Children living in poverty in the United States is often under-reported or seldom thought of because America is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Looking at television you often see many commercials advocating fundraising for foreign nations but rarely if ever for American children. According to statistics one out of every seven children born in the U.S. are born into poverty. There are many causes of poverty such as unemployment, underemployment, mental and physical illness, and many more. The effects of poverty on children in the United States are hunger, higher rates of teen pregnancy and high-school drop-out. They also suffer cognitive, behavioral, and health conditions.
Poverty is a complex global issue many are facing around the world. The United States has over forty million people living in poverty according to the census. Living in poverty is defined as not having essential resources to care for yourselves above the poverty line. Defining poverty and understanding the poverty rates. Secondly, opportunities are limited (inequality) for wealth, income, and education all equating poverty. Thirdly, evaluate the causes of poverty through major theoretical perspectives. Lastly, providing ideas for solutions and ways of changing political policies to reduce or end world poverty. One of the reasons I wanted to bring this sociological issue of poverty in the United States to the forefront are the impacts it has on children and the cycle of poverty to the family. Children who grow up in poverty often become poor adults thus creating a cycle of poverty in the family. They are more likely to be incarcerated, depend on welfare or food stamps, and be in poor health.
The impacts to helpless and defenseless minority children are more prevalent than their counterparts. These children experience critical race theory before birth, simply due to their parent’s status of poverty. Another theory we delve into is the social closure theory and its importance to help keep poverty in the U.S. a minority issue. And finally, I will explain how the feminist theory explains poverty for minorities and the overabundance of single-parent lead homes.
For this cycle, to end, there needs to be a cultural, behavioral, and sociological change in the American view of poverty. There needs to be an open and frank discussion about America’s socio-economic status and the posture in which we view our world status through the lens of our allies. The historical reference of poverty could be viewed back to the depression period when the United States stock market plummeted causing the wealthy to lose millions and forcing the labor workforce to almost become non-existent. It took great resilience to climb out of the crisis and forge ahead. Throughout the American history, our economy has moved up and down the barometer. Thusly, resulting in a vast economic gap between citizens. Those who were on the lower end, however, suffered greatly, then and now. It is in 1964 under President Johnson we see the food stamp program was signed into legislation federally. Such programs were born to assist low-income citizens with a means to provide food.
There is an undertone in America which exists in upper-middle-class to wealthier people. This is the belief that their resources should be kept to themselves. They vote against and disprove tax increases, welfare distribution, and free healthcare all under the guise of their superiority. It is rural America that is affected the most because they have a higher level of the nation’s poor and have for over a century. In rural America because of the decline and lack of jobs due to outsourcing. With the lack of manufacturing plants, and mining jobs these rural areas suffered a severe income decline and are now some of the poorest areas in the nation.
From the social perspective of poverty and child hunger in the United States, it is not spoken of. We often use the adage of out of sight out of mind meaning if we don’t see the problem or ignore it does not exist. In the media, we do not see commercials about child hunger in America. It is only during certain holidays where I notice an upsurge in food bank collection and free meal giveaways in a mass setting. Another, reason why many Americans don’t recognize child hunger is that America exports more food out than any other country. About a year or so ago I saw a documentary about how much food is wasted in America by restaurants, grocery stores, etc. On average as a nation, we waste more the thirty percent of the food supply annually.
Poverty has several categories, relative poverty that refers to the lack of resources of some people in relation to those who have more. Absolute poverty is the lack of resources that is life-threatening. In America, we face relative poverty around fifteen percent in areas mostly outside metropolitan areas. These areas would be outlined as deprived areas lacking jobs and proper resources. Currently, it is estimated that 95 million Americans live near federal poverty levels. Out of that number 46.2 million are children, men, and women being classified as poor by the government according to the (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). The annual income for poor families ranges from $14, 00 or lower according to the number of children. Parent’s employment status was checked for full-time, or part-time work. Which means a considerable amount of families reported an income under the poverty level.
The staggering statistics are relevant to the issue because poverty and hunger correlate. In America, we will continue to be plagued by hunger and homelessness until we resolve our economic issues. Hunger and poverty are related because children from poor families have double the chance of being hungry than families that are well off. There should be more of an emphasis put toward rebounding jobs in America that pay for a standard of living. If there are more opportunities made available for viable employment in America this would aide in less child hunger. I also feel the government could also reallocate funds and food to meet the needs of the American citizens.
The roots of feminism date all the way back to the late 1700’s with Sojourner Truth is her address for women’s right in “Ain’t I a Woman”. Where she demands that if women can accomplish the same task as men they should be hired to do so. It is decades later where the feminist theory is shaped and formed in modern feminism as stated by Nancy Cott. The feminist theory bridges upon theoretical and defines the unbalance of gender equality. Cott contends that it is not until women obtained the right to vote were the issues viewed from a more individualistic standpoint. Women’s issues now tend to frame in the lens of social construct.
Some of the modern key theorists to popularize this theory are Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. They are two of the most recent known feminist theorist who obtained popularity. Steinem is most recognized as an American journalist who remains outspoken about feminist issues. In the female community, she gained her notoriety in activism fighting women’s issues and co-authoring a magazine publication “Ms”. The other key representative Betty Friedan, an American writer known for her best-selling book “The Feminine Mystique”. This book spoke to women who sought to find fulfillment outside of their traditional roles.
American postmodern feminism has its roots in poststructuralism and philosophy. In America, the hierarchal process of thought has promoted an opposition relationship between policy and practice. For many years when the movement utilized the term women, it was meant for all. However, post-modernist theorist has since altered the terminology to be specific of the woman in which they are referencing. The reason this is important is that many African American women took offense to the feminist movement because while their counterparts were fighting for voting rights the black woman was fighting for job equality because oftentimes they were head of household.
Alternatively, the social closure theory is most notably related to Frank Parkin’s book “Marxism and class theory: A bourgeois critique”. Parkin’s strongly disagrees with Marx is his definition of social class had severe deficiencies. He rather follows closely to Max Weber’s decipher of closure. Parkin’s expounded on the theory and identified two types of exclusionary and usurpationary. These are defined by Parkin’s as a battle between upward and downward struggles of power. An example of the closure theory is a whistle-blowing employee being denied employment in the same industry that they potentially work in.
The social closure theory plays a significant role in poverty. It is the distinct perspective of the closure theory that feeds into the impoverished. This specific theory crosses into all areas of disciplines such as education, politics, and economy. Within the educational arena, we find that inequality breeds inequality. Therefore, when a child is born into poverty the odds are stacked against them that they will remain in poverty. And not only will they be impacted by poverty but also lack of education, and poor health. Putting these children at risk for early trauma and oftentimes death. Poverty limits opportunities for the poor in the United States. Many Americans discuss social inequality as an aspect of poverty. Wealth in the U.S. is distributed unequally. Incomes for families differ with twenty percent of the richest families earning about $187,000 and twenty percent of the bottom group earning less than $27,000 annually stated by The Census Bureau in 2010. Those who earn the money often discriminate on the bias of the closure theory. Attributing their money collected to keep it amongst themselves and not have distributed downward, where it would impact those who are considered needy.
The critical race theory has its foundations in the late 1970’s when it was born out of law schools that taught critical legal studies. Derrick Bell and Alan Freeman are notable key advancers of this theory during a time when there was a lack of progress in the civil rights movement. When they begin to really dissect the course that they realized there was an intersection between power, law, and race within society and culture. This theory is rooted in the philosophies of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. This theory is not without its critiques however, Henry Louis Gates Jr. surmises that this theory is now being used on campuses against the minorities by whites citing anti-white hate speech.
The critical race theory drives away from the idea of a color-blind society and in turn, focuses on society as a divination of race. This theory would rather speak to each specific minority group. Many propose this is a form of racial power, that promotes one race ahead or above another. This theory has been widely shunned on college campuses because of its lack of individuality and promotion of exclusivity. While I personally agree with sentients and foundation of the critical race theory many scholars debate its definition on the basis that it seeks to further divide us. However, its initial impact was to bring forth the idea that as a society we were categorized based on race which is socially constructed rather than biological.
It is this elitist thought process from whites who decided a division of race would be socially instituted on levels from politics, religion, education and so on. Thus, was born the term racial inequality, which simply means a substantial portion of the American society is subjugated to simply because of color. In other countries, there does exist a hierarchal society but not necessarily on the bounds of a race but rather cultural and tribal differences. There are many demonstrations in America that show the divide and bias merely because of race. Which in turn has lead whites to be in forefront of society simply on the premise of race. Which historically in America has promoted whites as superior and all others secondary.
Because of this thought process, we now see some of the effects in current society such as poverty, homelessness, and hunger. As previously stated in this paper my focus is the resulting effects of the critical race theory on child poverty causing hunger. Born out of this theory we see a concise view of the Jim Crow Laws which were local and state mandated laws in the Southern areas of United States. Such laws were instituted merely on the ground of race. These laws segregated citizens and ultimately caused the great migration where many blacks left the south to go north where there were more jobs.
As a result, when they moved north, although there were job opportunities they were forced to live in communities that later were coined “ghettos”. Ghettos for African Americans that migrated were housing provided in urban northern cities. Leaving their rural southern environments in hopes of a better quality of life only to find that many times this was not the case. When jobs became scarce, there were higher crime rates, more poverty, and eventually, they became beds for illegal drug use and sale.
However, on outside of the ghettos whites were certain to divide their communities and lived in suburban areas. It is these practices that helped to create an impoverished subset of the population. Because they are poor oftentimes they have no voice. In this country wealth produces power and it is used to shape societies in economics and politics. Income reproduces a level of prestige that we evaluate each other according to their occupation. Creating such divisions over a period of time caused some of the poor and impoverished in our society to take matters in their own hands. Many of them resulting in criminal activity to feed themselves and their families when they felt there was no other recourse. A more current example of the critical race theory in correlation to poverty and hunger was back in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and levees failed. The storm was the cause of the devastation, however, the lack of response or slow response from many of the governmental officials at that time resulted in a number of deaths. Many at the time expounded the lack of response due to the fact that those severely affected were poor and minority. We saw all over the news where they were called refugees or looters. These terms by origin take away their fundamental rights as citizens in the United States. This view of them as not being called citizens made many disconnected from their plight. Throughout, American history there are examples of the poor being affected negatively in our society. A Class system is a social stratification based on birth and individual achievement. Granted a person’s net worth places them in a certain social class or the other spectrum the lack of such net worth also places the poor at the lowest level in that stratification.
It also through the lens of the critical race theory I would like to analyze the connection to the social closure theory. The connections between these theories are their similarities of those keeping resources amongst themselves. Many of those who are deemed in our society as the wealthy are often white males and in positions of power. There are several classes; upper class represents five percent of the population with inherited their wealth, middle class represents forty to fifty percent of population and are white-collar workers most attend college, the working class represents thirty to thirty-five percent of the population of low to middle blue-collar workers, lower class represents twenty percent of the population and half do not complete high school. Currently, the class that was affected the most is the middle class. Middle-class status is slowly disappearing creating an economic gap where the rich get richer and the poor become poorer. One reason for this is the global economy has expanded linking economic systems increasing new opportunities through technology.
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