Learning all of this new information in my social work classes has challenged me to consider many perspectives on social issues that I've held stereotypes about my entire life. For example: poverty. There are two basic arguments about impoverished individuals. The first being that they are poor due to lack of motivation, reliance on government assistance, laziness, etc. The second is that they are poor due to their environment and what they are surrounded with.
I have never been 100% on either side because I believe that there are cases on both ends of the spectrum, of course. But, I have always leaned more towards the environmental factors.
We watched "Do the right thing" in multicultural film last semester and when we had to analyze the movie, all the white people in the class began putting down blacks so hard saying that they are poor due to laziness and because they don't try to better themselves. Okay, so I look around the room and the few black people who were in the class just had their heads down like they had nothing to say! And to top it off, my professor was black and she wasn't doing anything but nodding her head and saying "hmm, interesting".
Sidenote:: Don't ever take Doris Gilliam for ANY class. She is the worst teacher I have had in my entire life. Unorganized, unprofessional, annoying & she doesn't know ANYTHING. The students taught her more than she taught us! worst teacher of life. Run far, far away. Beware. Please.
Well anyway, it ended up being the lone black girl (ME) arguing with like 20 white people trying to combat that stereotype. I used the example of my cousin who was in and out of trouble out in CA for most of his teenage years. He got mixed up in the wrong things because that's all he saw in his environment. He moved out to the suburbs of DC with my family for a while, got a job, got his GED, got into church and got his act together. Now he's in the army, with a beautiful wife and child. All he needed was to get out of the negative environment that he was in. What happens to those people who don't have an aunt and uncle's home on the other side of the country that they can escape to?
What happens to those impoverished individuals whose family has always been in poverty and that's all they have been exposed to? And those individuals who don't see black lawyers, doctors, and policemen coming from their communities? If they don't see it as an obtainable goal, why would they reach for it?
I watched a documentary on the Robert Taylor Homes in South Side Chicago before they were torn down. Omg, it broke my heart. The poverty was like that of a third world country. There were no jobs for them, bad schools which most kids dropped out of, no fathers, no role models. All the saw was poverty, drug-dealing, prostitution, gangs and murder.
If that's all they know then what do you expect?
"They say that it takes a village to raise a child. well, a sick village raises sick children."
Simple, but powerful.
Heather Headley - In My Mind