October 17, 2008

Am I "Reverse-Classist"?

Has our society lost its all of its moral fiber? Is there anything that can be said for the upper class/ wealthy in this country in regards to the basic values that our country has been predicated on? Why have we veered so far away from the concept of equity and equality that we are lost in an abyss of alternate realities for the upper class as opposed to the poor, working class? Why have so many economic institutions been set in place to benefit the very narrow upper percentage of wealthy people despite the overwhelming needs of people like me? Why has the tax burden been shifted to working class (financially poor) families like mine despite rich people’s ability to easily handle the tax burden they deserve?

It is because of the countless institutions that work hand in hand in disguising how they continue to rob the poor man of any freedoms, whether it’s financial, social, or civil. Who runs these organizations? The wealthy. Who benefits from finding loopholes to screw over those who are powerless? The wealthy. This may be an odd contrast to tradition classism, but on many levels I think I might be what you call “reverse-classist?. Being a black man from the inner city in a predominantly white institution of higher learning I am very grateful for the opportunity to get an education, but at the same time dumb-founded by the things I’ve been learning about how my family and friends are oppressed on a daily basis, while students from wealthy families enjoy many freedoms that are denied to people of lower classes. While taxes for dividends, estate, and capital gains (all taxes that affect primarily those of the upper class) have decreased 79%, 46%, and 31%, respectively, payroll taxes (which affected everyone else- middle class, working class, and poor) have increased 25% since 1980 (Ore, pp. 220-221). What does this mean? The wealthy leaders have found loopholes to maintain and intensify their greed, while the average working man/woman continue to watch himself/herself lose ground on the fundamental concepts of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

I believe that this disparity has the strongest correlation with the educational systems that deprive lower classes of even being aware that they are continuously being put in increasingly compounding situations of ignorance while all the while perpetuating this breakdown of awareness to succeeding generations. Cultural capital is rarely, if ever, gained by those who come from backgrounds that never received it in previous generations. Access to opportunity is all anyone ever needs to find their own potential, and if you never learn the value of opportunity through educational enlightenment, you are subject to many forces that you never have the opportunity to become aware of, let alone change. This is the key component to the “educational stratification? that lower class people experience. It is sad to say that my educational experience is an exception to the norm. But why can’t the poor get an equal education to those who are wealthy? I’m willing to bet that if the wealthy were forced to pay their fair proportion of taxes and for the government to properly appropriate these taxes to those who needed it the most, this problem could be resolved. But since it is the rich who ultimately decide where the money is allocated (that is, away from the poor), I doubt this shameful practice will ever change (unless we start from the top down by voting for the right president- go Obama!). This is why I could consider myself “reverse-classist?. No offense to my fellow students from wealthy backgrounds. It just sickens me to think that my family pays higher taxes than your family when I’m willing to bet they have an exponentially higher income than some of ours. And at no time will these institutions be willing to undercut themselves at the expense of helping millions of families living check to check with exorbitant expenses ranging from healthcare to coping with home foreclosure and continuous bouts with unemployment.

October 20, 2008

Transformation of Racism Post 9/11

The first reading assigned this week particularly pertained to the research I have started to do for my paper. I am discussing racism and discrimination of Arab/Muslims after the events of September 11th. The stories brought up in the first few pages made me think how interesting the transition of racism has changed post 9/11. Prior to the events, minority groups such as African Americans and Latinos were the center of racist policies and discrimination in areas such as law enforcement, and traffic stops. After the attacks, it seems as though the shift has faded, but not completely disappeared from the “usual suspects? to those of Arabic descent. There are many factors which continue the discrimination, the main form today is the War in Iraq. Many uneducated citizens see the war on television or in the paper, and view those who live there as they enemy. History has shown similar instances where different events effect the racist policies in our country. A major event, which still shapes many people’s lives is slavery. Although not present in the United States today, the after affects are still present, and there is a big divide between those seen as “Black? to those perceived as “White?. Another event which is similar to the September 11th attacks was Pearl Harbor, the only other attack on American soil, besides the civil and revolutionary war. After the attack, Japanese citizens were discriminated against and put into interment camps for to prevent another attack. Although we do not put all Arabic people in camps, the government takes steps which hinder the freedom of travel and the right to live in privacy. It seems as though there is a constant struggle for dominance and power in the United States based on one’s perceived ethnicity. When will it shift again, and whom will be the next target of this wicked cycle? Will this ever be stopped, or are we eternally trapped in an unbalanced system? I feel breaking this system will be a hard feat. As discussed in class, from birth on, we are constantly shown what is right and wrong, and how we should view the world. Nearly everything can persuade us to believe one way or another. In order to break the system, we would have to very intricately examine everything in society and establish a system of unbiased advertisements and so forth.