A Cycle Of Struggles Endured By The African American Race

1366 words - 6 pages

African Americans, among their families, and their communities find themselves in an unceasing battle for survival in a world that has previously, and to this day, brought many hardships and sufferings. Although America has succeeded in abolishing slavery, there are still aspects of racism and economic segregation that occur within residential areas. This being said, many individuals of the African American race become primary targets and victims to devastating economic and social disadvantages. The articles, "Survival and Death in New Orleans: An Empirical Look at the Human Impact of Katrina" written by Patrick Sharkey and "African American Men and the Prison Industrial Complex" by Earl ...view middle of the document...

Aside from racial segregation and discrimination among the African American communities, poverty has also created negative impacts within their families and society. Within Sharkey’s analysis of the limited data available on causalities, individuals missing, and locations where bodies were found resulting from Hurricane Katrina, it was conspicuous that poverty had a major role in the impact felt among the black communities in New Orleans. As stated by Sharkey, “Virtually all of the faces captured by the news cameras were Black, and the visible state of desperation among the stranded victims of the storm suggested deep poverty.” He also mentions that the impact of Hurricane Katrina varied among individuals and groups based on their position within the social structure. Because African Americans who resided in New Orleans were living in the ghettos, poverty, and “risky areas,” as quoted by Sharkey, they were more susceptible to the tragic and severe impacts of Katrina.
Compared to Sharkey’s analysis that poverty was connected to the severity of the impact felt among African American residents, Smith and Hattery’s article also demonstrates how poverty is a link to the loathsome impact that the Prison Industrial Complex has on the lives of African American residents on an individual, family, and community level. According to the authors, individuals of the upper class have huge benefits in incarcerating “African American men, especially those who are low-income, poor, and otherwise not contributing to the capitalist economy.” Not only is it easier to incarcerate African Americans of lower-class who turned to selling and using drugs to make a living and as a means of dealing with the hardships, but “direct discrimination against minorities … resulted in significantly more severe sentences for African Americans than their white counterparts.” The Prison Industrial Complex serves more as a money making business serving the purposes of detention, and removal and exploitation of labor, instead of rehabilitation or deterrence for those incarcerated.
The position of African Americans within the society influences the struggles felt by the individuals along with their families, and their community. As mentioned by Smith and Hattery, “the PIC effectively decimates African American families and communities …Thus the impact of incarceration goes far beyond the individual …incarcerated;” to which they compare the Prison Industrial Complex to the plantation slave economy and Jim Crow segregation. On this point, Sharkey’s similarly acknowledges that the social and economic position of African Americans with New Orleans affected the entire community. Sharkey predicted that victims of Hurricane Katrina living in poverty lacked the necessities to survive in natural disasters. As he states within his article, “relatively low income could have made it more difficult for Blacks to evacuate the city… group differences in economic resources may have left blacks … in...

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