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These striking black-and-white photos bring poverty in America to life.

These somber photos document a part of the United States many rarely see.

These striking black-and-white photos bring poverty in America to life.

Photographer Matt Black's latest project shows us an America we're all a part of but not all of us see.

After two decades of documenting impoverished areas in California, Black decided to take his project on the road, tracing a path all across the country.

A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on



He visited areas that have at least a 20% poverty rate (which as of 2014 is an income of $11,490 for individuals and $23,550 for a family of four). A whopping 45 million of Americans are living in poverty — the highest number recorded. And that isn't even including the working poor (who are more than 50% of SNAP recipients).

While it's clear that poverty's impact is different in every town, the project shows there is a commonality that connects them — us — all.

In an interview with Time, Black explains,

"I wanted to find a continuous route that linked all of these towns, which are no more than a couple of hundred miles from each other. And the fact that you can link all of these communities from coast to coast and back again is telling." — Matt Black
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on


So many of the representations of poverty we see in the media are usually from out there — other countries. Black's work sheds light on what's happening right here at home.

His remarkable photos are accompanied by stunning facts about life in each specific area. The captions range from quotes from locals to statistics about the health conditions of the region's residents.

A quick look at his Instagram account shows photos from California...

The Geography of Poverty USA - Santa Maria, CA. Santa Maria is a city in Santa Barbara County, California. The population is 99,553 and 20.7% live below the poverty level. Approximately 10,000 people work in the city's surrounding strawberry fields, earning $1.25 per box picked. Amador Angeles, field worker: “I wish for my kids to to study so they don't have to carry on like us." #geographyofpoverty www.geographyofpoverty.com
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on
The Geography of Poverty USA - Oil field. Bakersfield, CA. Kern County's fields produce one in every 12 barrels of domestic oil. Deep shale drilling releases into the air compounds that cause smog, respiratory problems, and cancer. #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on


...to the Southwest.

The Geography of Poverty USA - Brownsville, TX. Brownsville is a city in Cameron County, Texas. The population is 175,023 and 35.3% live below the poverty level. #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on
The Geography of Poverty USA - The remains of an unidentified migrant discovered in Brooks County, Texas, await forensic analysis. The bodies of twenty-six border crossers have been found so far this year in the rural Texas county, one of the nation's poorest. #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on


Through the South...

The Geography of Poverty USA - Hyden, KY. Hyden is a city in Leslie County, Kentucky. The population is 365 and 26.3% live below the poverty level. #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on
The Geography of Poverty USA - Cancer Alley, Louisiana. Cancer Alley is an 85 mile stretch of over 200 petrochemical facilities beginning in Baton Rouge (25.4% poverty) stretching past New Orleans (27.3% poverty) and towards the coast. Though comprising just 1/3 of the state's population, 80% of Louisiana's African-American residents live within three miles of a hazardous industrial zoned facility. #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on


...up the Northeast...

Burlington, VT. "They think I am stealing something because I have two kids and a stroller. If you get mad you are just giving them more reason to discriminate against you." Burlington is a city in Chittenden County, Vermont. The population is 42,417 and 25.1% live below the poverty level. "You just got to keep calm and suck it up." #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on
Erie, PA. Pistolvania. "The first 15 days of July featured two gunshot-related homicides, at least nine shootings that wounded people, a shots-fired investigation in which a police officer was fired upon and at least two armed robberies." Erie is a city in Erie County, Pennsylvania. The population is 101,786 and 27.8% live below the poverty level. #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on


...and completing the circle in the Northwest.

#Repost @msnbcphoto
・・・
Between 2009 and 2013, some 41.5% of Flint's residents lived below the poverty line, compared to just 16.8% of the rest of the state. A quarter of its families have an annual income of below $15,000 a year. The city's child poverty rate of 66.5% is nearly 10 percentage points higher than Detroit's. Block by block, neighborhoods where GM had built houses for its workers were marked by the detritus of abandonment, crumbling homes and overgrown lots. Crime and despair began to fester. And generations of families barely making it replaced those that had once thrived. Often those families were one and the same. The population loss and economic collapse has compounded other issues, including access to quality education, healthcare and safety. There are also serious environmental concerns. When industry pulled out of the city, it left behind huge swaths of contaminated land. Aging and decrepit infrastructure, including a deteriorating water system, has meant dangerously high levels of toxins in the city's water supply. Today on MSNBC we launch Chapter 3 from our on-going feature, Geography of Poverty, “The Rust Belt: Once Mighty Cities in Decline - An auto giant's exit brings Flint to its knees" by photographer @mattblack_blackmatt and reporter Trymaine Lee. You can see the latest installment of this in-depth feature with detailed interactive graphics and powerful photography on msnbc.com/photography (link in profile) Thank you to our partners on this project the @pulitzercenter, the @economichardship and the @magnumfoundation
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on
Fort Yates, ND. "The poverty that has been imposed, and the taking of our riches, says it all for their American Dream. It's very different for us." Fort Yates is a town in Sioux County, North Dakota. The population is 2,386 and 44.3% live below the poverty level. #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on
Pasco, WA. Pasco is a city in Franklin County, Washington. The population is 59,781 and 21.5% live below the poverty level. #geographyofpoverty
A photo posted by Matt Black (@mattblack_blackmatt) on


Black's roadtrip shows us how poverty isn't an isolated problem caused by individual failure. It's a systemic issue that connects (too) many communities.

As he explained to Time:

"'What really dawned on me is how connected these places are,' he adds. 'I've driven all the way across the country, but in a lot of ways I feel I still haven't left the Central Valley. It feels like one place. Uniting them in this kind of visual document is challenging but immensely satisfying because it feels like I'm making a statement that needs to be made.'"

And now folks around the world can get a rare look into these all-too-common, greatly hidden pockets of American poverty. And they're struck by it.

Each Instagram post includes comments from users — many who share that they have a new awareness of poverty throughout the U.S. And it's not just Instagrammers who are impressed. Black's photography has received critical acclaim, including a nomination from Magnum Photos.

Says Black to Time, "A lot of people have been blown away by it. It's not so much about the individual circumstances as it is about the collective whole."

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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