Mother’s Day is a great time for reflecting on how much mothers mean to us. We celebrate them with brunch and flowers and maybe a pint of their favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor and thank them for being there for us.
But can we get real for a second? What every mother — every parent, really — wants most is to provide for their child, to see them grow and find happiness and become the person they are supposed to be. That’s a beautiful thing. But for many mothers, providing for their children is next to impossible. How can that be? In the richest country in the history of the world, how can that be?
That’s why this Mother’s Day, even though we have nothing at all against flowers, breakfast, or ice cream, we wanted to aim a little higher, go a bit bigger. So we joined with the Poor People’s Campaign to help launch their 40 Days of Action—40 days that will change America.
The Poor People’s Campaign is working in a spirit of love and unity to bring about true change in America, to shift the moral narrative of our country, to create a more perfect union—and so it makes perfect sense to kick off the first week of direct action by focusing on mothers. The truth of motherhood is universal, the desire to do right by our kids, to ensure they get a fair chance to succeed. Which is why we’re taking time May 13-May 19 to look at how our society has made it so difficult for mothers to do the one thing they want most.
- Nearly 4 in 10 children are poor for one or more years before they reach age 18—and more than 1 in 10 are poor for half or more of their childhood years. (And get this: 75% of Black children are poor during childhood vs. 30% of white children.)
- 13.3 million (18% percent) of children under the age of 18 live in poverty.
- In 2016, 7.7 million low-income women, infants, and children participated in WIC — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — that provides nutritious foods, counseling on healthy eating, breastfeeding support, and healthcare referrals.
- Black and Hispanic kids (16%, 12%) are more likely to be in deep poverty than white or Asian kids (6% and 6%). In fact, even when the overall poverty rate for children under 18 declined (19.7% to 18% from 2015 to 2016), racial disparities remained: 10.8% of white kids were in poverty, compared with 30.8% of Black kids.
- In 2015, 43% of children living in single-mother families were poor, compared with 10% of children living in married-couple families.
Sadly, we could go on and on. The statistics are painful to read: any country that spends hundreds of billions - yes, billions with a B - on the military can afford to pony up some serious money to help mothers and children in need. But what’s truly heartbreaking is the lives behind the numbers. Poverty follows kids into adulthood. It affects everything, from education to employment, from physical health to mental and emotional health.
These are our neighbors and friends. We know these mothers. We know these kids. They deserve a future. We all do.
What You Can Do
The more of us who talk about this, who educate each other, who pressure our politicians and take to the streets, the sooner change will come. Join the Poor People’s campaign and you’ll receive updates about what’s going on all over the country.
But even if you’re not able to get to any of the marches, protests, teaching sessions, or events, you can still get involved. Each week, these recurring events will be live streamed from Washington, DC via the Poor People’s Campaign’s Facebook page:
- Sundays: Mass Meeting, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm EST
- Tuesdays: Truthful Tuesday Teach-Ins, 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm EST
- Thursdays: Thursday Justice Jam Nights, 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm EST
Why not invite some people over and watch it together? Start a conversation. Get to know each other. Share some food and share some ideas. The connections we make matter. We need each other. We’re all in this together, and we’re building a movement meant to last.
We’ll see you again next week, May 20-26, when the theme is Linking Systemic Racism and Poverty.
Want to learn more about the Poor People's Campaign? Click here for the full scoop!