Monday, March 31, 2014

“The Rebirth of Caste”, “Introduction”, “Growing Inequality in the Twenty-First Century”, and “What are we Going to do Differently Tomorrow”

Very seldom do people contemplate history. Honestly, throughout the panic and consumption of any given day, how much of that day is devoted to contemplation and remembrance of our past and those who created the present. Honoring those who fought for our freedoms is essential to its maintenance and the commitment for a brighter future. Jim Crow South is undoubtedly in the past, but the effects linger on into society to this very day. 

The caste system was first born in India, when those who were ‘lesser’ were placed at the bottom of an imaginary social class pyramid. The largest and least privileged—called the untouchables— were placed at the bottom of the pyramid, and the social classes worked their way up to the top. The untouchables were just that, untouchable, and were denied basic rights and the freedom to marry outside of their class. Sound familiar? In “The Rebirth of the Caste,” the chapter begins with a quote by W. E. B. Du Bois, “the slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again towards slavery.” In the days of slavery, there was a clear caste system. Some may argue that since slaves were not considered human they were not included in the caste, but no can argue that slaves endured the brunt of all other social classes. Then in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves were sent free. This must have been a bewildering time for America, because as culture deems necessary and also narrated by Du Bois, a new caste system needed to be devised. So, as it went, a new caste system was created, and it was called black or white. You need not know a man’s profession, family, religion, or personality, all that was necessary for an assessment was the color of his skin. From slavery into Jim Crow and eventually a prison cell, little has been done to correct the oppression that was implemented on the black race to this very day.

The Jim Crow South was decades ago, but as we’ve established earlier in this post, very seldom does one reflect on the past. If one did, they would realize that racism is in the very fabric of American culture. Whether its education, employment, or health care, it seems as though the more ‘advanced’ we become as a nation, the more we remove ourselves from the work done by our ancestors to remove racism from our country. 

The next article titled ‘Growing Inequality in the Twenty-First Century’ featured topics that were not directly geared towards race but more on the dissonance between classes and how the government has done little to nothing to mend this tear. Growing up in an upper-middle class family, I had never truly thought about what my life may be like when I am in what they call ‘the real world.’ Will I have to implement the suggestions in this article, such as relying on multiple wages, delaying retirement, or having fewer children? It’s strange to think about, but these are the types of issues that so many families across the nation are faced with, many of them black. 

There is so much to be done and so many avenues to change them, but one message portrayed throughout the chapter was the difference between what can be done and what America is willing to do. A change in tax policy, government spending, and advance asset accumulation are all roads that can lead to a more integrated and equal America, but the problem is not implementing these avenues, it’s the inspiration needed from those in power to help those beneath their ‘caste.’ Only when America is no longer seen as separate castes, but as a cohesive unit, will true equality and freedom prevail. 

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