In this blog entry we will analyze the different variations in ethnic groups, race, and gender and how does it affect a social class placement in the United States today, and how it makes us live or interact with one another. By analyzing different opinions about certain issues that we have faced throughout history, we will try to obtain a broad view of how as individuals we relate, defend or reject some of these ideas. I have been lucky to have the opportunity to learn from different cultural backgrounds and obtain valuable knowledge in this subject, instead of judging or criticizing people for being different from what is considered “Normal” in the eyes of the majority of the population. We don't have to go way back in history to see this, if we just look at the time when this country was being built, we can see how we started dividing into groups and created social comfort zones (norm) which later lead to segregation and discrimination.
One of the first issues that arose at the time by this problem was social class placement; in my opinion wealth, race and gender are the most common factors in the U.S. today. Wealth is the abundance of properties, or valuable possessions (Vehicles, Real Estate, Stocks, Retirement Plans, Savings accounts, etc.) minus the quantity of your debts. Since wealth can be passed down from generations; people that were well established since the beginning of this country obtained some of their wealth that way. That’s why most of the wealthiest people today are Caucasian; people that inherited valuable possessions from past generations and did not work as slaves or laborers. Minorities did not inherit any wealth, and have struggled to move up in “class”. Nowadays the majority of population does not like to talk about class privileges, class oppression, or the class nature of society (Rothenberg, Gregory Mantsios 177); maybe it’s their pride, mental conditioning or they just simply chose not to. I think is obvious that we as a society have certain classifications of who we think certain people belong to, like “working class, upper class and ruling class” (Rothenberg/Mantsios 177). In my opinion these terms have also been mixed with ethnic groups by stereotyping; generally minorities have been automatically looked as the “lower class”. Rothenberg mentions “White-Skinned people of European origins have viewed themselves as innately superior in intelligence and ability to people with darker skin or different physical characteristics” (Rothenberg 7). Based on this, I believe that ethnicity is the biggest factor in social class placement since minorities have always been the oppressed because of their lack of education and have been servants to the wealthy in the past that put them automatically on the lower/middle-class. Since minorities have been oppressed for so long in different ways, it forces them to move to certain parts of the city (Ghetto) and live very poorly with fewer opportunities than others. This makes it harder for color people (minorities) to succeed, and have a better or productive life. Minorities have a reputation to work minimum wage jobs, live poorly, labor workers with criminal backgrounds. It always interest me how people criticize this situation without knowing the oppression that they have suffered and how society forces them to live a certain lifestyle after numerous opportunities being denied to them. It seems to me like people blind themselves of what society has done in order to feel superior; I wish they could trade lives so they can see and feel their reality and change their perspective. As mentioned before, gender has also been used to conceptualize social class placement. Women have been traditionally seen as a stay home mom, unlike men were they go and “make the money” for the household. This has been a problem for women who want to be part of the” working force” and make a living for their families; it’s a struggle to be looked at differently and obtain a job especially for ethnic women.
“In this country, both race and gender differences have been carefully constructed as hierarchy. This means that in the United States, women are not merely described as different as men, but also that difference is understood to leave them deficient. The same is true of race. People of color are not merely described as different from white people, but that difference too is understood as deviance from an acceptable norm – even as pathology – and in both cases difference is used to rationalize racism and sexism” (Rothenberg, Albert Memmi, 11).
Now if we combine gender and race, we end up in a worse situation of social classification. The way of life that most people have nowadays, especially in poor parts of the city does not allow them to save money, obtain an education or even provide for their families. This is why “African-American” women are the main target for credit offers and what not (Median Wealth for Single Women, Video), this will keep them "slaved" and working for the rest of their lives. And if they can't pay their debts, it ruins their credit history. Now they are viewed in a very negative way when applying for a job that does background and credit checks. Of course they won't get hired, and they will keep being oppressed into the “lower class” for generations. Mariko mentions that black women have negative wealth now days; this means that their current assets are less than their current debt (Median Wealth for Single Women, Video).
When certain population of the country is in poverty, they have no option than to obtain credit to try to meet their financial responsibilities. But now, they are in a worse situation since they end up paying high interest and unable to give a minimum payment since they were just surviving in the first place. People that make minimum wage and are just surviving, pay the same amount of taxes than somebody making $100K or more a year than them with higher tax cuts and exemptions (Polarization of Wealth, Video). Obviously, they are not educated and continue to make bad financial decisions and are unable to fix their financial situation. Nicole Mason said “Under the Bush administration there was a significant amount of tax cuts given to upper income, people living in the upper income and very little recessions or benefits and tax credits given to low income and working families” (Median Wealth for Single Women, Video).This is true, its mentioned that it was just a mask. Everyone from the general population to big corporations received a check in the mail from the tax cuts for about $400-600, but the wealthy (corporations) got a lot more than that since the income is a lot greater in the terms of percentage in the tax cut reform (Polarization of Wealth, Video). Washington has helped big corporations with tax cuts and bail outs, and rich people obtain ridiculous exceptions while the middle and lower class pays more taxes than them; it just doesn't seem fair. A lot of the lower-middle class population have high payment student loans and are in a bunch of debt in order to survive; this creates a "Slavery" system to have the majority of the population never stops working just to pay their debt off. A lot of politicians are sponsored by wealthy people, so when they get to be president of this country, they could get tax laws passed to help them out (Polarization of Wealth, Video). This whole system has taken a whole different direction since the great depression, but it has been more noticeable in the past 30 years. Bankers and big corporations are in control of this country, and call the shots (almost like if they own it). This country keeps obtaining loans from all over the world to pay what we owe and provide for the citizens, right? I don’t think so.
I believe our monetary system is flawed, the more money we obtain from the Central Bank the more we enslave ourselves since that money is borrowed at an interest rate. There is something really wrong about this "Capitalist" country; the US Government is to blame according to Hacker and Pierson (Polarization of Wealth, Video). This is a country that is being ran by big corporations, and leaving the middle class behind. The rich getting richer (corporations/wealthy), and the poor getting poorer (minorities) (Polarization of Wealth, Video). I hope that we start changing how we classify and oppress minorities into the “lower class”, instead we should create more opportunities providing a better life for everyone (middle and lower class) and the “ruling class” (corporations/rich) start paying a fair share of taxes to get us out of our deficit; stopping us from borrowing money from other countries once and for all. Minorities still struggle to overcome the system that society or government has created for not only them, but to anyone in financial distress.
Polarization of Wealth (Video) - http://billmoyers.com/segment/jacob-hacker-paul-pierson-on-engineered-inequality/
Median Wealth for Single Women (Video) - http://www.democracynow.org/2010/3/12/study_median_wealth_for_single_black
Race, Class and Gender in the US, 8th Edition (Book) - Paula S. Rothenberg ISBN: 978-1-4292-1788
Flags for Our Fathers (Picture) - http://indesignsecrets.com/flags-for-our-fathers.php