The story “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara is an example of realistic writing that feels as if children wrote the report about the time one educated woman took them to the toy store in the white neighborhood. Due to such realism, it is easy to see their reaction to the prices that they could not imagine. “White folks crazy” is the one phrase repeated in the story to represent the way children see socioeconomic injustice (Bambara 90). They do not see the problem in their poverty, but it is white people with their crazy tastes, preferences, and prices that surprise them. Overall, the story does a great job of capturing the way socioeconomic injustice negatively impacts people and children especially.
In the society of consumption, the socioeconomic injustices leave a much larger trace on the consciousness and self-esteem of people. The narrative where people are represented by the things they buy is really common in the XXI century. Although the story “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara was written in the early seventies, when consumerism was not as evident, the author managed to capture the feeling of shame that the children experienced when they were entering the toy shop. The hesitation is expressed as follows “But what I got to be ashamed about? Got as much right to go in as anybody. But somehow I can’t seem to get hold of the door, so I step away for Sugar to lead. But she hangs back too.” (Bambara 94). Such a reaction represents how people may feel lesser just because they could not afford the good presented in the shop.
Some sociologists define consumption as satisfying the needs of individuals. It is therefore essential to define what the needs of the individuals are in order to effectively understand the meaning of consumption. A person who has a need is characterized as one who wants something to be fulfilled. For instance, a given need may be able to provide pleasure, and by not getting it, the person may end up in pain. Consumption does not only involve having to satisfy one’s needs in order to attain pleasure but involves a social and cultural process that is characterized by signs and symbols that are beyond the economic or utilitarian process. Culture, without doubt, affects the aspect of consumer society and is defined as a learned, transmitted, and shared phenomenon. It is, therefore, true that a given culture will affect the attitude, behavior, and lifestyle of consumers. People are most likely to be influenced by a number of values, thoughts, norms, and cultures and, as a result, are able to differentiate between what is good and bad. The result is that people end up choosing a given number of belief systems, which they believe will change through the experiences gained.
In addition, the story portrays how children see money in general through the thoughts about their mother’s reaction to the prices of toys that they wanted. The socioeconomic injustice creates a different set of values, where money should be spent wisely and precisely to gain a certain benefit. For example, in a story, Sylvia is well aware of what costs what, and she evaluates the alternatives of spending $35 on the toy clown: “Thirty-five dollars would pay for the rent and the piano bill too.” (Bambara 95). Such a mature approach to distributing finance represents another aspect of the effect that socioeconomic injustice has on children. They are often denied childhood joys due to the financial constraints of their families.
Another reaction expressed by the author of “The Lesson” is the anger and frustration Sylvia felt when she was at the shop. Sylvia is the main protagonist, and it seems like she is telling the story. While in the store, one of her friends touched the toy ship that cost more than $1000, which caused Sylvia to react: “And I’m jealous and want to hit her. Maybe not her, but I sure want to punch somebody in the mouth.” (Bambara 95) The socioeconomic injustice makes people who suffer feel hopeless and helpless as they do not see the way that they could reach the amount of wealth to afford the things they see. Besides, the way African-American children felt in the mainly rich white environment may resemble the aspect of racial profiling in the story.
As portrayed by conflict theory, racial profiling enhances the separation of minority and majority groups. The profiling aspect forces the blacks to stay away from wealthy neighborhoods to avoid being arrested unnecessarily. Through profiling, the authorities train minority races to avert harassment by sticking to low-cost cars and houses. Therefore, it is an ill-motivated action that demeans minorities and, at the same time, hinders them from progressing in life. This separation enables the majority of individuals to hold influential positions and retain them. On the other hand, minorities face difficulties in upgrading their lives since the system is always concerned about pushing them down. From the understanding of conflict theory, racial profiling is a tool that ensures that whites’ power remains unchallenged. This idea is a perfect example of why no solution has proved to be effective in diminishing discrimination in the U.S.
Consumption can be termed as working towards satisfying a need. A need can be viewed as compulsory for existence, and when it is fulfilled, it brings pleasure; otherwise can bring pain. Consumption has social and economic associations also connected to time and space, depending on demands such as needs, wants, and desires; goods, services, and money or some value substituting money that is necessary for fulfilling demands. This aspect tries to bring together the factors influencing the decision of people towards what is being brought to them and what is favorable to them for consumption. The extent to which consumerist society influences the essence of people within their community can be evaluated from the perspective of human needs.
Many years of slavery and discrimination left African Americans as a vulnerable community that lacked empowerment. Therefore, many of them started struggling to make ends meet. Surviving without jobs and resources has proven to be a leading challenge in the lives of many African Americans. Thus, a conflict ensued as they worked hard towards improving their lives and attaining equal representation like the other races. But their hard work has not been rewarded as the white-dominated society has capitalized on using racial profiling to its advantage.
In conclusion, the story “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara presents the example of the socioeconomic injustice present in contemporary American society. The children in the story experience the moment of realization of their poverty and the gap between them and rich white people who can afford to spend money that is equal to the annual household income of the African American children on toys. The author of the story expresses several ways such socioeconomic injustice affects people. First of all, they feel emotions of jealousy, frustration, and anger, while feeling lesser people because they are humiliated by the prices of toys. Secondly, due to such financial differences, African American children are more likely to be subjected to racial profiling. Therefore, they see themselves as suspects of a crime they were not going to commit. All of these adverse effects do not contribute to the healthy development of a mature worldview.
Bambara, Toni Cade. “The Lesson.” Gorilla, My Love, 1972, 85-96. Web.
Marijuana Legalization In Texas
The problem of marijuana legalization in Texas is a recurring public discussion that includes various and sometimes polarized opinions. For instance, only one month ago, the state’s governor Greg Abbott argued in favor of cannabis usage decriminalization (Jaeger, 2022). Additionally, Ramsey (2022) claims that as many as 69% of Texas citizens support the softening of legal penalties for marijuana possession. Therefore, it is seen that the current legislation that the state has does not coincide with popular opinion and, thus, should be reconsidered. Moreover, the current academic research fails to justify the assumptions that were the primary reasons to make cannabis illegal (Nöel & Wang, 2018). Instead, the latter status of marijuana currently is associated with some social problems that would not exist if the laws were changed.
A statement of the current policy and what is wrong with it
As of today, the state solely allows the usage of marijuana for medical purposes. As a consequence of such strict policies, there is an illegal market of drug dealers. In turn, it leads to high criminality levels related to the sellers’ conflicts with each other. Furthermore, there are higher chances that those who wanted to try marijuana would eventually start using heavier drugs due to dealers’ manipulations. Moreover, as was mentioned above, the current research cannot prove the previous assumptions such as marijuana gateway theory which results in suppression of people’s free will without sufficient reasons.
The statement of the problem
Therefore, it is seen that the current laws harm society more than benefit it. On the one hand, they lead to the formation of criminal groups that seek to satisfy the niche demand, and, on the other hand, they deprive people of free choice.
Who is affected by the problem
As it is seen, the current problem affects all the citizens of Texas. In this regard, some may suffer from the increased criminality levels; others may become addicted to heavy drugs due to dealers’ manipulations.
The statement of objectives
Thus, the current project intends to analyze the impact of marijuana decriminalization or legalization on society and cannabis users in other states. As such, it seeks to showcase the state’s decision-makers the advantages that legal reform in this sphere may bring.
Options that will work
The paper seeks to persuade the Congress of the Republic of Texas to decriminalize or legalize the possession and usage of marijuana. The proposed solutions presumably will bring the cannabis trade under governmental control, which will result in reduced criminality levels.
Jaeger, K. (2022). GOP Texas Governor says people shouldn’t be jailed over marijuana possession, but misstates current law. Marijuana Moment. Web.
Nöel, W., & Wang, J. (2018). Is cannabis a gateway drug? Key findings and literature review. National Institute of Justice. Web.
Ramsey, R. (2022). Analysis: Texas politicians can change their minds. But it helps if the public goes first. The Texas Tribune. Web.
Major Concepts In Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Texts
Quotation: “Immediately, instead of individuals entering into contractual relations, this act of association creates a conditional collective Whole… This Whole receives unity, its common self, its life and will as a result of such an act. As long as a certain number of united people look at themselves as a single whole, they have only one will in everything that concerns common self-preservation and general well-being.” (Rousseau 161).
In this quote, Rousseau elaborates in detail the concept of the General Will. Under it, the philosopher denotes the unity of the will of individuals, i.e., it does not belong to a certain person but represents the whole people. Rousseau specifically emphasizes the word “unity.” The general will has its own “I,” which is not simply reduced to the sum of the will of individuals but represents a new qualitative will.
General Will contribute to mankind’s political agency because it is the only instrument of influence on the state. In order to get the attention of the government, it is necessary to provide an opportunity for every citizen to participate in legislation. Therefore, the law is a public and formal declaration of the General Will. Rousseau believes the General Will would manifest itself in the process of governing in the process of voting. Its participants adopt laws that comply with reasonable natural law and are binding on all participants of such a meeting.
The method of revealing the true General Will that Rousseau offers is practically impossible in real life. Absolute unanimity of all individuals is hardly possible, as well as the complete agreement of interests, and for Rousseau, this is quite obvious. That is why Rousseau chooses to consider the ‘fallibility’ of the General Will. The only time Rousseau demands such unanimity is when concluding a social contract. For all other cases, only the fact of the general submission of votes is sufficient. For Rousseau, it is not essential that all citizens vote unanimously; a majority of votes is necessary for the adoption of the law.
Quotation: ” I know that our philosophy, generous with strange maxims, claims, contrary to centuries of experience, that luxury makes the state shine. Nevertheless, forgetting about the necessity of laws against luxury, will it dare to deny the truth that good morals contribute to the strength of the state and that luxury is incompatible with good morals? If we admit that luxury is a sure sign of wealth, that it even in some sense contributes to its multiplication, then what conclusion can be drawn from this paradox, so worthy of our time?” (Rousseau 55).
The idea of the corrupting influence of luxury pervades all the works of Rousseau. He saw it as the ultimate cause of all those misfortunes that lie in wait for both the individual and the entire human race on its difficult path. Therefore, Rousseau concludes that an increase in public wealth is not an increase in the wealth possessed by an individual (private property).
From the philosopher’s point of view, the main cause of all social shortcomings is social inequality and the underlying private property. He shows the inconsistency of social progress, as a result of which there is not only the introduction to the benefits of civilization of a wide range of people who have recently lived a patriarchal life. Poverty and wealth are also growing at different poles, and the alienation of people from each other.
This was the influence of Rousseau as a culturologist: he was one of the first to notice the evils of the enlightenment project. Therefore, he issued a warning about the danger of mankind’s development along the path of scientific and technical rationality. The impact of Rousseau’s ideas on subsequent generations and the development of civil society is great. In the XIX-XX centuries, Rousseau’s conclusions influenced many concepts of culture. In ethnography and cultural anthropology, due to Rousseau’s discovery, humanity began to look differently at the Romans, who lost their wealth due to the desire for wealth and the predominance of private property.
Quotation: “The first person who had the idea, having fenced off a piece of land, to say, “This is mine,” and found people simple-minded enough to believe it, was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many disasters and horrors would the human race be saved by the one who, pulling out the stakes and filling up the moat, shouted to his neighbors: ” Do not listen to this deceiver, you are lost if you are able to forget that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone, and the earth belongs to no one!” (Rousseau 361).
The nature of Rousseau’s views was most clearly manifested in demand for property equality. Rousseau was aware that political equality of citizens could not be ensured as long as social inequality persisted, dividing people into oppressors and oppressed. Therefore, the philosopher categorically opposed the socialization of private property, supporting the theory of equality, in which it is necessary to abolish the concept of private property, giving everyone equal access to benefits.
Rousseau’s ideas also played an important role in the subsequent development of theoretical ideas about social justice, the state, and law. According to the philosopher, the correct distribution of political power should also be based on the principle of equality. Rousseau rejects the principle of the proper distribution of political power and proposes only to delineate the competence of legislative and executive bodies to prevent arbitrariness and lawlessness.
Rousseau leans towards an aristocratic form of government and believes that man ought to pursue the elected kind of government. He comments on its advantages over the natural and hereditary kind of government by the fact that, in this case, the wisest and most worthy governs the people, meaning not their own benefit but the benefit of the people. Two conditions are necessary for an elective aristocracy: moderation on the part of the rich and the ruling and contentment on the part of the poor.
Quotation: ” Freedom… is in the heart of a free person, it means behavior in accordance with the law that we accept for ourselves. Man is born free, and yet everywhere he is in chains. Freedom cannot exist without equality”(Rousseau 329).
Rousseau considered the issue of human liberty to be one of the central issues in the problem of social relations; it plays an important role in Rousseau’s political philosophy. The concept of liberty in Jean Jacques Rousseau is contradictory since he divides liberty into two categories. The first is the liberty of the natural state, and the second is liberty in the state of a social contract. In this regard, natural liberty can be defined as the absence of all obstacles to the realization of the desired, except physical. Civil liberty can be defined as liberty that is limited by the General Will.
To justify a proper role of liberty in civil society, Rousseau uses the concept of coercion to liberty, where liberty finds a connection with the General Will. It is a mechanism for the inclusion of the individual in the life of society, establishing their connection with the general will. Having joined the General Will, an individual becomes free in the civil sense of the word. In this sense, coercion to freedom protects a citizen from making a mistake. They are free to act in such a way that their behavior corresponds to the General Will.
Rousseau Jean Jacques. The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Law: Also, a Project for a Perpetual Peace. Forgotten Books, 2018.