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Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother Paperback – July 1, 2011
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"Innocent challenges the welfare stereotype and in so doing, exposes readers to the stories, struggles, and small mercies of life as a welfare recipient." -JMWW
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
As politicians once again excoriate welfare families to make political hay, "Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother" by Barbara Morrison is a must read for anyone who wants to gain perspective on living life at the mercy of the welfare system. Through her clear prose and honest accounting, Morrison recounts her days as a welfare mother and her struggle to navigate a bewildering system that even those administering it do not fully understand. Years ago, I had the privilege of publishing an excerpt of this, at that time unpublished, memoir. I am pleased to find that this compelling work has come to fruition and is serving as a voice of experience in our current, difficult political and economic landscape.
Disowned by her wealthy Baltimore family, abandoned by her husband, caring for one young child with another on the way, and faced with job prospects that would not cover the cost of childcare, let alone rent, utilities, food, clothing, and transportation to any job she could find, Morrison made the difficult decision to apply for welfare. Once in the system, she and her family lived at the whim of a bureaucracy that failed to understand the true limitations of poverty, that required its recipients to already have the trappings of a middle class existence before they could receive the aid they needed, and that penalized recipients for implementing thrift or attempting to pool their resources. Throughout her years of hardship, Morrison's greatest desire was to find a way out.
"Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother" dispels the myths and stereotypes endemic to the image of the welfare mother.Read more ›
Morrison's story is set in the mid 70's. In it she tells of how with the birth of two boys, she had no choice but to go on welfare. She touchingly writes about her need to hide the fact from her friends who lived in another city, as if believing what society teaches, that being a welfare mother is a disgrace. While the tale, especially as she rises up and succeeds, has a modern fairy tale quality about it, it is full strength reality.
This is a great book for anyone who had similar circumstances, had to sign up for welfare to survive, but also had to survive the humiliation of the 'support.' This is also an inspirational book for anyone who has been lost, especially if like Morrison, equipped with brainpower, even if not money. Poignant here are how small kindnesses get one through. As someone who knows the power of dance, I loved her dealing with a strange dance world, as one of her lifelines. Through out it all was her fierce responsibility to her children. An odd combination of facts, but she structures it into a lively memoir.
Running through her account is an undertone of scorn people on welfare live with, a baseless and sometimes unconscious assumption that the poor are lazy. That judgment is one step away from the dictum that poverty is a conscious choice. Hence current political convictions that unemployment benefits should be ended so that the shiftless will be forced to get a job.
The unspoken courage that Morrison’s book chronicles is akin to that of soldiers in combat: risk doesn’t matter—you do what you have to do. Hers is a story both sobering and inspiring.
—Tom Glenn, author of Friendly Casualties and No-Accounts
Finding the courage to leave her marriage that has dropped from heaven halfway to hell, Morrison must build an utterly new environment, skill-set, and even self as she learns to survive and care for her child in the seedy neighborhoods of a city she does not know--and to manage the necessities of life through the meager support of a bureaucratic welfare system, of landlords driven by varied combinations of greed and laziness, and of the sometimes near-miraculous help of (mostly new) friends.
In some ways, Morrison is fortunate. She is young, her body up to the stresses of sleepless nights and welfare-office waits, of constant travel for the most minimal necessities, of toting the weight of child plus stroller plus blanket plus that a car-less mother must manage where even public transit costs, to one so poor, a fortune. She is young enough, too, to find companionship and connection with the single mothers all around her in her new neighborhood. And she has embarked upon her odyssey in the relatively early years of the AFDC program, when it was new and many programs were being introduced to help "Welfare mothers" to "get back on their feet"--programs well meant, in those times, even if inadequate, sometimes ridiculous and/or demeaning, and without sufficient funds.
Nevertheless, she must confront the same dehumanizing, chilly Welfare bureaucracy that those of us who came along soon after had to deal with.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having grown up in Baltimore, I know the streets and rowhouse steps that are very much the setting of Morrison's memoir. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I met the author of this life-changing book!! She is beautiful and caring. She and her beautifully written book have changed the way I think about poverty and welfare forever! Read morePublished 5 months ago by ellenkrich
Barbara Morrison takes the reader on an unforgettable journey from hopeful college student, living in an upscale Baltimore neighborhood, to welfare mother living in a trailer with... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Ann Bracken
Love this perspective of the welfare system. Interesting to see how things have, and mostly haven't, changed over the past 40 years in the welfare system.Published on May 19, 2014 by Old Soul
This is an essential and ground-breaking book. Morrison deconstructs the myth behind the “welfare mother. Read morePublished on March 21, 2014 by Jennifer C.
Barbara Morrison's book pays attention to detail- lovingly. Its description of the welfare system, the plight of poor mothers, poetically presents at once a survival guide and... Read morePublished on March 8, 2014 by David Eberhardt
Barbara Morrison tells a tale of how easily one young woman finds herself in circumstances she would never have dreamed of being in. Read morePublished on March 28, 2013 by Janice T Gary
"POVERTY IS NO SIN."
by George Herbert
Growing up in a prosperous neighborhood, B. Read more