Book pages 90-92

The hunger - and the reasons for it - which I had seen around the bank man were not unique. The prevailing American philosophy insists that if a man goes hungry he has only himself to blame because he will not work.

But why then do the hungry often work harder and longer than those people who are causing their hunger? It is the children such a social cynicism hurts most.

The map above shows the counties which a citizens' board of inquiry has declared emergency hunger districts. In many areas the mortality rate of black children between 1 and 12 months old is 8 to 10 times higher than the white one.

In comparison, the black infant mortality rate was only twice as high as the white one during chattel slavery (just as it is nationwide today).

In other words, more than 6,000 black babies are dying yearly because they do not have access to white health and nutritional care.

Or even worse: more than 8,000 black babies would not die each year if they had access to the free national health care, with cash benefits, maternity aid, and weekly home visits by nurses both before and after birth, which we take for granted in a capitalist country like Denmark.

But when I looked at the official statistics to find out how many actually die from hunger, I did not find many, which at first surprised me as I had seen listless, anemic children everywhere.

But malnutrition reduces the body's resistance to disease. Death from hunger will therefore on a death certificate be explained away as, for instance, pneumonia.

Everywhere in the South I saw these little epitaphs hidden away in the fields. Actual death represents only the sad visible tip of the iceberg.

Millions of black children have been exposed to the danger of irreversible brain damage from prenatal and childhood hunger, which also results in indolence, apathy, alienation, and unemployability - a vicious circle that afflicts depressed people also in the Third World.

Usually it is difficult to get close to such sullen, withdrawn children, since they are unbelievably fearful of strangers. Photographing hunger is also difficult, since only a few are visibly emaciated.

Most of the malnourished become overweight instead, because they have to eat a lot of carbohydrates in order to get enough protein.



Copyright 2005 AMERICAN PICTURES; All rights reserved.


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