Poverty in America


A photo-essay refers to a series or a set of photographs that are meant to elicit emotions, especially to the viewer.  The photo-essay usually illustrates exclusive pictures that reflect the deep emotional phases of an individual. They range from captioned photographs to photographic works. A photo-essay is normally guided by theme ideas such as immigration, slums, region/area, poverty, and hunger, the economic impact of globalization or low employment rate. However, this photo-essay aims to provide a comprehensive perspective on the aspect of poverty.  

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Photo 1: Fresno, CA

Image: Residential view from Fresno, CA (Calix, 2018)

Photo Description

The photo shows the streets of Fresno. The building structures and residential structures reflect the state of the economy experienced by Fresno’s population. According to the US census, approximately 36% of the population is poor while approximately 43% live below the poverty level. Most of the residents are employed in the nearest fields to pick vegetables and fruits. The picture is relevant for this photo-essay because it assists in reflecting the key theme; poverty in America. According to Calix (2018), Fresno ranks second among the extremely poor cities in the U.S. The ranking was based on the U.S. census data indicating the rate of poverty increase from 2010-2016 (Calix, 2018).


Fresno is geographically located at the central valley of California. A larger percentage of America’s vegetables and fruits originate from central California. Grapes, tomatoes, milk, peaches, cotton, plums, cattle and almonds, among other products, originate from this region. Unfortunately, agriculturally, wealth is yet to be exploited sufficiently. Besides, the benefits of agriculture are not evenly distributed. As such Fresno population still wallows in poverty. Fresno is still one of the poorest states in the United States of America. There are sprawling tent cities especially on the outskirts of the town where small farmers, migrant workers, and poorly paid white-blue collar workers reside. The most stressing problem in Fresno is extreme poverty and economic hardships due to the state’s inability to stabilize after the 2008 economic recession. Poor neighborhoods characterize Fresno. The federal standards indicate that a poor neighborhood is where approximately 40% of 4-person families survive with an annual net income of not more than $25,100. 

Photo 2: Mississippi

Image: Formally inhabited house in Mississippi. Photo by Ansar El (Tillery. 2010)

Photo Description

The photo above shows the state of poverty in Mississippi. It is a house where the extremely low-income family resided. Presumably, the residents had no electricity or gas. The house lacked windows to cushion the family from harsh weather and cold air. The front door hangs in while the roof seems to curve inward. The residential is a sample of the actual state of living for most of the Mississippi’s population. The region is filled with dilapidated houses and poor living conditions. The acquisition of necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing is a challenge in Mississippi. 


Mississippi enjoys a diverse culture, rich soil, and music which makes it a unique region in America. Figures from the U.S. Census show that Mississippi has a poverty rate of 26%, where household income is estimated at $36,919. The unemployment rate remains at 8.8% as of 2019 which is higher than the nation’s rate of 3.8% (Barone. 2019). Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the United States, where the population lives at the lowest median household income.  The increasing poverty rate and poor living conditions in Mississippi are attributable to the low educational attainment. It is estimated that only 21.1% of the Mississippi’s residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree relative to the nation’s 30.1% (Barone. 2019). Generally, the Mississippi’s poor experience environmental and personal risks such as living under dilapidated house structures, inadequate education and limited access to quality nutrition & healthcare. The level of poverty at Mississippi demands exclusive discussions among policymakers, professionals from different sectors, clinicians and public health professionals. 


Conclusively, the photos provided and discussed above avail essential lessons regarding the issue of poverty in America. They indicate that the poverty problem can be solved through social and economic development, which shall penetrate population groups and communities. However, attainment of social and economic development calls for improved education, employment creation, and social inclusivity. Application of these factors inclusive increased poverty alleviating programs shall bail out both Fresno, CA and Mississippi. 


Barone. A. (2019). America’s Poorest States in 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019, from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/080116/americas-poorest-states-2016.asp

Calix. B. (2018). Fresno’s extreme poverty puts the city in a bad spot on a national list. [Photograph]. Retrieved 4 December 2019, from https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article209826869.htmlTillery. A. (2010). The bus tour exposes extreme poverty in Mississippi. [photograph]. Retrieved 4 December 2019, from http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/article_7464.shtml

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