Migrant farm workers, virtually unprotected by collective bargaining, minimum wage laws or social security, are among the hardest working yet most impoverished people in the United States. Housing and sanitation in migrant labor camps are often appalling. Health conditions for migrants are among the worst in the nation. These photographs, taken on a recent Sunday afternoon visit to such a labor camp near Dudley, North Carolina, are the first in a series documenting conditions for migrants and the ongoing efforts of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), a labor union leading the way in the struggle for economic, legal and human rights on their behalf.
Images of abject suffering and deprivation on the Gulf Coast were laid bare by Hurricane Katrina – not just that caused by the hurricane's destructive path, but vivid portraits exposing the numbing poverty of tens of thousands of Mississippi and Louisiana families prior to the storm. In Mississippi alone nearly one third of all children were poor even before Hurricane Katrina. Most still are. All of this can be seen in the exceptionally sensitive pictures taken by photojournalist Brenda Ann Kenneally. Sadly, though these were all taken on the Gulf Coast, similar photographs could be shot virtually anywhere in the United States.
Poverty and racial injustice are deeply intertwined and continue to undermine our nation’s most basic promise of liberty and justice for all. Racism, both institutional and individual, is both a cause of poverty as well as an additional barrier for millions of people of color seeking to escape poverty. In nearly every key economic indicator, African Americans continue to fare far worse than the national average. According to U.S. Census figures, 24.5% of black families live below the poverty line, compared to 8.2% of white families. Poverty statistics are even worse for black children. One in three black children lives in poverty. Here is a selection of images drawn from perhaps the most intimate and poignant portrait of black life in America, photographed over two decades by legendary Magnum photographer Eli Reed.
Since 1990, close to one third of the nearly 12 million recorded immigrants to the United States have taken the perilous journey north in search of a better life. But the reality these migrants encounter is jarringly different from their lofty hopes. Due in large part to their undocumented status, many face a constant specter of poverty and exploitation. Slave wages and deplorable working conditions in farm fields and food-processing plants have turned some rural communities into labor camps of underpaid immigrants who remain largely impoverished and powerless. Farm workers have few – if any – legal right to organize, and laws concerning minimum wages, child labor are not enforced. Award-winning photojournalist Jon Lowenstein has spent the better part of five years bearing witness to a group of people who too often are silenced and abused in a nation that seeks their labor but defines them as criminals.
In the richest country the world has ever known more than 13 million American children – most of them from working families – live in poverty. During a remarkable career that has spanned four decades, award winning photojournalist Stephen Shames has championed the cause of America’s most vulnerable children and their families. His haunting photographs remind us that if we will only open our eyes to the world around us we can create a better and more secure life for the next generation of Americans.
As the economies of rural communities across America fail, abandonment is becoming commonplace. Driftless explores a Midwest that resides in shadows, a people quietly enduring America's new economic reality.
Of the over 600,000 American children admitted to juvenile detention annually, poor and minority children are grossly over represented, with two-thirds of the detention population made up of kids of color. Money and social status often help determine a juvenile offender’s length of stay. Those who remain behind bars to shoulder the worst effects of the system are the ones whose families struggle financially, who have no transportation, whose court-appointed attorneys scramble to prepare their defense a few minutes before the judge strides into the room. Twenty-five year veteran Time Magazine photographer Steve Liss spent two years documenting conditions at the Webb County Juvenile Detention Facility in Laredo, Texas.