With almost half of all Americans now falling below the poverty line or considered low income based on recent Census Bureau figures*, formerly middle-class families are beginning to experience the reality of poverty. According to B. Morrison the truth is quite different from the stereotype of the “welfare queen”. In her memoir, Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother (www.bmorrison.com), she describes her experience when a failed marriage sent her plummeting from a prosperous middle-class life onto welfare.
When Morrison’s marriage dissolved, she found herself with one young child and another on the way, no job, no health insurance, and no child support. Despite a college degree and prior work experience, the pregnant 24-year-old could not land a job to cover the cost of childcare, let alone food, rent, clothing, and transportation. Disowned by her family and abandoned by her husband, she realized that welfare was the only way for her family to survive.
Poor people make an easy target for politicians who play on the natural fears of middle-class workers, Morrison says. She understands and sympathizes, but maintains that in spite of the rare case of welfare fraud repeated ad nauseum in the news, most welfare mothers work tirelessly to get off of public assistance. Like all parents, they only want to work to feed and clothe their children, give them an education, and provide for them a life with at least a few moments of joy.
Morrison uses her experiences as a welfare recipient to illuminate a system that demonizes poor people and to explore what actually works to help families escape from poverty. Innocent offers a powerful personal narrative on important social issues. Part coming-of-age story and part immersion in a foreign culture, this book puts a human face on poverty. It is a must-read for anyone interested in social justice, women’s issues, or the truth behind the headlines.
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