Presented in partnership with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, award-winning New York Times journalist and author Andrea Elliott will appear virtually to discuss her book, Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City in conversation with Professor Darcey Merritt of the NYU Silver School of Social Work. Merritt is a faculty fellow for the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and has extensive experience as a practitioner in the private and public child welfare systems, and as a researcher with interests including child maltreatment prevention; maltreatment type definitional issues; neighborhood structural impact on maltreatment; and the lived experiences of those served by public child welfare systems..
Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of a girl whose imagination is as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn shelter. Dasani was named after the bottled water that signaled Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. In this sweeping narrative, Elliott weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her family, tracing the passage of their ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, the homeless crisis in New York City has exploded amid the deepening chasm between rich and poor.
Dasani must guide her siblings through a city riddled by hunger, violence, drug addiction, homelessness, and the monitoring of child protection services. Out on the street, Dasani becomes a fierce fighter to protect the ones she loves. When she finally escapes city life to enroll in a boarding school, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning your family, and yourself? By turns heartbreaking and inspiring, Invisible Child tells an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family, and the cost of inequality. Based on nearly a decade of reporting, Invisible Child illuminates some of the most critical issues in contemporary America through the life of one remarkable girl.
Andrea is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and the author of Invisible Child, published by Random House. Since joining The New York Times in 2003, Elliott has specialized in long-form investigative journalism. Her reporting on the life of Dasani Coates, a homeless child, won a 2014 George Polk award, and her series, “An Imam in America,” was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
Elliott has received honorary doctorates from Occidental College and from Niagara University, which cited her “courage, perseverance, and a commitment to fairness for those without a public voice rarely demonstrated among writers today.” Her writing has been featured in the collections “Best Newspaper Writing” and “Islam for Journalists: A Primer on Covering Muslim American Communities in America.” Elliott came to The Times from The Miami Herald, where she covered crime, immigration and Latin American politics. Raised in Washington, D.C. by a Chilean immigrant mother and an American father, she attended Occidental College before earning a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1999.
Merritt is a faculty fellow for the NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and has extensive experience as a practitioner in the private and public child welfare systems, and as a researcher with interests including child maltreatment prevention; maltreatment type definitional issues; neighborhood structural impact on maltreatment; and the lived experiences of those served by public child welfare systems.