Letter to a Friend: Money

Hello, my dear friend! I have not contacted you for several month and now, after life circumstances stopped making me nervous, I can come up with a couple of thoughts. I witnessed a horrible situation when the poor family had not enough money for the urgent surgery of their child.

The situation itself is not strange or unique, but I was shocked by the reaction of the wide audience who happened to witness this family tragedy just like me. People talked that this family is poor because they are worth it. They are too lazy to work, or they are too stupid to work effectively, so they do not have enough money for the surgery. They have married too early and had a child when they were not able to support them. These issues make those spectators believe that the problems that the family has in life is explained by their inability to make right decisions as all normal people do. I was absolutely shocked by the position that the idea that the poor people deserve being poor and it is determined by their natural tendency is quite popular in masses.

Soon after the described events I happened to read the book of W.E.B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk, which initially describes the racial segregation and discrimination of the black people in the United States in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. He uses the notion of the color line, wich separates the normal people from the rest of the population who have certain innate drawbacks, that make them worse. For example, the color of the skin that is described in the work of Du Bois, or lack of formal attributes of success, as it is nowadays. In fact, the reasons for drawing this color line are more socially constructed than biologically determined, as the contemporary example shows. It is the concentrated hatred, that is created on the basis of stereotypes and prejudices, and which have led to slavery, Nazism and eugenics throughout history.

The Negroes had no possibility to get the same education as the white Americans, because they were considered to be unable to study. Nowadays children from poor families can not attend prestigious schools because they do not simply have money to pay for it. The same story is with the medical care. Perhaps, the most emotional chapter of Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk is the one called The Passing of the First Born, where the author writes about the death of his two years old son Burghardt. He died of diphtheria, when Du Bois was living with his wife in Atlanta in 1899. The child died because the medical services and the facilities that were needed were not available for the Negroes in the United States. That boy Burghardt was just unlucky to be born black and in America. The child from the modern American family could not get the urgent surgery because he was unlucky to be born in the poor family. The state owes nothing to him and if his parents can not support the child, then they do not deserve to be parents.

Perhaps, I am slightly exaggerating the problem of the modern American family with no money, but I think it is quite proximate to the reality. The color line that divided the society in the times when Du Bois wrote his book was based on the ethnicity. Nowadays the color line is based on the level of financial welfare. Though, in both cases ill children die, when theoretically they had the chance to survive.

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