Poverty in Plain Sight: Ignoring the Blatant Pleas of Eastern North Carolina

Opinions, 713, Poverty in Plain Sight, The Relic, Jim Dollar, flickr

Flickr / Jim Dollar

Kaetlyn Dembkoski
Staff Writer

With the recent official start of summer, many people are taking their well-deserved vacation time and driving East to the coast for some beach time with friends and family. Rather than wake up early to head to work, they pack for the lengthy drive and head out to beat the traffic to the beach. For most, this time is to be spent lounging in the rays, buying treats, and simply forgetting all the troubles and tough times for the span of that day.

However, this is not a universally shared emotion towards this time frame among all workers, especially for people already in that area. Their dislike is not directed towards the people themselves, but instead at their fortunate circumstances that permit them to be able to take the time off and go to the beach.

When looking at Eastern North Carolinians, despite being right next to the summer’s most visited hotspot without the extended drive, many of them are unable to take time to relax under the reason that they simply cannot afford the trip. Within North Carolina as a whole, 80 counties are considered “rural” and closely associated with rural life is the poverty that affects many communities in North Carolina.

Many passersby and travelers alike though do not consider the portion of the state they drive through when they set their destination so strictly towards the beach. Among these counties is Wilmington County, a staple beach town where many travel to specifically to head to its lavish beaches and waters.

For the people living in the conditions, this is nothing new; these circumstances that they have been living in have not changed recently and they seem to just be getting worse. The huge issue plaguing these Eastern areas is the lack of jobs in these locations where their traditional pasts have been shown to primarily focus on farming and other trades. While other parts of the state have kept up with technological changes, the East has not seen that same development.

This problem is further hurt by the currently graduating youth has been dispersing to other corners of North Carolina to find jobs and livelihoods in those locations rather than staying local. Despite these setbacks, the people themselves that inhabit these areas strive extremely hard to maintain their lifestyles amongst the tribulations set before them.

So, what is being done in response to help these people in need? There are a few things that can be enacted by local officials of these counties to ease the struggles from these North Carolinians even in the slightest. For one, they can create a means to boost job creation perhaps by utilizing nearby local businesses to provide the people a sustainable job through which to get a livable paycheck from.

Another suitable fix to this issue could be to grant these people certain resources like child care for children while the parents are out working or job success classes to teach these people the skills to land their jobs and maintain them. Finally, as the world has shifted into a more digital focused age, all people need to be taught how to use functions such as emails, social media, etc. to ensure that these people, who have primarily known outside skills all their lives, can be adaptable to using technology with their new technological literacy.

Should we hand these people the means by which to keep them, their families, and their housing situations afloat while they learn to juggle full-time, worthwhile jobs, we can build up Eastern North Carolinians to be in the positive again. To have those 80 counties that lack the development that comes with urban county status remain without a surefire solution decided yet is the same as permitting these people to continue suffering while the more developed part of the state lives comfortably.

Change will only come if we strive towards it, but with their circumstances as difficult as they are, it can be hard for people in poverty to find that change and achieve it by themselves. While we may not be able to fix everyone’s situation, if we hold onto the things they care most for while they get the chance to stand on their own two feet, they can eventually begin to finally take hold of their lives for themselves.  

Categories: Columns, Opinions


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