'Euthanize Welfare Kids"? Who would believe you would find this kind of a statement outside a Madison home? Sadly, the reality is that many people have hateful or misguided attitudes towards the poor. This sign that was recently highlighted on a Channel3000 report, not only attacks poor people but is also coded language, based in stereotypes, targeting youth and families of color regardless of income. In reality, many people of all races find themselves just one paycheck away from being in a similar situation. With job insecurity and lower wages impacting all except the most wealthy, many in our community are finding themselves in need of supportive services.
Victim-blaming, scapegoating and dehumanizing low-income families to justify insensitive, and often inhumane policies that exacerbate human suffering and economic inequality is appalling, but has also become common discourse for those seeking to balance budgets on the backs of the most vulnerable. This is why the Fighting Poverty Coalition was formed -- to combat these attitudes and promote policies and practices that recognize the human dignity inherent in each and every Dane County resident. Each of us and the community as a whole benefits by making sure everyone's basic needs are met.
Over 100 people from various groups throughout the community have come together to fight poverty at the local level and we continue to engage with others to join us. 17% of people in Madison are currently living in poverty. We find that unacceptable. Over 50% of the kids in our schools receive free or reduced lunch. We find that unacceptable.
It's time for our community to do something, not just speak out against these unacceptable demonstrations of hatred, but also to an unacceptable human condition in our wealthy community. City and County budgets are likely to cut services to the poor and the numbers and needs of people in our community are greatly outpacing the abilities of organizations to respond.
Our next meeting is September 15th at a place yet to be determined. (The South Madison Library was too small for our last meeting.) All are welcome to attend to help us come up with a plan to take on the unacceptable level of poverty in Madison and Dane County.
Linda Ketcham, Madison Urban Ministry – 608-256-0906
Greta Hansen, Community Action Coalition – 608-246-4730 x 217
Alex Gillis, UTI - 608-345-9544
M. Adams, Take Back the Land Madison and Freedom Inc. - 414-430-1312
Heidi Wegleitner, Progressive Dane - 608-333-3676