For a long time the African American community have occupied the underclass in the United States and Canada. This is particularly evident in the urban regions with various indicators. The African Americans seems to be a minority group in the urban areas of the concerned countries. There are indicators that have been used to determine and place the community into the urban underclass. Some of the indicators include education, income and other social measures that have been used to stratify communities into their respective classes. The type of schools and general quality of education of African Americans in the urban regions can not be compared to those of the upper class. The income level and job opportunities of the African American living in the underclass are also low compared to the upper class. The general living standards of African Americans in the urban regions cannot be compared to the whites in the upper class of the society.
Through a discussion of available literature the research has analyzed the factors that threaten to keep the African Americans in the urban underclass for ever. (Bates,2003)
A conclusion has been drafted based on the findings in the literature review.
Will the African Americans remain a permanent underclass in the urban regions?
The main objective of the research is to determine the factors that have kept the African Americans in the urban underclass in Canada and the United states.
African-Americans in Canada and the United states have been in the underclass of urban regions for a long time. This has been the case because of a number of factors that determine social status and stratification that have made the community to lag behind in terms of growth and development as compared to the other racial groups in the countries.
Studies have been conducted by various sociologists on social stratification in the United States and Canada. The findings from such studies have indicated factors that are responsible for placing various racial groups in their class in the society. (Creese, 2001)
Education is a very important aspect that is used to place individuals into various social classes. Education in Canada and the United states has contributed significantly towards placing African Americans to the underclass society in the two countries. Through educational achievement and attainments individuals are expected to get well paying jobs that improve their living standards. This has not been the case in most African American households in the urban areas. Findings from research therefore point out that the poor and low educational attainments in African Americans are partly to be blamed for their prevailing status in the urban underclass.
Research that has been done in the urban regions have come up with findings that have pointed out that the education African Americans is not the same as the ones received by the whites who seem to be more developed than any other ethnic group. (Creese, 2001)
Drop out rates in schools and other educational institution has also been noted to be high amongst the urban African Americans. This has the implication that a good proportion of the youths do not attain higher levels of education that are associated with growth and development that are supposed to propel them to the upper class of the society. Lack of high educational attainment due to increased drop out rates would definitely mean that most people are unlikely to attain the anticipated success in life. Besides with their drop out rates most African Americans would end up in the unskilled labor market that is low paying hence their occupancy of the underclass in the society.
Studies in urban areas indicate that most African –Americans cannot afford the best and quality education like the other ethnic groups. This has tended to limit their educational achievement and attainment. (Bates,2003)
Findings from various literature sources have established that, there are limited educational opportunities for the African Americans in the society. Most of the children from poor family backgrounds do not have access to scholarships and other educational opportunities that can make them attain higher levels of education with skills and innovation that is necessary to improve living standards. The educational system in Canada does not provide privileges for the minority groups in which the African Americans fall. This means that this minority group cannot compete effectively with other races like the Whites. This state of affairs in the educational system has made African Americans to remain behind in educational matters hence their stagnation in the underclass in urban regions. (Bates, 2003)
The level of income amongst the members of a particular racial group is important in determining where individuals fall in the social classes. Income is a very important aspect that determines where individuals fall in the society. Income is used to stratify the society into its classes and in this case, the African Americans fall in the underclass because of their low income levels. The high level of unemployment amongst the African Americans is the cause of their low income earnings. Research findings indicate that there are a number of factors that have contributed towards the unemployment and low income amongst the ethnic group. (Creese, 2001)
Research and statistics in Canada and United states have shown that the Gross domestic product amongst the African Americans is way below that of the whites. This means that minority groups cannot afford to stay in the upper class where income levels are high.
Income dictates the kind of housing and general living standards of individual’s in particular ethnic groups and in their respective social strata. Findings from research have depicted that the low income levels have restricted African Americans in the underclass in Canada and the United states. The situation has been predicted to remain the same forever if something is not done to address the low income amongst the minority ethnic groups. Africans have remained within low income groups because of factors such as educational attainment, unemployment and partly because of racism. In it important to underscore that with the low incomes, Africans are unlikely to match the White community and it is therefore expected that they would remain occupying the underclass for a very long time. The high population in racial minority groups has only contributed to their low income. Research findings have established that some African American households have many occupants. In one household only one person can be working and has a good number of dependants. This has been fueled by the high fertility and birthrates amongst the ethnic group. This state of affairs has led to the straining of the available resources hence their stagnant nature in poverty in the urban underclass.
Racism and modern capitalism
Racism as a social evil has been perpetrated against Africans Americans for a very long time. Since ancient times in America, African Americans were discriminated against by the white and other races. This is partly to be blamed for their sustained position in the urban underclass. Racial discrimination has been evident in employment opportunities education and other sociological aspects. The fact that there was segregation in Canada and America, means that the playing field for all the races was never level and hence the other races out performed African Americans and have always made sure that they remain in that perceived position.
Racial discrimination has led to underdevelopment of minority groups because of the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities. High positions of power in the government were kept out of rich of African Americans for along time until the election of President Obama. This means that African Americans in the urban areas have lacked a voice to express their development concerns. This has definitely resulted to their position in the urban underclass.
Modern capitalism in America and Canada is witnessed by the unequal distribution of wealth and unfair competition in business. African Americans cannot compete effectively in markets that are dominated by Whites. This has been witnessed in small business enterprises. Capitalism has denied African Americans in urban areas a chance to create wealth and rise up from the circles of poverty. Modern capitalism has also failed in terms of providing incentives for the urban poor to develop. Things like health insurance which are fundamental are yet to be addressed by the government and they partly contributed to the maintenance of the status quo in the society.
Capitalists who occupy high offices that are charged with decision making seem to be against the rising up of the urban poor. This has been observed in their attitude towards addressing the fundamental issues that affect the urban poor in which the African American feature prominently. (Zoltan, 1994)
From a general perspective, racism and modern capitalism has denied African Americans a chance to rise up to the higher classes of the society.
Socio cultural factors.
Sociological and cultural factors should also receive their share of the blame for the underdevelopment of African Americans in the urban regions. The isolation of Africans in their characteristic urban settings can also be contributing towards their prevalence in the underclass. Research studies have shown that most of the urban poor are normally reluctant to mingle with the other races for instance the Whites because of some fear of discrimination based on their past history. Even thought racial discrimination might be a thing of the past, stereotypes still have an impact on the interaction between Whites and blacks in America and Canada. Parents from the underclass cannot take their children to White dominated schools just because of fear. The consequence of stereotypes and fear is that it undermines all efforts to address the socio-economic problems of the minority groups. Peterson (1991).
The problem of immigrants is also contributing towards the rising numbers of African Americans in the urban underclass in Canada and the United States. Most of the immigrants who come to the two countries from Africa and other countries are unskilled and end up in the informal sector. The influx of illegal immigrants to Canada and the United states contributes towards the increased number of the poor urban based on the assumption that most of them do not secure well paying jobs that can propel them to the upper classes in the urban regions.
Cultural issues such as crime and the problem of gangs is also responsible for the situation of African Americans. The prevalence of crime amongst the underclass society in the urban areas undermines development efforts in the regions hence individuals cannot benefit from the efforts of stakeholders. Sociologists have argued that some of the criminal activities that are characteristic and stereotypic of African Americans have contributed towards their sustained position in their social class. Some of them have developed a feeling that the underclass is their rightful place as it allows them to do some of the activities that enable them to earn a living. Peterson(1991).
Research in Canada and the United states, has demonstrated that there is very little social mobility amongst the African Americans in the urban areas. The constitution of the families has been restricted to race. There are very little instances when African Americans have inter married with the Whites and other races. This has been partly perpetrated by racial discrimination in the countries. Sociologists have mentioned that social mobility has the potential of alleviating some of the problems affecting the urban poor. With the limited nature of social mobility amongst the African –American, chances of them arising and going to the other social classes are very slim. Social contacts and interactions have been limited to their race. African Americans have been noted through studies to be confining themselves to their race. Social amenities such as churches and schools do not have the required diversity. With the African –Americans attending their own schools and churches in the urban areas, chances of them fully interacting with other races have been curtailed. It is very hard to deal with social problems that are associated with the black community in Canada especially when the members of the community are not willing to cooperate with the stakeholders who seem to be from different ethnic backgrounds. (Zoltan, 1994)
Social backgrounds of families in Canada also have an influence on education of their children and state. Parents from the other ethnic like the Whites emphasize on the need for higher educational attainment than skilled jobs. Most of their children join higher education and get good job opportunities. This is not the case as in the African American communities in urban areas which emphasize on little basic education to enable one to enter the job market. (Young, 2006)
Adaptation to lifestyle.
Sociologists have become critical of the state of affairs that they contend that African Americans have become so used to the conditions of the underclass in the urban areas, that they feel it is the best for them. Findings from research have revealed that most of the people living in this particular social class have become satisfied with being average. They make very little efforts to climb up to the upper class of the social ladder. It is as if most of the African-Americans have become adapted to the underclass so much that they never think about moving up. Some of the people in the underclass claim that the “Ghetto” belongs to the black people. This has been evident particularly in America where majority of the black people are found. Sociologists have therefore ended up concluding that some of the people in the underworld do not appreciate change even if they have achieved some level of improvements. They would therefore prefer to continue dwelling in the urban underclass because of factors well known to them. This coupled with other factors would mean that African Americans would remain in their class forever. (Zoltan,1994)
African Americans in the United States and Canada face numerous socio-economic challenges that have maintained them in the underclass of the urban areas. Findings from the literature that has been reviewed reveal that education, income and other social factors are key in determining the class occupied by the African-Americans in the society. From the research it is vital to conclude that African-Americans would remain permanent in the urban underclass because there is very little change in their socio-economic life that can push them to the upper class in Canada and the United States. As long as there is modern capitalism and racial discrimination, then African Americans would remain a permanent underclass in urban regions of America and Canada.