While watching the documentary in class about the factories and industries all being built in rural southern neighborhoods, I realized that the South seems to always catch the short end of the stick. I found the industries reasoning for placing the factories in residential areas as selfish and inhume. Those poor people do not deserve to smell the horrid scent of feces coming from pigs and cattle. Not only is it unfair and insensitive, the residents are stuck there. They have been living in those areas for years, in some decades and they have to continue to live there because they can not afford to move. The cost to relocate is outrageous to these rural Southerners, especially when they most likely will not be able to see their current house. The factories bring health issues to the residents that live in the vicinity, mostly respiratory problems. The children growing up there often have asthma. Beyond the physical health issues, I could imagine the mental health issues are being affected as well. Living amongst the odor and filth of these factories causes stress and maybe even depression. The fact that this is your home and there is no where else to go is hard to process. All of this could be avoided, but the CEOs of these industries are not caring obviously because the factories are continuously being built. The residents of these communities have tried rallying against the factories to have them removed, but it is not successful. Their are not enough laws in place in reference to these industries just building up anywhere. The tax break that the companies are receiving for being in the South is the main reason the factories prey on this region. The government is not concerned because they know the residents of these communities are in the low end of the economy. These residents are mostly low working class people. But who is to judge if they deserve a clean environment to raise their children in? Definitely no human. It starts a cycle and the cycles are hard to break. The cycle of being stuck in low class in a low end neighborhood. The rural residents are victims of the cycle too. It causes a lack of motivation in people because they feel like they are invisible in their own community. As the residents of the community were speaking out on the issue of living near the factories, I was saddened and instantly thankful that I am not affected. But how selfish of me… As I later learned in class in the discussion of the documentary, my own community is being affected. Westwood is a community in Southwest Memphis, and I basically grew up there. I never realized the scent that everyone else was referring to, but Memphis is a victim of industries being too close to residential areas. This is called environmental racism, and although people are not aware, it is very common in the South. As time moves on, industries are going to continue to invade Southern communities, but it must be stopped. The long term effects of the residents is not worth the pretty penny the factories bring in. But who am I fooling, it is all about the pretty penny in the free country of United States of America, even if the low class are slaves in their own communities because they have no money to move away from these huge factories.
In today’s society, there is a struggle for people to survive earning minimum wage. The employee could possibly be making $10 an hour, but in reality that is not sufficient for someone with a family to provide for. Their family will struggle because the sole provider of their household does not earn a living wage. A living wage is a heavily discussed topic, but it is so hard to grasp what actually can be an acceptable amount. Working full time and still being needing government assistance is pathetic. It also is hard and stressful on the employee. The constant pressure of worrying which bill can withstand getting paid a certain month should not be on a full time employees mind. Money is not the most important thing in the world, but it is necessary. With a shortage of money, there will be things lacking that you need, but unfortunately will not be able to purchase. It is a shame that the labor worked does not equal nor match the time and effort or the ultimate end result, which is the pay. I am slowly realizing that history is repeating itself. As a nation we are suffering because our fellow citizens are suffering. In the mid to late 1900s, companies had factories and the workforce of the factories was flourishing. People filled the factories everyday for work, but that was short lived because of the working conditions and low pay. The workers began to get fed up with the long hours and the low pay, which led to strikes. The companies soon moved from the Midwest to the South, but the workers were broke and now out of work. This was labeled as the deindustrialization era. In my opinion, this is what America is facing now. People are fed up, but everyone is afraid to stand up for what they deserve because they ultimately can not afford not to work. Corporations make it hard to put a living wage into effect because of their laws, rights, and rules. Working hard, full time and not being able to live comfortably and support your family is unfair, especially with this being the land of the free. Struggling financially is a depressing weight to carry, it gets heavier because this is a long term deal for most. Although there are many people not earning a living wage in the South, this is an issue all over the United States. Education is super important these days. The higher your education level, the better chance you have at earning more money. Setting a specific amount for a living wage is just a factor in this ongoing struggle. People are not receiving benefits either. Not only do they not have enough for food, clothes, and bills, they can not go to the doctor for yearly check-ups. Also, seeing that race, gender, and class still affects people and job priority. In the documentary 10 Dollars an Hour, the house mother (Janis) received over $30,000 a year. She was a white woman, and the cook (Lisa) received $18,000. She is a black woman. Every situation is not racist, but when things are unfair, race, class, and gender are factored into the equation. Personally, I take many things for granted. Learning how others live and witnessing what they go through on a daily basis is sad. It is eye opening to be appreciative and aware that a change needs to occur…soon.
In the South, especially Memphis, we have a plethora of hospitals with very high credentials. Is it all a joke? Why are there so many hospitals in the South? Why won’t people go receive the healthcare help they need and receive treatment from the hospitals here? Healthcare is an imporant issue in today’s news, simply because it is a universal necessity. In Memphis, there are people dying senselessly. There are hospitals here in Memphis specifcally, capable of hosting these patients and helping them, but it is not cheap. Being seen in the emergency room, after waiting a couple of hours you will most likely spend any where from 200-500 dollars. Insurance and their qualifications make it hard for everyone to be accepted. I have witnessed people become stressed worrying about how to pay for their hosptial bill. In the past, African Americans were not the highest prioity when it came to receiving treatment. African Americans were viewed as strong and tough. White doctors often disregarded the fact that they needed treatment. Although times have changed, people are almost afraid of going to the doctor. They simply make their symptons minor and never go. Many diseased people find out long after they have contracted the disease or sickness. Even if people are sick, they often try home remedies before going to the doctor or the hosptial. After they finally realize they should go, they are given minimum treatment because they do not have insurance or they simply have the wrong insurance. In class, we discused Memphis’ ambivalence, which ultimately came down to should we help the people with sickle cell or not. That is still the question in the year 2013. As a people, we are worried about having to pick up the tab of someone elses bill. Although when it is our family member, we want everyone to contribute to the cause. It is amazing how years later, the same situation is still an issue, even though sickle cell is not the main focal point, it has become broader and more widespread. The Afforadable Healthcare Act is still trying to be passed. I am not sure if this will be the answer to America’s healthcare problems, but it sure would help to bring in a breath of fresh air. African Americans in the south need to do better as a whole regarding their health and their well being. I can honestly say that I need to make better eating choices and exerceise more. As a twenty year old young lady, I do not visit the doctor annually. I just do not have time, and it honestly never crosses my mind until something bothers me. That is just how it goes in my family, and I know my friends are the same way. It is important to know what is going on in your body, but it is also very expensive and becomes a huge issue if something is wrong. Not attending the doctor annually can be compared to the saying,”if it aint broke, then don’t try to fix it”. I am aware that it could possibly be a southern attribute, but I’m sure people everywhere think like this. If visiting the doctor did not require a copay and staying in the hosptial did not cost you a month worth of rent then maybe people would go more. In the South, people should not feel like going to the hosptial is a burden and feel obligated to know that the hospital is there to help them. Being healthy is not only limited to the wealthy, it is for everyone because everyone deserves to live.
Memphis, Tennessee has a rich creative history. Beale Street was a central location for African Americans and was their spot to relax and unwind. It was filled with culture and a place where people could feel somewhat equal to whites, but that was short lived. There are many people from Memphis that have contributed their hard work and intelligence to making this city a place full of culture and attempting to keep it up to par compared to other cities. That is the biggest mistake that Memphis as a city could possibly make. I did not realize this mistake until our class discussion. It never crossed my mind that we are focused on becoming something that we are not. We will never be Atlanta that has the AUC, the aquarium and the Coca-Cola Factory. As Memphis we overlook The Civil Rights Museum, the Stax Records, The University of Memphis, and the famous hip hop culture that we have here. It is common for every city to think that their city has nothing to offer. I have learned that a paradox is a statement that contradicts itself. Memphis is filled with contradictions, and have over time been consumed by them. The consumption of all the negatives has shed a dark light on Memphis from the people who have been born here and that currently live here. Memphis, Tennessee has an exemplary neonatal care department, but also has a sky high infant mortality rate. It goes unnoticed because the high infant mortality rate is always being broadcasted. I have come accustomed to seeing a lot of deaths in Memphis, and I have never paid attention to the hospitals and their specialties. I admit, that is not on my mind, but I am at fault for downing my city because of the crime rate and not acknowledging the good it has. Memphis is known for its musical history. Its history is known around the world and has become timeless. There are some Stax produced records being infused to songs still in 2013. Sure, I was elated to know that music from my city is still being glorified and appreciated, but I still shake my head at all the people I know that wake up and decide to be a rapper. It just saddens me to know that people see that as an easy way out. It is a chain reaction but the chain is weak. The chain is weak because all they see is the glitz and glam not the actual talent that it takes to be a rapper. While watching Hustle & Flow, I related to the movie and I have witnessed some people live their life like that. Not once was education mentioned in the movie except when it was being used to talk about “who you know”. There are not many people in Memphis who actually want to go to school with the concept of graduating. People are just going as if it is just something to do. I am a victim of letting the negatives overshadow the love that I have for my city. I loved my childhood and I am enjoying my life now living here and I am 20. I am glad to say that the paradoxes will no longer blind me. No longer can the negativity bring my spirits and perceptions of this luscious growing city down. I accept that the growth of Memphis is slow but at least it is moving forward. I will contribute to shining light on Memphis for what it is, and I will stop comparing my city to other places because it will never be another city. The progress of Memphis has to come from within. The citizens of Memphis must work together to better our city. No change will be made overnight, but every input helps. It is not the city governments complete fault, even though they make the decisions, we as citizens can contribute to making our city better by voicing our opinions more. The paradoxes should diminish and the positivity in Memphis and about Memphis should flourish, which will bring support that is overdue in our city.