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IN SEARCH OF RESPECT Phillipe Bourgois. “In Search of Respect.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Readers may have a hard time respecting those whom Phillipe Bourgois is describing in this book. He moves himself, his wife and young baby into a “crack neighborhood,” gets to know a small community of crack dealers/addicts from Spanish Harlem in the late 1980s—and even spends nights with them. Here is what really goes on in a crack house, its inhabitants and visitors. The book is also a clear description on how the inner city poor make out without regular jobs—you’ll find here an outline of underground urban economies. The author, now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, spent several years living on the same block as the crack-house in the book, interviewing his neighbors who spent time there. Half buy essay online cheap strama guidelines 1 final the book describes the activities of dealer and addicts—and how they feel about it; the other half explains how they came to be in this situation. Bourgois attempts to put their actions into perspective: he is careful to explain the extent to which these people should be considered victims and how much they are responsible for their actions. The main characters of the story are Primo, who manages the local crackhouse; Ray, his boss; Caesar, who is Primo's friend and employee; and Candy, who is the most prominent of the women who spend time in the crackhouse. These people's stories meander through Bourgois' interviews: we watch them try to find legal jobs, discuss their childhoods, engage in brutal and senseless acts of violence, explain their hopes and fears, all the while doing a consistently high volume of hard drugs. Beneath it all, they, like all human beings, are “in search of respect.” Bourgois explains the circumstances that have brought his subjects into such desperate straights. All of them are immigrants from Puerto Rico, an island that may have born a more difficult burden of colonialism than other places in the Americas. Its value was always strategic rather than economic; while powerful nations repeatedly fought over control of its position, its inhabitants remained poor. In the 20th century, most Puerto Ricans were wage slaves to American corporations on their own island. Things only seemed to get worse for many who, after World War II, took place in what has been called the first “airborne immigration” to New York City. The first generation in New York was caught in a perfect storm of cultural and economic disadvantage. Changing gender roles mandated the emancipation of women. The downside of this meant men could no longer count on respect and submission from their family, and women could no longer count on their men for economic and physical safety. Men who were desperate for respect also found that their most reliable (and very masculine) work opportunity in factories was rapidly disappearing, never to return. The new job opportunities were all in the service sector: jobs that required decorum and submission rather than strength, usually with a white woman as the boss. Much of this male generation found it easier to support themselves in the burgeoning crack cocaine industry, even though their wages were not as good and the working conditions were much less enjoyable. The dealers in Bourgois' study were all constantly looking for legal work, but found their skill-set unsuited for the jobs available to them. Bourgois repeatedly marvels that a highly successful drug executive like Ray could not hold down even professional analysis essay editing sites uk most basic of legal jobs. But the required skill set is wholly different between the two sectors. A drug boss is in a delicate position of authority: he must distribute enough reward to his employees to keep them working contentedly, but must be repressive enough that neither they nor Lighting Occupancy Sensor Hallways in Umass Boston university write my essays customers nor their rivals would dare to challenge him. Ray, with his fast-working mind and unstable emotions, was well-suited to this kind of work, but poorly suited to menial office work. He tried several times to open a legal business--a laundromat, a grocery store, a bar—but could never get over the necessary bureaucratic hurdles. Despite Ray's power on the streets, Bourgois was surprised to find that he could barely read. The construction sector was also off-limits to the drug dealers, as it was managed by unions with ties to Italian organized crime groups, who would not allow Puerto Ricans to join. Bourgois portrays the drug dealers' economic disadvantage as being due to institutional racism. The cultural norms, rules and required skills of the legal economy are tailored to the ethnic group in writing my research paper the sarcastically wonderful world of outsourcing, so there does not need to be very much intentional bias coming from the actual people in power for the disadvantaged group to be wholly cut off from employment. Even so, such bias was fairly common. Primo describes how his boss cheap write my essay a beautiful mind film analysis not let him answer the phones because of his accent, and how she repeatedly insinuated in his presence that he was unintelligent. His revenge was to illustrate his intelligence by stealing from the company in clever ways. This sort of institutional racism began as soon as the characters entered the school system, and they responded to their disadvantage just as poorly. On the first day of kindergarten, Primo saw his mother disrespected and humiliated for her illiteracy and poor English. Given that his mother was his own family, the school instantly became his enemy and he refused to cooperate with them. He would sit in the back of class and say nothing, so his teachers concluded that he was unintelligent and sent him down a career of special education, discipline and ridicule. Caesar's cousin Eddie, in turn, had known nothing but abuse from his family and disrespect from school: by the age of nine he had already attempted suicide by trying to jump out an upper-floor window. The school interpreted this as a discipline problem and sent him to a violent reform school. Caesar's own mother was a heroin addict and eventual murderer who had several teenage pregnancies. Caesar responded to the terror of his early childhood by becoming a terror at school: he describes his unspeakably violent behavior as if he is looked for people to respect him for what he has done. Buy cheap essay uk 6 shoe until this point, Bourgois has done everything he can to portray his friends as victims of larger socioeconomic forces, though he takes care to mention how they themselves claim full responsibility for their actions and their position in life. But now, as the actions they describe grow worse and worse, Bourgois doesn't know what to think, so all he does is record what his friends excitedly tell him about gang rapes, beating up special education students and attacking teachers, need help do my essay living with depression, mania, and medication while congratulating each other on their mutual “craziness”. It is one thing to say people who are horribly unhappy will do horrible things; it is another thing to see this principle gets pushed to its limits. This comes most sharply into focus when Bourgois describes his friends' family lives. All of them are victims of severe abuse, and all of them continue the cycle of abuse as if it were perfectly natural. They repeatedly father children with teenagers, beat their families, rape, and discuss all these things as if they were normal. Bourgois is particularly concerned with framing these actions in their normative context: he describes, for example, how this breakdown in family structure is in part derived from changing gender roles in North America, combined with economic and psychological desperation of being poor in East Harlem. Candy, for example, responds to her abuse by sleeping with as many men as possible and bragging about it. Bourgois argues that she is trying to escape patriarchal domination by imitating the old patriarchal ideal of virility herself, in the same self-destructive ways as she sees practiced around her. All of the dealers have known hope at some point in their lives, though. When Primo was nineteen years old he was married, had a son, had stopped using drugs, and had a legal job. He was desperately poor, of course: the high point that he describes would be a low point for almost any other family, but he managed to lead a relatively stable and happy life for several years. Eventually, though, the pressures of his poverty became too much to bear. He would come home from work just as his wife was leaving for her job, and soon he was falling asleep at work because his son was waking up at night. Under such pressure there were also conflicts with his wife. When his boss moved his hours to an even earlier shift, Primo started doing drugs again and before long had lost both his job and his family. Other characters describe the dearth of resources available to the working poor. In Puerto Rico when a woman gave birth she had people taking care of her for at least a week, but in New York when a woman gives birth she has to cook for herself the very same day. Primo describes the situation succinctly: Basically, when a woman who is poor dedicates herself with a man who's poor too, then something will always go wrong. When you're poor, things just don't work. And when there's a kid involved, then everything just totally f…s up. But there's nothing else you can do if you're poor. You try, but it still f…s up. It just doesn't work when you're poor. It is very hard to wrap one's head around contrasting honest desperation, on the one hand, and the unspeakable violence the same people engage in on the other. We should remember that Bourgois is describing the most desperate part of a desperate society. Other authors describe the urban poor more broadly, and while their stories are desperate they are not nearly so horrible. In many other books crack addicts are on the fringe of the story; everyone seems to know they are far worse off than others. Bourgois has chosen to focus on their stories in particular. QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION. Does Bourgois' account change the way you understand the origins of violent behavior in any way? If not, why; and if so, in what writing my research paper another world Do you think there are any possible solutions to these situations? If you were designing a program to target the people in this book, what kind of services would you offer? If you are a person of faith, how do such passages buy essay online cheap dada art the Hebrew and Christian Bible speak to this situation? When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be as a citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt…. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather (all) the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord an essay entitled a day at the beach God. (Leviticus 19:33-34; 23:22, NRSV) If you are not a person of particular faith, what principles should direct you, family and friends, in your concern for, and relations with, the poor? Much of the world believes that when any member of the human race suffers, we all suffer (or should suffer) with that neighbor. It is profitable for everyone, in some way, to spend time among the very poor. Many fine programs for young adults provide such opportunity. If such opportunities are missed, we should at least be reading books like this very thoughtfully. The level of a person's misery can be correlated with the amount of harm they inflict on others. There seems to be very little in the way of limits to either. People engage in harmful behavior as a reaction against something else that's wrong in their lives. And most of this harm is directed towards themselves, which serves to intensify this cycle.

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