Essay on Selling in the Barrio: The Culture of Poverty

Essay on Selling in the Barrio: The Culture of Poverty

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Multiple studies have been completed to show that people from all racial groups and ethnicities are negatively affected by poverty. Those in the lowest social class, while a mix of ethnicities, are predominantly minorities and affected the most. What stood out about Philippe Bourgeois’ is that he not only studies the people and their culture but he lived it with them. Mr. Bourgois spent two years with his wife and child living with the Puerto Rican’s in East Harlem, NY. He lived with them and became a friend to many of them with the hopes of providing an accurate analysis of their culture. While living there he encountered all of the barrios social problems; from gender inequality to drugs and illegal activities to racial segregation. Above all the main social problem that the people of East Harlem encounter is poverty.
One reason these people are trapped in the drug ridden, crime filled, and violence laced streets of East Harlem is because they do not know any different. Many of the people Bourgois befriended attempted to find legal work. Some of them were successful at finding the jobs but not all too successful at keeping them. For instance Bourgois closest friend, Primo got a job working for the ASPCA(American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.) At this jobs the management knew that many prospective employees would not be able to handle the rigors of the job and therefor they over hired expecting some to quit or lose their jobs. After a few days Primo realized he could not maintain composure around dead cats and dogs. It was then that the management fired him. (Bourgois, 2003) Again he attempted legal work, this time in a publishing office. While this job initially seemed as though it would work out for Primo,...


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... social class marginalization in a major U.S. inner city culture. Bourgois did well explaining the social problems as well as his ideas of solutions and temporary solutions to the problems faced by most people who live in poverty. As a nation the United States must take a long, hard look at its inner cities, where the most severe poverty is found. There are many solutions to the problem of crime and violence that are being used today and yet they seem ineffective. This is due to the fact that the root cause of the crimes and violence is extreme poverty. As Bourgois said most of those who live and “work” in the barrio are looking or respect and a sense of dignity. (Bourgois, 2003) The problem is that they will never reach the success they are looking for without first helping other Americans to realize that the social status of the poor is what is holding them back.

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