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When Work Disappears Essay

3505 words - 14 pages

Since and more likely even before my birth, I was destined for success. My parents are both white. They come from well-off families. They had the privileges of good educations, stable neighborhood environments, and strong friend and family connections. The day I was born, I came into an already-functional support system. I went on to become the beneficiary of this network starting with the treatment my mother and I received in Mount Sinai hospital July 18 th , 1982 - my birthday. I would most likely not be here today, writing this paper, if it were not for the incredible education I have had thus far, the society I came from, and my parent's friends and relatives that helped me get into Vanderbilt. Even if I were to drop out of college - or if I had chosen not to do as well as I have - I would still be able to do something productive with my life. I would still have all the family contacts; I would still have the knowledge, credentials, and skills to maintain my place in my current social class and interact positively with other members in my community; I would still have the values and knowledge of how to succeed in contemporary America. Is this fair? If I were to live on welfare, in a ghetto, how much easier would it be for me to walk into a place of employment and get a job? I think, and I believe that William Julius Wilson agrees with me, that it would be all too simple. I am not only white, but I also come from a culture and social structure that has set me up with a huge realm of possibilities for life - I, in essence, cannot fail. In a similar vein (yet coming from the opposite end of the spectrum), in his book, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor , Wilson argues that the problems of poverty, family dysfunction, drug abuse, and violence existing today in inner cities across the United States are the direct result of the decrease of blue-collar jobs, and furthermore, the cause of this joblessness is, in part, a function of the lack of opportunity structures in ghetto neighborhoods. Whereas I have had the advantages in my life that will allow me to achieve my goals, many people in our country have not been afforded such opportunities, especially, as the author points out, those people from a minority background. The documentary film Hoop Dreams brings Wilson's words to life, painting the portrait of contemporary opportunity structures for people living in impoverished black neighborhoods by focusing on the high school basketball careers (and lives) of two young black men from Chicago. The cultural and structural characteristics of poor communities, the role of employers and educators, and more specifically, in the case of Hoop Dreams, the recruitment of young black males to play basketball, all have an incredible and clearly obvious impact on the opportunity structures (and lack thereof) provided for American minorities living in poverty.In order to understand the complexity of a social problem such as unemployment, it is...

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