Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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One woman’s situation and opinion not representative

To the editor:

The Gazette recently featured a front page AP piece entitled “Poverty, pessimism on rise, notably among whites”. Aside from the divisive title (whites vs. ‘everyone else’), there was a great deal of compiled information obtained from surveys with subcategories pertaining to age (especially after age 60), lack of manufacturing jobs, family size and intactness, and so on.

Obviously, the article was intended to focus on the change in point of view of a particular ethnic group. Tossed into the midst of this was an apparently “human interest” angle consisting of photos of a ramshackle trailer accompanied by comments from one person. Never mind that the person hailed from an already economically hard hit coal mining town in Appalachia, but the article also felt it necessary to elaborate on her multiple marriages and running a roadside stand with her boyfriend which doesn’t generate much income.

The writer found it necessary to add: “They live mostly off government disability checks.” It seems that much effort went into explaining the meaning behind the survey and that the effect is reaching far beyond long known (and sadly accepted) socially/economically/educationally under-served groups. How unfortunate that it was lost in lazy journalism and/or poor editing. It is as though the contributor tried to consolidate multiple societal and social conditions into one “representative white” (vs. apparently everyone else including mixed ethnicity). The woman’s story was a sad one but one person does not represent either the opinions or economic pessimism of any specific group. Her situation and opinions are not in the least representative of “whites” (or any age or cultural group) but the experience of one of a great many individuals struggling under different circumstances.

Virginia Canton

West Hatfield

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