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On this AEI Events Podcast, Katharine Stevens hosts photojournalist Chris Arnade, who has spent the past six years documenting the stories of those living in the “forgotten” towns across America. From Portsmouth, Ohio, to Ohatchee, Alabama, he captured the stories of “forgotten America.” These are the areas hit hardest by job loss, income stagnation, and drug addiction, yet they are often overlooked by policymakers and the press. Arnade’s reporting illuminates gaps between the reality experienced by millions of struggling Americans and the frequently abstract policy discussions in Washington, DC.
Arnade argued that the greatest divide in the country is education. His photo presentation revealed how kids who grew up in the “front row” — those who are mobile, are well-educated, and have large social networks via colleges and careers — have experienced a vastly different America than kids from the “back row” — those who stay in the town where they are born, usually lack any education beyond high school, and generally view their lives as worse off than their parents’.
After spending significant time in churches, Walmarts, and McDonald’s restaurants across the country, Arnade believes that breaking out of our social bubbles and listening to one another is an important first step to restoring the culture and community in these towns.
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