Why does poverty exist in US inner cities?
There have been many books written to address this question. However, the discussion below will give you a good look into some of the main reasons. To answer this question we have to look to racial history in the US. There are three issues to focus on: cheap labor, exploitation, and legal discrimination. Let's begin with cheap labor. After the emancipation of Black slaves in the south, many freed slaves who moved north in the "Great Migration" were not treated much better than their southern counterparts. Freed slaves who remained in the south became entrapped in a system known as sharecropping. Sharecropping is when the owner of a piece of land "leases" a portion to workers who then give up a portion of their wages or produce as payment. However, these were verbal agreements and often plantation owners who needed cheap laborers would tack on additional costs that the laborer needed to pay before they could leave. In the north freed slaves were met with discriminatory practices, such as not allowing them to access education or better jobs. Many freed slaves worked as nannies or laborers in factories in urban centers. It is important to note that at this point in history African Americans were extremely vulnerable. The majority had no education, no savings, and no legal protection. So why did cheap labor continue to be important in the creation of poverty in inner cities? Factories needed cheap labor to continue the expansion of industrialization of the US. As the US transitioned from slavery to industrialization there was a high demand for jobs. However, white workers were more expensive to employ as they demanded higher wages, better conditions, etc. It was easier to transfer African Americans from the south to factories on the east coast and rust belt. One example was Henry Ford who moved African Americans from the south to work in his factory in Michigan. While we may know Henry Ford as the creator of the model-T he also exploited cheap black labor. Next, how did exploitation occur? As factories continued to ramp up production, especially during WWI and WWII, cheap labor demand was high. However, after WWII American industries hit a bust. No longer were factories pumping out parts and pieces at a high rate. Many industries were relocated abroad in order to cut input costs as well as labor. Unfortunately, most factories were located in urban areas where high concentrations of people lived. During industrialization urban centers were filled with African Americans as well as other laborers such as the Irish or Italian. However, the Irish and Italian obtained upward mobility through economic ethnic enclaves. Economic ethnic enclaves were organized to protect different groups in society. For example, Jewish people were also not welcomed when they arrived to the US. To meet the needs of their people, Jewish deli's opened providing a service that other groups could not. The Italian and Irish were also not allowed to attend school or attain an education in the US either. However, they did have support from the Catholic Church who built parochial schools for them to attend. So what did economic ethnic enclaves provide? They provided a space in which different ethnic groups could build a somewhat separate economy from the dominate group allowing them to gain needed resources, skills, and income. Most importantly they were able to attain education and wealth. Wealth and income are different things. Income is the paycheck you receive from your job whereas wealth is savings, dividends, stocks, etc. Wealth is very important for an ethnic group in not only gaining upward mobility but for buying a good house or even affording private education. So did African Americans have ethnic enclaves? The better question to ask is if they had them, why did they not work. There are a few reasons for this. 1) Other ethnic groups had the advantage as being "white." While this whiteness was not accepted by the Anglo-Saxons when they first arrived in the US, they were able to assimilate into the society because they were not identifiable by their skin. 2) African Americans had no access to education other than schools that were set up by themselves. Even when they did manage to create an economy, they were often driven out of their houses or their property stolen like in the Red Summer of 1919. As the African Americans could not create a functioning ethnic enclave due to interference by the white communities around them, they were not able to accumulate wealth. While it is possible to accumulate wealth in one generation, wealth is often multi-generational inherited through other family members in the form of money or a house or a business. Now onto our last point: legal discrimination. Through emancipation and up to the end of mass industrialization in the US (1960's), African Americans were not afforded the same resources to attain wealth which left them vulnerable to exploitation from factories who could use their cheap labor. When African Americans did move they were met with multiple legal provisions that limited them further. These include: Jim Crow laws, voting laws (3/5th of a vote and the grandfather clause), and housing/lending discrimination. For the purpose of this discussion we will focus on housing as this was the main way Americans ensured their wealth before the 2008 housing market crash. When African Americans tried to buy a house they were met with real estate agents who could show them newly built houses, but were often told "I don't know if they are open to selling to negros." (I use the term negros because that how they were referred to historically during this time.) Housing that they were able to find often was not of good quality and they often had to rent. Renting is problematic because you don't accrue equity. As a result, "white flight" a term used to explain the leaving of whites from increasingly colored neighborhoods, both depreciated housing values and left schools with less funding (most school funding comes from property taxes). While this is a very brief overview here is how all these points connect. 1) African Americans, though given freedom after the Civil War did not attain it due to plantation like practices such as sharecropping. 2) African Americans who moved north did not find job or educational opportunities. 3) Those who went to factories to then find work settled into urban areas where their labor was exploited as it was cheaper than white labor. 4) Industries begin to leave the US, leaving concentrated pockets of people of color in urban centers without jobs. 5) Even when African Americans tried to create ethnic enclaves before and during this time they were not successful due to violent interventions that left them without the same resources as other races/ethnicities. 6) Those that did try to find housing were met with discriminatory housing and lending laws that often forced them to rent rather than own a house. Over time, this led to white flight, leaving urban centers without need sources of variet income. 7) This has spilled over into underfunded schools and poor job creation in many of the old industrial cities on the east coast and in the rust belt. 8) As a result, poverty exists in inner cities due to a complex history of racial and economic oppression. This poverty is starkly comprised of people of color due to their identifiability over their white ethnic counterparts such as the Italian, Irish, or Jewish. This was also due to overt racism and institutional discrimination that purposely inhibited African American upward mobility. If you would like to learn more about this topic and the information presented here, I recommend the curriculum I use for teaching race and ethnicity: Aguirre and Turner. (2010). American Ethnicity. McGraw-Hill Education. Broman, C. (2013) Understanding Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary Society. Cognella Academic Publishing. Colby, T. (2013) Some of my best friends are black. Penguin Books.
What is the structure of English?
The English language follows the pattern of many SVO languages. The patterns in English adhere to subject-verb-object constructions. For example, "He ate the apple." "He eats the apple." It would be incorrect to say, "He apple ate." or "He apple eats." Let's contrast this with Japanese, another language I speak. Japanese is a SOV language. This means that sentence patterns adhere to subject-object-verb constructions. For example, "お昼 に 残り物 の ピザ を オーブン トースター で 温めた." ohiru ni nokorimono no piza wo o-ben tosuta- de atatameta lunch leftovers of pizza by oven toaster warmed In this example, the verb comes last: "to warm." Translated into English the sentence would read, "I warmed up leftover pizza in the toaster oven for lunch." It is easier to learn English if you already speak a SOV language but translation and use of English can be difficult as it has additional particles/words that other languages may not have. For example, in the Japanese sentence above "を" doesn't have a clear definition rather, it tells the reader or listener that there is an action being performed on the pizza. The same can be said for "の" a particle that indicates possession. In the sentence the leftovers "are" pizza. However, we wouldn't say in English "I warmed up pizza of leftovers in the toaster oven for lunch." This is only one example of English structure.
When should I use passive or active voice?
In general active voice engages the reader more and ensures that you are not overly wordy. Active voice also focuses on the action of the subject in the sentence. While passive voice is not grammatically incorrect, it can pull the focus away from the subject. For example, here is a passive sentence: "The pollution during modern technicism was worsening at such a rate that the Diet’s in Japan were often labeled “pollution Diets” as they dealt with policy related to stemming effects from poor water quality as well as soil and air pollution (Torigoe, 1984)." When looking for passive sentences check for groups of auxiliary verbs and transitory action words. In this case "were often" creates passive voice. We could rewrite the sentence in the following way: "During modern technicism, Japan Diet's are 'pollution Diets,' meaning the Diet poorly dealt with policy for water, air, and soil quality and pollution." This is a more simplified version of the previous sentence but explains the information concisely. The original sentence is much more complex than other passive sentences that you may encounter. Often you will not need to rewrite an entire sentence if you can change the auxiliary verbs and transitory action verbs.