Race in America is one of those subjects that scholars rarely broach and are heavily criticized for these omissions by their constituents. For this reason, the subject of race and urbanization felt a proper choice for this final paper. Following, we will incorporate data from multiple sources including Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, a novel that examines the harrowing trials of different groups in Afghanistan and what happens to the ones lucky enough to escape the violence of their homeland into the safety net of American soil; in an attempt to show the inalienable link between race and urbanization.
This discussion on urbanization and race in American will also include a brief discussion on classism. Classism is a part of the structural organization of society that can be measured as part of the contributing factors to the socioeconomic divisiveness experienced in this urbanized world. Some argue that gentrification, in all of its wonders is class based. Others argue it more a matter of ethnicity and race, both may be correct. Nevertheless, the issue of race, as aforementioned should be granted a closer look.
By examining the ideas and experiences of anthropologists and sociologists past and present this paper will attempt to specify on how classism, racism, and urbanization are connected. Growing Cities and Ghettos The Industrial Revolution sparked an enormous wave of migrants and immigrants into American cities creating an urban ecology. Chapter 3 of the Giddens et. al. text, describes the social movement from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft; from a community based ideology in society to a more individualized world. Afghanistan is an agriculturally based society.
Urbanization is a global process that draws people away from rural areas and into the cities. Once in those cities, people tend to gravitate to areas that are inhabited by people of their same cultural fabric. In discussing theories of urbanization, gentrification and displacement, John Bentacur (2010) in Gentrification and Community Fabric in Chicago points out how people are drawn to areas that have a cultural/ethnic connectivity, “immigrants with different characteristics compete for space until they get accommodated with alike others in locations that correspond to their competitive strengths” (p 384).
In the novel, The Kite Runner, Amir and his father make the arduous migration from Kabul, Afghanistan to Fremont, California. Their low income neighborhood of Fremont is ethnically diverse but with a notable concentration of Afghani residents. It makes sense that when people leave their countries of origin to settle in a new place, they will be drawn to people and areas that are familiar to them. Even with familiarity problems arise, urban studies reveal several difficulties that plague densely populated urban neighborhoods; poverty, crime and dilapidated conditions to name a few.
In Afghanistan Baba, Amir’s father, was rich and even wielded some power for being a respected business man and serving the community by creating an orphanage that would later be destroyed by the Taliban regime. In America, there would be no such accolades to speak of for their family. In fact, they would live in a type of poverty, they had never experienced nor hardly imagined. They would experience the existence that many black Americans face with no end in sight.
A growing world population combined with globalization and the heightened mobility that comes with it has led to the creation of cities and a scramble for affordable housing. Gentrification also known as ‘urban regeneration’ or ‘re-urbanization’ is the process that happens in a community when it becomes urbanized and consists of the higher income families moving into lower income areas. During this process demographic changes are notable; in America, gentrification is notably marked by white families moving into black neighborhoods. Race and Ethnicity America is a multicultural nation.
Our history of slavery created the black and white groups and the immigrant populations from around the world contributes to a high variety of culture and ethnic background. The macro-sociological issue of race and ethnicity has been the source of much debate and discussion. The reason for this is that the issue of race has been the root cause of social and political turmoil. Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton provide the backdrop in history when segregation by race was created in America in their book American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass.
Massey and Denton edify that racial segregation was not always a fact of life in American society and that in fact; blacks and whites lived in close proximity to each other, albeit in the alley ways of the big homes occupied by their white neighbors, “industrialization in the north unleashed a set of social, economic and technological changes that dramatically altered the urban environment in ways that promoted segregation between social groups” (1993:19-26).
Urbanization and technological advancement (causing blacks in the south to migrate to northern cities by the tens of thousands) would be the foundation for residential segregation where blacks and other minorities would be relegated to the outskirts of town. Black ghettos would remain isolated from society in a manner that was rarely, experienced by the European immigrants that came to this country during industrialization.
Blacks and later, Latinos, would be destined to live isolated and neglected from social organizations and deprived from many of the benefits enjoyed by white communities with little hope of escape, “not only was the segregation of European ethnic groups lower, it was also temporary. Whereas Europeans isolation indices began to drop shortly after 1920, the spatial isolation characteristics of blacks had become a permanent feature of the residential structure of large American cities by 1940” (Massey and Denton 1993:57).
In America, race and ethnicity is more clearly defined than in places like Afghanistan. According to data gathered from the PBS News Hour website, Afghanistan has nine different ethnic groups that reside in different territories of the country. They have fought and continue to fight civil wars, over culture (religion), legislative power and territory. Afghanistan and the U. S. are similar in their historical oppression of one ethnic group over another. In Afghanistan, the Pashtun/Sunni have for a long time ruled the land and claimed dominion over the Hazara/Shites.
The Hazara group can be considered the equivalent to the Black demographic in America where historically they were the slave class, but are currently represented in government. Statistics In a rapidly modernizing world, Afghanistan is among the severely underdeveloped countries of the Middle East. As previously mentioned, Afghanistan is a multiethnic/multifaith, agriculturally based democracy, with a history of violence. And it perhaps it is this history, in addition to deep religious belief systems that have kept this land from joining the rest of the modern world.
In reviewing the Millennium Development Goals indicators, data collected by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), I reviewed several indicators that point to the fact that Afghanistan has a long road ahead. Afghanistan is making slow but sure progress trying to bring itself into a socially, politically and economically stable place. The first indicator measured the number of underweight children less than 59 months. The UNSD defines this indicator as a high number of moderately to severely underweight children, “whose weights for age are less than two standard deviations”.
According to the report a healthy population will have 2. 3 percent of their children in this category. In 2004, 32. 9 percent of Afghanistan’s children were reportedly underweight, compared to 44. 9 percent in 1997. This indicator points to the poverty level and lack of nourishment recorded within a seven year period in Afghanistan. A second indicator measures women’s rights and representation in government. This indicator is defined as, “the portion of seats held by women in national parliament” increased from 3. 7 percent in 1990 to 27.
3 percent in 2006. The measurement was sustained through 2012 at 27. 7 percent. More work needs to be done and educating the population should be the place to start. Theological Link The Modernization Theory discussed in the text looks to explain the underdevelopment of countries like Afghanistan. Marx worried about capitalism and the effects it had on the lower-class population and thereby, the democratic process. Marx’s Conflict Theory dictates that societies are ruled by a small group of elite that create social order for the larger population.
In this, we have the creation of divisions by class (division of labor), a central topic of discourse since the beginning of industrialized times. The French Revolution of 1787 (also known as the revolt of the bourgeois or middle-class society) creating capitalism and thereby usurping government power from monarchs. Karl Marx hated democracy. “Democracy is the road to socialism” (Karl Marx) Capitalism created tensions between the working and bourgeois classes. Summary Race and urbanization are indivisibly linked. Marxism and Class Conflict is the most applicable theory of today’s society.
Considering the current events and status of world order, it is undeniable; capitalism continues to be the most powerful ideology in the world. The United States is a powerful country and the way it retains power is by unwaveringly maintaining capitalistic ideology and participating in global conflict around the world in defense of this ideology, “power, ideology, and conflict are always closely connected” (Giddens 2012:20). Societies are based on trust and these trusts are broken by the people that create and uphold unjust rules for the population of color and the poor.
Works Cited Betancur, John. 2010. “Gentrification and community fabric in Chicago. ” Urban Studies Journal Foundation. Sage 48(2): 383 – 407. Retrieved from http://usj. sagepub. com/content/48/2/383 Giddens, Anthony, Mitchell Duneier, Richard P. Applebaum and Deborah Carr. 2012. “Introduction to sociology. ” New York: W. W. Norton and Company. Eighth ed. , pp. 15-78. Massey, Douglas and Nancy A. Denton. 1993. “The construction of the ghetto. ” Pp 17-59 in American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making for the Underclass. Harvard University Press. Retrieved from http://ereserve. baruch. cuny. edu.
remote. baruch. cuny. edu/eres/coursepage. aspx? cid=3155&page=docs United Nations Statistics Division. (1991-2011) [Table Data on Gender Parity Index in Primary Enrollment retrieved November 5, 2012. ] Millenium Development Goals Indicators. Retrieved from http://mdgs. un. org/unsd/mdg/Metadata. aspx? IndicatorId=0&SeriesId=559 United Nations Statistics Division. (1991-2011) [Table Data on Gender Parity Index in Primary Enrollment retrieved November 5, 2012. ] Millenium Development Goals Indicators. Retrieved from http://mdgs. un. org/unsd/mdg/Metadata. aspx? IndicatorId=0&SeriesId=557.
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