ThereAre No Children Here
SteveBarkan is a sociology professor at the University of Maine. Barkan isthe author of many books and is a previous chairman of the Societyfor the Study of Social Problems. He began to study how to think likea “sociologist” and learned how to appreciate the worth of asociological point of view for understanding and altering thesociety. This paper is an application of Barkan’s sociologicalperspectives on stratification, racial inequality, gender inequality,institution and finally urbanization & social change toillustrations throughout “There Are No Children Here” (TANCH).
Racialand Ethnic Inequality
Accordingto Barkan (2011), one worthwhile explanation of racial and ethnicinequality is that blacks and “colored” people are biologicallysubstandard they are predictably less intelligent and haveadditional inborn flaws that keep them from getting decent educationand doing what needs to be done for the realization of the “AmericanDream”. Furthermore, Barkan explains that deficiencies of hard workand strong family ties justify the poverty and all the snags facingthese minorities (p. 112). Barkan’s point of perspective holds truefor TANCH. The Rivers family in “TANCH” is in a catch 22situation. They will never escape the life in the projects devoid ofa good job, but they can’t secure good employment without aneducation, and they can’t get an education as they have no money.Paul and LaJoe live in Henry Homer Public housing projects becausethey have no respectable employment, and therefore, no money.
Paulis seldom at home due to his drug consuming habit. Moreover,Lafeyette shrieks at his father telling him that drugs have affectedhis relationship with all of his family members, a fact that Pauladmits albeit in denial. Barkan’s (2011) view of blacks havingdysfunctional families is mirrored in this scenario. Lafeyette,unlike Pharaoh, has frequent run-ins with the law because he wondersif getting an education will help him get out of the projects, whichdrives him to becoming a gang member. Lafeyette is caught on severaloccasions shoplifting, gets busted while breaking into a truck andwas once caught smoking marijuana in school. Consequently, accordingto Barkan’s (2000) point of view, the Rivers and other “non-white”races will never realize the American Dream simply because they areless intelligent and have innate flaws that act as a hindrance totheir processes of attaining prosperity (p. 156). Lafayette does notbelieve that an education would do him any good, influenced by thefact that there are many properly educated youths still living in theprojects. This mirrors Barkan’s (2011) perspective of the innateflaws that keep colored people from pursing education.
SteveBarkan (2011) argues that certain structures and processes in thesociety occur because they serve imperative functions for thesociety’s continuity and stability. For instance, surgery as anoccupation is far much more important than that of a shoe-maker.Hence, the remunerations of a surgeon have to be more than shoeshining. Building on Karl Marx’s perspective of class societies,Barkan suggests that there is a conflict between the needs of thestrong or the “haves” and the weak or “have-nots” in thesociety (p. 148). In TANCH, Pharaoh and Lafeyette go to the ChicagoStadium to offer protection to the cars in the parking bays for a fewdollars. A white policeman provokes Lafeyette by pinning him on theground, yelling in his face that white people have no money to giveto “niggers”. This signifies that African Americans are thesocietal scum and are therefore not entitled to getting money fromthe “whites” in the form of handouts. When Lafeyette is taken tocourt and found not guilty on the grounds of lacking witnesses andevidence, the white judge thinks otherwise and finds him and his“black” friends guilty. Lafeyette is ordered to complete 100hours of community service.
Furthermore,Craig, one of Lafayette’s close friends, is shot dead by a whitepolice officer who “suspects” him of being a gun runner and agang member. Craig has just graduated from high school, has a job andis not in any gang. He is shot dead by virtue of the fact that he is“colored”, and according to the whites, being “colored” meansthat someone is a drug addict, drug peddler, gang member or murderer.The blacks here in TANCH are treated as lesser humans the whitesreigning supreme. Complimenting Barkan’s (2011) perspective ofstratification, the “colored” in TANCH are inferior to thewhites, marking a clear demarcation between the “haves” and“have-nots” in the society. It is this ongoing war betweensatisfying the needs of both groups that determines how the societywill run. For the continuity of the society, Barkan comments that thewill of stronger (haves) members of the society have to reignsupreme. The rest (have-nots), just like the blacks in the TANCHprojects, have no influence or command whatsoever over anything inthe society bringing out the element of stratification (p. 169).
Barkan’s(2011) perspective on gender inequality is similar to those of racialinequality, only that in this case it is sexually oriented. Accordingto Barkan, “colored” male and female members are inferior totheir white counterparts (p. 202). In TANCH, LaJoe has her Departmentof Public Aid condensed after they claim that she has been dippingtwice into the system all lies. Just because she is a coloredfemale, an all-white federal administered corporation chokes herbenefits. LaJoe gets disparate to the point of relying on friends andfamily for help. Her benefits are reinstated several months later andshe has never been reimbursed for the duration she did not receiveher full benefits.
Institution,Urbanization and Social change
Barkan(2011) makes it clear that beliefs in societal and culturaldeficiencies are examples of inferiority notions. The project, as aninstitution, determines the behaviors, beliefs and life chances of anindividual. However, individual differences matter. The mostelementary individual behaviors and attitudes like voting andmarriage are to some degree, influenced by our social backgrounds inthe societies to which we belong (p. 212). This “institution”(projects) creates an opposition culture as seen in TANCH, whereAfrican Americans are violent with frequent shootings and high levelsof ”street culture” in the urban settlement areas . However, thissegregation stems from extreme poverty, segregation and otherdifficulties the people in TANCH projects.
Toinstill social change, the CHA gets a new leader by the name LaneVincent to turn around the issues of mismanagement. He acts bysweeping the project to get rid of gang members. Nevertheless,shootings continue but eventually die down when clean-ups, repairsand improvements appear at Homer Projects. In addition to this, thebrothers decide to go back to school, culminating in Lafayette’sgraduation in 1990. All these are changes documented in TANCH as seenthrough the lens of Steve Barkan. At least Pharaoh and Lafeyette arealive, although still in the projects. The Rivers only source of hopefor ever leaving the projects is Pharaoh, who is adept in hiseducational endeavors.
Barkan,S. (2011). Sociology:Understanding and changing the social world.Irvington, NY: Flat World Knowledge. ISBN13:9781936126514