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In his review of Leon Dash’s book, Rosa Lee, Dan Cutler feels that the protagonist, Rosa Lee Cunningham, is doomed to a life of poverty because she does not believe she has any chance of success. He says that she had “little faith in the achievement ideology,” which made her feel that she was the “victim of hopeless circumstances” (Cutler). His understanding of the area Cunningham lives in is accurate, however, as a member of America’s underclass, Cunningham cannot waste time aspiring to become middle class, she must spend her time surviving. The problem facing members of the underclass is that there are no options for them to become upwardly mobile. An overwhelming majority of these downtrodden people are doomed to lives at or below the poverty level from the moment they are born into the ghetto. Trying to instill the “achievement ideology,” in people like Cunningham, so they do “not believe they are caught in a closed system” will not work, as Cutler asserts it will. What we must do for members of the underclass to rise in the economic ranks is to include them in the system, for the system is closed to them. For this to happen the United States government must take an active role in changing the it deals with the poorest members of society.
The most economically successful country in the world has the power and money to change the structure of inner city economies. To do this we must re-evaluate our methods, and must stop blaming and punishing a group of underprivileged people who have no opportunity for their lack of opportunity. For example, the war on drugs does not stop drug use, it makes it worse. Imprisoning Blacks only furthers the division and chaos that is rampant among underclass families, who in turn, resort to more drug use to escape their dismal existence. Moreover, large corporations should not be allowed to abuse the underclass labor force, most of whom have no alternatives than to work for any wage, minimum or otherwise. Many corporations steal labor from poor workers, but it is the underclass who are punished when they steal. However inappropriate our actions in dealing with the underclass are we continue to believe them, thus people are imprisoned for stealing food or clothes, even though they never had an alternative.
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"Advocating Change for the American Poor." 123HelpMe.com. 14 Nov 2019
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