Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Making Ends Meet

Dorothy Gallagher writes for the New York Times in 2001 about the book Nickel and Dimed, which was published in the same year. Within the article, she makes note of the prosperity that was felt in 1998, when Ehrenreich's social experiment took place, however, she also points out the fact that there was a welfare reform meaning that a large portion of the American working class would no longer be able to survive and make a living wage on $6 or $7 an hour.

Ehrenreich therefore decided to work undercover as an unskilled labourer looking to make a living after a recent divorce which had forced her back into employment. It could be argued, therefore, that Ehrenreich could not possibly understand the full extent of the struggles faced by these low-wage earners and would never receive an unbiased view. However, Gallagher points out in her critique of Nickel and Dimed that Ehrenreich is aware of this.
''So,'' she writes, ''this is not a story of some death-defying 'undercover' adventure. Almost anyone could do what I did -- look for jobs, work those jobs, try to make ends meet. In fact, millions of Americans do it every day, and with a lot less fanfare and dithering.''
Gallagher continues to discuss the content of Ehrenreich's book and draws the conclusions that the wages are too low and the rents too high in America. By discussing Ehrenreich's interactions with fellow co-workers and learning about their living situations, it is clear to see that there is a vast gap between the low-wage earners and the middle class. As Gallagher notes:
Ehrenreich's picture of the working poor was taken during the best of times. Yet the comforting economic clich├ęs offered by our pundits failed even under those boom conditions: a rising tide does not lift all boats; trickledown economics stops just south of the middle class.
Here, she agrees with Ehrenreich's conclusions of a corrupt nature within American society and how the system is governed. Without the benefits of welfare, people working unskilled jobs will be unable to afford rent and thus will either become homeless, end up paying through the nose for a motel room, or have to take on a second job. For those who have children to take care of, this is simply not an option for them. Gallagher concludes that Nickel and Dimed has highlighted the plight of the working class and makes it undeniably clear that the many suffer for the benefit of the few.
We have Barbara Ehrenreich to thank for bringing us the news of America's working poor so clearly and directly, and conveying with it a deep moral outrage and a finely textured sense of lives as lived. As Michael Harrington was, she is now our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism.
However, as Ehrenreich's book was written over ten years ago, it is possible to argue that there hasn't been much change in the class system and that member of the working class in America still struggle every day, having to choose between necessities such as food or rent, health care or child care. In conclusion, Nickel and Dimed becomes a call to arms, a wake up call for policy makers, should they read the book, as well as the working class themselves. The main message that is received from the book is that this is not okay and this is not normal, but it is, in a way, in the hands of those directly affected by the wages who can help themselves out of the situation.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Pajiba Review

This is taken from a popular blogging website, one used for reviews on films, songs and books. however the issue with this is that anyone can put their opinion on critical view on a page. Which is where we find this blog, unfortunately the blogger is unnamed which means that the review is probably not academic or on a popular critic's standard. Although it does offer another person's view and opinion on the subject, detailing how they feel the novel expressed certain issues and also more thoroughly in this blog; the views on the public's reaction to the novel.

This blogger feels disgusted about the reaction the novel had on the middle class American's, as many of them felt the book to be eye-opening, where as this blogger feels many texts have revealed the lower class working situations before; like the film 'Crash'. This blogger may feel anger towards the reaction however, but he also criticises Barbara Ehrenreich as an author as well saying that she is not a novel writer and how most of the text is written as a narration of her personal experiences. This may seem to be unhelpful for the blogger, but the object of the text was to illustrate the experiences, therefore the blogger has misunderstood the purpose.

The blogger's personal opinion of Barbara is as follows:
"She always has the option of pulling out and returning to the home she owns in New York — and of getting emergency medical care, dipping into her savings renting a hotel to avoid being on the streets — and doesn’t have the same long term worries, such as having no benefits, no retirement funds, or inadequate medical/dental care. Even though she acknowledges this, it still feels incredibly insulting and patronizing. This might have more to do with the target readership than the book itself; seriously, do people not know these things? Have they really never heard what it’s like to live poor, or do they just need someone who is actually rich to tell them to believe it? Do people not believe the firsthand experience of someone who lives this reality day to day? I know I am asking a lot of rhetorical questions, but I am doing it because I am truly incredulous"

This blogger constantly demeans the novel, stated overall that one should only read it if you were interested in the facts of low-wage employment in the U.S. However i would disagree with this and say that it offers not only the facts of low-wage employment, but it also offers first-hand experience of discrimination, segregation and explores the journey that many people overcome everyday in their American lives.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Nickel and Dimed: A Critical Review
This review from the website 'Think Your Way To Wealth', discusses Barbara Ehrenreich's novel Nickel and Dimed in great depth. It makes reference to each of the three cities where she carried out her experiment, as well as the critical responses that surround her work as a whole. In general, while the author of the article recognises the fact that the novel is good and well written, insomuch that it engages the audience in the portrayal of the struggles and problems that surround workers in the low wage system, the author also acknowledges some of the criticisms that could be seen in Ehrenreich's work.

One criticism in particular that the author argues is that Ehrenreich did not fully complete, nor achieve, her experiment to its full potential, due to the fact that it was carried out over the period of just three months. The writer states, "I am also not sure if her experiment was long enough to tell, or if she gave it her full effort." Although it is true that, perhaps, three months were not enough time to carry out an experiment to produce good reliable results, I think that it is unfair to suggest that she did not ‘give it her full effort’. Ehrenreich lived the life of someone stuck within the low wage system, working all day with hardly any time for a break, such as her waitressing job in Florida. A lot of the time she had to work two jobs, such as in Maine, just so that she could survive off of low pay. Her purpose was to see if she could get by living on less that the minimal pay within America - the only way for her to do this was to give it her all.

However, the author does praise Ehrenreich for her portrayal of life, and the realities that people face within the low wage system,"...many of the points she brings up are true. It is incredibly difficult, I would imagine, for someone who was born into poverty to break the cycle." Not only this, but the writer also go on to state that the fact that Ehrenreich herself did not expect some of the extremities of the low wage jobs, only further draws emphasis upon the true realities of the low wage system and the people located in it. The writer states,

She does point out many hardships and difficulties for those who, whether lacking education or other reasons, have to start out at the bottom earning minimum wage. It is difficult to get by, and even harder to get ahead. I would not expect it to be easy, but I am not sure if Ehrenreich expected it to be quite so hard.

It could be argued that because Ehrenreich herself was not fully aware of the things that happen within the low wage system, this further makes the novel come across as hard hitting, realistic and effective. Not just through the realities, but the acceptance and positivity of the people that she encounted along the way. For example, Ehrenreich's simple question, asked of the ladies at The Maids toward the end of her time in Maine; how do they feel about the people who have so much, yet they themselves barely get by? The responses of '... I'd like to have this stuff someday. It motivates me and I don't feel the slightest resentment because, you know, it's my goal to get to where they are' (p.118) to '...I'm a simple person, and I don't want what they have... but what I would like is to be able to take a day off now and then... and still be able to buy groceries the next day' (p.119) has an effect on us as readers, to some extent emotionally, as well as realistically, in the portrayal and admiration for the people of this sector, as well as the fact that it shocked Ehrenreich herself.

Overall, the author of this article offers a fair view of Ehrenreich's novel, offering the recognition of both the strengths and weaknesses of Ehrenreich's work, although not all of it I agree with. Nevertheless the author recognises Nickel and Dimed as well-written and worth reading, "If you have never worked in a low paying job before, it may open your eyes. It also points to the difficulties many have just paying for rent and food in this country, while making only minimum wage..."

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Critique of Nickel and Dimed

This review of Nickel and Dimed is written by Joni Scott, the director of 'Pro Choice League' which offers 'Women their Fundamental Rights to Abortion and Privacy.' Therefore, he clearly has a liberal feminist viewpoint.
Scott recognises that although Barbara Ehrenreich attempted to fit the mould of the average low-paid worker, she unfortunately does not fit the criteria. Scott states, 'Many don't have the luxury of start-up money, car, white skin, good health, the ability to speak English, or three years of college to help her secure employment.' Therefore her experiment is not completely reliable, as Ehrenreich had the benefits that others employees fail to obtain. For instance, she is more likely to secure employment due to her skin colour, as she states 'I chose Maine for its whiteness.' (Page 51) However, Ehrenreich highlights such issues to the reader in order to emphasise that the reality is even more disturbing than her account is able to inform us.
On the other hand, Scott praises Ehrenreich as she obtains 'respect for those enduring the daily maelstrom of low-wage life.' For example, when her fellow worker Holly injures herself, Ehrenreich states '"I'm not working if you don't get help."' (Page 111) However, it could be argued that Ehrenreich was instead threatening to strike in order to express her own principles and anger towards the injustice being exercised towards her fellow employees. Either way, she clearly shows a concern for the welfare of these unfortunate individuals and this allows her to criticise and expose the errors of American businesses.
Ehrenreich's attitude towards her work is praised, as she 'even feeds residents in an Alzheimer ward without complaint.' She therefore is fully committed to performing her jobs well, even though she is only working temporarily. However, her temporary placements may explain her calm persona. She will never be able to fully experience the stress and discontentment of a low-wage worker unless she becomes one.
Scott realises the importance of the experiment, because Ehrenreich 'examines how corporations often strip employees of their dignity.' An example of this is the drug testing, as Ehrenreich states, 'you have to be willing to squat down and pee in front of a health worker.' (Page 14) These tests show that employees are treated as criminals, even though they are only trying to earn a living. Those in managerial positions can impose such practices because they have the authority. But their purposes are also understandable, as they will prevent the use of drugs which will benefit both the employer and the employee.
Mostly, Ehrenreich 'delivers a profoundly poignant description of people.' For instance she describes her co-worker George as 'a perfect straight arrow-crew-cut, hardworking, and hungry for eye contact.' Although individual characteristics of low-paid workers may seem irrelevant, they offer deeper insight. Most of the people Ehrenreich works with are willing to work hard, therefore the reader begins to question why they are not being paid enough money for their work. Furthermore, their desire to work hard shows that they have not given up hope. They are attempting to achieve, perhaps even attempting to achieve the American dream, despite the difficult circumstances they are in.
Scott concludes by stating 'I believe this book should be required reading for corporate executives and politicians.' Overall the book is highly useful in exposing the issues confronting low-wage workers in America. Although Ehrenreich fails to fully commit to her role economically, she fully commits to her work mentally and physically, therefore her account is reliable and worthwhile in promoting action against inequality.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Bay Mills Indian Community

The Bay Mills Indian Community is located in Michigan (shown as number 11 on the map) and was formed in 1936. The group was established and their constitution was passed in the year of 1936. They treat themselves almost as a separate nature, with their own constitution, government and voting system. The tribe is made up of just over 1500 members, with around 1000 who are able to vote (18 years of age or more).

Although they like to see themselves as completely separate, they do state that they have inter-governmental relationships between Chippewa County, especially with the childcare and police department; this shows how although they like to keep themselves to themselves in terms of the rest of the country, they do recognise that many legal matters and the law still apply to them.

The tribe seem to very organised in terms of them having many events planned and also have their own newspaper especially for the residents- which proves the sense of community and spirit within the group. The community does also have many departments which deal with certain aspects of their society, such as gaming, accounting and housing. They have three council meetings planned for 2012, in April, July and October- this also shows how they like to keep the people happy as they can raise issues and talk together at quite regular intervals. I am especially impressed with the fact that they have their own health centre, because it shows how much they rely on their own people to look after each other; something which I personally believe is often lost in many modern day, capitalist cultures not only in America but across the whole world.

When researching Bay Mills Indian Community, I also came across the Bay Mills Resort and Casino which is owned and run by native Americans; the money earned from this resort is used to buy more land so the community can spread further out and become more influential and powerful. This is quite a contrasting concept, as the people of this culture who appear to like the simpler, traditional way of life take advantage of the modern day culture of spending lots of money and having materialistic values, by transferring the wealth they attain from modern day Americans from the cities and re-investing it into their own community.

The group seem to very proud of their history and roots, considering how well organised the website and newspaper are; it proves their commitment and how they want to keep their society working. The flag/badge of the group is also quite traditional with the feathers and block colours, there is also writing at the bottom at the badge which I would assume to be native Indian, which keeps the roots and history of the group prominent with their motto being written in their own language rather than in the national language of America, English.

I believe there is a lot to be learned from tribes such as the Bay Mills Indian Community, because they prove that life can be enjoyed without lots of money and the luxuries that many people have in America nowadays; and that looking after your own people and being proud of your history rather than submitting to assimilation amongst the ever-increasing American culture can often be a positive thing; especially when you look at how organised they are in their own community. I also believe that the negative press and reputation Indians have within American society and also the unfair segregation they face is somewhat unfair, as this website shows that they are simply getting on with their lives- however, this could be a biased point of view because it is written from their perspective, and in fact although they seem to be organised with their own healthcare centres etc. the standards of health and the medical expertise is unlikely to be up to the standards of many developed areas in America.

Seminole Tribe

The Seminole Tribe are the descendents of the Creek people or members of the Muskogean language family, who have lived in South East America since records were conceived. The Seminole speak seven different languages which contribute to the diversity of the tribe-Muscogee, Hitchiti, Koasati, Alabama, Natchez, Yuchi and Shawnee. Today the Seminole live in Florida, still living on the fringes of society which has been the case for nearly 400 years although today not as thorough. The tribe were placed in two out of 18 reservations set up in Florida in 1913, this split the tribe into two, one group known as the Miccosukee Tribe of Seminole Indians of Florida, lived in a safe haven for their people who held tradtional views. Where as the second group took to the offer of the reservation that began a new way to sustain the Seminole culture, however they were more ready for assimilation to other customs and cultures learning new religions like Christianity, which is why on the tribe emblem it has the saying 'in god we trust'.

A Brief Timeline of Seminole's History:

Time line
Time line

Time line

Today the Seminole casinos support a growing infrastructure for the Seminole community’s health and welfare, public safety, education and other services. The economic stability provided by gaming, combined with the cattle, citrus, and other business enterprises, has made the Seminole Tribe of Florida one of the most successful native business peoples in the United States today. They employ more than 7,000 employees in their casinos, hotels and other enterprises and purchase more than $130.3 million in good and services yearly. One other note that makes the Seminole tribe different to any other Native Indian's, is that they are the only tribe in America who have never signed a peace treaty.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation states on its website that it is a federally recognised government with inherent sovereign status which has been recognised by treaty and law. By stating this, The Cherokee Nation immediately reinforces its importance to the Cherokee people. Furthermore, they also make note of the significance they have to the United States.
With more than 300,000 citizens, over 8,000 employees and a variety of tribal enterprises ranging from aerospace and defense contracts to entertainment venues, Cherokee Nation’s economic impact in Oklahoma and surrounding areas is more than $1.5 billion annually. We are one of the largest employers in northeastern Oklahoma. We are the largest tribal nation in the United States.
Especially in this time of recession, it is clear to see that The Cherokee Nation is valuable to the citizens of Oklahoma, but also that they are significant to the contribution of Native Americans in the United States as a whole. By stating that they are the largest tribe reinforces the fact that they are keeping their culture alive in today's modern world.

On the website, The Cherokee Nation offers many services not only to its citizens but to other Native Americans throughout its tribal jurisdiction also. The website offers help in areas such as housing, community, education, career services and many more. They also state that these services are often there to help citizens to help themselves, reinforcing their values of education in order to further enrich people's lives. Interestingly, they state that:
The Cherokee Nation dedicates resources through federal funding and tribal revenue to provide these and other services to the citizens who need them most.
This federal funding could be seen as reparations for the way the Cherokees were treated, as The Cherokee Nation has a full history on their website, including first hand accounts of the Trail of Tears, showing that they will never forget.

There is also an issues section of the website which, interestingly, has fraudulent groups as one of their main concerns. Many fake Indian groups have tried to pass themselves off as real in order to make money as they apply for and receive aid from the historic treaty-based obligations that was intended for Indians. Another main concern is the distortion of the true Indian history in order to make the fake group seem credible. This thus helps to reinforce the fact that the Cherokee Nation if an affluent organisation so much so that fraudsters are trying their hardest to reap the benefits intended for them.

By studying The Cherokee Nation's website it's clear to see that this is a strongly established group that has strength in numbers but also in passion for their culture. Their main concerns are that people will forget their rich history, and that's why the website is set up to educate with such detailed accounts of their history. Furthermore, their sense of community is strong throughout the website, offering support to others and events such as Remember the Removal which reiterates the tragedy of the Trail of Tears and what the Cherokee members can do to remember those Native Americans that were slaughtered.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe

The Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribes are located across north Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana, and have described themselves as 'the sum of uncounted centuries of untold generations.' In the tribe's language they are called 'Schitus'umsh', which means "Those who were found here" or "The discovered People". One of the most appealing aspects about the website is the amount of pictures that can be found when exploring, from images of the landscape to, presumably, past members of the tribe -perhaps important figures that existed within the tribe. In addition to this, the website also provides national Native news on Indian affairs as well as tribal community news. The website has a specific page concerning the tribal council, whereby they state that the chairman or council member deals directly with the President of the United States, leaders of congress or members of the President's cabinet to address and resolve tribal issues. From browsing the website, it is evident that the Coeur d'Alene tribe are particularly concerned over the environment, and how the struggle of ownership of land has caused 'terrible environmental damage'. As a result of this, the tribe founded the 'Coeur d' Alene Basin Restoration Project' to restore their land, although it is not stated whether they have successfully restored their land and lakes.

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe also employs about 1000 people in 16 departments of government or in tribal enterprises, which include the Cour d'Alene Casino and Hotel which can be found in North Idaho. The website states that the tribal gaming 'employs about 500 and generates about $20 million in profits annually, funding programs and creating economic development and diversity'. In addition to this, the tribe also has its own tribal school, which opened in 1997. The fact that they have their own school shows the importance of educating their children in terms of their own culture and the importance of their legacy and history.

In terms of sovereignty, the tribe has sovereign authority on a reservation that covers 345,000 acres of mountains, lakes, timber and farmland, spanning the western edge of the northern Rocky Mountains. The tribe argues that the sovereignty of any Indian tribe exists because they have inherited it. Despite the fact that many other tribes relocated from their original homelands in the United States, due to the numerous disputes over land ownership and wars, the Coeur d' Alene tribe have always stayed true to their origins. They argue that they are therefore the 'truly original Idaho', maintaining jurisdictional and sovereign authority over their land.

"Tribes were here many thousands of years before there was a United States or an Idaho. Tribes were here and took part in the development and protection of the United States and Idaho. Tribes will be here even if the day comes when there is neither a United States nor an Idaho. "

From exploring the Coeur d'Alene Tribe website, it is clear to see the importance that they hold for their origins and for their community. The existence of their homeland, the restoration of the landscape and maintaining their sovereignty are important aspects which are held strong within the tribe, as well as their legacy of leadership. As stated on the homepage of their website,

"The Coeur d'Alenes are who they always were and who they will always be."

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Southern Ute Indian Tribe

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe 'is located on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in Southwest Colorado.'
Their logo contains the native Indian symbols of nature through the images of mountains and animals. However, the logo also includes images of modernity and civilisation. For instance the tractor 'represents the ranching, farming and industry that our tribal members and the tribe are involved with to make a living.' This demonstrates that the Ute Indians are willing to assimilate into society by using modern farming equipment.
The homepage of the website highlights that the reservation is home to the 'Sky Ute Casino Resort' which is owned and operated by the tribe. This informs us that the tribe are indeed progressive, because they place value on earning money, unlike a traditionalist Indian who would argue that nature should instead be highly valued.
Furthermore, the 'SunUte Community Centre' is advertised. Its mission is, "To expand and improve the quality of life for the Southern Ute Tribal Members and surrounding communities by stimulating social, physical, emotional, mental, cultural, and spiritual growth through recreational activities." This is achieved through fundraising events, such as the 'Mens & Womens Open Basketball Tournament,' which costs '$250 per team.' The use of sport to raise money is stereotypical, as Indians are often thought to be athletic; this made them useful during the First World War. Further, the centre recognises 'spiritual growth,' therefore traditional Indian practices are still significant to this tribe.
In addition, the 'Southern Ute Cultural Centre and Museum,' is also highlighted, which provides information on the Ute tribes' history and culture in the past through to the present. This implies that these Indians are proud of their heritage, despite their position as a minority within the United States. They are preserving their history in order to educate future generations of their existence so they are not forgotten.
The Ute Indian Tribe website also contains information about the history of the tribe. It illustrates their struggle for survival, for example, 'the Utes would trade even children to the Spanish for horses.' The tribe were clearly willing to survive by any means. They made great use of the horse, because it provided them with a quick method to escape from enemies and made buffalo hunting much easier. The history section gives a balanced view of the tribe, because on the one hand the above example shows that the tribe were civilised and willing to trade. On the other hand, the tribe 'became aggressive and warlike' when coming into contact with other tribes.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Senior Critics Word

This a review made by a blogger, Daniel C in 2010, he gives his own personal opinion on the novel and generally provides a positive response to 'Push'. He believes that the novel provides a surprising and absolutely unforgettable story, but also finds that because of the graphic nature of 'Push' it may be turned away by many. This is understandable as it may be too difficult for people to read, some parts in the novel are hard to take in and seem too disgusting or violent, however Daniel makes the point that it is because of these scenes that people should read 'Push', "it tells the physical and mental abuse that she was put through on a daily basis".

What i found disturbing about this blog was that he liked how graphic and the amount of detail that was put in to describing the graphic, whether that is because he feels it is needed to further express the criminality of the scene. In opinion i found the graphic scenes too awful to enjoy reading and therefore disagree with the blogger, because i also feel that minimalising the detail would still have a similar effect on how we perceived the characters.

The main point coming of this blog is that "push' is great for educating people into the reality of abuse and sexual violence, i agree 'push' definitely describes in detail the traumas faced by a victim of this abuse, i feel that it benefits or educates people further in acknowledging the rights and wrongs of society. However i feel that the novel should not be placed in front of young children as they could react traumatised themselves, and therefore believe that 'push' should only be accessed by adults.

Unfortunately the problem with this review was that it was done on a blogging system whereby anyone can add their response to a book or text. This means that it will not have as much research into it as say an executive editor of a magazine would have, but it does offer the chance for the general public to express their personal views on the novel.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Pushed To Survival

In 1996, Paula L. Woods writes the article Pushed to Survival: Push By Sapphire for the Los Angeles Times wherein she gives great praise to the novel, but also note its shortcomings. The graphic nature of Sapphire's writing is something that Woods commends as she states that it 'hits the reader like a Mack truck, and it clearly signals that the literary ride ahead won't be in your father's Oldsmobile.' This comment rings true for Push as when reading the novel, it is inevitable to feel unease. It is also an interesting comment to make considering the lack of a male role model within Precious' life.
When we meet her, 16-year-old Precious is anything but what her name implies--she's obese, illiterate and pregnant by her father for the second time.
Woods notes that criticisms may be made against Push because of the mere fact that Precious is so unlucky, and she makes it clear that she believes these criticisms will come from 'right-wingers'. However, Woods continues to argue that this novel makes it impossible for the reader to ignore Precious, and what she represents, even if they are prone to do so for 'real life Preciouses of the world'. The content of the novel, and its first person perspective, gives the narrative a heart and soul. It personifies welfare and highlights the inequality found deeply routed in the United States today. The fact that the novel is still a relevant talking point further enforces this; Push written in 1996, set in the 80s, and Precious the movie released in 2009, all reinforce the narrative as a timeless piece.. This is a story of America that has no expiration date.

However, although the message within Push is relevant and shockingly true, Woods is able to pick up some criticisms of Sapphire's writing.
As it stands, "Push" is wildly inconsistent in its narrative voice and use of language. The criticism, however, is leveled reluctantly and with much sympathy for the author's dilemma: How do you write a book about a protagonist who can barely read or write? The author's solution is to mostly write in Precious' voice, although there is a lengthy section of the first chapter that inexplicably--and annoyingly--shifts to a distant third-person narrator.
The shift from perspective within the novel is essential, some may argue, due to the fact that Precious' story can't be told if the reader can't understand it, but it also feels disjointed and out of character. It is fair to say that Sapphire's use of language is impressive in the way that the spelling improves as the book progresses (and as, presumably, Precious learns), but there are sections within the narrative that would not have as much force behind them if they were to be spoken in Precious' natural tongue.

'Regardless of the controversy that may surround the book's themes, perspective or language,' Woods sums up 'Push is an impressive yet deeply flawed debut.' This appears therefore to be a balanced critique of the novel, and favourable to Sapphire. The criticisms raised are legitimate, but Woods cannot offer an alternative solution to the dilemmas that Sapphire must have faced when writing the novel. Overall, the reaction from this critique seems to suggest that the message of the novel is vital, but could have been more successful in its presentation, a sentiment that is easy to agree with.

Critique of 'Push'

The Arts section of the New York Times contains a review of the book 'Push' by Sapphire. Firstly, the reviewer argues that 'Push' is 'meant to be a story of female empowerment and triumph.' This is accurate, seeing as Precious manages to gain an education despite her horrific 'childhood.' She also forms friendships and becomes independent through becoming a mother. On the other hand, Precious is prevented from triumphing because she is diagnosed with AIDS, thus the reader is aware that the characters life will be cut short. This suggests that masculinity will ultimately always dominate, as her father's abuse towards Precious becomes eternal, meaning she will never be able to escape from him.
Sapphire's style of writing is also analysed, as Kakutani explains how Precious's highly colloquial language 'allows us entree into her heroine's state of mind.' He therefore argues that despite the fact that the language is in parts rude and could be offensive for some readers, the language is personal to Precious. As a result the reader is able to connect with her more easily. The reference to 'heroine' implies that her language presents a beneficial view of Precious, because the character is being true to her ghetto Harlem upbringing by speaking in this manner. Consequently, the language used is realistic and allows Precious to express the anger and pain she feels.
However, the book does contain some unrealistic elements. For instance, Precious has 'difficulty learning the alphabet. Only pages later, her teacher is trying to get her to read "The Color Purple" in class.' Sapphire is desperately attempting to give this book a 'Ragged Dick' style, by constantly pushing the idea of progress, even willing to sacrifice realism. Yet juxtaposed to this is the reference to 'The Color Purple' which is based in the 1930s, therefore progress is prohibited as the Precious is forced to look to the past for help.
Furthermore, 'Push' bravely creates stereotypes, for example men are portrayed 'pigs who only think about sex.' This statement is supported by the rape of Precious by her father, but also by Rita's father killing her mother and the rape of Rhonda by her brother, for instance. Although these cases highlight the issues relating to deprived areas in the 1980s, the book portrays black men in a highly negative light. Sapphire's view of black men is supported by evidence, as "Young black men without a high school diploma are more likely to be found in a cell than in the workplace." (PewReport 2010.) If black men are still unable to progress in American society, literature should at least provide motivational stories for these men, rather than representing them as useless to society.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Week 3 - Immigration

Pro Latino Website:
NCLR:National Council Of La Raza
NCLR is a large latino civil rights organisation that works to improve opportunities for hispanic americans.
issues focused on by NCLR include education, health, immigration, workforce, civil rights and empowerment.
the information provided gives a convincing argument that could be very persuasive to those who come across the website as it is heavily backed up by facts and statistics.
the website highlights the importance of the Hispanic populate in American society, and exemplifies their significance within society and how they are a strong contributor to the economy therefore proving them to be of equal right to any other american citizen.

Anti Latino Website:
FAIR: Federation For American Immigration Reform
FAIR is a national, non profit, public interest membership organisation of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nations immigration policies must be reformed to serve national interest.
Their publication and research is used by academics and government officials in preparing new legislation. This would suggest it is a rather influential widely supported cause.
Founded in 1979 FAIR has got attention from the media in various forms that has brought it to the attention of american citizens and led to a following of over 250,000 members.
Members of FAIR believe immigration has a severe impact on important issues such as health, education, employment and crime etc. also suggesting it hinders the abilities of current american citizens. Therefore they aim to put an end to all illegal immigration and reduce significantly the number of immigrations able to migrate to america annually.

Latino Immigration


This website looks at why immigration can be a good thing for both the US and Mexico. It separates the document in four separate parts; creating a concise, well structured argument, whilst looking at certain aspects of the immigration. It focuses on how immigration benefits the countries in terms of profits & poverty and social security & starvation.

Using statistics, the information provided in this document is well supported and keeps everything interesting and often quite surprising. For example, the article states that 53% of Mexico's 104million population live in poverty- this is very shocking, and shows why the immigration rate is so prolific, as Latino people are looking to benefit themselves in terms of their quality of life and economic standing; meaning that they are willing to work hard and for a lower wage than American people. The illegal immigration also benefits America's economy because an estimated $7billion is paid to the American government via social security from immigrants. It also looks at how even though the immigrants might be seen to be stealing jobs from American people, they do the jobs that nobody else wants so actually help support the economy right from the very bottom, such as de-boning chicken in poultry plants, working in fields picking crops and in construction.

I believe that this article is good in terms of looking at contemporary immigration issues because it focuses on several different aspects and also looks at immigration from both sides of the issue. This means that it is fair and less biased, as well as meeting the aims of the article itself- to inform people of why immigration is so prolific and how it benefits each of the countries.

This image shows how prolific the immigration is at this current time and how much it is growing. Although there has was a slight drop between 2007 and 2010, the statistics are still very high and this is likely to be down to an increase in border security in recent years.


The website 'Protect Our Border' is a very much anti-illegal Latino immigration group, the author(s) are obviously very passionate about keeping immigrants out and are very patriotic, especially represented by the image of the American flag at the top of the site. The website outlines many points that it believes "Pro Illegal Alien Groups don't want you to know", there are 33 in total, all of which are well structured and looks at both social and economic factors that immigration affects.

Although the grounds for this argument do seem sometimes unfair, the authors have every right to argue their case, mainly because they do balance their point and often distinguish the fact that legal immigration is absolutely fine, it is just the illegal immigrants that they have problems with, which, in my opinion, is fair enough. Despite agreeing with parts of their argument, I do believe that referring to the illegal immigrants as 'aliens' is somewhat unfair, it almost dehumanises them; making out that they are not even valued people.

There have been many protests in recent years about stopping illegal immigration and the US government has proposed a plan to put a 700 mile fence across the south western border between Mexico and America. There are even petitions in place now which are aiming to stop illegal immigration for good, which, interestingly, is sponsored by the same 'Protect Our Border' page that I have talked about above.

And who are the Atzlans?

Here's a website which adds another element to the issue of migration and ethnic groups associated with southwest USA and Central America....

Who are they and what are the issues?
See you Monday.
Good wishes,

Bella Online vs AIC

This website was made by women with the notion of having a supportive and encouraging publishing community for women. This may not mean that you get highly academic articles, but you get the perspectives and the points of views that everyday women have to deal with, this means that you have regular sight of first hand experiences.

There is one section on this website that deals with the issue of Hispanic immigration, in fact it has its own culture site which dedicates itself to providing subjects and features based around Hispanic culture. Although one article or post deals with the issue of immigration specifically, this is 'Understanding Hispanic Immigration' where by the author Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie explores and defends the Hispanic immigration into the US. The way Rebecca presents this Hispanic immigration is by showing the immigrants through a successful and angelic description therefore given her pro account on the subject matter. She defends the Hispanics by telling a story of an immigrant ignoring money, from this you begin to believe that not all Hispanic immigrants go to America for a better life financially:

"There once was a man who came across the border of The United States. He was walking, as he was poor and came to the States looking to find his fortune. About a mile or so into the States, he saw on the side of the road a one hundred dollar bill. Now this man had been walking for some time and was very tired. He thought to himself, “I am even too tired to bend over and pick this money up; I’ll just pick up the next one I come across seeing as the streets are truly covered in wealth and gold.” He never saw another dollar bill on the street again."

The main view that this article presents is that: if the world presents a better and more sweeter life full of opportunities (America), would you not take it.

The only issue with this site is that the author is from an Hispanic background, therefore this can be seen as her just defending her own culture, giving a bias account of the immigration her family would have gone through.

The American Immigration Control foundation is an organisation dedicated to stopping illegal 'aliens' from crossing the border of Mexico into America, and also sending back those who have already settled within the USA. This organisation clearly presents an anti Hispanic immigration view, they have many goals which would help America to stop the massive increase in population and prevent crowding in certain areas, these objectives include:
  • AIC is about deporting those illegal aliens already in the U.S.
  • AIC is about strictly enforcing the current immigration laws and increasing penalties for those who knowingly transport, recruit, solicit, or hire illegal aliens.
  • AIC is about reducing annual legal immigration to numbers which can be readily assimilated.
  • AIC is about educating motivating and activating citizens with our newsletter Immigration Watch.
  • AIC is about encouraging all concerned citizens to join our efforts to secure America's borders.
The website provides many anti Hispanic views, some through the anger towards the growth of immigration therefore the population boom, another subject that is mentioned is the unemployment of WASPS, there are some examples where skilled Americans cannot get jobs because companies would rather pay less for Hispanic Americans.

This website obviously provides a anti Hispanic immigration outlook, they compare the immigrants to aliens and called the immigration the 'destructive flood'. Another way they present this anti opinion is through graphs and comic picture which illustrate the struggles and statistics of Hispanic immigration, one showing that this immigration will Quadruple the USA population growth by 2050.

WEEK 2 - american immigration k-12 project

This website provides teachers notes, tasks, lesson plans and learning resources for teachers for on the topic of American immigration past and present for Key stage 12 level students.

In the historical overview it shows that patterns of immigration are closely related to the economic status of both America and Europe. It almost blames the economic failures of Europe in the 1800’s for the immigration of Europeans into America.

The information provided for students is critical of immigration and is likely to give students a negative perspective on immigration, implying it affects their opportunities and prosperity. ‘’ at issue is the general question of whether we should continue our longstanding policy of openness or ‘close the gates’ in order to protect the existing levels of prosperity that most American citizens enjoy. – This implies that immigration is hindering the development of American citizens and their ability to achieve the American dream. They claim also that immigration causes a ‘host of problems’ using examples such as cultural differences and language barriers.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Pro & Anti Hispanic Immigration

The 'Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund' (MALDEF) was founded in 1968, and is considered to be the Latino legal voice for civil rights in America. It is also described as the “law firm of the Latino community”, as it promotes social change through advocacy, community education, employment and immigrant rights as well as others. In general, MALDEF seeks to create programs that are structured to bring Latinos into the mainstream of American political and socio-economic life, to provide better educational opportunities and encourage participation in all aspects of society. For example, one of MALDEF’s key aspects is the protection of Immigrant's rights to vote:
Today, Latinos are the largest-growing ethnic group in the country. MALDEF is at the forefront of the law and policy efforts to create and preserve opportunities for those in search of economic opportunity and personal freedom in America.

In addition to this, one of MALDEF’s aims is to protect is the right to an equal education. MALDEF has described the importance of education as the “portal to professional success, societal integration, and personal achievement” for many Hispanic and Latino Americans. This idea of ‘societal integration’ reinforces the idea that America is the land of the free, whereby everyone is equal and has the same rights. It is because of this that MALDEF aims to ensure that students have equal access to educational opportunities, regardless of income, nationality or language skill.

Employment is also another aspect which this organisation seeks to improve. Discrimination within the workplace affects many Hispanics and Latinos within America, that it only further creates the division between what America is today, and the America that is ‘the land of the free’. MALDEF lists the various ways of discrimination from the denial of promotions, to being forced to work unpaid overtime. It is because of this that MALDEF seeks to create a workplace that is free from discrimination and that removes systematic barriers to Latino advancement.

MALDEF also has a page for donations, whereby people can donate money to support the specific areas of interest such as immigrant integration, education for English Language Learners and political empowerment of the Latino community. It is on this page that the website and organisation mention the idea of the American Dream – ‘Never before has the need been greater for advocacy and education that will open doors to the American dream.’ By using the term ‘American Dream’ MALDEF reinforces the idea that many Latinos and Hispanics are held back from achieving their goals and dream, and that by supporting and donating money to the organization, they can continue to fight for a fair and equal community that will make a difference to the Latino and Hispanic Americans.

In general MALDEF is an organisation that seeks to integrate Latino and Hispanic migrants into the United States through legal action, in a way that will help and enhance their place within America. Through the topics of immigration, education and employment MALDEF aims to create fair treatment for Latino and Hispanic Americans; for them to be treated like an American with the same rights and voice as any other American citizen.

In contrast, The 'Federation for American Immigration Reform' (FAIR) , founded in 1978 and based in Washington DC, is a national, non-profit, public-interest, membership organisation of concerned citizens who share the belief that America’s immigration policies must be reformed to serve national interests. FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest. According to the website, FAIR’s research and publications are used by government officials in preparing new legislations. FAIR argue that with immigration being at its highest, it affects America today in ‘virtually every aspect of life’. They argue that with more than one million legal and illegal immigrants settling in the United States every year, immigration impacts education, health care, employment, crime and government budgets as well as others. In general, they argue that large-scale immigration is not serving the needs and interests of the USA. Therefore, as it states in their mission statement, they aim to put forward policies that will best serve America as a whole.

The mission of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is to examine immigration trends and effects, to educate the American people on the impacts of sustained high-volume immigration, and to discern, put forward, and advocate immigration policies that will best serve American environmental, societal, and economic interests today and into the future.

Similar to that of MALDEF, FAIR discusses societal issues, such as education and employment, but in a completely different light. For example, FAIR draws emphasis upon the fact that mass immigration displaces U.S. workers with foreign workers as they are willing to work for lower wages, and how school classrooms are becoming increasingly ‘overcrowded’. Overall, FAIR highlights literally every single issue that is connected with immigration, from national security, such as the 9/11 attacks, to the various crimes that are committed by ‘illegal aliens’ and the effect that these issues have on America as a whole. As a result FAIR has monitored legislative attempts that would affect America’s immigration policies and often joined in the debates to act as the voice of the American citizen. FAIR have stated that they have always ‘strived to both influence the immigration debate and raise awareness about the impact of immigration-related legislation.’

Furthermore, likewise to MALDEF, FAIR also has a donation page. However, FAIR state that by donating money it proves to be ‘crucial’ to their ability to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and promote immigration levels consistent with the interests of America. I found this to be particularly striking, as they present themselves as a non-profit organisation yet they rely solely on donations made by personal contributions of individual citizens - providing, as they state, they do not make a profit out of it.

Hispanic Immigration: For and Against

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) is a privately and publicly funded movement that believes Los Angeles is a city that has historically always been ethnically diverse. Because of this, CHIRLA is constantly fighting for the rights of all immigrants within the area, suggesting that they have as much a right to live in LA as American born people do.
CHIRLA was formed in 1986 to advance the human and civil rights of immigrants and refugees in Los Angeles; promote harmonious multi-ethnic and multi-racial human relations; and through coalition-building, advocacy, community education and organizing, empower immigrants and their allies to build a more just society.
The website provides links explaining what they do within the campaign, including education, advocating and organising. For example, CHIRLA is constantly working with the community in order to educate, and one of the ways they try to achieve this is with projects such as Wise Up! This project states its mission as achieving "a society in which every individual is respected regardless of his or her cultural background, ethnicity, race and legal status". This thus reinforces the message that America is supposed to be the land of the free, and this includes those who cross the border from Mexico. In order to help, the website posts useful facts on immigration laws as well as making people aware of the rights they have, further helping to educate the community.

Under the subheading "What You Can Do" are the options to donate, take action and become a member of the team by looking at internships and employment. This thus helps to stress the reliance the CHIRLA has upon donations and public support in order to achieve their goals.

In opposition to organisations such as CHIRLA is the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (CAIR) which states in its tagline "advocating for the rights of future generations of Americans". However, CAIR makes it clear within their mission statement that the future generation of Americans does not include immigrants willing to enter the USA or those illegals that are currently in the USA.
It is said "America is a nation of immigrants." But humanity has been migrating for 10,000 years. All countries are nations of immigrants. At approximately 300 million people, America is now full, and it makes no sense to double U.S. population once again.
Here, CAIR dismisses the newness of America and disregards the slaughter of Natives when the settlers first arrived by suggesting that the people living in America today are the ones with the rights to the country. It does not matter to CAIR that they are a nation of immigrants, but now they are calling for a drastic halt on anymore entering.
CAIR supports the principles of the ASAP! Alliance for Stabilizing America's Population, formulated in Colorado in 1997. This action plan consists of the following points:

1. Immigration Moratorium
2. No More Amnesties
3. Enforce Immigration Laws
4. No Citizenship for Illegal Aliens' Offspring
CAIR is unapologetic in its views on immigration reform that would see the upheaval of thousands of families showing themselves to be unsympathetic towards immigrants. They state that they are a non-racist organisation and yet they are only concerned by post 1970s immigration, much of which is based on hispanic numbers. They use statistics from surveys either conducted almost 10 years previously, or from unknown sources, thus not giving much credit to their so called facts.

In conclusion, I feel that the CHIRLA is more convincing with its arguments, overall supporting equality for all. In comparison to CAIR, it takes a much softer approach, whereas CAIR appears to have goals that are brash and hard to conceive as being achievable. Interestingly, CAIR is based in a state where they are possibly experiencing a diluted stream of immigrants entering, whereas CHIRLA is more focused on California, where the concentration of foreign born Americans is high, and there are now second and third generations living there. CHIRLA seems to advocate the community, regardless of background, whereas CAIR preaches a message of separation in its most destructive forms of potentially tearing apart families.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Hispanic Immigration

Although 'The Daily Caller' is an American news website, the article '5 Reasons Conservatives Should Favor More (legal) Hispanic Immigration' is an opinion article. The journalist Matt Lewis firstly argues: 'Thanks in large part to Latino immigration, America will likely remain a much younger nation than China.' The fears of China overtaking the United States as a world superpower are unlikely because China's aging population is competing against the large, younger 'Latino' population of America. The young Hispanic population are beneficial to the country because they provide a large and energetic piece of the work force, therefore they are aiding the weak economy. Furthermore, Lewis illustrates that America's growing population, which is largely due to Hispanic immigration, will allow America to maintain its superpower status because the larger the population, the greater the power of the nation.
Lewis also indicates that Hispanics obey American principles more than Americans do. This is demonstrated in the Hispanics' attempt to achieve the American Dream, as they 'take risks' by moving to another country in order to gain employment. They are also 'willing to do jobs most Americans don't want to do - for less money.' Hispanics therefore follow the American values of thrift and hard work and moreover, their contribution to the work force is once again beneficial to the economy. They may also obtain a more traditional interpretation of the dream, because they are generally unable to move up to the middle class as they fail to earn large amounts of money. As a result, material wealth may not be highly important to a Hispanic and although this view conflicts with the highly consumerist nation of America, the Hispanic influence may help to shrink this characteristic. However, their position may also highlight discrimination being exercised in America, but this may be overcome with their increasing presence.
In contrast, the activist organisation AIC (Americans for Immigration Control) aims to prevent illegal immigration and enforce stricter controls on legal immigration. The article 'Hispanic Growth Raises Problems -- May 2011' attempts to argue against the Hispanic hard working characteristic, by emphasising that 'eight million or so' are 'illegal aliens' that do not obtain legal or moral principles. This statement fails to address the advantageous characteristics of legal Hispanic immigrants, instead the article is only willing to focus on negative aspects of the Hispanic culture. In addition, there is no explanation as to why Hispanics choose to enter the United States illegally, therefore empathy is not expressed. Although illegal immigration creates issues such as overpopulation, if America is truly the land of freedom, should any form of immigration be tolerated?
The author then states that the large majority of Hispanic immigrants come from Mexico, which has 'strong anti-American sentiments.' This assumption is supported by evidence from a Zogby poll which claims that '36 percent of Mexicans have a good view of Americans.' Therefore, the majority of Mexicans acquire a bad view of Americans. This evidence may be a accurate due to the lasting impact of the 1846-1848 war in which the United States gained much territory from Mexico. If Mexicans remain bitter towards America, some immigrants may simply be living in America in order to form close Mexican communities in the areas that traditionally belonged to them, rather than attempting to assimilate into the American culture. This is disadvantageous because it results in a lack of acceptance or understanding of different ethnicity's and cultures, which could result in conflict rather than unity. Part of the assimilation process involves looking torwards the future rather than looking back to the past.