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By Sheldon Danziger, Ann Chih Lin
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Extra info for Coping With Poverty: The Social Contexts of Neighborhood, Work, and Family in the African-American Community
Vicki, mother of two teenage daughters, once worked nights at a local bar, in part so that she could take care of her young nephew during the day. Her child-care work began soon after she got home from work in the early mornings, forcing her to get by on little sleep. Although she did receive pay for caring for Tony, whose mother, Kelly, worked on a cleanup crew at a local animal shelter,2 the pay was sporadic due to Kelly’s variable work hours. But as Vicki explained, this far-fromideal situation was still the best option that the family, as a whole, had.
Now, for the rest of his life, he will ingest medicines to control his seizures. To separate working and parenting from this situational context is to fail to appreciate how bound the two are. Parents in nonpoor areas expect certain community qualities and services that support parenting. There is a vast difference, however, between the communities in which the poor and nonpoor reside, particularly those in which poor minority and poor nonminority live (Wilson 1987, 1996). While protecting children is a universal parental behavior, in Meadow View it can require extreme measures; it is labor-intensive, emotionally draining work.
I was so glad my kids wasn’t outside ’cause usually they would be right out there playing. But I had just made them come in a few minutes before. It took the ambulance a long time to get here. I was so scared . . Blood, all in the street—it’s still there. I just think about my kids. Girl what if they were out there. They coulda’ got kill, too. Frightened by her experience, she immediately requested, to no avail, that the project housing authority relocate her family to a safer area. Mothers like this woman cannot but think that if they were not at home to make their children come in, their children might be the next victims.