You Are On A Long Road Trip When A Woman Spies You Reading Streetwise By Elijah Anderson. How Do You Respond (Using Crime And Cultural Theory To Back Your Opinions) When She Makes This Statement:

1065 words - 4 pages

Woman: "I've read some Anderson. I think that if that's the way those people want to live, then we should just let them alone. I mean, it's their choice."Me: Slow down. I need you to define "those people," tell me how it is they live, and then give your reasons for why we should leave them alone.Woman: The niggardly conditions of impoverished inner-cities are the inevitable result of the self-destructive behaviors practiced by its inhabitants. Individuals who graduate from high school, hold steady employment, and marry without first having children are virtually guaranteed a middle-class life. In the inner-cities, people seem almost oblivious to these realities. Individuals place little value on education, choose street life and crime over legitimate occupations, and the single-parent household has become the norm. Public education offers universal access to the first condition. Census Bureau surveys suggest the number of involuntarily unemployed is small, and no one has a child without choosing to have sex. Students of inner-city schools are far more likely to drop out, and while young black males are far less likely to be employed than their Hispanic and white counterparts, one third of them will spend time in prison at some point in life. Two-thirds of black children are born out of wedlock. These are choices with predictable outcomes which only the individual can make, and until urban communities' behavior changes, there's nothing we can do.Me: Everyone agrees that behavior needs to change, but people don't act in a vacuum. Decisions are made within a context of constraints and opportunities, and inner-city residents encounter obstacles that those in the middle-class do not. Moreover, the paucity of material and non-material resources available to individuals living in areas of concentrated poverty constricts the role of agency in determining outcomes. As Anderson points out, this means "decent" families that promote mainstream values suffer for reasons they have no ability to control. We seem to agree on some of the most important problems: schools, jobs, violent crime, and family deterioration. However, I believe we should focus on the culture of poverty instead of the faults of the individual. The failure to appreciate the central role of ghetto culture in shaping these choices, leads us to stereotype all urban families as degenerate and blinds us to possibilities for improvement.Woman: It sounds like you're saying we shouldn't place any responsibility on the individual. How does this differ from shifting blame away from criminals and absent fathers and placing it on abstract forces beyond anyone's control? Perhaps I overgeneralized by implying all inner-city residents placed themselves in that position, but I don't think poverty or the criminal behavior of others determines one's outcome. Why do you think these external cultural conditions are so important, how do you see their impact?Me: A look into violent crime's importance in poor...

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