Discussions about class in this country begin with disparities in the division of resources - the question of `who has ' and `who has not (the latter group usually more vocal than the former ) - and inevitably lead to an examination of the way class is played out through the meters of race and gender . Women will do worse than men . Minorities particularly African-Americans , will do worse than whites . And , in fact , the large masses will do worse than the select few . It 's the way it is Time was once that there was
Time was once that there was
fluidity in class distinctions . Leaving aside the historical disenfranchisement of women and African-Americans time was once that one could realistically pull himself up by the bootstrap - could start off poor and rise to the heights of society Abraham Lincoln did , for instance . So did Walt Disney . Increasingly though , measurements suggest that class is becoming a much more regimented affair and , along with the splendid wealth enjoyed by the few , is an expanding number of Americans suffering under deep and sometimes entrenched poverty
That there is poverty in America is without question . We all watched our televisions and saw the specter of thousands people who , whatever wherewithal they may not have had to escape Hurricane Katrina , had even less afterwards . Holly Sklar , in Growing Gulf Between Rich and Rest of Us ' puts the number of poor somewhere around 37 million , an amount to match the combined populations of Louisiana , Mississippi , Alabama Texas and Arkansas . [p . 117] Add to this a shrinking number of middle-income households (5 million families sunk into poverty in the years from 2000 to 2005 [Sklar ,
. 116] ) and a media that besieges us with ever more conspicuous consumption , and we find the class divide taking on a certain immediacy in our public discourse
Look for instance at urban centers where large African-American populations live in concentrated , often generational poverty . Here inside the world 's wealthiest nation , are among the poorest of its poor Materialism (the bling bling phenomena ) is not unique to urban ghettos but it intersects strangely and to devastating effect when poverty is added to the equation . Poverty becomes a badge of shame and that shame morphs sometimes too easily into worthlessness and then sometimes too easily into shamelessness . It becomes easy to rationalize destructive behavior . There 's nothing to lose ' goes the thinking , so why not ' Under such conditions , crime increases , violence increases and the sad irony is that where all of this doesn 't lead to loss of life , it often leads to incarceration which has the net effect of continuing the cycle of poverty
The twist , as Donna Langston makes the point nicely in Tired of Playing Monopoly ' is that we attempt to deny the existence of classes out of some sort of allegiance to our founding principle of equality for all men (however theoretical that principle was . One of the main ways ' she says , [that the myth of a classless society] keeps the working class and poor locked into...
More Essays on class, poverty, NBA, classism, Erin Brockovich
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- The Industrial Revolution.
- Inequality between social classes in Ireland is generated by the economic system but exacerbated by other social systems. Explain why there is social class inequality in Ireland and how it could be changed.