Cosby Show Essay, Research Paper
Society is constructed into a hierarchy of social classes; poverty is what separates the social classes apart. The elite rich are at the top of this hierarchy, at the center are the middle-income families, and at the bottom are the low-income families and homeless. Traditionally the rich exploit the poor for more money while the poor become even more destitute. In the United States, the minorities are typically in the poor low-income level. The essays, ?Savage Inequalities,? ?Positive Functions of the Undeserving Poor,? and ?The Anatomy of Racially Motivated Violence in New York City,? explore the conditions of minorities lives and offer evidence into how the minorities are written-off by the government and violently treated by society.
The main theme that is emphasized in the essay entitled ?Savage Inequalities? is the American ideology of life; that every individual gets an equal opportunity in life. Although this ideology may hold true to some people, there is also a larger group of people attending urban schools who do not get the same treatment and quality of education as their suburban counterparts. The author, Jonathan Kozol, did his study on the educational environment of the schools of New York City. He argues that ?white schools? get more funding than do the schools that consist of predominately black populations. There are number of school districts in NYC, but Kozol narrowed his research down to district 10 (the Bronx) in particular, because of the two extremes that are located within. At one end of the extremes is public school 24. This school is located in Riverdale, which is a fairly wealthy community and is populated predominately by whites. At the other end are public schools 79 and 261 located south of Riverdale. Its population consists mostly of minorities that live in relatively low-income households. At schools 79 and 261, the author talks about both schools inadequacies. Both schools are extremely overcrowded; ironically, they are also predominately black minority schools. The average class is way above 30 pupils per room. It is so ludicrous, that teachers are forced to hold class in the library, and that administrators have meetings in the nurse?s office at times when she is not working. This overcrowding problem severely affects the ability of the students to learn anything because teachers cannot give much personalized attention to any one student. Whereas at Riverdale, classes reach 23 students a class and they even have classrooms for the ?gifted? students to study. The populations of the two minority schools are around 1500 while the Riverdale is approximately 900. However, Riverdale, which is split into two schools receives much more funding than both of the low-income schools do. Towards the end of the essay the author implies that school boards, whether racially motivated or not, think it?s a waste of time and money to equally fund poor minority schools because it is impossible to make the schools any better. Lastly, he states that the minority children understand the negative label that has been associated with them. As a consequence, the children will ?act the part? by living lives of crime or lives that do not amount to much. The author did a thorough job going to the three schools and comparing the differences between them. The one problem with these comparisons is that they are two extremes; many middle-income schools have the same problems that low-income schools have just not to the same degree. His opinion is too rigid for only observing three schools. He should examine more schools to get a better comparison.
?Positive Functions of the Undeserving Poor? was an essay written by Herbert J. Gans. His arguments are based on the concept that poor low-income class will always be exploited and remain poor directly because its functions or consequences benefit the upper class. Gans cites the label given to the poor by the affluent part of society the ?undeserving poor.? Thirteen reasons are given, which are separated into five specific categories as to why this situation exists. These functions are briefly described by their designated categories. He asserts that society in general is unwilling to change these functions because they are beneficial to the higher classes. The first category, microsocial conditions, explains society?s excuse for labeling the poor ?undeserving? so they feel free of guilt and free of responsibility when it comes to helping the poor. It also explains that society displaces its anger by blaming the poor for any problem or corruption that society is experiencing. For example, members of society blame the failure of economic policies on the poor for taking up federal funding. The next category, economic functions, shows how the upper classes capitalize off of the conditions of the poor. Economic banishment is a stigma that the poor are given. It is vital to their employment; because often employers view it as a sign of lazy work ethic and do not offer jobs to the ?stigmatized poor?. This is a huge reason why a portion of the poor turns to crime because they are ostracized from the labor market. Moreover, the drugs that the poor sell or produce are purchased by upper-class whites. It also creates many occupations among the ?deserving? class at the poorer class?s expense because society wants to watch over them and control them. This establishes many social service positions and programs. The third category, normative functions, contends that those that are labeled ?undeserved? generate reasons why the higher society should call themselves the ?deserving? people. In addition, the environment that the poor live in sanctions a different set of behavioral patterns than the ?normal? behavior of the upper classes. These different styles of life segregate the two communities even further apart. The fourth category, political functions, addresses how the poor are excluded and ignored from politics. The poor get no voicing opinion in politics because it is easier for politicians to assist the needs of other economically higher classes. As a result, the population of the ?undeserving? grows larger as long as the poorer class?s needs are ignored. Furthermore, affluent residents are slowly residing in locations away from disreputable areas. As this happens, the stigma placed on the area worsens because the government is erecting prisons, shelters, psychiatric houses and low-income housing. The last set of categories is Macrosocial functions. It shows how the government?s programs do not actually help the poor it just affirms their position in life as poor ?subservient? people. ?Positive Functions of the Undeserving Poor? has very detailed explanations as to why ?fortunate? society wants to keep the poor down. It is very well organized and written. The reader gets a good sense of what the poor face from their aspect of life and why they are held down. The weak point of his argument is that he implies that it is not the fault of any low-income individual that they are in the circumstance that they are in. There are exceptions to everything in life, and of course, there are on this subject too. Not everyone is in the same predicament as someone else. Some do try to get out of the situation that they are in and their efforts are futile. However, the author errs and overgeneralizes the ?undeserving? by putting them under one category, which is the assumption that every poor person is the same type individual.
The last article ?The Anatomy of Racially Motivated Violence in New York City? examines the hate violence of adolescents between the ages of seventeen and twenty. The writer?s data focuses on an alternative risk program for teenage delinquents that are predominantly white. The data they collected was from surveys and open interviews with the subjects. The surveys were designed to obtain information on the subjects? socioeconomic background. The open-ended questions were intended to gain an insight into racial attitudes. The communities that the teenagers resided in are from communities where African Americans and other minorities make up very little of the population. The boys? justification for racial violence is that their communities are very tightly knit and that blacks jeopardize the welfare of the neighborhood life. The attitudes of the youths show resentment of blacks for a number of reasons that seem reasonable to them. First, the youths feel that affirmative action gives blacks many unfair advantages over whites. It gives the blacks jobs that the youths assume whites are typically more suited for. They believe ?affirmative action? creates reverse discrimination politically because blacks get all the funding and attention. The subjects also feel that the media inaccurately portrays crimes the are racially motivated. ?There?s a double standard in the media. If a black kid gets jumped by a bunch of white kids, they say it?s racial. Friends of mine get jumped by black kids all the time and no one describes it as racial (Pinderhughes, 174). Lastly, they felt that blacks commit crimes that create racial tensions. ?The police know the blacks don?t belong in our neighborhoods-everybody knows if they are here they must be looking for trouble. It?s up to us to make sure they stay out of our neighborhood (174).? The researcher however, sees the motivation for racial tensions differently. He believes that peer groups, the history of communities, community support help us to explain their violence. Peer groups provide a sense of kindred among teenagers. The people inside these groups share the same notions about certain ideas. Therefore, peers constantly are trying to prove their worth; they are willing to support their ideas by resorting to violence. History influences the ideas of community. For example, in many instances migration and immigration have caused many predominately white communities to move away because they viewed these minorities as threats of the close close-knit community they had established. It is for this reason that communities resent minorities. Finally, community based ideas also help instigate racial violence. You can trace the youth?s actions back to the town they come from to understand the disposition of their community stands. The research that was the basis for this essay was conducted thoroughly and accurately. It gives supportive reasons as to why ethnic animosity exists between specific races primarily between whites and blacks. Although this essay is thorough with examining a group of white peers, it does not cover any black peer groups. He should have studied a black group of the same age. Black peer groups may have some justifying aspects in common with the white peer groups, however, they cannot be the same due to being raised in different areas, having a different interpretation of politics and life. Therefore they cannot have the same reasoning for racially motivated violence. It would have been interesting so see both attitudes and how they contrasted and related to one another.
These essays explore the theories and possibilities behind how the minorities are manipulated, capitalized, and violently treated by the government and the upper economic classes in the United States. The stigma that is placed on them does not allow the blacks to elevate themselves to a higher notch on the social hierarchy. The conduct of these ?stigmatized? people that concerns the more fortunate classes for example mugging, are committed because the poor are so destitute. If the funding policies are changed, the conduct will be reduced and the stigma could be possibly removed from this class of people. This could create a truly ?equal? chance for citizens of the United States.