America has been thought to be the land of opportunity. Over the course of our country’s history we can see that this is not completely true. If America is the land opportunity that would mean everyone regardless of gender, race, or income would have the equal chance at having a better life. Throughout American history we can see this is not the case. The country is racially divided as it was hundreds of years ago, as well as the rich controlling the government.
The texts “FROM SLAVERY TO PRISONS: A HISTORICAL DELINEATION OF THE CRIMINILIZATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS” by Deborah Burris-Kitchen and Paul Burris and “Theres No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster” by Neil Smith elude to the race clash and gentrification of urban communities as examples of inequality in our modern day society. In Burris-Kitchen and Burris’ article they discuss the inequality of race and class distinctions. “According to Nixon: crime meant urban, urban meant black” (Burris-Kitchen and Burris, 12).
This quote from former President Richard Nixon led to the ODALE. This was a special task force that was created to aid the war on drugs on a local level. The targets of this task force were black neighborhoods. He sold the idea to white America into believing that black people on social programs were lazy and ruining the economy, so this war on drugs was a must to eradicate them through incarceration. Having a drug free society for a better tomorrow is a good decision. Targeting specific races of people who are suspected to have drugs is a bad decision.
A war on drugs should involve all races of people. If black people are allegedly selling drugs, who says a white person or someone of another race could not do the same thing. The extra manpower used to focus on specific black neighborhoods that may or may not be suspected to trafficking drugs also is a waste of tax payer dollars. To be fair to all races of people, ODALE should be established in not only black neighborhoods, but communities with other races of people. By doing so we not only keep fewer drugs off the street, but also there is a sense of equality.
Money is also a key factor for inequality. President Ronald Reagan had his own philosophy called Reaganomics, which led to “more drug use, high unemployment, and a greater need for an informal economy” (Burris-Kitchen and Burris, 13). The principles of Reaganomics were simple, tax breaks were giving to the wealthy, and with the money they save they will be able to spend to pump money back into the economy. This was known as the trickling effect because the wealth was supposed to trickle down. The only problem was this trickling never happened.
Trend showed over the eight years of Reagan’s presidency that the rich nearly doubled their income in that time period and the poor only increased their income by three percent. This economic policy discriminating against the less wealthy also had many ramifications. The national debt also spiraled out of control making its way into the billions for the first time. Due to the greed that led to inequality our country will feel this issue for generations to come. A fair way to help the recession of the 1980’s is if everyone was taxed under the same conditions.
Everyone would have to pay a different percentage of their income (the rich pay a higher tax and the poor a lower tax). This is one attempt that could be used to try and even the playing field among the different income levels. The idea behind this is that the poorer classes have less money to spend on things they need and the rich have enough money to buy the things they need so they can afford to pay more taxes. Next, in Smith’s text he also addresses the inequality of racism and class struggle in regard to Hurricane Katrina. Smith states, “.. ostly African Americans concluded they were being left in the New Orleans Superdome and Convention Center to die, they pleaded for help and demanded to know why , if reporters could get in and out, they could not.. ” (Smith 3). The government turned its back on their people when the government was needed the most. Due to the fact that a majority without homes were black the government failed to help them. To avoid lending aid they down played the story in the media. They were deprived of water for days and not given proper supplies.
When these people in need reached out to the government they were told to look to private charities for help. If it was a group of white people that were stranded they would have received the help they needed, which is unfair the people left for dead in the Superdome. The government abandoned these people in their hour of need. Not only was this issue racially motivated, but there was a financial agenda as well. If New Orleans was rebuilt, “…people who lack middle-class skills should not be allowed to resettle the city.. ” (Smith 4). A majority of New Orleans come from low income families.
Due to everyday life in those neighborhoods the towns are run down. Critics says it is not worth to rebuild because there would be no positive outcome because the town will eventually revert back to what it looked like before Hurricane Katrina. Even if there is a possibility that this can be true, it still does not make it right to deny people their homes. If it wasn’t their property it’s understandable, but it’s wrong to deny someone something that is theirs in the name of saving money. If it were a case of the upper class having their homes rebuilt there would not have been any hesitation to start reconstruction.
This goes to show that if you have more money you can have more say in what gets done. If you have no money then you are subjected to the decisions of the wealthy. It is also unfair the government is controlled by big business. Officials who let corporations do what they want get kickbacks on the side for their support. New Orleans is a giant money making project for companies to rebuild the city without the people who use to live there. Due to the fact that corporations control most resources, these issues of inequality will barely if ever be reported to the public.
Both of these texts have stressed how the American government is still racially divided and controlled by wealth. The inequality and the unfair treatment can only happen for so long before something is done about it. As history has witnessed some governments have been overthrown because the people became so infuriated with their governments politics. As citizens all we can do is use our tools that are before us to help us build a better future in electing our leaders and hope for a time were everyone in society is treated equally.