Influence of Geography
So why is there a lack in social outreach programs to these communities of poor white America? Not only does racial ideology exist in American society today, but so does racial segregation, especially in Chicago, and is an important element in the unequal geography of opportunity. “The spatial separation of populations along racial-ethnic lines – and to a lesser extent along economic lines – is a key feature of the social organizations of U.S. urban areas” says Theresa Osypuk, Sandro Galea, Nancy McArdle, and Dolores Acededo-Garcia, authors of "Quantifying Separate and Unequal: Racial-Ethnic Distributions of Neighborhood Poverty in Metropolitan America."
A dot map of the boundaries between the Chicago neighborhoods by Bill Rankin, 2009
Chicago, being the most segregated city in the United States, is made up of neighborhoods that are for the most part, racially distinct from one another, and patterns of avoidance occur, “including white avoidance of black neighborhoods and black avoidance of all-white neighborhoods…and the lower socioeconomic status and housing affordability among minorities compared to whites, and therefore economic segregation” (Osypuk, Galea, McArdle, Acevedo-Garcia, 26). With such a concentration of segregation and poverty in urban areas, it becomes much more apparent to outreach groups where their help is needed, thus outreach organizations tend to be concentrated in urban settings.
This data map shows the rate at which citizens participate in community organizations per state, statistics averaged over a three year period.
However, this approach conceives a large measure of neglect to those living in poverty who do not reside in an urban setting, and because poor minorities tend to settle in urban areas whereas poor whites settle in rural settings, this state of unequal opportunity thrives.
In the line graph, over the past 20th century the concentration of poverty in rural areas has remained the highest compared to urban and suburban regions. In the bar graph the percent of poor has increased as rural areas increase in area.
Poor whites tend to reside in that of the Appalachians and parts of Florida and Georgia, where large populations live in rural or isolated areas and are of working class status, far away from any dense, urban populations. Documentaries such as Gummo (1997) and some news reports over the last couple decades have attempted to expose these regions, however with little success, for many people still are not aware of these communities and their situation. Little effort has been made to improve the wellbeing of these groups of people, compared to the efforts of social services and community engagement within urban settings for other poor groups of people, but first, we must further analyze the work being done in these other communities before finding the most appropriate solution to the lack of empowerment in poor white America.