Transforming Grace

Since the 1994 congressional election and the simultaneous reintroduction of family values ideology, a growing intolerance of the welfare system and welfare recipientsùmore specifically, of its stereotypic icons: poor women of color and their childrenùhas been evident. The Clinton administration has contributed to this ideology, while often attempting to camouflage it. The presidentÆs ôwelfare to workö mantra and his increased focus on volunteer programs are not without merit, but both are also certainly designed to distract us from a cold reality: As AmericaÆs socioeconomic safety net is cut away, millions of urban children and their mothers are falling hard.

The statistics are sobering. One in five American children lives below the poverty line. One in eight is hungry. More than 50 percent of all food stamp recipients are children. Every day 30 American children are wounded by gunfire, and 13 die. According to the United Nations, the United States has the highest child poverty rate of all First World nations.

Renny Golden confronts this evolving tragedy head on in her latest book, Disposable Children: America’s Welfare System. Her incisive sociopolitical critique of the welfare system offers profound insights into understanding the plight of America’s children. The book deftly untangles the labyrinthine welfare bureaucracy for lay readers by carefully balancing academic and narrative voices. Golden offers statistics, history, and a concise "wide angle" analysis. But consistently interwoven within this larger context are the compelling, often wrenching, close ups, the personal narratives of those who are still trying to find their way out of the maze.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1997
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