White Man’s Burden

The movie we watched in class was called “White Man’s Burden. ” According to some sociologists the white man’s burden is an unwanted burden that white men, who are in the upper part of society, must bring the minority classes up to their status. For example, if it were applied today white folks would have to help bring black folks up into a higher class. While this theory was used many years ago, it is still in consideration today. This movie took a very unique approach. It separated two classes of people, whites and blacks. They were separated by, what I believe is the greatest degree of separation today, money.

In the movie the only people in the upper class were black and the main family in the movie was white. In today’s society that is different, you would expect white people to have the money and black to be in the lower class. While that is not always the case, it is what is perceived in today’s society. The movie portrayed life in the inner city as we are conditioned to see it. Everyone in the inner city was of the same race. Everyone was poor and life was rough. There was some violence in the inner city but it was on only between the two classes. Also everyone in the inner city didn’t speak proper English.

The movie almost implied that it was these people fault that they were poor and that they were bad people. It did not show the fact that these people of the inner city could have been dealt a bad hand. This point is shown when John Travolta is evicted from his house. When this happens his mother in law comes over to get his wife and kids. While she is there she yells at him and asks him what kind of husband he is that he can’t keep a job and raise his own kids and support her daughter. The fact that maybe he was dealt a bad hand was over looked. John Travolta is still a good person.

There were stereotypes portrayed in the movie. One can be shown when John Travolta was beaten by some cops. He was beaten by cops because he “fit” a description of a criminal. The stereotype here is that all people who are of the lower class are criminals. John Travolta was not stopped and asked for identification, it was just assumed that since he was of a lower class that he the criminal they were looking for. Also the fact that John Travolta’s wife in the movie didn’t have a job in the beginning was a stereotype. She was always just around the house raising the kids.

She was never able to get a job. She had to do what women are supposed to do, not work and raise the kids. There was also a stereotype that can be taken as a stereotype if you perceived it to be. They can be seen in the part of the movie were John Travolta was buying he kid a present for his birthday. The little boy does not want to buy the “white” superhero in the store. Since the white people are of the lower class the white superhero doll cost less and the black superhero doll was more expensive. There was a huge structural barrier that took place in this movie.

It was easy to see that this was barrier was status. The man Thad in the movie had a high status and more money, while John Travolta has a lower status and less money. Thad had many luxuries with more money. He was able to not have to worry about struggling from paycheck and his family never had to worry about getting evicted. A maid was even present to take care of his light work, such as answering the door. On the other hand John Travolta had to struggle. There was no worry about if his family was going to make it to the next week. Money was a big concern and since he had none his family struggled.

There was a very big example of a prejustice mind set in the beginning of the film. Thad, who is a rich black man, commented towards the fact that white people were at the bottom of society. He also implied that they are stupid and helpless. Thad can also be looked at as prejustice against Thad when he had him fired from his job. The fact that John Travolta really needing the job was over looked.. He could of looked at him and saw him as a poor white man and that it, not a human being. There were also three main instances of discrimination shown. One was when john Travolta was fired from his job.

He was told how much his work meant to the company and then was let go. A black man was not let go. Also when Thad’s son brought home a white girl to bring out to that night, Thad’s wife gave her son’s date a dirty look. When Thad was shot at the end of the movie a white insisted on getting help but once she saw that Thad was black she drove away. I don’t think that Thad thinks he is a racist. I believe that is he conditioned to truly believe that white people were unable to be helped. Not at one point did he make a racist remark or act in a racist way. He also spoke to John Travolta in a respectable way.

Thad very well could have been born into all his wealth. His understanding could be that whites are inferior because of the way he was raised. The theory I am going to apply for this movie is the theory of Max Weber. The underlining main point to this theory is that, wealth plus power equals prestige. This can clearly be show by Thad and his life style. Look at all the money he has. Everyone knows him and he seem to have no worries. All his social setting were laid back and full of laughter. He has a beautiful family which never seems to have any problems. He drives a nice car and has a mansion.

John Travolta on the other hand, who is human just like him doesn’t have quite as good. His family life is struggling. Travolta and his wife need more money. They get evicted from their house. He drives a beat up truck. The only thing that separates these two are the amount of money they both have. As I was watching the movie my brain raced with many ideas. My first idea is that the problem of poverty needs to be addressed. There is entirely too much money in this country for so many people to be poor. The problem needs to be addressed through the government. The government can make a difference.

To get the attention of the white house people who are in poverty need to vote. As other people here in the same nation we can make a difference by helping the people who need it. Another thought that came to my mind is that minorities really do feel oppressed. It’s pretty hard for me to relate because I’m white and middle class but it makes me think. There is always talk of how affirmative action needs to be addressed and that all people of all races and backgrounds need to be given and equal chance. This movie showed a race of being people being “held down” and it opens some eyes.

Last but not least I would like to focus on what makes a criminal. There is a very good argument that society created criminals. I agree with that statement. People, who have been dealt a bad hand, do look for the life of a “criminal. ” They have been given no other option. I’d like to take a quote from a Biggie Smalls song in the beginning of the song he states: “Yeah, this album is dedicated to all the teachers that told me I’d never amount to nothin’, to all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustlin’ in front of that called the police on me when I was just tryin’ to make some money to feed my daughters”.

We have two choices here, we can look at him as a criminal or we can look at him in a person struggling to feed his kids. I would like to conclude by getting across one point. In all the cases of racism, they are viewed under my perception. The way I perceived them to be is my form of reality. Others may differ and see something different. On the topic of my ideas, they are my ideas and opinions and how I view these topics. They do not make them wrong or anyone who opposes them wrong.