The sociology classes I’ve been taking this semester have taught me just how messed up our country is. I’ve been learning about class inequality more in-depth and how people of all races from lower-class backgrounds can’t achieve the American Dream. I realized this a while ago, but it pains me that others don’t feel the same way as me, especially in regards to education. 

What can we do to help give children in poorer schools a better chance of success? Why do we not do more to help the needy? Why do people have a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality when some people can’t afford boots in the first place?

Many people know that the system is rigged for many to succeed and make a comfortable living. For generations, people have been angry about where they stand and how their government has forgotten about them.

All these questions rattle around in my mind when I think that it’s a no-brainer that millions of people who are abandoned, pushed to the outskirts and not given help should at least be given better schooling in order to to have a more decent life. The people who live in poor areas of the country need assistance because we don’t all live on an equal playing field. And life isn’t a game — it can’t be replayed. It’s a fact that children acquire wealth from their parents’ hard work and privilege and career types, but what about the kids who aren’t so fortunate to have inheritances or two parents around or to have attended a well-funded school? 

For me, it’s important that people are knowledgeable about our education system — how teachers should be more valued and that every kid deserves a quality education — but right now that isn’t happening. Schools are dilapidated and closing in Detroit because of low test scores. Who is that helping? How will these kids get to school?

While these kids have their schools close and attend school in classes infested with mold, a school not far away in Bloomfield Hills has a fireplace and statues in a courtyard. The parents of students at that school have the means to help pay for these luxuries, making the playing field more uneven. The money is being used to help the school have nice classrooms, adequate textbooks and clean hallways before these little luxuries. It’s not necessarily a crime to have all this in a school, but it’s a stark contrast from other schools, where the water from fountains is undrinkable and bathrooms are falling apart. Yes, there are other factors we can take into account, such as parenting and the kid’s own work ethic, but can we really blame someone’s lack of success when they’re not put in an environment where they’re prepared to excel? 

To the people reading this, I might be barking up the wrong tree. But at the same time, there are many people out there who don’t have the same perspective as the one I have shared. And it’s not entirely their fault. They may have been exposed to entirely different opinions, taught a different way or could be oblivious to the complexity of inequality in our country. 

With that in mind, I’ve been trying to embrace the philosophy of loving instead of judging. I don’t think it’s right for me to judge someone right off the bat based on a comment or belief before having a conversation with them. It’s better to enter a conversation with an open mind, choosing to love and listening to understand, rather than to respond. 

Especially with how clear it is that our country is divided, we should strive for education and conversation instead of immediately passing judgment. It will be difficult — and sometimes impossible — to change someone’s mind or to get them to listen, but maybe giving them a chance will be beneficial to both sides.

It’s probably not best to discuss these issues over social media, because the best sentiments never seem to get across there, but whether on social media or in person, telling your side of the story is important. The injustices in our country can get our blood boiling. And it makes me even more infuriated when people aren’t upset, coming off as selfish or apathetic. Those who seem like they don’t care may be in fact be self-centered. But at the same time, there might be some who just don’t know or were misinformed. 

It’s better to love instead of judge. Progress is more likely attainable when we’re united and informed. Take a deep breath while your blood is boiling and try to give people the benefit of the doubt. 

Chris Crowder can be reached at ccrowd@umich.edu

 

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