Reflection on Issues of Racism and Poverty

                Race and Poverty: Assignment instructions Your assignment is a sincere reflection on issues of race/racism, poverty, and their nexus.  This reflection will involve your position (not only as conscious/aware being, but also as positioned bodily creature conditioned by your context: class, gender, geography, race, etc…) as it engages and takes the authors we’ve read and experiences of others seriously.  As suggested by Minjung: this assignment can be broken down into two parts, these two parts are conceptual and not chronological: the first asks you to investigate your identity as it is shaped by social realities like race, white, non-white, colonization, imperialism, immigrant, colonized, white supremacy, non-white suffering, stereo-typing, prejudice, racism; and other most significant abstractions: religion, gender, sexuality, geography, etc… and the second asks you to do the first, investigate your identity, by engaging with, scholars who investigate, and write about these subjects (i.e. the readings we had), and,  the experiences of other communities, identities, etc… The essay should be 3-4 pages, with three sources taken from what we have read (see attachment – no sources outside the material we dealt with in class), any type of citation allowed, 12 font, double spaced.


Name of Student

Name of Professor

English 101 Paper

30 April 2016

Reflection on Issues of Racism and Poverty

The human race is one that is faced with three tools of dominance; stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. This explains why human beings tend to treat different social groups differently on the basis of sex, age, religion, ethnicity, and race. The race is arguably the most controversial of the three variables. Members of some races feel that they are superior to the rest in terms of their practices, social actions, and political systems. Such views have contributed to immense suffering throughout the world’s history, for example, during the apartheid regime in South Africa. Today, many social groups are still being discriminated against as demonstrated by the accounts of Douglas Blackmon, Toni Irving, and Nadine Hubbs in respective works. In many cases, such discrimination is what leads to poverty.


In his book, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From The Civil War To The World War II, Douglas Blackmon tells the story of a 22-year old Green Cottenham who was once arrested and charged with vagrancy, which is the crime of not being employed. He was then sentenced to hard labor for about a year after not being able to pay the fine. Subsequently, he was sold to slavery for the duration of his sentence where he joined thousands of over black men in paying their debts off at $12 a month.

Although this story is told in the voice of Green Cottenham, it depicts the narrative of all the black men that were sold to slavery. Some of them died shortly afterwards while others lived long enough to witness the horrors of slavery under the white man’s rule. The year 1948 was a momentous time for racially segregated groups in America after President Harry Truman criminalized all forms of slavery. This development, though meaningful was followed by the persistence of a new form of slavery: mental slavery.

On the other hand, Toni Irving tells the brave story of rape among black women despite the existence of laws enacted to protect them. In her article, Decoding Black Women: Policing Practices and Rape Prosecution on the Streets of Philadelphia, Irvinghighlights numerous cases of rape and sexual assaults, especially among black women that are often ignored by the Philadelphia police department’s Sex Crimes Unit (Irving, 2015). This occurrence is very unsettling especially since North Philadelphia is a predominantly poor black neighborhood. As expected, a large number of probation officers and police officers in general are often assigned to the neighborhood to help with random arrests. Irving (2015) writes that on inquiring why this was the case, the police acknowledged that they considered the accounts of the women that were raped to be false. She goes on to share the story of one Ms. Melody Madison who despite bearing evidence of assault before being raped and describing the perpetrator in detail, the Sex Crime Unit of Philadelphia did not pursue the investigation based on the fact that they were not able to reach Ms. Madison via telephone! This case demonstrates how strongly racial segregation can be entrenched in a society.


Lastly, “Redneck Woman” and the Gendered Poetics of Class Rebellion by Nadine Hubbs is based on Gretchen Wilson’s gender-inclusive country song titled ‘Redneck Woman’. Redneck depicts a provincial working class white male portraying the southern aspects of roughness and masculinity. Among other things, the song, shows how a wave of denial of class differences exists in the American society. For example, those who are neither extremely rich nor extremely poor are regarded as middle class. More significantly for the race debate, white people are automatically considered to belong to middle and upper class while their colored counterparts are automatically considered to be in the category of the poor and working class (Hubbs, 2011).

Country music is a very diverse genre as it accommodates a wide variety of themes and linguistic aspects that are relevant to the working class while incorporating diverse religious, regional, and sexual-orientation groups. Despite some scholars’ belief that country music is mainly associated with the rural or southern white working class only, it should be noted that it also depicts what is perceived as today’s social realities.

All these racial issues have greatly contributed to poverty. In segregating the black people, for instance, the society is ridding them of their right to quality education, health care and adequate housing, leading to poverty and confinement into specific areas like North Philadelphia. Such situations not only destroy economic growth in the current generation but also continue being passed on from one generation to the next for as long as racism and racial segregation exists thereby leading to the pervasiveness of poverty among some racial groups.

As shown in the three texts, racial segregation is a serious that continues to contribute significantly to poverty in America today. With racism comes inadequate housing, unemployment and lack of education, all of which contribute to abject poverty and a slow-down in economic growth. Many people believe that racism can never end. My view, though is that it can be eradicated. Just like slavery ended, racism can be fought, albeit gradually, generation after generation, till it finally becomes a relic of human history.

Works Cited

Blackmon, Douglas A. Slavery by another name: The re-enslavement of black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Anchor, 2009.

Hubbs, Nadine. “” Redneck Woman” and the gendered poetics of class rebellion.” Southern Cultures 17.4 (2011): 44-70.

Irving, Toni. “Decoding black women: Policing practices and rape prosecution on the streets of Philadelphia.” NWSA Journal 20.2 (2008): 100-120.

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