Catching up with former president of the Black Student Athletes Association Keke Burks

In 2014 as a transfer from the University of North Dakota to the University of Minnesota Keke Burks was introduced to a small community group of black student athletes led by Director, Campus and Community Partnerships Linda Roberts. However the group began to dissipate over the course of her undergraduate tenure. The racial tension began to build on campus following the police shooting of African Americans Alton Sterling and Philando CastileKeke Burks stepped forward with the initiative to rebuild an active forum where unsettled black student athletes had an opportunity to talk about these issues and express their concerns. With the support of Linda Roberts she decided to revive the Black Student Athletes group.

IMG_5488After meeting with Peyton N Owens III  Associate AD / Student-Athlete Development / Diversity & Inclusion and Anise McDowell  Coordinator of Student Engagement
University of Minnesota-Student Unions & Activities she was able to bring together over 100 black student athletes for their first BSAA meeting. According to Burks, “The aim of the association was to build a bridge between student athletes and black student bodies on campus”. By creating an environment of inclusion and unity, unique to black student athletes, she was able to extend a voice to a group that was often times overlooked in times of racial uproar. She campaigned the group to later include the support of alumni, black police officers, African American activists and the surrounding black fraternities and sororities at the University of Minnesota.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a BS in Youth Studies Keke Burks started her own vlog where she features her opinion on a series of social issues that affects the black community. A major part of her vlog is supporting black owned businesses such as WhatsUpAfrican, Jmcn Ink and RB shots where she has achieved a notably list of subscribers and followers.

“I love entertaining people and allowing them to get to know who I am and what I stand for.” IMG_5489Keke plans to open a community center aimed at educating black youths on the topics of stocks and bonds, black history and other aspects of the African American dichotomy.

“We all deserve an opportunity to connect with other people who share the same background” Burks says

Burks is currently active in her community and is still closely involved with the different black probates on the University of Minnesota campus.

“My lifelong mantra is, walk like you have 3000 ancestors behind you. Thats how I live my life, no regrets, with my head high using the confidence and knowledge bestowed from those before me”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Expanding the Oligopoly: Disney merges with Fox for $52.4 Billion

Recently Walt Disney Company established a deal to merge with 21st Century Fox. Fox was controlled by Rupert Murdoch who agreed to an all stock transaction valued at approximately $52.4 billion. Disney believes that the acquisition will create the opportunity to consolidate media holdings, converge front runners in television and movie production, major cable properties and a vast network of local sports cable channels.

For a long while Disney wanted to build greater international distribution channels such as those afforded by Fox’s properties and relationships maintained abroad. Supporters of this deal believe that the acquisition is setting the stage for actual competition, new technologies and indirectly a new media revolution. There has been no notably resistance to the new agreement even though it strengthens Walt Disney’s position among the other large oligopolies and poses no threat to ‘corrupt’ neoliberalism. 

 Horizontal integration occurs when large oligopolies attempt to consolidate and take over smaller media holdings. By nipping the bud in negative horizontal integration there will be increased media competition and a lower percentage of media ownership among large oligopolies. The acquisition made by Disney is being identified as one of the greatest attempts made by a traditional media company against tech giants who have long controlled the entertainment business.

To avoid heightened suspicions of horizontal integration to control the market and reduce competition Murdoch has not consolidated Fox broadcast network or Fox’s 28 local stations to Disney who already owns ABC and eight other local stations. However this horizontal integration of other shares will spark a flame in the oligopolistic power that exists in the entertainment industry. By merging with Fox, Disney will be able to secure its position among the big six and further decrease the competition that has long been stagnant due to the concentration of media shares among other big companies such as Time Warner, CBS Corporation, Viacom, NBC Universal and Rupert Murdoch News Corporation.

Digital oligopoly helps to identify the presence of these organizations and conglomerates and how their ‘liberal-leaning’ negatively impacts their consumers and democracy. American Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert declares that media oligopoly is responsible for the political shift to the right since traditional media gatekeepers have been displaced by the tech oligopoly. In this example Netflix had long been a big tech threat to Walt Disney. Antitrust interventions from the government to break up companies with excessive market shares and to provide a more favorable atmosphere for competitors and consumers has been established.

Regulators have been weary of the idea of combining two companies in the same market where in the past, the Justice Department had opposed these media consolidations when it sued to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Similarly, Walt Disney and Fox have overlapping properties that could cause antitrust regulators. Despite this, critics have identified the political economy of antitrust actions in that Time Warner includes CNN which has been a ‘rhetorical target’ of President Donald Trump. In addition, Murdoch is a trusted adviser to the president on media issues which strengthens his ally with the government in selling his shares. Therefore with no resistance from the government Disney is able to expand its digital oligopoly by claiming additional market shares in television and cable.  

Instead of competition to meet the demands of the people we see companies fighting to join the circle of profitable oligopolies that already exist. As consumers spend more time online, TV’s share of U.S. ad spending is shrinking and media companies can no longer promise “eyeballs”. Advertisers have noticed the shift of consumer attention to the internet, where Google and Facebook have the vast majority of consumers. Therefore to tackle this trend, Disney is launching its own streaming services.

Disney announced its plans to withdraw its content from Netflix and set up its own on demand streaming services that will shift consumer eyeballs to its new content and gain a competitive edge. Emarket senior analyst Paul Verna believes that,

“the more desirable the content they have, the better they will be able to compete in terms of trying to sell a subscription offering at a time…”.

On the contrary, Communications scholar and Professor at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Robert McChesney believes that the global media system is “fundamentally noncompetitive” and that  local traditions of cultural production are undermined by the financial interests of big media. Yes, the consolidation of Fox and Disney did pose a threat to Netflix but it also opened up a space for Disney to continue being apart of the big six oligopoly. By placing emphasis on the benefits of merging to challenge Big Tech, these articles failed to recognize that Walt Disney had already been apart of the entertainment industry oligopoly. The Disney deal is mobilized by fear, opportunity and pragmatism of the profits being earned by Netflix, Amazon and possibly Apple. Disney’s underlying motives are to benefit from assets and possibly to peak in the entertainment industry.

There is a Relationship between media consolidation and democracy since media consolidation poses a threat to democracy that holds media companies accountable to public interest and net neutrality. With this deal and the wealth of movies, TV shows and sports programming Disney provides, the company will now have a catalyst to challenge large oligopolies such as Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook in the fast-growing realm of online video.

In owning additional stakes in Fox, Disney will become an example for other entertainment companies to horizontally integrate in order to challenge these influential Big Tech oligopolies. According to Steven Cahall an analyst from RBC Capital Markets, “the acquisition would likely prompt other entertainment companies to join forces as a competitive maneuver”. Due to the success of the Disney-Fox merge, speculation has began to surround Viacom and CBS, who share common ownership; Lionsgate which owns Starz; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who controls rights to the James Bond franchise and Sony Pictures Entertainment which has struggled with low box office market share.

Merging with fox created the opportunity for Disney to compete with the bigger entertainment streaming giants. By allowing media consolidation, the government risks having large companies decide on the fate of consumers breeding an algorithm culture than only benefits the business class. When oligopolies control the market then consumers become comfortable with the sad reality of individualism and class inequality.

The merge of Disney and Fox is an ideal example of horizontal integration in the entertainment industry and how the political economy has managed to shape this new deal as an effort to compete against big techs rather than Disney’s aim to secure its position among the oligopoly. Journalist associate the acquisition as public interest and so Walt Disney has managed to manipulate the truth by normalizing its own benefits as ‘consumerism’.

Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive and chairman reveals a compelling argument in his interview with New York Times, “If they look at it from a consumer point of view, they should quickly conclude that the aim of this combination is to create more high-quality product for consumers around the world and to deliver it in more innovative, more compelling ways”.  

Not only has this merge proven the influence of pre-existing oligopolies in global media but also the politics behind these big techs and organizations as identified by journalist Kashmir Hill. Unless the government implements new strategies to prioritize against merging companies that strengthen oligopolis even if they increase competition there will always be a threat to media democracy.  

 Tanzania adopts China’s media Censorship Regulation

Recently, Tanzania has ruled an unprecedented new law to regulate social media and other platforms that might incite controversial stories. Critics believe that this is an attempt to curb dissent and stifle new speech and a resistance has been spreading to counteract this new attempt at media surveillance. Although The Communications Act prohibits the government from making any regulations that would interfere with freedom of speech, the Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations bill was published nonetheless by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and has provided rigid guidelines for internet users.

Supporters of this bill had insisted that the government should monitor popular media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if it seeks to restrain cybercrime. Among its supporters is the deputy minister for Transport and Communications, Edwin Nyongani who declared,

“Our Chinese friends have managed to block such media in their country and replaced them with their homegrown sites that are safe, constructive and popular. We aren’t there yet, but while we are still using these platforms we should guard against their misuse”.

The United states has held opposing views with regards to media censorship and has allowed private use of these platforms for freedom of speech. However, the Tanzanian government  believes that people should be held accountable for their virtual actions as social media has the ability to influence the ideas of individuals and if uncontrolled can lead to instability.

The trading of ideas and opinions are necessary in a functional democratic nation free from state and government interference. American companies and government agencies have long promoted self-regulation as a way to establish their own independence in adhering to media linguistics without the involvement of a third party enforcer. However the Tanzanian government is seeking to adopt a different system without self regulation that emulates that of the Chinese government. The new bill contains strict regulations for online content producers including social media users and bloggers which will reduce the abilities of these individuals to self regulate their contents. Internet users will be held liable for, “posting content that is obscene and that contains hate speech, violence or material that will offend or incite others, cause annoyance, threaten or encourage crime or lead to public disorder”.

They will be charged a hefty fine, a minimum of 12 months in jail or both. The government will hold individual social media users accountable for the content they share while online service providers will be required to install user manuals and camera recordings of their business on the premises. The regulation is also extended to online radio, television and other digital platforms who will be responsible for banning anonymous users who use their platforms stripping them of privacy and self regulation rights. 

Net neutrality prevents large oligopolies from exploiting small websites and internet servers or having a bias on what content is promoted or lost in the “algorithm” as explained by scholar Christian Sandvig. The new Tanzanian media censorship follows suit with that of China’s who has long interfered with the distribution of information by both traditional and new media conglomerates. The Great Firewall, is the foundation of the Chinese government’s online censorship and surveillance efforts in network bandwidth throttling, keyword restrictions and blocking access to certain websites and social media platforms. In their attempts to control the internet and reduce net neutrality, “the government also uses monitoring systems and firewalls, shuttering publications or websites, and jailing dissident journalists, bloggers, and activists”. Media outlets have even incorporated their own monitors to ensure that their content are in favor of censorship guidelines.

The government has deemed certain websites such as Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as toxic and additionally some Google services are fully blocked or temporarily “blacked out” during periods of controversy, to limit the spread of debate and activist fueled forums. This is opposing net neutrality as they fear that these websites are a national threat and so they have employed a myriad of ways to censor the internet thus limiting access to contents which is integral for creating a pluralistic and democratic media space.

Contemporary public interest is in fact lucrative commercial benefits for advertisers, mergers and acquisitions along with their converged alliances masked as what they think is in the public’s interest. Today the United States regulates public interest however the new Tanzanian media regulation will allow authorities to remove news stories that could potentially ‘endanger’ the country’s reputation and positive standings. Net neutrality will not exist because all content will be censored by the government breeding a false sense of ‘public interest” by creating a political hegemony that is unhealthy for its citizens.

A media free from propaganda and “both sides of the story” is fake and does not recognize the issues that needs to be fixed. By creating a monitoring body the Tanzanian government will create a “walled garden” that will only stifle democracy, activism and free speech. Unfortunately, this system falls in line with what Jhally describes as the critical power of the ruling class which decides what desires are worth promoting based on a moral system that supports a communist class system. One of the main goals of the Federal Communications Corporation is to serve the public interest by permitting free expressions of views and that the most diverse and opposing opinions be expressed even if they are offensive. The Tanzanian government has established a facade that censorship is within the public interest, however, unless there is a society with self regulation backed by net neutrality there is no public interest.

 Tanzania’s hidden ‘technophobia’ and censorship regulation will create a catalyst for public revolt since policing the media will only cause backlash during politically and socially sensitive news. The government’s measures to control cyber crime has only manifested their fear of the internet and the influence of western international news outlets on the minds and actions of their native people via the internet. However by policing westernized social media forums such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram the government is not only monitoring cyber crime but taking away the simplest form of freedom and privacy through its censorship.

By following the extremities of China will only result in a stalemate because their censorship poses a challenge to journalists and media outlets in maintaining public interest which is a common concern among the US government when tackling media monopolies. The Tanzanian government has disregarded this concern of freedom of the press and reveals greenwashed efforts to present an environmentally responsible public image. Journalists have started to exercise ‘self-censorship’ for fear of punishment from producing controversial content even though the government’s intervenance has been said to overstep public discourse. Controversial material could instigate social disorder, health and environmental scandals as well as religious persecution and challenges to ethics however this is what allows a society to function when monopolies do not pull all the strings .

Like Newton Minow, television is seen as a “vast wasteland” that has been overtaken by third screens that allow freedom of speech. The anxiety expressed by both the Chinese and Tanzanian government is impractical in holding citizens accountable for the content they share. Although there are certain programs created to subvert the government’s control there is not a general civic engagement by its citizens. Analyst for Tanzania Media Foundation Fausta Musokwa believes that media scholars can play a role in advocating against censorship. She declares,

“There is room to report on the law without it being a fight against the government”.

Freedom of speech, net neutrality, self regulation and the public interest is important in creating a globalized media system without content restrictions even if it means disregarding threats to internet security.

                                                                                         Sources
Banzi, Asterius. “Tanzania: Govt Seeks Chinese Help in Social Media.” AllAfrica.com, The East African, 2 Aug. 2017, allafrica.com/stories/201708020658.html.
iAfrikan. “Tanzania Proposes New Law on Social Media to Curb ‘Moral Decadence’.” The Next Web, MaxCDN, 10 Oct. 2017, thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/10/10/tanzania-proposes-new-law-social-media-curb-moral-decadence/ 
Maseko, Fundisiwe. “Tanzania: Government to Regulate Social Media.” Tanzania: Government to Regulate Social Media | IT News Africa – Africa’s Technology News Leader, ITnews Africa , 2 Oct. 2017, www.itnewsafrica.com/2017/10/tanzania-government-to-regulate-social-media/.
Mohammad, Omar. “Tanzanian journalists are dealing with the reality of stifling free speech laws”. Quartz Africa, 10 Aug. 2016,https://qz.com/754954/tanzanian-journalists-are-dealing-with-the-reality-of-stifling-free-speech-laws/ 
Akewei, Ismail. “Tanzania to License Blogs, Websites as Part of New Online Media Regulation.” Africanews, Africanews, 26 Sept. 2017, http://www.africanews.com/2017/09/27/tanzania-to-license-blogs-websites-as-part-of-new-online-media-regulation// 
Xu, Beina, and Eleanor Albert. “Media Censorship in China.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 17 Feb. 2017, http://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/media-censorship-china 

 

Meet Julius Kintu the face of Minnesota’s Next Top Photographer

Julzimages is a registered LLC photography company owned by Julius Kintu that provides fashion and portraiture photography services. The Ugandan native recalls taking photographs since he was seventeen years old with his biggest role model being Kelechi Uchegbu Jr of XLNTmedia who has inspired him to be involved in aesthetic portraiture photography. He then started his professional career in 2015 using his passion as a source of income while working as a Network Administrator and Remote Observation Technician at Abbot Northwestern Hospital. “During work breaks I would always browse through professional photo catalogs from Uganda, Somalia, Nigeria and Europe trying to improve my craft” says Kintu.

©Julzimages_001

In the year 2016 his portfolio began to expand as he started to attract even more clients such as corporate events,  professional models and makeup artistes; Ashley Blake, DakaDolittleSheri T, and Ella . He has travelled all over the world to expand his portfolio and has collaborated with Fashion designers such as Ruva Africa Wear and Fulbekloset.

His ideal gig involves event photography where he has worked with many African based music promoters such as Long Coin Production, Boutdatlife EntertainmentGQhustle , Afrique Entertainement Group and DAB Entertainment . “I get paid to do what I love and in event photography I am having fun and making connections at the same time.”

Julius Kintu Julius has also worked with many international artistes such as Baby Cham, Wayne Wonder, Tante Mentro & Devonte, Alikiba, Davido, Tekno, Sauti Sol, Kranium, Christopher Martin, Charlie Blacks, D-Major and Alaine.

He noted his favorite collaboration being with Jamaican musician Alaine as he has always loved her style of contemporary reggae music.

Not only has his work created international networks but he has also been a local sensation since his 2015 debut. “My most memorable experience was working in Vegas during the USA Rugby Sevens as it gave me the opportunity to network with a community of Kenyans and Ugandans who organize events to support their national teams” says Julius.    Tekno

When asked, he stated that his biggest inspiration was his mother. “My mother is a cancer patient and everything I do I do for her”. Julius was raised by his uncle after the death of his father and the strained relationship it shaped with his mother. It was years after that he realized that she was the only parent he had left and so he learnt the power of forgiveness.

“My mom is now my best friend. Even when I’m in trouble and need financial help she is there. All the sacrifices she has made inspires me now to make positive decisions in my life.” 

Kintu also mentioned that his mother would advise him that using his hands was integral for survival and this has been a catalyst for his creative photography styles. “As long as you have your hands you work as much as possible to be better than you were today.” The brand Julzimages is set to be launched in Kampala Uganda in 2 weeks and he credits his success to the relationships he has built over the years with family and friends as well as his clients who have been supporting him during his journey.

©2017JULZIMAGES06

“People are always willing to work with me and encourage me as I improve. That is why I love what I do.”

During the Interview he also expressed gratitude to Josiah Bosiah, his brother Patrick, Peter Kyalo, Nay Kaine, Loice Bw’Oburu, Dj Nodeh Tsparrks, George Oburu, Bryan Sabiiti McKenzie, Jerome Lutaaya and his late best friend Kato Dennis. “They have always believed in me while advising me on investment moves regarding my business as I pursue the American Dream”.

He now attends Minneapolis Community and Technical College where he is pursuing an associates degree in digital photography and was recently featured in the 2017 Deans List.

The Real Factors Affecting the Gender Wage Gap- A critique of Gauchat

Gender earnings inequality based researches have proven that strides in globalization in the United States has helped to buffer occupational segregation which was noted as the leading explanatory factor for the gender wage gap (Gauchat, Kelly, Wallace, 2012).  However, according to Paula England there has been a noticeable decline in the progress of gender earnings since 1960 due to the constant influence of heterosexual relationships, partiality in men and women’s wages as well as the glass ceiling barrier. Using this theory, a quantitative research was developed to challenge the 1960 consensus of scholars as well as to deduce the leading factors of the gender wage gap in the United States.

Gordon Gauchat, Maura Kelly and Michael Wallace designed a two tailed deductive test to estimate the possible reciprocal causation or determinants of men’s and women’s median earnings. The alternative hypothesis presented by Gauchat et al is that occupational segregation is the leading cause of the gender wage gap. They made two conclusions based on their findings. First, that occupational gender segregation increases gender earnings inequality by increasing men’s earnings significantly in the labor market and using it as a scale to derive women’s earnings. Additionally, Gauchat explains that casualization has no effect on men’s earnings but decreases a woman’s earnings resulting in a distinction in the gender earnings ratio. 

The Quantitative method used by Gauchat et al was the most appropriate in arriving at their conclusions. The research method used was quota sampling where representative individuals were chosen out of several Metropolitan state areas in the United States. The population ‘N’ was taken from a METRO_2000 database which included variables that were available for 276 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. The representatives were chosen based on areas with a concentrated amount of social and economic integration to represent a geographic variation in gender earnings. By using a variety of metropolitan locations the researchers are able to reduce error in their data among the represented group.

However, this impacted Gauchat’s inability to generalize the results of the study to the entire United states. Data came from METRO_2000 data file only included variables that were available for 271 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. There was a selection bias because the sampling procedure systematically reduced the chances urban workers would be included in the study. According to the article, urbanized areas account for about 86 percent of the US population. Since workers in micropolitan and rural areas were not included in the research, using ‘N’ in the research when only a portion of the population was represented was inappropriate and flaws the validity of the research.

Gauchat et al conceptualized gender based occupational segregation as, “the degree to which male and female workers are concentrated in different jobs”. This was consistent with their findings that the labor market and the types of jobs available to each gender affected the wage gap. However, since the data was not randomly selected, the labor market variables for the population area chosen affected the validity of the data deduced from the regression. The omitted population in rural areas may have had less occupational segregation skewing the results. In metropolitan areas, manufacturing employment tends to create higher earnings for men and the transition to service economy has been associated with a more equal distribution of earnings by gender. In addition, government employment will favor women’s employment and wages while larger establishments will present more gender inequality as men move up the corporate ladder. Unionization also creates benefits that are skewed towards men and are more concentrated in the metropolitan areas. Manufacturing and Unionization reduce gender equality in earnings while government employment increases gender equality. These results may only be true of metropolitan areas. Overall, the status of labor market structure plays an integral role in predicting gender inequality.

Their findings were supported by the use of three independent variables to conduct the research. The first was gender earnings ratio where the researcher compares median earnings for full time, full year female workers to the same median earnings as male workers. Gauchat et al derived a formula that was used to create comparative values. The higher values represent greater gender equality and lower values indicate greater gender inequality. By incorporating these into regression formulae, occupational gender segregation accounted for the higher percentage of gender distribution across occupations. Based on Figure 1 for the period 1960 to 2010 the female to male earning ratio was seventy-seven percent meaning that women earn seventy-seven percent of men’s total income.

Gauchat et al also used globalization and labour market restructuring variables such as global capital captures, Foreign direct investment, Exports, the percentage foreign born workers and Casualisation as counterfactual variables that affected gender earnings inequality. Their research yielded evidence to support these variables as direct investment and foreign born non-citizens increased gender earnings equality in the urban labor market. As a result capital improves women’s labor market opportunities relative to men’s. This is because the presence of global capital and labor in metropolitan areas reduce the effects of segregation on women’s earnings relative to men’s. However, “men’s wages are central to the wage system and that women’s earnings tend to “chase” men’s earnings in the labor market”. Gauchat’s second claim that casualization has no effect on men’s earnings and decreases a woman’s earnings is true because according to the main influences of the median earnings of both parties exports raised men’s earnings and had no effect on women’s earnings.  

Finally, by comparing the coefficients from the results gauchet concludes that gender based occupational segregation has the strongest effect. I agreed with Gauchat’s use of sociodemographic controls in the form of regional dummies as well as other determinants of median earnings such as age, percentage of college education, percentage of unemployment and single parent headed household. These controlled determinants could have been argued as causal mechanism affecting the results therefore by controlling these the researchers have limited the chances of outside factors. Despite the misrepresentation of the population I agree with the findings because in most corporate jobs, women will tend to not have jobs of high economic status in comparison to men due to the glass ceiling barrier. Overall, the research is only generalizable to metropolitan areas where occupational segregation is common among disadvantaged groups and minorities across labor markets. The results indicate that occupational segregation is still the leading determinant of gender earnings inequality, however the relationship is spurious and is slightly affected by the presence of globalization and various aspects of the global market that independently influence this issue.

It is important that the researchers refrain for generalizing these results because it could encourage the theory that the gender wage gap has improved when it has been stagnant or have had acute progress. An entire population has been excluded from the study and this could prove harmful to women in the study who advocate for the deinstitutionalization of gender wage inequality. Research should benefit the same people who take the risk of doing it and here we notice the researcher’s exploratory research having a negative effect on women since policy makers who view these results as accurate will overlook the issue that exist.

Resource used: Gauchat Gordon , Kelly Maura, Wallace Michael (2012). Occupational Gender Segregation, Globalization, and Gender Earnings Inequality in U.S. Metropolitan Areas. 26 (5) 718 – 747. retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0891243212453647#articleCitationDownloadContainer

Class Construct in the United States is Contemporary Slavery

Before we can discuss the social construct of class it is important to understand society’s perspective of each class and who “fits” the criteria. When Gunnar Myrdal invented or reinvented the term underclass in his 1962 book Challenge to Affluence, he used the word purely as an economic concept to describe the ‘deep-rooted’ unemployed, underemployed and  “under-employables” being created by the effects of the post industrial economy. However his concept was shifted later by scholars to associate the underclass with extreme poverty rather than unemployment (Gorman, 2000). As such, individuals define underclass from a racial perspective inclusive of only blacks and hispanics. Underclass is a popular used euphemism that is inoffensively technical on the surface since it is widely used however it conceals all the moral distaste white Americans have long felt towards Blacks and Hispanics.  It used as a racial code word that masks anti-black and hispanic feelings.

Above the underclass is the middle class. According to Gregory Mantsios, it is common to classify oneself as middle class because it mutes class difference and highlights what he calls the “class-avoidance phenomenon”. There is a universal middle class created as victims who have adopted to the ideology that one needs a college education as well as a strong work ethics to belong to the middle class american society. The biggest distinction perceived by this group is that the middle class is not the working class as the working class is portrayed as “the other”. White collars believe that that hardship faced by the working class is inevitable and a product of their own doing rather than a result of class segregation and inequality even though skilled or unskilled, manual and supervised workers make up the adult working population. The Gorman study reveals that the resentment that the working class respondents felt towards the white collar participants were due to their own imaginations as well as reciprocations of contempt from them as well. The research project concluded that members of the working class struggle to find dignity in a society that is quick to chastise one’s worth based on income, educational credentials and occupational status.  As stated by Reich,  in Gorman’s piece, the American working class has a deep understanding of the inequalities between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and continue to struggle to find themselves.

Above the middle class is the upper class or wealthy. Yet, according to the American Society the wealthy as a class does not exist, those who exist are just “serving us” and only includes a few bad apples. At the top of the group there is 1% of wealthy americans who are classified as “upper class”. According to Lamont,  upper class Americans tend to exclude others mostly on the basis of their perceived socio economic superiority, prestige, race, income and background.

There are many effects associated with class inequality. People are limited and confined by the opportunities afforded or denied to them by a socially and economically partial systems. Lower class individuals bear the burden of having limited access to resources and struggle with many glass ceiling barriers when trying to climb the social ladder. The fruits of social class in America stemmed early from housing segregation among racial groups.

In the age of Darwinism, whites desired to maintain physical distance from blacks so a system of segregation was imposed. The NAACP destabilized these practices and allowed blacks to move into these communities. However, post World War II riots made it almost impossible for segregation to be de-institutionalized as blacks who moved to these communities were eventually displaced due to hostility from their white neighbors. When attempts were made by blacks to move into these “white-washed” communities, they were also profiled and told to leave by police (Farley and Williams, 1994). According to the reading Doubly Divided by Meizhu Lui, huge wealth disparities since world war II stimulated the racial wealth gap. The GI Bill of rights and low interest homes home mortgages provided tax funded support for higher education and for home ownership for these families. These are two major contributions towards wealth building and class divide.

The government then attempted to “fix” the problem by implementing federally sponsored public housing for lower income families yet this encouraged segregation and established another corner of the foundation for class construct since most of these families were either black or hispanic. Even after the implementation of the Fair Housing Law, these low income families still remain behind other white families with home ownership (Farley and Williams, 1994). We also notice based on the recent political climate a rise in segregation among classes as Harry Boyte explains “society used to build walls to put the bad people in, now we’re building walls to keep the bad people out, there is no sense of community anymore. Everybody is walled off from the other neighborhood.” 

Other consequences of class inequality involves mortality and health. Wilper et al in Health insurance and mortality in US adults, talks about the high recording of deaths among uninsured adults between 25 and 64 annually. Insurance was intended to buffer the cost of unexpected high medical bills however many lower class americans believe that they are better off uninsured. However, these clinics do not provide the private protection that coverage creates nor do many have the full resources that your condition may need and as such having full coverage is a much useful resource that they cannot afford. The political system has shaped the health care system in a way that mostly the upper class can maximize benefits.

Dorothy Roberts in Medical Stereotyping expands on how white supremacy fueled racial genomics and discredited the need for radical social transformation by instead treating poor blacks with medical hostility and neglect. The writer recalls the Tuskegee experiment and how stereotypical misinformation subjected an entire race to a deadly disease. These supremacist believed that high rates of diseases stemmed from their biological inferiority and incapacity to cope with freedom when really it portrayed the inhumanity that can exist from a belief in intrinsic racial difference and class. A modern system that is built to prolong white dominance has began to plague moral values with conventional health services that instead of helping is viewed as extreme cultural ethnocentrism.

In Viruell-Fuentes et al. More than culture: structural racism, intersectionality theory, and immigrant health we see how the use of invariable definitions of culture in public health research risks accommodates racial/ethnic stereotypes. Disparities in health care in forms of oppression and marginalization influences the health of many immigrants. Scholars highlight how everyday experiences of racism or unfair treatment impact health . For Latino, Asian, and Black immigrant groups, “becoming American” involves contending with ideologies that render them racial “minorities” and the stigmatized meanings that the racialized society ascribes to their specific group. Some groups assume racial formation to be perceived as white such as the Filipinos in the 1997 film, Honk if you love Buddha.

The media’s portrayal of class also has an effect on how certain classes are viewed and treated. According to Gregory Mantsios the poor are portrayed as faceless and merely statistics instead of people. As such it desensitizes people towards the poor as portraying poverty as a number rather than focusing on the afflictions of those who are enduring poverty. The poor are portrayed as devious and “scums of the society” ,“panhandlers” and an inconvenience to taxpayers. According to Rothenberg, “Stereotypes are lay generalizations that are necessary in a diversified society, and are useful when they are more or less accurate.”  When they are not, that is when they become labels. This class construct created labels. Labels are used to stigmatize and judge people with less prestige such as “trailer trash”, “hood rat”, “ghetto” etc. People are judged based on the agencies they are embedded in and are associated with ranging from the workplace, welfare agencies and communities.

The biggest reproduction of class inequality is in the education system where students from poor communities have limited access to schools outside of their districts with more opportunities where they can network with others and build a social capital. We also notice a trend where different communities prioritize different student outcomes. In impoverished communities schools are geared towards discipline and vocational programs with higher policing of the males while more prominent institutions focus on student transition into higher education. There clearly exists a gap when classes don’t “mesh” in a community. Either one group feels out of place while the other feels vexation.  Based on history even black families whose income are equal to whites generally have unequal economic standing since white children are more likely to have parents who have benefited from the land grants of the Homestead act. Wealth is often times being passed down through families as children are guided on what steps to take to attain a successful life. However, the american myth of meritocracy can be challenged by the criminal justice system that disenfranchise the black and hispanic population. According to Mantsios, class standings and life chances have been consequently determined at birth. “For years, opinion leaders have told us that it’s all all about family values. And it is-but it will take a while before most people realize that they meant the value of coming from the right family” (Krugman, 2002).

The problem with class in America is that people use it as a platform to assume power over another group of people. Even though slavery has been abolished; social classes has indiscreetly taken its place.

Fall Bridges 6- The story of Anna Cordova

“What do you mean you’re not her ‘real’ daughter?”

“For christ sake Cleo, I’m adopted!” I bellowed, rolling my eyes at her ignorance

“Well that make’s sense the troll looks like my cousin Marley after his fifth seizure-dead”

I chuckled ignoring her humor as a police officer decorated the windows of illegally parked cars out by 5th Street ramp

“I mean, that makes sense why you two fought so much; it’s like me and my mother in law trying to figure out who gets my kids and don’t get me wrong I love fighting with the old cow”

I admired how Cleo could always turn a serious situation into a joke and I believed it made her stay young. She laughed and wiped a tear with the napkin on her lap removing some of her makeup with it. Beneath her left eye was devoid of makeup; her scars were exposed.

“You need to stop allowing him to touch you Cleo”

“Oh no that is how the bills get paid around here”

“I meant your new boyfriend, Chris”

” I slipped and fell in the bath tub and got a little bruised so what?” she shrugged

“You don’t own a fucking bathtub Cleo why are you lying to me!” My voice echoed across the room and Cleo’s lips curled into a fine line

“Until you’re unemployed with four little kids to feed and a dead beat baby daddy in prison don’t tell me how to live my fucking life!”

I shrunk into my seat, “I was only worried about you Cleo.”

“I told you, it’s temporary and I’ll deal with him on my own, let it go eh” she barked before sipping the last of her Kombucha.

We both peered out the window with blank stares.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Stillwater was a small town on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. It had an array of shops lined along the street with antique stores and restaurants showcasing local and international dishes. We lived five minutes away along Crescent road in a small suburban home my mother had left my dad before she disappeared. 

My stepmother had just gotten her hair done for the Minrose Gala that night where she would speak on behalf of Alkaline Medical Inc where she sold poor black families into the idea that sterilization for compensation is their god-given purpose.

“We’d hate for them to do what your mother did Anna. Who runs away and leaves their children for drugs?” she would frown.

“Thats why you have no kids-“

“Did I hear you whisper under your breath Anna?”

“No mother”

“Good, now go to your room”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Anna!”

I turned to see Cleo looking at me with a smirk across her face. “I sure hope them gals in jail didn’t mess those holes up instead” she mocked clinging to her ear lobes in playful satire.

I laughed at her before lunging across the table to grab the bill.