underserved

Oh, thank goodness you’re here. We have to talk about the word “underserved.”

Maybe you’ve heard about “underserved children.” Despite how it sounds, their problem isn’t that they’ve been the only customers in a diner for the last 28 minutes and their waitress hasn’t even asked them if they want any coffee yet. No.

The problem is that they’re poor.

Their families don’t have money, so the kids might go to lousy schools or live in dangerous neighborhoods or not have enough food to eat. Poor. Underserved is a euphemism for poor.

I think people who use “underserved” probably mean well. They want us to see that we all have a responsibility to look out for each other and that we’re not doing a very good job of looking out for poor people. Unfortunately, the word sucks all the urgency out of the discussion. Everyone knows being poor is a serious problem, but being underserved sounds like something people can handle on their own.

Nobody wants to be poor, but poor people already know they’re poor, so there’s no need to be coy about it for their sake.