buildings are boarded up.

bpb said...

and still people fuss about raising the minimum wage . . . how many jobs would people have to hold down to get out of this?? it's very sad. and it's even sadder (to me) when I hear people talk about compassionate conservatives . . . their only compassion is to their own kind.

Justin said...


That's a very narrow minded observation you made. The reason people are still against raising the minimum wage is not because they want to harm the poor. Its because they, as well as a majority of economists, believe that it causes job loss which affects the poorest most. I'm not gonna get that argument going again, because its not the point of this post, but you can read plenty about it online if you would like to.

And also, the comment about "compassionate conservatives" is pure name calling. And it doesn't help anything. And beside that, poor red states give way more to charity than richer blue states per capita. But we all know they hate poor people right?

And Larry, I do think it would be interesting if you posted pictures of worldwide poverty to compare to these (most of which are abandoned buildings). I understand that poverty in this country is an issue, I don't want anyone to think I'm undermining it. I mean, Two HUGE housing projects are literally a quarter mile away from my apartment, so I'm right down the street from some pretty poor neighborhoods in Nashville, but I've been to the Philipines and I've seen gut wrenching poverty, and those people would give anything to live in one of those run down buildings you showed instead of the tin shantys that they currently live in. We in America need some perspective. We need to realize that, yes, there is economic injustice, but our current system, even with its flaws, alleviates poverty much more efficiently than those systems in other countries where there are no personal property rights, where businesses are nearly impossible to incorporate, and where the few larger employers live in fear that the government might just take possesion of their company.

jg said...

Justin, I understand what you are saying. However, it also saddens me that we would consider giving ourselves an excuse because we are not as bad as those third world countries.

This is America.

We should do better.

KentF said...

Thanks to Larry and Michael Davis for bringing light on those that really can't speak for themselves.

If someone wants to see what the truly wealthy spend their time, money and energy on - read Rick Reilly's column in this week's Sports Illustrated. Yes, Kenny Trout is a true self-made Dallas billionaire - and he probably goes to some big time black tie events to throw money around. But...well, just go read the article.

Larry James said...

Justin, thanks for the post.

Last time I looked, I'm not in the Philippines. So, while I care a great deal, my responsibility is here.

People who make your point often overlook the "contextual" reality of the effects of poverty on families and children who are mired in it in this very wealthy nation.

Unlike Third World environments, where almost everyone is poor, here in the U.S. the poor are surrounded by those doing much better than they are. At the same time, they are bombarded with media and Madison Avenue propoganda so that they are made to feel less than human again and again. I could go on and on here, believe me.

Our situation is not the Thrid World's. And, frankly, that is the point. In many ways our dilemmas are even worse.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Have you considered adding poverty maps to the information on your blog? I use such maps to draw volunteers and donors to non-school tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago.

I focus on volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring because it expands the network of ideas and support that inner city kids have, and it also expands the number of people who don't live in poverty who begin to become more deeply involved in solutions.

I'm organizing a blog exchange for May and June and hope you'll join us.

Dan Bassill
Tutor/Mentor Connection