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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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46 Responses

  1. Rachel Barnes
    Rachel Barnes September 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

    I see so much of this here in rural WV where my husband and I live. It is just like the teacher said in the article you linked to, it’s desperation but also a lot of other things hard to really say 100% but from being a part of the community here in WV, desperation is a good way to put it. I was in this category that Crystal was in till I got my GED and started college myself, my mother was in this category and died really young like Crystal. Thanks for posting this people need to know.

  2. samanthab
    samanthab September 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

    Wow. Thank you, Monica Potts. I live in the South, but I didn’t grow up here. I spend a lot of time defending it to people who self-identify as liberals, and I always say that the problems go back to education. I didn’t envision anything like what’s described in the piece, however. That’s a really powerful bit of reporting.

  3. arcadesproject
    arcadesproject September 3, 2013 at 8:14 pm |

    In connection with this, I saw a brief story on the CBS evening news some 4-6 weeks ago, in which kindly avuncular Scott Pelley announced that life expectancies had declined in 43% of counties in the US since the last time they were measured.

    The story went on to say that poor rural counties were particularly hard hit and women were worse off than men. But 43% is a hell of a big chunk of the total number of counties. And I find myself wondering whether the numbers will keep getting worse as the New (shitty) Economy takes hold. And that just abut everyone will be affected.

    Unless they live in, like, Westchester or Orange county, or the like.

  4. trees
    trees September 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm |

    Thank you for posting this article and focusing on women who are so often overlooked.

  5. Barnacle Strumpet
    Barnacle Strumpet September 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm |

    Society is divided into opposites: Godly folk go to church and sinners chase the devil, students go to college and dropouts seek hard labor, and men call the shots and women cook for them.

    Oh, cute. This is the biggest load of BS and I’m sick of this frankly stereotyped cut-and-dried quaint picture being painted. It’s gross.

    It wouldn’t be any more accurate to say “Chicago society, where nannies watch the kids, the men hang out at drag bars, and the women earn the paycheck.”

    Let me tell you something about these societies: everyone seeks the hard labor. Educated, not educated, there just isn’t opportunity for most educated people in small-town rural areas unless you move away. Kids I know with bachelor’s degrees are working in factories and processing plants along with the drop-outs, making the same wages.

    Men do not “call the shots” in the Ozarks any more than they do anywhere else, and women don’t “cook for them” any more than they do in NYC.

    It may be a good piece in all but the gross condescension and shallow stereotyping of rural life do not do it credit. The only thing she doesn’t paint in this picture of rural Ozarks life is meth. Edit: Oh wait. Nope. She went there.

    It was an interesting look at the life of an individual and raised an interesting question (about the cause of the 5-year drop) but so much of it was unnecessary and offensive.

    1. GinnyC
      GinnyC September 3, 2013 at 10:18 pm |

      Thank you for saying this.

      My family on my Dad’s side are from Texas and Tennessee, and I’m sick of how people paint poor white Southerners in the media.

      I grew up middle class because my Dad finished college and eventually grad school. The rest of my relatives on his side of the family are working-class, mostly military, white Southerners. Other than my Grandmama, the women in my family all finished high school. My Grandmama didn’t leave my Grandaddy, who was abusive, or get her GED until after all of the children had left home. She wasn’t able to leave him and support her family, so she didn’t try to leave. The older generation in my family are strong women who take care of everyone else before themselves. Many of them have health problems, but most of my cousins and nieces and nephews are doing better than their parents. So the situation I’m familiar with is different than the one the article paints.

      I have no doubt that many families are stuck in cycles of poverty, but that isn’t the only story. I think that mothers may be dying young because they are putting their children before their own health.

      When I read the linked article, I couldn’t help but think about women who because they are irregularly employed or unemployed don’t have access to health care and have to make terribly difficult choices. So they bush aside their own heath because they know they don’t have the money and they are more concerned with taking care of the people who need them than taking care of themselves. That’s how I interpreted Crystal’s story.

  6. Donna L
    Donna L September 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm |

    Men do not “call the shots” in the Ozarks any more than they do anywhere else, and women don’t “cook for them” any more than they do in NYC.

    How do you know this? Have you ever been to the Ozarks or NYC, or met anyone who lived in either of those places?

    1. Barnacle Strumpet
      Barnacle Strumpet September 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm |

      You must have me mixed up with another poster as far as location.

      I’m from the Ozarks. The towns here are a very, very far cry from the picture Monica painted. A lot of people farm and work hard, but it’s not all some backwards, oppressive, chain-smoking, meth-making, fried-chicken chugging trailor park like she seems to want to portray.

      And while areas like NYC and Chicago are likely better than the South on gender equality, I know they’re not some perfect liberal paradise.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 3, 2013 at 9:38 pm |

        Then I apologize. Never mind!

      2. Chataya
        Chataya September 3, 2013 at 9:57 pm |

        Hell, all of the chain-smoking, meth-cooking, fried-chicken chugging Ozark women in my family would have laughed at that.

  7. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll September 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm |

    It’s a southern stereotype though Donna. And an annoying one at that. Not all poor southern women are stuck in the 50s. ::waves:: I’m only half white but I am poor, southern and a woman. As are all the women in my family ( though some are middle class) and not one of us tolerates men who call the shots while we cook for them. I couldn’t even name you a woman like that who wasn’t in her 70s. I realize this is just personal experience ,but the stereotype is tiresome.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L September 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm |

      I know it’s a stereotype, and I’m not a fan of it. I was just a little startled to hear it from Barnacle Strumpet, who, if I”m not mistaken, has always lived in the UK.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 3, 2013 at 9:39 pm |

        Again, I apologize — for some reason, I had the strange idea that Barnacle Strumpet was British. It must have been the accent.

  8. BBBShrewHarpy
    BBBShrewHarpy September 3, 2013 at 10:35 pm |

    My admittedly simplistic explanation, based on 20 years lived in the South, is that the difference between poor people here and poor people elsewhere is that poor people here, except for poor PoC, invariably vote against their self-interest. I have never ever ever met a working poor white person here who wasn’t a Republican and who didn’t view state or federal aid as some kind of moral failing. As our Prez says, they cling to their religion and their guns. Sorry, Barnacle, I realize this is not universal, but it is IME very very common.

    I enjoyed the article. Crystal had a hard but happy life. She had love and she gave love. It’s uplifting that her daughter has an angel at school. It’s interesting in the comments that readers favored a PCOS explanation for her death (diagnosis over the internet FTW!). She had no access to Medicaid (though her husband did) which seems, to me, disgraceful.

    1. Evan Carden
      Evan Carden September 4, 2013 at 1:04 am |

      I really disagree with the whole ‘voting against their interests’ meme. No, they weighted their interests differently than you, or I do, whether it’s ‘values,’ or farm subsidies, or water rights, or taxation, or any of a hundred issues, national, regional or local, they’ve decided those issues are more important than pure economic interest (though really, if we’re talking pure economic interest for the poorest quintile, neither major party is particularly good, see Welfare Reform and Clinton, Bill).

      1. tigtog
        tigtog September 4, 2013 at 3:54 am | *

        if we’re talking pure economic interest for the poorest quintile, neither major party is particularly good

        Absolutely, and not just in the USA – major parties worldwide are moving closer together and to the right of their historic policies.

        When the poorest quintile are looking at a hugely volatile/hostile job market offering them very little financial security, the promises of conservatism (no need to fix what ain’t broken, look back to the good ol’days to fix what is broken) often seem more tangible and understandable as a way to claw back some certainty about what might happen next. Progressive policy platforms can seem like pie in the sky castles in the air by comparison, and a progressive government’s plans to use their tax money to fund complicated programs that might never benefit them directly seems like too large a risk.

        The poor have no financial buffer, and this affects the timescale for their risk/reward analyses, and emphasises what will get them from paycheck to paycheck and maybe make that paycheck just a little larger. They don’t have the luxury of investing funds/resources waiting for a return in 6 months or a year, let alone 10 or 20 years. Their concern is keeping a household fed/clothed/warm between paychecks and ideally having transport that doesn’t break down every other day. This is a rational viewpoint!

        More and better information about the short term as well as the long term benefits of progressive policies are the only way to swing voters who have decided that their interests are best served by conservative parties, and the left is currently doing a pretty poor job of it, and that’s why my country is probably going to say hello to Prime Minister Abbott some time on Saturday night, dammit.

        1. BBBShrewHarpy
          BBBShrewHarpy September 4, 2013 at 9:38 am |

          With all due respect, Tig-tog, the South of the US is like nothing I experienced before coming here. My parents grew up poor and I do understand what you are saying. Many of the people I meet here do not “believe” in evolution, let alone climate change. I don’t think it’s possible for people who haven’t lived here in the South to understand how profound the differences are between Blue and Red America.

      2. BBBShrewHarpy
        BBBShrewHarpy September 4, 2013 at 9:32 am |

        I think you are looking only at the federal level, where I disagree there is no difference though the issues of National Security are swamping them right now.
        On the state level there is a real difference. Look at the states’ reactions to the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare. The refusal of Red state politicians to implement policies that will benefit their population for the sake of making a political point has real consequences. Obamacare is recent, but the effect is not. On a local level there is a real difference. For example, initiatives that use locally-collected (with sometimes federally-matched) taxes to fund health clinics tend to fail in Red areas whenever any tax increase in needed (the usual way of funding these things).
        Our schools are a disaster. Our public parks are being carved up by developers. We have a Public Services Commissioner whose sole purpose is to make sure the rates we pay for gas, electricity etc… are reasonable who refuses to meet with the utilities companies and, when her competence is questioned, brays in the press about school prayer and gun laws. Complete misdirection by all our politicians and WE FALL FOR IT. Anything difficult to discuss regarding our crumbling infrastructure, our schools, our health? Bring up abortion, school prayer, and guns. It’s not just a cliche around here. People really do believe Fox News is Fair and Balanced and really do believe minimum wage laws are responsible for economic failure and really do believe everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, even if their own experience tells them it’s not true.

        1. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden September 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

          Most of what I want to say has been said by other people, but very briefly, I disagree that it’s a matter of ‘falling for it.’ People don’t need to be tricked into prioritizing school prayer, or guns, or anti-choice politics over what you think is the most important issue. They get to decide for themselves what issues matter most to them.

    2. samanthab
      samanthab September 4, 2013 at 7:00 am |

      You have never met a poor white person in the South who wasn’t a Republican? C’mon, that’s just silliness.

      The South, as whole, is substantively poorer and less educated than the rest of the country. That’s a difference that can be quantified, unlike your experience of having never met a poor Southern progressive. It’s also a difference that can be manipulated by conservative propaganda.

      1. BBBShrewHarpy
        BBBShrewHarpy September 4, 2013 at 9:34 am |

        Why are you telling me my experience isn’t true?

        1. ipens
          ipens September 4, 2013 at 10:05 am |

          Your experience may be true for you, but it’s certainly not true for the South as a whole. I was born and raised in the rural deep South, and while many people might agree with conservative values, that doesn’t mean they vote it. My family, socially conservative by most standards, consistently votes democrat because democrats are seen to be on the side of labor. Does the South usually carry Republican on some of the bigger ticket elections? Sure. Can’t argue that. The reasons aren’t always God, guns, and abortion, though. The reasons may have to do with continually re-electing a long-time incumbent who brings industry into the area in favor of voting in a newbie who won’t have that kind of Congressional clout for years. Or, it might just be that they find the small government, personal responsibility talk of Republicans appealing.

          I’m aware of the many foibles of my area of the country, but it absolutely infuriates me to see it dismissed as a backwards, regressive monolith. There are little pockets of blue all over red states. In fact, iirc from the county-by-county look at the last elections results, large swaths of the south were purple – as were many of parts of the country.

          Assuming the ACA can withstand the repeated attacks on it (with little discernable opposition from the people who actually should be supporting it), it will probably follow the path of Medicaid. Medicaid didn’t enter the scene to joyous reception across the nation either. It was some 20 years before the last state to join the party signed up.

        2. BBBShrewHarpy
          BBBShrewHarpy September 4, 2013 at 10:42 am |

          @ipens:

          What amazes me the most where I live is that there are so few socially-conservative labor democrats, a position I could actually understand given what is important in people’s lives. They seem to trust companies to look after workers’ interests but unions are viewed as the devil’s groups and labor protection laws are used to scare people into thinking companies will leave the area if they are enacted or upheld.

          My state was uniformly red in the last election, except for a few very poor counties with majority black populations and a very few urban districts with similar demographics. Your area appears different so, as you say, not a monolithic South.

          The long-term incumbent effect is real, but we’ve also seen long-term Dems be voted out in favor of brand-new Republicans who said the right things about guns and small government. What has also happened here is that many long-term pols are switching parties from Democrat to Republican in order to better represent the social views of their constituents (and be electable!). This hurts because it really is the guns+religion+abortion+government-is-bad that drive the change and otherwise sensible people end up taking extreme positions in the primaries in order to prove their newly conservative credentials.

        3. ipens
          ipens September 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

          I don’t know where you live, but I grew up in rural Alabama. I grew up in a place so generally poor that the county sued the state because our educational system was so underfunded (and won). I grew up with poor whites and poor blacks and unions were practically worshipped as being a vehicle to force corporations to provide a living wage and some worker protections. I grew up in a place so poisoned, evidently, by agricultural and industrial waste that if you put a pin for every diagnosed case of cancer, you’d have a sea of them. People believe in God, yes, and may have interesting theories for how evolution and Genesis might interact, but they don’t believe that dinosaurs were a myth and they know the world is older than 5000 years old.

          I also grew up in a place where good jobs were hard to come by and you had to have connections to get them. This was in plants and factories, not finance or marketing. Lack of education is a problem where I’m from, yes, but it all circles back to poverty and poverty interacting with inhabiting a space on this earth where hospitals and community health centers don’t exactly florish because why would the people who you’d need to staff them want to live out there? You move out of these small towns if you have the will and opportunity because otherwise, there’s virtually no opportunity for upward mobility. Even with the low cost of living you find in such places, there is a bolus of people in need of social services in order to live a decent life and no real infrastructure to provide them. You have people trapped in intergenerational cycles of poverty with no way to climb out of them, because how can you? How can you go to a high school where they can’t offer a decent sciences program because they don’t have the money to afford the equipment or where you have one choice of math class per academic year because that’s all they have the staff to offer and expect to be competitive at a quality college or university without someone there to give you a boost?

          I’m not saying it can’t be done by someone with an extreme amount of determination and a lack of competing demands on their time, but that’s a deep hole. It’s a deep hole in the country, but there are plenty of deep holes all across the US (and, I’m sure, abroad). They just happen to be dug in slightly different ways.

          And the thing is, you might think that there is a point where you have some sort of racial parity when it comes to poverty, sort sort of floor effect, but poor whites in these areas still have it better than poor blacks for the most part. All of those jobs that you need connections to get? My personal observation is that they don’t go to poor blacks.

          And now I feel like I’m rambling so I’ll draw to a close, but wherever you’re from seems to be the exception to the rule. Also, the sentiment that you just can’t know what it’s like to live in the south because it’s such an alien, irrational place obviates the fact that there are very few utopias around, and most of the places that think they belong in the category hold that belief because they don’t bother to examine their own issues. Why would they? They’re better than the south, amirite?

        4. BBBShrewHarpy
          BBBShrewHarpy September 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm |

          Same part of the country as you, ipens. I have noticed the anti-union aspect has got worse over the years. It is possibly a post-NAFTA phenomenon. Certainly unions are getting all the blame for the severe loss of manufacturing jobs that has drained the region.

          We do have pockets of wealth nearby, though, with lots of federal money creating well-paying jobs in the defense and aerospace programs, so the rich-poor gap is humongous.

          I wonder if we don’t just have different perspectives: yours as someone whose family escaped something familiar, mine as someone completely unused to this environment who is now living in it and will likely stay.

          We’re probably way off-topic by now. My reason for bringing this up was as a possible explanation for the low life-expectancy of Southern women, particularly white women. Before moving here, I was used to politicians competing for my vote through promises of things that made life better for people. They didn’t have to be sincere, they just had to have competition and follow through in order to be re-elected. The only competition among politicians here is who can appear the most conservative in the GOP primary.

          When care for others is left to private charity, as appears to be the favored model among my fellow Alabamians, people can feel good about themselves for dispensing it but the larger initiatives that require ongoing organization and provide continuing care for others, particularly in the area of education and health care, inevitably suffer. Of course there are many reasons for ill-health, as mentioned by several posters here, and it is certainly more complicated than just this one facet of Southern life.

    3. Chataya
      Chataya September 4, 2013 at 11:38 am |

      I have never ever ever met a working poor white person here who wasn’t a Republican and who didn’t view state or federal aid as some kind of moral failing.

      Hi. Nice to meet you.

  9. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll September 3, 2013 at 10:51 pm |

    People don’t realize ( I guess) that when you are poor, you only go to a Dr when you’re too sick to ignore it. You don’t get regular tests, or preventive care. It’s getting more expensive and if you do have insurance, the closest Dr may not be on the list. Or they only cover x brand of medicine, and its still more expensive than y brand but they don’t care. Affordable food isn’t the healthiest and you buy a month’s worth of groceries at a time so it has to be non perishable not fresh. You also spend so much time busting ass to pay the bills that exercise feels like work not self care. So not going to Dr until you’re seriously ill, crap food, stress over bills, lack of exercise or free time to destress…That’s a lethal combination. And this woman in particular was diabetic. Not a very optimistic future, health wise. Instead of asking what’s killing poor white women ( or any poor woman for that matter) the shorter list would be what isn’t.

    1. karak
      karak September 5, 2013 at 1:51 am |

      See, but that’s not different than, say, 1950, when the healthcare available really wasn’t technologically anywhere near where ours is today.

      All that explains why they’re more likely to die than wealthier counterparts or more urban counterparts, but it doesn’t explain why they’re losing years and why black women, who face all those same hurdles, are living longer than your average poor white woman.

      Poor rural white women are canaries in the coal mine, we just don’t know what kind of poison is taking them.

  10. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated September 4, 2013 at 8:37 am |

    I come from a Southern female line who had babies at home, did manual labor, lived on pinto beans, and mostly lived past 85. This excepts my mother, who worked a desk job, refused to manage her diabetes, wouldn’t touch a pinto, and dued at 68. I’d suggest that big sofas, TV, and modern diet play significant roles. The economically based stoicism IRT medical care mentioned by Pheenobarbiedoll means that illnesses get no treatment until they are far advanced. Any of you all who don’t have meth and pill problems in your corners of the South are very damned fortunate. They are endemic here. Possibly overlooked here is a genetic component: predispositions to diabetes in those of Native American descent, including Latina. Bread and fried-carb snack diets are toxic to these, and many poor whites are of mixed ancestry.

    1. karak
      karak September 5, 2013 at 1:52 am |

      Fucking meth is killing my hometown and all the people in and around it. I can’t wait to get to a city where people sell crack because it doesn’t blow up and poison everyone in the building.

  11. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated September 4, 2013 at 8:39 am |

    Oh lord, typos…

  12. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin September 4, 2013 at 10:04 am |

    When I was a child, I was taken every weekend to visit my father’s side of the family. They lived in rural East Alabama. I understood why the region was informally known as the stroke belt. My cousins chain-smoked cigarettes and ate a very unhealthy diet. Many were morbidly obese and would later have gastric bypass surgery.

    My aunt died at the textile mill where she worked most of her adult life. She was only 50 and expired because of a heart attack. Class and income are crucial elements to this discussion. Though I was raised middle class, my working class relatives believed I was rich.

    My younger cousins were desperate to escape the poverty of their upbringing. They lived in a rusting trailer that stood across the driveway from what had been my grandparents’ home. Every conversation revolved around fleeing to a place with more economic opportunity, but somehow they never left.

    None of my relatives went to college; they felt that they’d never succeed there. So in some ways their aspirations were the very definition of self-fulfilling prophecy. I understand why my father left the place of his birth at the age of 17.

  13. Sharon M
    Sharon M September 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

    I don’t know. This article bugs me. Was there any concern when Southern black women had a higher death rate then white women, but now that that’s reversed it raises a alarm?

    This reminds me of the pay gap study, where white women earn 77 cents to a white mans $1.00. The focus was on THAT with nary a mention of everyone else who fell below 77cents.

    The face of rape victims are overwhelming white yet assaults on Native American women are twice the national average.

    FWIW, I’m a white woman, and this shit is old. I cannot imagine how much frustrating and rage inducing it is for women (and men) who are not white.

    Smh

    1. BBBShrewHarpy
      BBBShrewHarpy September 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm |

      Yeah, totally. That’s the only aspect of the article I didn’t like, and it’s a biggy.

    2. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll September 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm |

      Thought that too but didn’t want to be that woc who always brings it up. So thank you.

      1. karak
        karak September 5, 2013 at 2:00 am |

        It stuck out at me, but the way I interpreted it was thus: black women are more disadvantaged because of current, historical, and systematic racism. It is not okay, but this is a fact and I am unsurprised to hear that PoC die sooner than their white counterparts.

        When that trend starts to reverse itself in an environment that is still racist, there’s something really weird going on. So, as an example of weirdness I get it, but of course, the whole “PoC die sooner and that just happens, isn’t it a sad world, those poor pitiful people, now let’s watch TV” attitude is enraging and exhausting.

        I saw your post down below–I did know that Native people, especially on reservations, have some of the highest sickness and mortality rates of any group pretty much across the board on every kind of disease. I guess knowing really isn’t activism, but as a white person I do think it’s utter shit.

        1. Radfem
          Radfem September 8, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

          Yeah i remember when Mary Brave Bird passed. RIP.

    3. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable September 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm |

      Was there any concern when Southern black women had a higher death rate then white women, but now that that’s reversed it raises a alarm?

      Is this necessarily fair, though? I have literally no idea what The Prospect is (and apologies if this is some kind of well-reputed magazine that I should know), so is there an alarm?

      I do think it’s interesting that the death rate changed so quickly for any group, especially since the article makes it sound like only massive shifts in behavior could result in such a thing (drinking in Russia post-communism, e.g.). But as far as racist failings go, I wouldn’t blame the article so much as blaming the commentariat (myself included) for not introducing intersectionality in a more meaningful way – because after all, that white women are dying earlier than black women doesn’t mean that black women have meaningfully increased longevity in the south. The problem here is that there don’t seem to be any clear takeaways from the article (other than some intangible idea about “hope” which might be worth dissecting), and there’s no real way to draw inferences about the greater population.

      Here’s what I see as a meaningful issue with what I think is a weak conclusion, especially as it pertains to race:

      Perhaps after centuries of slavery and Jim Crow, black women are more likely to feel like they’re on an upward trajectory.

      I can easily see this being used to justify racism. And of course, I kind of just think the idea of hope is weak. Though I suppose the author of the article would imagine me heading for an early grave.

  14. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll September 5, 2013 at 12:46 am |

    You don’t see that many articles written about the fact that for NAs on certain reservations the life expectancy for women is 58. 47 for men. The 2nd lowest rate in the Western Hemisphere http://www.4aihf.org/id40.html

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll September 5, 2013 at 12:50 am |

      I mean, when the cervical cancer rate is 800 percent higher than the national average , diabetes is 800 percent higher, infant mortality is 150 percent higher, you’d think that would warrant the same notice as a drop in life expectancy for poor white women. But it doesn’t.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 5, 2013 at 1:33 am |

        Of course not. It’s old news. And it’s not happening to white people.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll September 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm |

          Plus its happening because of white people.

        2. Sharon M
          Sharon M September 5, 2013 at 7:53 pm |

          Of course not. It’s old news. And it’s not happening to white people.

          MTE^^^

          Pheenobarbidoll
          Thought that too but didn’t want to be that woc who always brings it up. So thank you.

          I don’t blame you, so I will bring it up as much as possible. It’s everywhere damn it.
          Mommy bloggers? White middle class women
          Breast cancer survivors? White women.
          Models? White women (unless you want some “exotic” flavor thrown it.

          Feminists? White middle class women.

          Why is Gloria Steinman a feminist icon, but not Stagecoach Mary? Or Shirley Chisholm?

          Every damn show on t.v. features white males as hosts, heroes, saviors et al.

          IT’S MESSED UP. Every person deserves to be visible and acknowledged that yes, you are just as awesome, wonderful and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. (I don’t know if that makes any sense. And I hope it doesn’t sound like the obnoxious “I don’t see color line” line)

      2. Sharon M
        Sharon M September 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm |

        I mean, when the cervical cancer rate is 800 percent higher than the national average , diabetes is 800 percent higher, infant mortality is 150 percent higher, you’d think that would warrant the same notice as a drop in life expectancy for poor white women. But it doesn’t.

        I don’t even know what to say. Anytime I read the statistics about NDN rapes, it reminds me o Jancita Eagle-Deer and Bill Janklow (R) http://www.honorearth.org/news/remembering-jancita-eagle-deer
        There is some evil history (and current no doubt) in South Dakota. (*damn. I just saw that Mary Brave Bird, aka Mary Crow Dog died this February. 58 years old. :( )

  15. LRaven
    LRaven September 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

    I haven’t independently verified this guy’s work, but I found the argument interesting.

    It’s all about how we’re measuring a particular demographic.

    Basically, there aren’t very many white women without a high school degree left in this country, and with each generation, that population shrinks, leaving only the most disadvantaged behind. So when the statistics show that the group has lost 5 years of life expectancy, it’s not because the Crystal Wilsons of the world are dying sooner, it’s because the category “white women without high school degrees in the US” is now made up almost entirely of women like Crystal Wilson.

    This is not meant as dismissive of these women or the situations they find themselves in – but it may explain why we’re seeing such a massive and unprecedented drop in life expectancy.

  16. Radfem
    Radfem September 8, 2013 at 10:55 pm |

    I have to admit I don’t know much about the health issues and life expectancy of poor white women. My experiences with organizations and reporting have been predominantly African-American women and girls, Latinas and to a certain extent Native American women. I’ve found that women and girls like these are the “canaries” so to speak. Yeah and outside the communities not much attention has been paid to higher death rates, higher illness rates or the people with low life expectancy and their communities get blamed for it.

    There’s been organized efforts and collaboration among different folks and organizations that were addressing lower life expectancy and health issues especially hypertension (and young Black girls in particular at very young ages under 18), diabetes, and heart disease/strokes which develop and happen at younger ages. Cervical cancer too in the African-American community and also among Vietnamese American women who are also pretty disproportionately represented.

    I did have a couple questions, some based on what was in the article.

    1) what’s the role of diseases like POCS? The woman in the article had it and diabetes which could be related?

    2) They mention meth which I know how bad that can get living in Ground Zero for the meth invasion in the U.S. So I’ve seen what that scourge can do and up close.

    3) Access to dental care including preventative? This in the health programs that I was involved in turned out to be a critical component b/c gum disease has a relationship with many illnesses. Also it’s probably one of the biggest demands in health service too.

    Just curious b/c I found the article interesting but just don’t know much about the subject.

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