The Culture Of Poverty

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The Culture of Poverty Amidst this economic downturn, Patricia Cohen’s article in the New York Times, “’Culture of Poverty’ makes a comeback”, cites a resurgence in an interest, by economist and sociologists, in the mindset of those living poverty here in America. The article reveals a subtly ingrained disdain towards people whose income does not qualify as middle class, and more notably, an association between poverty and race. Although an overlap between poverty and heritage is merely coincidental, the effect of racism and social injustice has a penetrating effect. Patricia Cohen writes, “Today, social scientists are rejecting the notion of a monolithic and unchanging culture of poverty. And they attribute destructive attitudes and behavior not to inherent moral character but to sustained racism and isolation” (Cohen). The issue delves deep into America’s jagged history; moreover, it portrays a dangerous mentality that was severely amplified by the powerhouses of the Industrial Revolution and Darwinism. The American Dream has gone through several reinterpretations, as this nation has grown. Initially, the American Dream was to own one’s own plot of land. In Europe, the aristocracy and lords owned the land, and they abused the peasants that lived on it. America presented an opportunity, one that was difficult to refuse, an opportunity to be free from tyranny. However, at the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the American Dream was redefined, in large part to the meteoric rise of Andrew Carnegie. The American Dream, then, became the economic uplifting of oneself out of poverty, and into riches. Poverty becomes un-American because the mythology of the day decrees, that in America you become wealthy if you are enterprising, and you work hard enough, and anybody that does not manage to bring themselves out of poverty is of a lesser pedigree. This idea begins to
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