Not in my backyard.

We all know it’s easier to brush off problems that happen to other people, in other places. You might be frustrated about the injustices happening out there, but at least you can go to bed imagining things are okay right here.

NWLC just crunched some more state-by-state poverty data that the U.S. Census Bureau released yesterday, and I can tell you this: Things are not okay right here, wherever you may be.  

The national poverty data released on Tuesday showed that national poverty rates didn’t improve in 2012 and women and children continued to be disproportionately affected by poverty.   Some of the facts in the state-by-state poverty data will also make you cringe:

  • Mississippi and Louisiana had the highest poverty rates among adult women, each topping 20 percent, compared to 14.5 percent nationally.
  • Mississippi children also suffered the highest rate of poverty, 34.7 percent, compared to 21.8 percent nationally.
  • In four states, 50 percent or more of female-headed families with children were poor, including Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia—and yes, Mississippi, the highest at 53.7 percent, compared to 40.9 percent nationally.

But hardship isn’t limited to these states. Here in my backyard, the District of Columbia, things are not okay.  The poverty rate for women in 2012 was 17.6 percent; for children, 26.5 percent; and for female-headed families with children, 36.6 percent.  

Of course, it’s distressing to see poverty so close to home. But being distraught won’t change the reality that many of the people living around me struggle to make ends meet and wonder where their next meals will come from.  I’m not just mad about yesterday’s House vote  to slash SNAP/Food Stamp benefits for millions of Americans:  I’m determined to fight for policies that are fair to women and their families in this fall’s fiscal fights.

After all, these fights are personal, because poverty is very much in my backyard – and yours.