Black History Final Essay, Research Paper
March 17, 1998Black Studies 137E Final1. b) According to Wilson, there is a positive relationship between structuralopportunities and culture. ” ‘Culture’ may be defined as the sharing of modes of behaviorand outlook within a community…To act according to one’s culture…is to follow one’sinclinations as they have been developed by influence or learning from other members ofthe community that one belongs to or identifies with” (Wilson, p. 66). The culture of theinner-city ghetto has ghetto-related behaviors, which often represent certain culturaladaptations to the blockage of structural opportunities in the inner-city. Wilson says that we need to recognize the importance of the structural constraintsin our society and avoid the notion of a “culture of poverty”. There can be jobless familieswho live in neighborhoods with high rates of employment or low rates. We need torealize that the constraints of opportunities are part of the structure of our society. Justbecause someone is part of a certain culture, it does not make them poor. However, beingpart of a particular culture may affect the structural opportunities for that group. Wilsonsays, “…some elements of culture should be seen as situationally adaptive – that is, theyprovide members of a group with models of behavior that apply to situations specific tothat community” (p.71). Members of a certain culture may need to act according to thecommunity they live in. Because of the joblessness in the inner-city ghettos, the Blackcommunity needs to try and adapt to the constraints on the opportunity that they have. The structural problem of the labor-force is the marginal economic positions of somepeople due to structural constraints, limited opportunities and the cultural problem ofcollective beliefs in the neighborhood. Because of these constraints of structuralopportunities, the culture of the inner-city constantly needs to think of these restricted
opportunities and economic constraints and make the decisions they can, given theirlimited choices. 2. a) America’s perception of welfare is to place the responsibility on the individual. Our society tries to blame ghettos and poor people for being on welfare. They seem tothink that these people have no work ethic and it is their fault that they do not have jobs. However, in a survey, Black residents of inner-city ghettos said that they believed hardwork is necessary in order to get ahead in life. However, our society still overemphasizes”the negative aspects of persistent joblessness and the receipt of welfare by playing on thekey individualistic and moralistic themes of this dominant American belief system. Accordingly, the tragic nature and social causes of such problems are lost on a public thatholds truly disadvantaged groups, such as inner-city Blacks, largely responsible for theirplight” (pp. 158-159). Welfare simply means providing for one’s well-being. However, for some reason,our society has a negative image of welfare. They blame the poor people for not gettingjobs, rather than the lack of opportunity that our society has. A recent survey suggestedthat this huge public sentiment against welfare is because of the belief that “the moralcharacteristic of individuals, not inequities in the social and economic structure of society,is at the root of the problem” (p.161). This survey data also shows that this negativeattitude toward welfare has increased over the years. When many people think of welfare,they automatically assume it is a young, unmarried Black woman with children. Peoplestill believe this stereotype even though there are almost as many whites as Blacks onwelfare. It is sad to see how many people are so ignorant and closed-minded. We need tostop blaming individuals for their joblessness and try to change the lack of opportunitiesour society has.