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Urban poverty, along with all of its poignant manifestations, is moving from city centers to working-class and industrial suburbs in contemporary America. Nowhere is this more evident than in East St. Louis, Illinois. Once a thriving manufacturing and transportation center, East St. Louis is now known for its unemployment, crime, and collapsing infrastructure. Abandoned in the Heartland takes us into the lives of East St. Louis's predominantly African American residents to find out what has happened since industry abandoned the city, and jobs, quality schools, and city services disappeared, leaving people isolated and imperiled. Jennifer Hamer introduces men who search for meaning and opportunity in dead-end jobs, women who often take on care-taking responsibilities until well into old age, and parents who have the impossible task of protecting their children in this dangerous, and literally toxic, environment. Illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs showing how the city has changed over time, this book, full of stories of courage and fortitude, offers a powerful vision of the transformed circumstances of life in one American suburb.
Absent fathers and households headed by single mothers are frequently blamed for the poor quality of life of African-American children. This book challenges these assumptions, arguing that they are largely an unfair reflection of non-working class white American values. Hamer places the behaviors of black non-custodial fathers in their social, political, and economic contexts and describes these fatherless families from the perspectives of the families themselves.
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