Posted by Mick on .
In “Class in America-2003,” Gregory Mantsios argues that America favors the rich and a person’s race and class standing greatly influences their wealth, health and education. By comparing the myths and realities of the American dream of equal opportunity, Mantsios defends his claim. By examining economic data, diving examples of various social classes and their class privileges, and discussing how race and gender greatly affect the lives of Americans in the workplace, Mantsios establishes a plethora of sources which he uses to define his thesis. In this essay I will focus on the purpose of Gregory Mantsios’ text.
In America, economic data can show the massive differences between the rich and poor. Mantsios writes, “The wealthiest 1 percent of the American population holds 38 percent of the total national wealth.” Whereas, “one of every eight people in this country—live below the official poverty line.” How can so few own so much when so many can barely make it by? It shows that the idea of equal opportunity is not true. If every person wanted to become successful and be free from poverty, they would be able to in an equal opportune society. However, they are not able to. By continuing to show economic statistics, Mantsios further qualifies his claim. He also notes that when there is a boom in the economy, the income of the rich greatly increased where the income of the middle and lower class only increased slightly. Since the majority of Americans fall into the middle and lower class brackets, the few flourish while the many barely get by. By using many examples of economic differences to show that Americans are not equal economically, Mantsios illistrates his claim.
Class privileges are what a person is more likely to get from his economic status: a wealthy person will have much better privileges than a low wage worker. Mantsios tells the brief life stories of people from an upper, middle and lower class standing. By chronicling their lives, Mantsios shows that the upper class man, Harold S. Browning, succeeds very far to become the executive vice president of a digital instrument company because he had a wealthy family. From the time he was born he had good schooling and advanced tutoring in foreign language and mathematics. He was able to go to a highly renowned preparatory school and continued on to an Ivy League liberal arts college. This propelled him to a very highly paid job to which he is chauffeured. His whole life was focused on becoming a better person academically and economically because his family was wealthy enough not to worry about finances. In contrast, Mantsios describes Cheryl Mitchell. She is a 38 year old black woman who is a nurses aid making $15,820. Raised by her grandmother, while attending public school in Brooklyn, Cheryl works as a babysitter rather than improve her academics. Due to lack of funds, she quits her community college at 17 to work at a bakery. The difference between Harold and Cheryl is that their lives are directly related to the wealth of their parents. Harold could focus on his schooling and business skills to better his future as an employee whereas Cheryl had to drop out of school to work, just like she had throughout high school.
Not only does a parent’s economic status affect their children, but a person’s race and gender greatly deter economic advancement. Mantsios explains that “racial and gender domination are other forces that hold people down.” He believes that if a person is non-white or female, they will face oppression no matter the profession. “As women, they face discrimination and male domination.” “Similarly, a wealthy black man faces racial oppression.” Even if a person is able to advance themselves financially, they still face discrimination based on their appearance.
The American dream is a collection of ideas that say that hard work and determination will lead to success no matter your economic status: an idea which Mantsios disproves. Though there are four myths, the primary myth is that everyone from any social or economic background has an equal chance to succeed. However, a person’s life is greatly determined by their parents and economic bracket or physical appearance. Being a minority or female greatly increases you chances of being poor in America. Mantsios’ purpose throughout “Class in America—2003” is to show that America is not equal economically and is based on race and your parent’s economic bracket.
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