The Myth of a Classless America
The myth of a "classless" American society coupled with social stratification impedes race relations in the U.S. far more than any racial differences. The never ending struggle of the "have-nots" to become one of the "haves" produces a frustration and feeling of oppression that acts as a catalyst for spawning racial tensions. Minorities see the majority of wealth in the hands of the white population and feel that the wealth is unevenly distributed. Whites hear of government programs for minorities and feel as if they are lazy or just looking for a handout. This occurs and stereotypes are formed. Combine all of this with the United States system of "dual welfare"and the perfect environment for racial strife is created.
In our "classless"society of false hope the working class and poor are continually
seeking opportunities to excel that just aren't there. They have been led to believe that intelligence and ambition are key contributors to one's success. This belief lays blame on the unsuccessful themselves, even if they do possess ambition and intelligence. These people are in a never ending cycle of struggle, followed by minimal rewards, which eventually produces a frustration that sometimes leads to desperate measures. Cornell West expands on this with the following statement : ". . . homicidal assaults by young black men on one another are only the most obvious signs of this empty quest for pleasure, property, and power" (Race and Racism p.123). This statement shows the extremes one will go to in his "empty quest" for a better life. This is not only happening to blacks by blacks. It is happening to all races by all races. People hear of events like these and categorize them as a racial crime or a racially motivated crime just because the victims may be of a different race. As West's statement demonstrates the killings occur as a means to an end, the end being a better life. In our ever diversifying melting pot of a country, same race victim and criminal crimes are becoming less and less statistically likely anyway. Events such as these don't occur because of race. They occur because of the frustration and desperation bred by the false hope that hard work and determination leads to success.
It is no mystery that most of the wealthy people in America are white. West again points out (Race and Racism p.124) that 86% of the wealth in the United States is owned by only 10% of the population. In this 10% the number of minorities is minute. The wealth owned by this few is there because they have kept it in their families throughout the generations. These are the same super-rich bloodlines as that of 150 years ago. These families were rich when no minorities (and hardly any whites for that matter) were. Almost everyone was working class or poor besides them. Minorities are aware of this uneven wealth distribution and this leads to resentment. Our government tries to compensate for this through...