Sunday, March 24, 2013

Waging a Living (Argument+hyperlink)

To me this movie was quite depressing. To see that families are struggling everyday just to put food on their table for their children is sad. Many people all over the nation are not earning decent wages or getting basic benefits for their family. Jean Reynolds is one of the of the four people this documentary consists. It begins by the fact that she got in trouble because she said " God is not paying us enough" and she beings to explain that earning $11 per hour after 14 years is a sin and God knows that. She is ashamed that she earns such a low wage even though she has worked at her job for 13 years. She works two jobs and make a little over $600 every two weeks. She pays $1,200 for rent and supports 3 of her children and eventually ends up supporting all 4 of her grandchildren. Her oldest daughter has cancer and does not have health care. That is eight people in total in a small house. How can anybody expect to survive with such little money and so many people to support. What seems to scare Jean the most is that because her oldest daughter has cancer she will have to support all those kids by herself. That is just cruel and unusual punishment. No mother should have to worry about that. It hurts to see this because people are faced with these circumstances everyday and have to learn to live with the little that they make.

Jerry Langoria lives in the cheapest hotel in San Francisco and pays $530 for rent. He is a security guard and makes $12 per hour. He mentions he only has $10 in his bank account and maybe $30 in his pocket. He can afford to buy clothes when Good Will is having sales. He mentions that he could probably find a cheaper place to live but is afraid to lose his job. One of his fears is to end up homeless because he has been in that situation already. He is fighting to get benefits from his job like many other security guards too. Jerry works for one of the most wealthiest buildings in San Francisco and only makes $12 an hour, and on top of that still has to fight to receive some basic benefits. That is just not right. We want to live right, not work just to barely survive.

Barbara works and makes $8.25 per hour and has many different government assistance. She went to community college to get her associate degree because one can earn 30 percent more than someone with just a High School diploma. She believes education is key. Throughout her story though, we see that she does get her associate degree and gets a better paying job. However, because she is earning more money now her help to pay her home has decreased. Now that she is not getting enough money she believes that she needs to back to school and get her bachelors degree. The problem in this situation is that you gain in some places and lose in others and it seems to be the same problem all over again. From this I can tell that even though she started earning more money it was still not good enough because some of her aid was taken away because she was making more money. I am pretty sure that if her aid did not change and she had enough time to save up some money she would no longer need the aid. But because her aid was reduced she felt the need to back to school (which is always a good thing) and work part time instead of full time. It seems that someway of somehow people always have to lose in some things to be able survive in other ways.

This link talks about how we can help. We the people and we the workers have to keep both ends of the deal. We the workers have to understand and except our situation and we the people need to understand that workers deserve a decent wage and basic benefits for their families. This link is in relation to the movie because it specifically mentions the three folks that I mentioned above.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Black Wealth, White Wealth: Quotes/Build

I'm not the best at reading these articles and coming up with clever blog posts, but reading some blogs before hand really opened up my mind to other arguments. Most of the time I just read to read and never make any connections in my mind. After reading Andreas blog I think I can relate to the page 12 quote because it did seem very odd to me as well.

Stated by Wilson in his book:

"The Declining Significance of Race, suggests that the racial barriers of the past are less important than present-day social class attributes in determining the economic life chances of black Americans." (pg. 12 Oliver & Shapiro)

This quote is very contradictive because how can they add this to their book when the point is to end inequality by not discriminating, when discrimination is the main point to why blacks don't have the skills or education to contribute to a changing economy. It is sad really to read that "racial barriers of the past are less important than present-day". We can't just believe that people are not being decimated like many were decimated in the past because it does not seem to make sense when we see it everyday, whether that be on the news, entertainment channels, or even just while trying to walk to our next class. Discrimination is not just something of the past, it still very much exists today and because of people like Wilson who think it's something of the past that should be considered wishful thinking. Because if it was something of the past I don't think we would be reading about and discussing about the fact that is not.

 "wealth reveals a particular network of social relations and a set of social circumstances that convey a unique constellation of meanings pertinent to race in America" (pg. 3 Oliver & Shapiro)

So what I got from this is that problems with the economy do not just come from racism, it also includes class. There are many factors to why Black Americans don't have as much wealth as Whites American do. I mean if we go back and realize that freed slaves were never given land like they were promised that sets them back because how are they going to make wealth if they don't have anything to being with. This was because of racial discrimination. We can't expect anybody to rise to the top if they are not given any type of help. The next quote I do feel like it is a tad bit harsh but it in fact does happen more often than we would like to think.

"With little or no access to jobs, trapped in poor areas with bad schools and little social and economic opportunity, members of the underclass resort to crime, drugs, and other forms of aber­rant behavior to make a living and eke Some degree of meaning out of their materially impoverished existence."
(pg. 33 Oliver & Shapiro)

I hate to say this is true but it is hard to say it isn't when I live in a city where it does not offer much opportunity to our members. I had friends that were doing so well and threw it all away because they fell into the world of drugs and realized they were making easy money, and that money kept them alive. A good example is when I was in 10th grade my best-friend and I were in track, and a friend of ours was the best weight thrower for the whole team. He was extremely funny and talented the only thing he was not the best when I came to academics. Slowly he was starting not to show up to practice and thought because he was the best he did not need to practice. Eventually he started to miss so much of the actual competitions he was kicked out of track, the coach didn't really care that he was the best, he cared that everyone showed up and did what they were suppose to do. And he didn't. His grades starting to slip and after some time he would not even show up to class. My best-friend and I heard that he had dropped out of high school and starting selling drugs. One of my favorite teachers from high school said he could have had a bright future ahead of him because he was so good at throwing weights. Coming from a poor city it is hard to not get mixed in with the wrong crowds. I believe that is what happened to this student he took the wrong path in life, and because of his foolishness he may not be respected like he was before. People will discriminate him because of the choices he's done, and that only hurts him more because he may not get a second chance to make up for his mistakes. Drugs is an easy way out of the hell that many Americans live everyday, but if we can't stop discrimination than we can't stop the bad choices that are being done.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Jensen: a little bit of everything, from what we read so far

Reflection to my life post(even though it is not in the criteria to pick from)

Barbara Jensen has a very distinct way of defining class and classism.
Class is an injustice that says some Americans deserve much more time, leisure, control, and far more financial reward than others. Classism is the set of myths and beliefs that keep those class divisions intact, that is, the belief that working class cultures and people are inherently inferior and that class itself demonstrates who the hardest workers and the rightful winners are.( Jensen 31)

 Her main concern in her book is to bring attention to how class plays into culture and classism. And by culture she means "a constellation of accepted values, customs, more, attitudes, styles, behaviors, and, especially, worldwide- the shared unconscious mind of a community, to put it in psychological terms.'' ( Jensen 31)

Her two main examples for this point is the two girls coming of age stories. How the first party she attended was the working class point of view and the second one was the middle class point of view. Personally I connect more to the first example; the working class family. Jensen pretty much described my family get togethers. The men usually go to the pool table room (we usually get together at my sister in laws house), the women are in the kitchen or living room talking away about their problems, and the kids are always in someone's room playing video games or watching movies.
I can't even relate to the second example because the first example has been my whole life example. I don't even know if that is working class anymore for us because it's been like that for a really long time. It is even like that when I go visit other family members in Guatemala, it seems like everyone has their own little clique to go to. I suppose that is our culture and that plays into of class.

Moving on to chaper 4, Behaving versus Blooming was really hitting home for me because of the truth that is embedded in our class. Being a part of a certain class does define our language and the way we learn from the moment we are born. Being apart of a certain community does impact our world from the very start of our lives because depending to what class one may pertain to, it impacts that children that are born into that community. Jensen goes on to talk about Heath's ten year study of three communities: both while and black middle class "mainstream townspeople", a rural African American working class community, and a rural white working class community. She begins to talk about how middle class communities read to their babies and have conversations with them and get them to engage in a critical way. As for working class communities, working class parents don't really have the time to read to their kids because they don't have time or may not even know how to read to them in English. That is were it really hits home for me because that is the exact situation I was growing up with. Since I was about 5 years old my parents always worked opposite shifts. My mom worked the day shift and my dad worked the night shift. My mom would work and my dad would take care of me for a sometime and then he would go to bed because he would go to work later. So while he slept I would just watch television until my mom got home from work. Even if my parents really wanted to read to me they couldn't because they didn't know how to speak English or read it for that matter. They still don't know English so as I grew up I became their interpreter. When I first began school it was extremely difficult because I had a tough time learning how to read in English. Because of that I had to repeat first grade. This is how the working class aspect hurt me because I almost had to grow up someway bettering myself and help my parents because they were 10x more lost than I was when it came to English related stuff. I try to make sure my nieces and nephews don't end up like I did in the beginning even though two of my nephews also were held back for similar reasons. The other two are doing fine but that is because they had their siblings to help them, not their parents. And their is another on the way (gender not known), hopefully we all can pitch in to read to this new family member and make a difference in his/her life.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Walmart and Honey Boo Boo

I will begin by saying that even though the point of the Wal-Mart videos were to make working class citizens seem dumb, the videos were funny in a cruel way(weird sense of humor). My father works at a Wal-Mart and I can tell you that he knows nothing of the Dow Jones industrial average and I don't think his co-workers know it either. Like that guy that was working in the liquor section of Wal-Mart he had no idea what it even meant. Being a frequent shopper at Wal-Mart(thanks to my dads discount card) I also did not know what the heck the dow jones average was. I looked it up but I still don't really get it. It is a number, big deal Mark Dice. What are you trying to prove that working class people are dumb or something. In the beginning of the video and at the end when he was laughing because he already knew that shoppers weren't going to know what he was asking them made me want to punch him in is throat. He is just and ignorant SOB! Unfortunately, when upper and middle class people view videos like this, working class people just seem uneducated and that is when upper/middle class citizens think they are better. I also think that if Mark Dice were to go to any other store that seems higher end of the spectrum like Department stores, he would get the same response.

As so for Honey Boo Boo I am not much of a fan but it is hard to say that I haven't heard about that crazy family. From that article I can tell that the reality show is definitely scripted. Like many of the reality shows out their, as real as they want to be, some things have to be scripted to keep the viewers coming back. A good example is Mama June's weight. She says that she is happy with what she looks but yet behind the camera she would like to lose 100lbs. At least she does show some humanly aspect in her life but everything else just over shadows the small relatable parts because the craziness is more fun to watch. Beside what I just said I don't really have much to say because I don't actually watch the show maybe I should start watching it and have much more to say about Honey Boo Boo franchise.

Honey Boo Boo at Wal-Mart haha!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Connections between Coontz and Currie

We always stood on our own two feet: self-reliance and the American family by Stephanie Coontz brought a lot of new interesting facts to the table (new to me at least). What I think she is trying to say is that American families think they can succeed on their own but in reality when we look back how society was, it all started with some help. Help should not be looked down upon because we all will need it sooner or later and to think one can conquer everything on their own is just foolish to think. One quote that really caught my eye in this article was when "Politicians are especially likely to fall prey to the convenient amnesia that permits so much self-righteous posturing about how the "dependent poor" ought to develop the self-reliance and independence that "the rest of us" have shown." I do not comprehend why anyone would say this and not think for one second that he or she did not receive any help what so ever. As a society we can't think like this because that is when I feel that hate starts to appear in our minds when we think about poor people. So now this is when The Futile War on Drugs by Elliott Currie comes in. The belief that the individual has failed in moral character, changes in society as a whole, and other things I guess that leads them to drugs because they think it will solve some problems. Failing morally and because some can't adapt to the society as a whole is crap. Society has not changed to better poor people, it has changed to keep them poor. This country has lost billions of jobs over the years and we think the problem of people selling drugs are their morals? We clearly have a problem understanding why people have escalated to the point were they think they need to sell drugs. Just to make things clear now, I'm not justifying the act of people selling drugs. It is illegal and it is wrong, we get that. But when we connect this to the Coontz, apparently their are people that think some should develop some self-reliance because that is an American value. Obviously many more factors are involved with subjects like this but I honestly think that as a society, things as set up for others failures. Maybe one day things will change but for now things will be the same for the LONG time.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Media Magic

At one point or another I do believe that every single one of us has had a negative view on poor people. That is the perfect example of how the media does tend to create negative and stereotypical thoughts in our minds. Many of us can grow past such thoughts and become more aware of actual facts and form better educated opinions on such topics. Throughout this reading I found some pretty interesting quotes that I believed helped me better understand and also was able to do some connections as well.

First quote: "In this essay, we will examine the way the mass media shapes how people think about each other and about the nature of our society."

So the first thing that came to my mind was the way that we see each other. When we see somebody poor or homeless we don't tend to feel bad anymore (some do but not all) and that is because of the media. For example, sometimes when my family and I go grocery shopping it sometimes tends to fall at the end of the month and the beginning of the new month. My parents absolutely hate it. We usually shop at our local price rite in Central Falls so most of the time we see shoppers with two or three carts filled with massive amounts of food (not all healthy) and three or four kids on the side. My parents never fail to form a negative opinions of such shoppers. That is only because media has made them think that all poor people are on welfare and are good for nothing human beings. Then once they have seen it on TV or read about it in some article it all seems to be true when you come across people who buy tons of food and their total is around $400 and just swipe the welfare card. I also believe that because we live in this city it is hard to not form negative opinions because it is a constant thing that we see everyday.

Second quote: "there is enough wealth in our nation to eliminate poverty if we chose to redistribute existing wealth or income."

If there is enough wealth to go around to eliminate poverty why don't we? Because we benefit from others misfortunes. It is sad to say but true. If we didn't have the working class nobody would take jobs that start at $5.40 an hour. Big companies need those people to get the job done and at a cheap wage. That is how they see profit. It just goes to show that we as a society need poor people to do things that middle/upper class would never do.

Third quote: " But the upper class and the middle class do not share the same interests or worries."

The universal thought that we are all middle class is ridiculous. If we were all middle class I guess we would have all the same worries but since we are not all middle class we don't. It make sense that upper class people think about stocks, profit, and their children going to private schools. They have the money, it makes sense that they use it well. It makes perfect sense that each class has different concerns if not I guess we wouldn't be discussing that class actually does matter. I think that the media conceals the poor so much for the better part of society. And what the media has showed us is a lot of negative aspects of the situation. That is why stereotypical thoughts exist because the media only shows us what they want us to see and not other stories so we don't feel bad, don't feel the need to give to the homeless, but yet again we see it everywhere.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Homeless Timmer and Negative Kozol

Talking about poverty and homelessness is not an easy subject to tackle. When I see a homeless person on the streets I do tend to give a buck or two because I feel guilty if I don't. And I know I shouldn't because it is not my fault but I ALWAYS (whatever the situation my be) say to myself, what if that was me. I can't help myself by switching the roles in my head and it seems to break my heart every time I do something like that. However, that does not mean that I don't think that they can use the money for drugs or alcohol. After I give what I can, I'd like to think that they will use it for good and not evil but of course that would be foolish of me to think all the time. As a society we have stereotyped anything that can be stereotyped. Including the misfortunes of others. As a result of those misfortunes, people begin to live life like that. Just like Cliffies mother said "The point is that they put a lot of things into our neighborhood that no one wants". Did it insult her? At first it most certainly did, but after she said, "The truth is, you get used to the offense". So what does this tell you, it tells me at least that people begin to live day to day with such horrible conditions and stop caring and this issue shouldn't be like that. I feel like no article touched based on hope of some sort of relief to such issue. Hope may not be the best term in this case because I do believe hope can be paralyzing at time. However, it may also be all one may have to offer. It was disturbing reading about all this because we don't think about it, it's somewhere in our subconscious. No one solution is going to change these issues but I do believe multiple solutions will help our society improve, it will take time though, lots of time.