Socioeconomic Status’ and Escaping Poverty

As I read through Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the sun and Sudhir Venkatesh’s A Gang Leader for a Day, I began to think, why? Why are some people lower on the economic food chain than others? Is this a result of racial discrimination or something else? The different communities plagued with poverty can often not escape it. After researching the wealth and privilege of these communities I concluded that the socioeconomic status one is born into determines that of which one will live in for the remainder of his or her life.

As I research, I learn a lot about this topic. Early in one’s life a young child may learn about the situation they are currently, often and unpleasant position of lower class status.  Parental figures will often worry about the future welfare of their children growing up seeing that they are starting off in a “poor” state. In A Raisin in the Sun Walter, a father to Travis, a young boy, worries about this very problem before he leaves for work. Early that morning he “was lookin in the mirror thinking about it … [He’s] thirty-five years old; [He’s] been married eleven years and got a boy who sleeps in the living room (Hansberry 16). In A Raisin in the Sun Walter reiterates the main idea in that he realizes that Travis was born into a life where he is “lower” on the economic scale and fears he may never get the opportunity to get out of it. Walter’s worries prove that this is an epidemic threatening to attack families of lower economic status; Travis is likely to live in this lower class setting for the rest of his life.

Furthermore, Walter’s frustration of his current economic state shows through as he speaks to George Murchinson. Walter decided he “know[s] aint nothing in this world as busy as … black college boys with [their] fraternity pins and white shoes” (Hansberry 64)  Walter verbally shows his jealousy for George’s upper class life, he points out his nice shoes, and college education. Walter’s angrily spoken dialogue proves that the situation someone is born  into is likely permanent because Walter and George were both born into their respective extremes, while being the same race, they are on opposite sides of the socioeconomic scale and through their lives, now as adults, they seem to have stayed in these respective extremes.

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While Walter and George experience this first hand, Sudhir Venkatesh, a college student aspiring to be an accomplished sociologist, and writer of A Gang Leader for a Day studies people from a third party point of view. He wanders the city of Chicago feeling that the “cities are attractive because of their balkanized variety: wandering the streets of a good city, you can see all sorts of highs and lows, commerce and recreation, a multitude of ethnicities of life (Venkatesh 9). This statement from Venkatesh directly correlates to the main idea of socioeconomic setting being permanent because he refers to highs and lows, ups and downs, and the fact that it is culturally diverse. Venkatesh does not refer to races playing factor in the “highs and lows” because, simply, it doesn’t. The smaller communities of people of the same race are often grouped into the same economic setting; this is a product of bringing children up in a poor setting and them not having the ability to better themselves, not a product of racial discrimination.

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While Venkatesh roams the street recording what he sees, Two Professors, Professors Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, coming from a top school in the country, Harvard, acquired information through looking at tax records for 5 million children whose families moved more often than others. This information came from Tami Luhby’s Where Poor Kids Stay Poor. These professors came to the conclusion that where children are raised “does have an impact on their chance of moving up economically” (Luhby). Also, when a child did move to  a neighborhood of more opportunity, the children would have a “greater income boost”, the professors said that “where you grow up … seems to shape your education and economic success as a young adult” (Luhby). The two men do not mention race playing factor in this section of the article, only that where someone grows up, and what they are born into, does make a difference. Children being born into poverty most likely will not escape this label, but according to this article, the few who were lucky enough to move to better neighborhoods, were given more opportunities to be relieved of their previous, unfortunate state. The majority of these children, did not have the tools to better themselves, being born into certain socioeconomic settings are often the same setting they will be in when they are adults, the statistical figures give another view supporting the main idea of this paper proving that it is true with statistics.

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Some will say that I am wrong, that race seperates people from getting out of poverty, or that some races are pushed to live in certain areas. In the article Discrimination in Housing Against Minorities Persists Quietly by Shaila Dewan it is thought that minorities are more poor than white people, they found that “[Black people] were presented 11 percent fewer rentals than whites, Hispanics about 12 percent fewer rentals and Asians about 10 percent” (Dewan). In this article, while these figures may be true, there is a lot that goes unsaid. These numbers are only affecting a small population; these numbers are specific to certain areas around the country. Also, from 1977 to 2012 the racial housing discrimination has slowly began to fade out, in 2012 a “vast majority of all testers were able to … make an appointment to see a … house or apartment” (Dewan). The very argument Dewan is supporting will no longer be relevant in years to come, the fading relevance of this problem, and the small of a percentage being affected by housing discrimination is too small to pin the problem of minorities lacking the ability to escape poverty.

I am certain that through the evidence listed by these sources, the epidemic slaying away at so many American families, is not a racial discriminatory act, but a product of people not being able to escape the socioeconomic setting they are born into.

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Maximizing Ability To Internalize Information

Have you opened your phone today? Have you surfed the web? Have you interacted with technology at all in the past few hours? Odds are, you have, because we are surrounded with tools ready to be put into use for our benefit. As a high school student preparing and readying myself for college, being able to study the curriculum correctly is vital to a student’s success. The use of technology is the most effective way to internalize information when studying or completing assignments.

Throughout human history, advancement has been result of tools aiding us in completing different tasks. From the plow when farming, the railroads for transportation, all the way to the first car and cell phone. Technology now has advanced tremendously; in The New York Times Sunday Review Robert B. Reich has us think of a few standard operating systems, like Google’s search engine, Amazon’s shopping system, and Facebook’s communication network. “Google runs two-thirds of all searches in the United States. Amazon sells more than 40 percent of all new books. Facebook has nearly 1.5 billion active monthly users worldwide”. These platforms are all modern outlets to answering our questions. Google often displays thousands of sources for every search. Amazon gives you a direct link to novels as a source. Facebook connects you to millions of different people that can supply information on any subject. Students use all of these platforms every day to better themselves on any given subject.

Clive Thompson, an advocate for technology and the ways it helps humans exercise their brains and complete different tasks, also, writer of Smarter Than You Think feels that “when in groups … people [are] thinking aloud in this lightweight fashion they can perform astonishing acts of collaborative cognition”. Thompson uses the Web to show how humans can be interconnected when working to complete a task and retain information. Working in groups benefits all through the delegation of work, and ability to plan and manage time and develop communication skills. Technology makes this possible, in college, students may not be able to meet in person, but this is okay. “The reason millions of people collaborate on playing video games is that millions of people can now collaborate on anything”. New applications allow for anyone, anywhere around the world to be connected, let alone students to be miles and miles apart. The ability to work collaboratively as a result of technology is still there, and growing. This connection aids us in understanding and acquiring knowledge more easily. Furthermore, Thompson says that we’re “getting closer to the machine all the time; our transactive partners now ride in our pockets”. The very thing that connects us on a collaborative level is on our person at mostly all times. Students from different backgrounds and ethnicities are becoming tied together through technology.

Nicholas Carr feels that the Internet is hurting our ability to critically think. He is on the opposition towards technology, also, writer of The Shallows Carr wrote that the “net is a … machine of immeasurable power, and it is, true to form, subsuming more of our other intellectual technologies”.  I personally agree with Carr to an extent. Yes, if used the wrong way the Internet may be subsuming some of our natural abilities to think on an advanced level, but, if used the correct way, in an efficient planned manner it can expand our ability to critically think. Google lays out articles for us to review. If you linger on one article for a long period of time not understanding its content, this is halting critical thought. However, if you preview multiple articles and decide which ones have the best content and proceed to go back through, this shows the expansion of our thought.

While conducting online research I stumbled across a Ted Talk presented by Clay Shirky. In this Ted Talk presentation he talks about a ‘cognitive surplus’, the ability to retain information on a high level through thought and experience on a large scale. Sites that give people firsthand information, like weather warnings from Washington or on scene accounts from Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake. This cognitive surplus represents the world’s population and the ability to be able to come together and work on projects on a large sometimes global scale. Now that we have been given “Media tools, the Internet, mobile phones, [we are able to] create, and share”. This Ted Talk is a perfect example of media tools aiding humans to complete tasks in a quick manner, rather than a lengthened amount of times to do in parts. Even the fact that I chose this source exemplifies the Net as a good source for studying. I am conducting research, discovering quality content over the internet, and incorporating it.

For a student in high school or college, studying every night becomes a tedious task; we must find ways to make these tasks easier. We are continuously exposed to technology. Every day growing technology, smartphones, laptops, IPads, and tablets are all gaining the ability to process quicker. Applications are becoming faster. These tools make studying easier and less time consuming. While I can conduct as my research as I want, nothing beats a firsthand experience; I contacted my brother, a sophomore at the Texas A&M University, and asked him about his stance on the subject. He began to tell me a story about him and his roommate. Growing up with technology my brother uses it every night when studying for upcoming tests. This night it was for his English class over Shakespeare. He gathered his laptop and he began to research and review his notes from the lectures of his professor. His roommate and best friend, who is not very tech savvy, gathered his sticky notes, notebook, text, and his pencil and trotted to the library. My brother’s technique of casually searching the web versus his roommates approach to rigorously search the text for important points was very different. The two different approaches, one with technology, one without, both resulted in the same exam grade of a 95 proving that both methods can work equally as well. However the option to use tech as a tool for studying sped up the process considerably. Internet based studying has grown dramatically and will continue to grow. This advancement in technology has caused high school and college students to be positively affected in that they can effectively study for an upcoming exam in considerably less time.

I conducted my own form of research simply by opening my eyes in my study hall class. With a small class of 13 students it is a very suitable environment for completing any work that was assigned. I looked around to see that the 12 other students were actively working with their smartphones. Each student was able to multi-task with searching information on their phone whether it is their calculator function to check a match problem or an article that must be read and understood or even a Google search for a word that student didn’t know. One student was reading a book entitled “To Kill a Mockingbird” but also had her phone on, and in front of her. I casually asked how she could balance the two, and got the response, “I read a chapter, then search up a summary of the chapter to ensure I understood what I was reading”. This is a prime example that searching and studying by using technology can be a very good way to ensure that you are retaining the information. Using tech tools is the most effective way to study.

So I ask again, have you opened your phone today? Have you surfed the web? Have you interacted with technology today? Technology is a growing industry. Things that wouldn’t have even been imagined 10 years ago are becoming real, and the use of technology to study is the best, and most efficient way to ensure a high grade without consuming a large amount of time.

First Post

I am excited to have opened my blog because now I will be able to share it with my classmates as well as I will be able to see their works. I think uploading to these blogs will help me learn more about different topics and opinions surrounded around technology.