Race and Class Issues Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1524 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

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Urban Studies

Random Family

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and analyze the book "Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx." By Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. Specifically it will contain a book report on the book, focusing on three problem areas the book discusses. The book follows ten years in the lives of two Bronx girls, Jessica and Coco, and illustrates the problems and social inequities of growing up in poverty with little hope for escape. This book describes so many problems facing these two young women as they mature in the Bronx that it is difficult to choose only three, but some of the most pervasive problems facing these girls and others are drugs, poverty, and lack of education. Almost all the residents face these problems, and they deal with them in very different ways.

The problem areas are pervasive in the Bronx and in just about every other inner city poverty-stricken area in the country. Low-income people struggle just to survive and have little hope of ever escaping the hopelessness of their lives. The first major problem is drugs. They are everywhere in the Bronx, especially in the area where Jessica lives. About the only way to prosper in this area is to deal drugs, and the rest of the people know it. The drug dealers flaunt their wealth and status, and other residents are drawn to them because of their success and opulence. Jessica is no different, and ends up as the mistress of a successful drug dealer, which leads to his arrest, her own arrest, and ten years in prison. Along the way she has five children (the last two are twins by a guard in the prison), and the author shows little hope for the children turning out any different from their mother did. That is one of the problems with these issues that face these people. They have little hope of ever breaking the cycle and moving ahead with their lives because their very upbringing, neighborhood, and circumstances offer them little hope for the future unless the get an education and get out of the neighborhood.

Drugs are a way for the people to escape their problems and be happy for a little while, but more than that, they are a way of life in the ghetto. Drug dealers give "gifts" of drugs to people to help them become addicted, and then, they have even less hope of escaping and living normal lives. Therefore, the drug dealers support the lifestyle and poverty of the ghetto for their own selfish and self-serving reasons, and the people allow this to continue, so it is a never-ending problem. Drugs are especially difficult to overcome, because it is difficult to kick the habit, and frankly, some people do not want to kick it, because then they would have to face the awful predicament of their lives, and they might not be able to stand it.

Poverty is another major issue, because most of the residents of the ghetto cannot earn enough money to get out or to better their lives. There are few decent jobs in the area, and besides that, many of the people do not have the education to even think about getting a better paying job. This affects the lives of the people in myriad ways. They have no hope of making better lives for themselves. Many of them live on welfare and have no hope of ever leaving the welfare system. They live in run-down apartments and have little to look forward to when it comes to home and family, and they often spend much of what they do earn on drugs to help ease the pain of poverty. It affects every aspect of their lives, from lack of health care to things that most Americans simply take for granted, and poverty is another aspect of the Bronx that is not going away any time soon.

Finally, the lack of education is a major problem that can lead to poverty, drug use, and continued life and hopelessness in the ghetto. Many ghetto residents do not even graduate from high school, let alone make it to college, and so, they have little hope for the future, or for gaining decent employment. For example, Jessica drops out of 9th grade because she is pregnant, and that is as far as her education ever goes. Coco tries to make something of herself and get her GED, but she is still so under-educated that she cannot find or keep a job, and subsists on welfare and occasional support from the children's fathers.

The people of the Bronx cope with many of these problems in startlingly similar ways. Many of the women get pregnant when they are very young, following in the footsteps of their own parents. They drop out of school and never get a full education. They rely on men and the welfare system to take care of them, and they never learn how to take care of themselves or hold a job. Many residents turn to drugs and alcohol to cover up their problems. Many of the men turn to drug dealing or other illegal activities to deal with the poverty and attempt to make a living, and many of them end up in prison because of it. The experiences for many of the area residents are very similar - is it as if they simply do not have any other idea on how to survive, and so, they simply follow the same path as all the rest of the residents, and often the same path that their parents followed, as well.

These coping behaviors are anything but functional. They are self-destructive and defeating, and they do not lead to successful lives. None of the people in this book really have successful lives, and none of them pull themselves out of the ghetto. They have too many children, live in the projects or go to jail, and they never hold really meaningful jobs, just jobs to make ends meet. They cope with their problems in the only way they know how, by using their bodies and their wits to gain attention from men and the men take care of them. The men do whatever they can to make ends meet, and while some, like Maximo, who has a state job and wants to go to college for criminal justice. Some of the Bronx residents will pick themselves up and make better lives for themselves, but for the most part, they lead dysfunctional lives because of all the problems and difficulties they face each day.

Obviously, these problems affect the people's lives in just about every way. Poverty dogs them, many of their families are in prison because of drugs, they cannot find decent employment because they do not have the education, and their coping mechanisms leave them pregnant or addicted. There is no way these conditions could not affect their lives, and no way that they can come out of the Bronx unscathed. Even if they manage to get jobs and get out, as Jessica and Coco do, they are still a product of the Bronx, and they are still raising their children in the same way their parents raised them. They are trying to be better role models, but it is doubtful that the lives of their children will be much different, and that means that the Bronx and its problems affect generation after generation, and not just one part of a family.

I'm lucky that I have not experienced these problems first hand, but poverty is always at the back of many people's minds, even in the middle class, and especially with the mortgage problems facing so many Americans today. I think that poverty is something I can… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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