The 1960’s were a turbulent time in American history and The Fire Net Time is a book written about the most brutal aspects of it, in which poverty has a recurring role. Poverty made several of the stories told through The Fire Next Time possible, and by doing so prompts an interesting question-what was poverty like for the Black community in the 1960’s and how/why did it get to be the way it was?
This topic specifically drew my interest because of its relevance to modern day urban areas. Where I grew up until moving away to college was on the outer edge of the lower income/working class subdivision of Hoffman Estates. This small suburb is considered a generally safe place, with the small exception of one low-end subdivision. I now realize that to me—that subdivision was my avenue. I was always curious at why that part of town was the way that it was and that when brought up, people would often skirt around the subject desperately grasping for other topics for which they could change the conversation to. I had babysitters and friends through my childhood that lived there, thus meaning that I experienced that environment first-hand. In parallel with The Fire Next Time, I was able to see not only the difference between neighborhoods (my apt. complex and that subdivision) but between the people inhabiting them as well. A point that is definitely worth mentioning is that I’m not comparing that part of town to some far away land where only horrible people lived and crime was an everyday occurrence. The same goes for Baldwin—he acknowledges that he had friends that lived on the avenue and knew that they were at a time good people. He also knew that getting involved in that environment would only lead to bad things. This situation was...
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...ent on to basically say that the poor needed to stop being poor by simply getting a job, losing the pessimistic attitude, and ridding themselves of government programs that “encouraged laziness” (23, Rose). This complete reversal of the nation’s stance on poverty meant that the entire public opinion changed, thus shunning the impoverished from society and blaming those people instead of the corrupt political programs that actually put them in that situation.
Another Source, A Proud, Angry Poor, discusses how society from the 60’s to modern day is built around shunning the poor--from religion marking wealth as a sign of heavenly favor to education systems being built on racial exclusion or residential exclusion (33, Piven). These sorts of ingrained insults of poverty are exactly what coaxed the poverty problem to become the unwieldy monster that it was in the 60’s.
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