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Jaymes Buttrey

ENG 2760
Rationale Final Paper
December 11, 2015

Class IssueClass throughout history has shown how one race or gender is superior to
another. In the 21st century, we are still seeing this divide. Reading this semester from Race,
Class, and Gender in the United States, it is made clear how and why class has caused some
to live a life of success and luxury, while others remain poor and neglected. We should ask
ourselves this then: Is it too benevolent of us to think that one day we will rise above class
and the idea of a superior race? The essays within the text for the class show us that this has
been a long struggle. History shows that we tend to be a society predisposed to social
hierarchies. Is there an answer to solving this problem?
There are many examples in the essays of our text of why we remain a classed society.
Throughout history, there have been many times that class has caused a certain race or gender
to be superior. Reasons why this happens lie within our book. The media plays a major role
in keeping us in a classed society. One example is shown in Mantsioss Media Magic:
Making Class Invisible. We force a divide between poor and the middle class and rich. The
media is one of the most influential in molding public conscious. Because big media moguls
own more than half of all media outlets, we maintain an illusion of poor and rich in America.
Mantsios explains in his essay that the poor are seen as an eyesore. We often hear about how
the poor and homeless make the country look. We drive down the street and see them
panhandling on the corner in their torn, dirty clothes. There are 40 million poor citizens in
the US and the rate is increasing rapidly. The increase is twice as fast as the growth in
population. The poor are also faceless in the media. Every year we are shown the numbers of

people living in poverty, but the media has yet to put a face to the rising issue. If a childs
face, for instance, was used to show the suffering the poor are faced with, the reaction might
be different.
The media is also guilty of relaying uneducated messages, as in the video Why
Transgender Identity Matters. The media tends to give the stories first hand from a source
that knows nothing about the topic. For example, sharing a news story on the transgender
community. They dont have someone transgender giving the message. The people writing
and relaying the news in the media arent knowledgeable on the subject, and definitely arent
living the life as someone that is transgender. The media outlets are out to make money, so
whatever message sells is the one that gets shared. News stories on the transgender
community tend to emphasize surgery and transition from one gender to the next, instead of
focusing on how these people are being mistreated and misunderstood.
Another factor keeping us in a classed society is economics. In Pharrs Homophobia as a
Weapon of Sexism, he states Economics is the root cause of sexism and the driving force
that keeps all oppression in place. Pharr states If a person cant acquire food, shelter,
clothing, and ability to provide for their children, it forces them to do many things to
survive. Income per family member in the U.S. for whites is an average of $24,000 where
Latino families only come in at $12,000 a year. The United States is one of the few countries
where income is so unequally distributed amongst the population. There is enough wealth in
the U.S. to end poverty, yet we remain in an unbalanced economic distribution. Education is
a way out of poverty for most, but its not a guarantee of equal pay. Lui talks about this in his
essay The Economic Reality of Being Latino in the United States. Income earned based on
educational attainment is still a disparity across racial and ethnic groups.

Disability has played a role in class as well. What do we consider to be a disability and
how does this effect the way we perceive a person? The concept of disability is a powerful
tool. In Bayntons essay Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History,
we see how women have been considered disabled due to their supposed physical,
intellectual, and psychological disabilities. Women are still considered of lesser evolutionary
development. This has led some to believe this is why we shouldnt have a female president
in the U.S.
Race was and still is considered a disability. A disability that keeps certain races from
having equality. African American slaves were thought to lack sufficient intelligence to
participate equally in society. Baynton even explains in his essay that blacks were created
with strong bodies to do work, and that if they werent doing work, they would somehow
become mentally ill. Blacks needed to submit to their masters because they lacked sufficient
intelligence to participate equally in society. By African Americans doing the work for their
white masters, how were they not contributing to society? We associate blackness with innate
physicality, not intelligence.
We live in a patriarchal society. Having this mind set keeps us in a society of class where
women are not present, but oppressed. This type of society is male dominated, male
identified, and male centered. This is made clear in Alans essay Patriarchy. All authority
goes towards men. We are even guilty of using male pronouns when talking about certain
occupations like doctor or president. This is shown in the large number of males in political,
economic, and religious power. A patriarchal society can only accommodate a few number of
powerful women. We remain stuck in this type of society because we wont acknowledge the
roots of patriarchy and its involvement in creating class. We dont see men as having

privilege and women living in injustice. The core values of society remain that of control,
strength, competitiveness, and toughness according to Alan.
Laws in America have been a successful way in keeping us in a society where class rules.
Laws were put in place to keep blacks from gaining education. This is made clear in An Act
Prohibiting the Teaching of Slaves to Read. No free person was allowed to teach or give
books to African Americans. Fines were put in place to punish those that went against this
law. The idea was that if slaves were to remain innocent, they were to be kept away from the
printed page. There was fear that blacks would know too much and become dissatisfied with
the way they were being treated.
Laws have also kept other minorities from achieving equality. Immigration laws keep
illegal aliens both welcome and unwelcome. Restrictive immigration laws produce new
categories of racial difference. In Ngais Impossible subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making
of America, it is made clear that illegal aliens are welcome for their cheap labor, and
unwelcome because they are completely disposable. Immigration laws come from a place of
fear. Even the term illegal alien sounds a little scary. In Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens
and the Making of America, we see how in the 19th century, Chinese and other Asians were
excluded from immigrating to the U.S. In 1924, The Johnson-Reed Act was put into place.
This is when the first comprehensive restrictions were set into place, and marked the
beginning of surveillance and awareness of the nations borders.
Juro talks about people that are transgender and how laws have been passed against
them. Studies show these numbers for those that identify as transgender: Unemployment
rate-13%; Harassment or mistreatment on the job-97%; Fired or not hired due to their
identity-47%; less than $10,000 annual income-15%. Gays have also found the same

mistreatment. Until recently, it was legal to evict a gay person from their home or fire them
solely based on their sexual orientation. Although most states are moving towards antidiscrimination laws towards gays, we still have a long way to go with equality for those that
are transgender.
America runs on a system of plutocracy. Plutocracy is a system of rule by and for the
rich. Everything is organized into a corporation. We get an inside look into this type of rule in
Parentis The Plutocratic Culture: Institutions, Values, and Ideologies. Consider
universities, an institution for higher education. They are run by a board of trustees.
Decisions are made by these people. The rule then is by non-elected, self-selected, selfperpetuating groups of affluent corporate representatives. There is no say from the lower
class individuals. When we criticize our plutocratic society, we are considered un-American.
Our educational system is one of the most influential purveyors of dominant values from the
earliest of school years. Children are taught from their earliest school years to compete
individually rather than work cooperatively for common goals and mutual benefit. Teachers
concentrate on the formal aspects of representative government and accord little attention to
the influences wealthy, powerful groups exercise over political life.
What is the answer then to changing our ways and moving away from a society where
class means rule and total dominance? People have been taking a stance. They are standing
up for themselves and starting to make their voices heard. The Declaration of Sentiments and
the Civil Rights Movement are two examples. It is also going to take a change in laws and
the way the media represents certain minorities. If we can take a sensitive, educated approach
to the way we treat others, we could potentially see a change in the way class is prevalent in
our society.

Works Cited
Rothenberg, Paula S. Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. 9th ed. New York: St.
Martin's, 2014. Print.