We blame them for being poor. We say they are poor because of their own personal failings rather than looking at the inequalities in our society; we say that they don’t have jobs because of their lack of skills, not because of the inequalities in wealth and power (O’Connor, 2001). What about the single mother of three who is working two jobs, but still does not make enough money to give her children what they need? Or the girl who is trying to make a better life for herself by going back to school and trying to find a job? Then, there is the man who had to drop of out school to get a job and take care of his mother. In our society, we don’t think about the other reasons why people are in poverty or homeless. We look at them with disgust and don’t want to help them. We say it is their fault. Our society does not realize how hard these people really do work to survive, and it is still not enough. We need to look at the reasons why poverty is such an issue America. We need to change the way we view
People living in poverty have always had a presence in the US, and poverty continues to be a problem. In 2012, there were 46.5 million people living in poverty, with a poverty rate of 15 percent, which is 2.5 percent higher than in 2007 (DeNavas-Walt, Proctor, Smith, 2013). The vast number of people living in poverty suggests the importance of reviewing social policies surrounding poverty issues.
Poverty is the hidden message in the “American Dream” fantasy that everyone wants, it’s something Hollywood portrays very well in movies and TV shows. Everyone sees how the United States is a country of business, big buildings, business men in suits, fashion icons, luxury cars, and big houses. However, what about homelessness, hunger, violence, racism, sexism, why doesn’t anyone tell them that America is going to make you be poor. Many people have to overwrite the concept of being poor and translate into surviving. In this essay I will state how five individuals we able to adapt to their poverty knowing that they were probably judged and viewed as lazy.
People in America often suffer from poverty and the treatment that comes with it, throughout their everyday lives. The question raised is why are poor individuals dehumanized by high structures of power? Some people with a higher income feel like they have a choice and a real recourse to justice rather than a lower class individual. They also believe that they are entitled to the world and their opinion matters because of their financial status versus someone who doesn’t have material things. Lessin’s and Deal’s film , Natasha Trethewey’s Memoir, and Bell Hooks’ excerpts, depicts that the poor are often dehumanized and neglected by structures of power, such as the government and media, because of their lack of money and education, however some of structures of power are ignorant to how the lives of poor people really are.
Race and prejudice toward the culture of poverty was manifest during the civil rights movement and even in the American society today.. This paper will rely on examples, borrowing from past examples in trying to explain the culture of poverty, and how it can create prejudice among citizens in society due to their level of income or low-caste groups, which are considered poor within our societies. This paper will highlight a couple of examples to support its arguments.
Hooks says, “It is better to be poor than to allow another person to assert power over you in ways that are dehumanizing and cruel” (435). Weather poor or rich everyone deserves and opportunity to be successful in life and shouldn’t be stereotyped. Everyone deserves the chance to be successful in life and have the same equal opportunities. Poverty is everywhere in this world some worse than others. Living in poverty once in life it can actually be a learning experience. To see and experience the struggle gives them not only a better understanding but appreciate what they have.
Fifty years ago Michael Harrington shocked the nation with his book that detailed all the impoverished people in our society. The Other America awoke our country to the prevalence of poverty that existed without any knowledge from those who did not live in it. To the Americans at the time, the poor that Harrington speaks of are out of sight and out of mind- which is the ultimate problem at hand. This book was able to shine a different light on poverty than what was seen in the “affluent society”. There’s even rumors saying that John F Kennedy, MLK, and several other notable scholars read his book and were inspired to make a change. In Harrington’s excerpt, he states, “That the poor are invisible is one of the most important
What is your prototypical poor person? When I think of poverty, a dirty individual on the side of a freeway or someone cramped on the side of a bridge comes to mind. Today, the poverty icon has dramatically changed. This individual is an overworked, single mother. She is someone who works numerous hours to survive and to meet the basic needs for her family; however, her job is not paying enough no matter how many hours she is working. As a young adult, I realize that work ethic is one of the most important characteristics of the United States of America. Studies have shown that our people are working harder and more years than people in any other country. The harder a person works, the more money they expect to obtain, but this is not the outcome for everyone. The economy is booming; however, there are many hardworking individuals who are still struggling to survive from their minimum income. The Living Wage movement was established to combat and help several low-wage workers in the 1990’s. This movement gave them
People living in poverty can be thought of as a “them” who can be easily ignored and forgotten; when, in reality, poverty can affect anyone. When people are living in poverty, sometimes it is not their fault. Often, unfortunate events that are out of someone’s control can set them up for failure. For example, the poverty rate for disabled adults from the age of 18-64 is 28.5%, while disabled 18-64 year olds only make up 7.7% of America’s population (Proctor, Semega, and Kollar 16). Therefore, poverty disproportionately affects disabled adults. The stories of those living in poverty are incredibly diverse, as Sasha Abramsky points out in The American Way of Poverty:
My personal observation of the culture of poverty is that people who grow up poor adapt to their situation, and does not expect better out of life. A person get used to living off of government assistance, living in single family households, and having a low-income job. The person does not expect better out of life, and does not try to achieve better. Most of the time it is passed on to them from childhood. For example, as a young girl I grew up in a single-family household with just my mother, no father. My mother worked two jobs just to make sure we had food to eat, and still that was not enough, because she had to receive government assistance. She was a high school drop-out without an education pass the 11th grade. As I grew up my mind frame was that of a poor child. Because I grow up poor, I felt worthless, with no care to do any better than my mother. College was something that I never thought about. My mind was struck in poverty until I moved myself out of my community, and seen better conditions. I then knew that poverty was not all life had to offer. Unfortunately, not all people are able to get out of the culture of poverty. They grow up, and start doing illegal things just to survive, and have no desire to do better for themselves.
Hooks pointed out that many of his professors insinuated that there were negative stereotypes of being poor. Moreover, that self-esteem is linked to financial wealth; women he met with were on government assistance, but chose to get further in debt to appear to have money, never wanting to be labeled poor. Hooks was raised to believe that morals and values made one rich; that one could have all the money in the world but still be poor because of their attitude. Who’s accountable for why people in our society are poor? It’s seems a vicious circle that is hard for poor kids to escape. Many people with low incomes are “intelligent, critical thinkers struggling to transform their circumstances” (Hooks, p. 488) There are many resources, such as theaters that are empty all day, to pay it forward and help the less fortunate gain skills from college students and professors sharing their knowledge. Barbara Ehrenreich’s “How I Discovered the Truth About Poverty” questions why negative stereotypes of untrustworthiness in poor people. Because of this mistrust, the introduction of drug testing for government aid was passed. Why are those negative connotations associated with poverty? “Poverty is not, after all, a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.”
The book two dollars a day by Kathryn Edin is a book that highlights a spiraling poverty in America. One thing I feel contributed to the poverty talked about in the book is some types of American political culture. People in America who are in need of welfare often won’t take it until they have become so impoverished there is no other option due to the stigmas that come with welfare. American political culture also creates a persona for poor people it often paints them as lazy minorities that don’t want to work though they would be capable if they tried too. The pull yourself up by the boot straps mantra only creates more detestation for the poor and impoverished that already don’t seem to fit into the American dream.
America tries to stand for equality, but our system does not properly help the disadvantaged. In “The Land of Opportunity” Loewen’s first year college students do not understand why people are poor and simply think that it is their own fault for being poor. High school students are not learning about social inequality or class structure. The ideas that they are going to College with are not accurate and the textbooks in public schools are partially to blame for this. Coming from a background of poverty, Bell Hooks understands the moral values and work ethic of the poor and the privileged. In “Seeing and Making Culture: Representing the Poor”, Hooks represents the poor to show that in America the image of being rich is viewed from many perspectives
Think of a time when America was at its highest peak. Back when jobs were easily accessible and there was enough wealth to go around. Unfortunately, that time is not right now according to Edward McClelland. He believes that the middle class is dissipating and if we do not do something it is going to be a thing of the past. This all encompassed within his article that he wrote this entitled RIP, the Middle Class: 1946-2013. The article goes over the intricacies in which the middle class has diminished over the years. This article is speaking to people who follow up social issues and current events, more specifically people who remembered what the middle class used to be like. McClelland makes a persuasive argument throughout the article by
This article claims that the problem with rich people and there ethics aren't the problem, its how we look develop stereotypes about them. We often percieve rich people as being treacherous and mean to people of less wealth than them and laugh when great affliction comes there way. That perception of the rich people isn't good to have at all. Stereotypes about the rich, poor, mean, and nice is good to use. In the article, it talks about how authors such as Amit Bhattacharjee, Jason Dana, and Jonathan Baron, gives an anti-rch/anti-business sentiment from their series studies. In the article it says "These authors asked participants not to evaluate people, but to evaluate different firms and industries (some real and some hypothetical)." To