African American’s Decision Making: Choice vs. Constraint

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African American’s Decision Making: Choice vs. Constraint
At the age of thirteen-year-old, Jonathan (a pseudonym) knows all the names and shapes of the weapons circulating his neighborhood. Jonathan lives with his brothers and mother in a poor-income neighborhood of a metropolitan area. As a result of a lack of father’s presence in his life, his uncle serves as his male role model. In many occasions, when his uncle “goes out and steal” at the nearby stores, Jonathan is often his look out. Despite the criminal laws and police regulations, crime rates in these poor urban neighborhoods are escalating with incarceration rates and death rates follow suits. According to Elijah Anderson (1994), an American sociologist at Yale University, the inclination to violence is derived from the situations of life among the urban poor; these circumstances could be the lack of paying jobs, the stigma of race, the rampant drugs use and drugs trafficking, and the lack of hope for the future. Accordingly, who or what is responsible for the problems displayed in these African American, urban poor communities? The answer comes down to choices. The behaviors of these African American can be attributed through the individual’s disposition and the situational influences; thus, two theories hold the key explanation to answer the inquiry of this phenomenon: Rational Actor Theory and Structured Socialization Theory, respectively.

The context that the urban poor African Americans have to live in indirectly influence their decision-making. One such factor that shapes their survivability is income. As seen from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for African Americans is significantly lower than the median income of all races and an even greater income...

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