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Haves and Have-nots

Norman McKenzie

Anthropology 2410 Professor Pappas July 17, 2011

McKenzie 2 Today’s American society is dictated and shaped by the middle and upper-class; Marxism (conceived by Karl Marx) is a theory which sums up the philosophy of class inequality. According to Ferraro “By controlling such institutions as schools, factories, government, and the media, the bourgeoisie can convince the workers that the existing distribution of power and wealth is preferable and that anyone can be successful if only he or she works hard enough.”1 However, what happens to the uneducated and those born into hardship? Opportunity is scarce in poverty stricken cities such as; Detroit, Bronx New York, Long Beach, etc. With poverty come crime, uncontrolled birth rates, starvation, health issues and broken homes. As indicated by Hearts and Minds information for change, “many young Americans go to bed with empty stomachs. They also wake up to seemingly hopeless futures: school problems, unemployment, welfare, gangs, drugs and crime. Children of poverty are more likely to suffer young and violent deaths.”2 In reports by Los Angeles Times “The Homicide Report”3 majority of the violence that occurs in L.A. takes place in low income urban areas. In contrast, those who live in wealth reportedly live longer more successful lives. Survival is shaped according to the environment in which one lives, however, the environments structure that one lives in, is build on different types of prosperity. There’s a different fight for success in America between, children whose environment is structured by welfare, gunshots, and teachers who find their money more important than a child’s feature versus, the kids who never face hunger problems, never deal with school shakedowns and traveling is a normal family custom. There’s a saying that goes “it takes a village to raise a child” but, that same village also has the power to destroy that child, from what it exhibit to the child daily. Recourses and capital plays an immense role on family structure, education, health, employment, and the media.

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Family Structure The Bible says “raise a child in the direction you wish them to follow.” The most personal outlook on life begins at home. Home is where we learn values, morals, obedience and the importance of character. How a person raise’s their child is their own personal choice; the problem with most parents in poverty influenced areas is that they’re not cognitive of the choices their making and how it affects their children. Take for example two parents that allow abuse (substance, physical, and sexual) in their home; the children who witnesses this are perpetually upshot and there’s nothing they can do to change the parents choices. However, many youth in low income areas find security in places such a wreck centers and other recreational locations (such as parks). Nevertheless, these parks and recreational centers needed to help keep urban youth safe and of the streets are inadequate due to the lack in state fund distributions. As indicated by Paul M. Sherer, writer for The Trust for Public Land Low-income neighborhoods populated by minorities and recent immigrants are especially short of park space. Minorities and the poor have historically been shunted off to live on the wrong side of the tracks, in paved-over, industrialized areas with few public amenities. From an equity standpoint, there is a strong need to redress this imbalance.4 Natives of low income areas face many challenges and the worst one of all is the lack of guidance. With a little accommodations such as parks, recreational centers and other leisure settings, the youth receives much more than just security; they receive a sense of wellbeing, mentors, teacher’s and an understanding of what it feels like to dream and have a passion to want

McKenzie 4 more out of life. Environmental investments in these inner-city areas can make beneficial changes, helping urban youth receive the same opportunities the middle and upper-class adolescence receive Health Recreation isn’t just a positive factor to keeping low income youth out the street; its tremendous dynamic can be good physical fitness also, ultimately leading to healthier lifestyles. Lacking places for recreation, minorities and low-income individuals are significantly less likely than whites and high-income individuals to engage in the regular physical activity that is crucial to good health. Bad health is an epidemic in low earning regions. Health Reform.Gov Stated The United States spends more than any other nation in the world on health care in 2007... Despite consistent increases in spending, disparities among demographic groups persist. Low-income Americans and racial and ethnic minorities experience disproportionately higher rates of disease, fewer treatment options, and reduced access to care.5 Health care isn’t just a problem in the low earning areas; the working middle class seem to be affected the most. With owning homes, small businesses and putting their children through college, the working middle-class are faced with immense problems such as; inflation, unpaid health debts, repossession, and foreclosures; so while the middle-class suffers, the rich get richer. According to My Budget 360 Now that Wall Street siphoned off enough money from the productive economy, they are now looking for other bubbles to expand. It doesn’t matter if it comes at

McKenzie 5 the expense of the working poor and middle class. In fact, this is what they want people to believe.6 Sacrifice The more that working class wages increase, the more prices rise for Americans necessities; ultimately putting more money into the pockets of the wealthy. Inflation produces a domino effect in America beginning with spending habits. People know how hard life can be in America so they recognize that a college education is one of the best assets their children can acquire towards a better life. Sacrificing personal delights such as; new cloths, vehicles and traveling, are all necessary (however, difficult) to parents knowing their children will have a secure future. American corporations are all about profit, and to accomplish that, the most skilled and educated people are in demand. Even with the masses of college graduates, large businesses are still discovering ways to receive cheap labor from people. Low income and middle class workers trade labor for goods but, with Americas trend of outsourcing, more and more people are in the unemployment line (even with college education). Finance and Family Financial stability plays a significant role in strong marriages. Time's Belinda Luscombe writes, "What seems most clear is that less-educated, lower-income couples split up more often than college grads and may be doing so in higher numbers than before."7 It has been said that having a good means of finance and education, people are able to afford help in such ways as; marriage counseling when the relationship becomes unsteady, vacations, which helps when there’s too much pressure at work, also people with a certain degree of education understand the power of listening to one another during disagreements. Abortions rates are

McKenzie 6 extremely high with the poor compared to the rich; in an article written by Michelle Chen, she states The root causes are manifold: a long history of discrimination; lack of access to high-quality, affordable health care; too few educational and professional opportunities; unequal access to safe, clean neighborhoods.8 Educational and professional opportunities are almost impossible to take advantage of in single parent households; having the other parent present makes compromise easy when one wants to do something that involves advancement for the family. Child support is another factor that keeps a poor man poor. Child support is known to take more than half of a man’s check, making it difficult for someone to put themselves in a position of progress; even worse is when one denies to pay, law enforcement then intervenes. Law and Media Typically people of minority groups are influenced by money; money can relinquish hunger, it can grant material gain, it can also help one escape the environment which surrounds them and take them places others never dreamed of. However, the media does nothing for the desire of wanting money; it creates an illusion that what’s being seen on television and what’s being heard in music is the way life is suppose to be for everyone whose brought up in the same situation. Unfortunately many people agree with what’s being portrayed in the media, and they follow the words eventually leading them down roads they were never meant to fallow. A major factor contributing to racial disparity in prosecution and punishment is the discriminatory profiling of minorities-based on race, ethnicity, and sexual preference-as criminal suspects and, especially, as drug traffickers. The media has a lot to do with how minorities are depicted,

McKenzie 7 making people who encounter African Americans and Hispanics immediately judge before they learn about the person. The first day of January 2009, a police officer shot a young man in a subway station in Oakland California, claiming he thought he drew his stunner rather than his gun; situation as such is what gives minorities the hope for financial gain, hoping it’ll help so life doesn’t have to be concluded in such a violent way. The middle and upper classes are who shapes this place of dreams we call America. Unfortunately not everyone has equal opportunity to accomplish the American dream; however, opportunity exists nonetheless. Poverty can be an obstacle most will never overcome but, for those who have the desire to do so, motivation and education is the key. The system may be built in favor of the “Haves” but it’s the burden bearers, “The Have-nots” that give definition to the word miracle.

McKenzie 8 Notes Ferraro, Gary, and Susan Andreatta. Cultural Anthropology an Applied Perspective. 8th ed. Wadsworth, 2010 “Children in Poverty.” Hearts and Minds, Information for Change. n.p. web. 14 July. 2011. “The Homicide Report.” Los Angeles Times. 29 June. 2011. n.p. web. 15 July. 2011 Sherer M. Paul. Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space. The Trust for Public Land, 2003. Web. 15 July. 2011 “A Case for Closing the Gap.” Health Reform.Gov. 12 June. 2009. Web. 15 July. 2011. “Middle Class Getting Pushed Into Poverty…” My Budget 360. n.p. Web. 15 July. 2011.
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Luscombe Belinda. “Low Income Couples More Likely to Divorce, but Why?” Jezebel. 17 May. 2010. Web. 16 July. 2011.


Chen Michelle. “Demographics Against Abortions.” Common Dreams.Org. 9 May. 2010. Web. 16 July. 2011.