Poverty, Racism and Oppression: the Three Amigos

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Running head: POVERTY, RACISM AND OPPRESSION 2

Poverty, Racism, and Oppression: The Three Amigos

In the U.S there have been systems in place that have kept poverty, racism and oppression alive for centuries. Some of these systems function at macro levels while others function at micro levels. Nonetheless, since poverty, racism and oppression work interdependently to accomplish their collective goals, they have been collectively called 'The Three Amigos'. In each section, examples will be briefly unpacked that illustrate how each Amigo strengthens certain parties while other parties continue to weaken with no hope for change. Fear of Public Authority

In the Haitian culture we are trained it is not polite to maintain eye contact with an elder during correction. As a child my parents received welfare benefits while growing up. A notion gets instilled to do whatever they say; hand in paperwork on time and to have a fear of “the man” or “the office”. Phrases like “they told me” almost gave the Department of Social Services a god-like status. Total compliance was expected. Poverty and the oppression that accompanies this fear of public authority ingrains certain levels of unwavering, yet unwanted obedience. This poverty mentality spills over into every area of life and thinking, thus dominating our world view and fearing going against the grain. This thinking doesn't perpetuate changes and reforms necessary to conflict with social injustices. The result is a continuation of oppression; the 'ride the back of the bus' mentality. The Oppression of the Black Man

Robbins, Chatterjee & Canada (2006) defines conflict as “a clash or struggle between opposing forces; power as the ability to control and influence collective decisions and actions; minority as groups with limited access to power even when they are the numerical majority” (p.65). These are not hard definitions to understand, conceptualize and apply to everyday societal norms. For example, the oppression of the black man and how they freed themselves can be compared to how a circus elephant gets trained or “broken in”. The elephant trainer takes a young elephant, Running head: POVERTY, RACISM AND OPPRESSION 3

drives a stake in the ground and wraps a chain around its neck. The young elephant screams, struggles and attempts to free itself to no avail. The elephant, over time, loses hope and the fight for freedom dissipates. The older the elephant becomes, the less it struggles, even though the conditions worsen. The trainer knowingly will remove the chains and gradually attach ropes that an older, stronger elephant can easily snap, yet doesn't. What element of the elephant is imprisoned? The mind! The body is able to break the bonds yet the mind cannot think outside of the captivity. The conflict is racism, as a whole: its ideology and how it opposes social justice; just as the young elephant struggles to break free. The power is the enactment of racist laws and biases that started and kept blacks under control; just as the chains are the powers that keep the elephant enslaved. The minority is the black race as a whole. Blacks have always been a numerical majority yet have limited access to power; just as the elephants outnumber the trainers. Lastly, blacks have experienced change: some slow, some rapid and revolutionary. The elimination of the Jim Crowe Laws, race riots of the 1960's, red-lining and affirmative action (Title 9) are some radical agents of change African Americans have lived through; just as we see once in a while how a full-grown male elephant breaks the bonds off its neck and escapes the zoo! Interdependency In 1981, what started as a conflict between upper management and union workers resulted in a crippling blow to New York City's logistics of daily activities. The 1981 Garbage Strike affected tourism, restaurants and had many other negative affects. Rat infestation soared and other health issues arose....
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