On Saturday, June 25th, a crowd of nearly 600 people participated in the Cincinnati Child Poverty Collaborative Summit held at Xavier University’s Cintas Center. The summit inspired non-profit organizers, social advocates, faith leaders, corporate executives, and community members to discuss the resources and awareness needed to improve the lives of the more than 33,000 children living in poverty throughout Cincinnati.
The summit focused on small group conversations, encouraging participants to share their stories, experiences, and beliefs about the issues impacting poverty. Education, employment, family structure, criminal justice, transportation, healthcare, housing, and childcare were featured on a map and participants were encouraged to add additional issues. As advocates for Urban Appalachian communities, we were encouraged by the collaborative nature of the summit. Below you can see how our group from the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition added to the map our strong belief that neighborhood-based organizations play a key role in building trust and sustaining support for families.
The issues affecting poverty in our city are rooted in historic racism and a deep segregation of communities based on race. Cincinnati has been cited as one of the most racially segregated cities in our nation. Urban Appalachian neighborhoods throughout Cincinnati are diverse in their populations, including Hispanic, African American, Appalachian, and Affrilachian families all working hard to fight the stigmas and stereotypes that get associated with poverty. We are tired of hearing slurs like “white trash,” “hillbilly,” and “city-billy” around our city, and we work every day to share our stories and transform the cultural assumptions and biases that divide our neighborhoods. While race is absolutely a key issue contributing to poverty, we also understand the complex, inter-woven nature of our racial and cultural identities, and the shared stereotypes and struggles that come with classism and the economic divisions of our city. We are hopeful that the Child Poverty Collaborative will unite diverse advocates under the shared cause of bettering all families and communities.
Inspired by these conversations, I created and read the following spoken-word poem at the event:
A follow-up event will take place in October of this year. We look forward to continuing the conversation and emphasizing the toll that poverty plays on the diverse, multi-ethic neighborhoods of our city.