Since its independence, the United States of America has experienced challenges attributed to its diversity. In the early years, for instance, African Americans were treated as slaves which meant that they were not entitled to any rights or privileges. Recently incarceration and racial profiling have taken the center stage in the society. Mathew Desmond's book "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American city" provide me with an illumination of diversity challenges affecting contemporary US society. From the book, I have learned of the housing challenges bedeviling the American poor and specifically the minority groups. Apparently, most African Americans and the Hispanics find it difficult acquiring decent housing. This trend has resulted in a deterioration of life quality for those involved. According to Desmond, those evicted from their houses are likely to experience poor health and a heightened likelihood of incarceration. This essay entails my reflection regarding my firsthand experience of the racial challenges affecting the US.
I found Desmond's analysis of the housing challenges similar to Mays, Cochran, & Barnes, (2007) sentiments which assert that the health challenges faced by African Americans can be attributed to racial segregation. The gravity of the health challenges experienced by African Americans living in Milwaukee is perhaps reflected in 1930 statistics which revealed that the blacks had a 60% death rates as compared to other groups. Desmond indicates that the lack of decent housing was the cause of a plethora of problems such as joblessness, health discrepancy, and residential instability. As indicated in the book, up to half of the formal evictions which were carried out in Milwaukee took place in neighborhoods largely populated by African Americans. I think the relationship between evictions and the heightened probability of poor health among the African Americans as reflected in the book is a sad reality in the current society. Apparently, the inability to pay rent can be attributed to once inability to acquire employment. In the case of the individuals mentioned in the book, most are either drug addicts or single mothers. I have witnessed such individuals - living in my neighborhood -experience difficulty acquiring decent jobs. From my understanding, the drug addicts, for instance, cannot maintain concentration at work hence the likelihood that they will be fired. On the other hand, most single mothers are restricted by the fact that they cannot leave their children unattended while looking for an employment opportunity. According to Youngblut, Brady, Brooten, & Thomas, (2000) most single mothers' efforts of finding employment are hampered by the lack of support from other family members or the father of the child.
In addition to drug use and lack of support from family member's unemployment has been attributed to racial profiling. Most of the professionals I have met in my life are of the white race. In fact, African Americans were extremely happy when an Obama was elected. Apparently, it represented a significant achievement. The celebrations, however, betrayed the underlying racial segregation going on in the society. Most African Americans find it difficult to positions of influence or getting employed in prime professions. As reflected in figure 1 below, the African Americans are the most unemployed group as compared to other races. Among those with less than a high school diploma, for instance, the unemployment rates of the African Americans is twice that of the whites and Hispanics (Lee, & Mather, 2008).
Figure 1. Lee, & Mather, (2008)
Lee and Mather (2008) indicate that the lower unemployment rates among the blacks are due to the migration of low-skilled manufacturing jobs overseas or to the suburbs. From Lee and Mather's perspective, this migration of low skilled jobs significantly disadvantaged black young women and men. From my analysis, I think that these assertions reflect the conditions in our country whereby most industries have been relocating to low-cost countries in Asia. From my understanding, I think racial profiling in the workplace is another aspect which has affected the ability of the African Americans and other minority groups to get employment. Segregation of people in terms of race is one major challenge in our current society. In spite of the assurances made by the government and other law enforcers that the vice has been eradicated, we still witness the same happening. The law enforcers, for instance, have been cited in many instances profiling black drivers. As mentioned by Desmond, Police played a role in blocking black people from owning homes. In some instances, the profiling has resulted to the loss of lives as reflected in recent cases across the US. Such occurrence is a clear indicator that racial segregation is still present in our society. Only that it is silently being practiced in the workplace. The statistics highlighted in figure 1 above exhibit how the African Americans are denied access to employment. The high unemployment rates among the African Americans can be concluded as being the major reason why they default on their rents. As indicated above, most evictions are carried out after one defaults on their rent payments. Conversely, evictions precipitate joblessness. Desmond's analysis postulates that there is a 15% likelihood of one losing his job after an eviction. From my understanding, eviction is both a result and a cause of joblessness. In other words, the unemployed are likely to be evicted from their house while at the same time those evicted are likely to lose their jobs.
Further, as indicated by Desmond most of those who get evicted experience numerous challenges in their lives, for instantly increased chances of offending. I feel that these statistics are a reflection of the experiences I had in my neighborhood whereby most individuals found engaging in drug trafficking and mugging were African Americans. A casual analysis of those incarcerated for drug peddling and mugging revealed that they had difficult access basic needs such as housing. The lawbreakers once incarcerated have lower chances of successfully integrating with the mainstream society once they are released. This scenario implies that their lives deteriorate and are then exposed to the vicious cycle of poverty.
In conclusion, I found Desmond's analysis of the American housing problems being a clear reflection of the racial challenges affecting the country. For instance, the Desmond in his book links the high eviction of African Americans to their inability to pay rent. From my analysis, this is a problem which can be traced to racial segregation. Apparently, the blacks have always been segregated since their arrival in the country as slaves. The same trend has affected the employment sector which less welcoming of the blacks. From the analysis of the employment trends, I discovered that the African Americans had the highest unemployment rates as compared to the other groups. These findings made me understand that the housing challenges mentioned by Desmond can be traced to the social challenges affecting the society, specifical segregation according to race.
Desmond, M. (2016). Evicted: Poverty and profit in the American city. Broadway Books.
Lee, M., & Mather, M. (2008). US labor force trends (Vol. 63, No. 2). Population Reference Bureau.
Mays, V. M., Cochran, S. D., & Barnes, N. W. (2007). Race, race-based discrimination, and health outcomes among African Americans. Annu. Rev. Psychol., 58, 201-225.
Youngblut, J. M., Brady, N. R., Brooten, D., & Thomas, D. J. (2000). Factors influencing single mother's employment status. Health care for women international, 21(2), 125-136.
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