Yup, that's right, we are NOT all equal.
Even though we live in the United States and have the notion that everyone is born with an equal chance to succeed in life, this simply is not the case. Today in a group, we were discussing the large portion of African American and Hispanic individuals imprisoned in the U.S. (58% in 2008). When my professor asked "why do you think that is?" someone replied "because they chose to commit a crime". While this may be true, what led to the imprisonment of these individuals is much larger than a simple decision between right and wrong. This imprisonment rate is due to racial and ethnic inequality in our country and before you claim it is a "personal choice" think about if this was your life:
Birth - You were born to a Hispanic, low income family. Although you have just been born, the area your parents live in is highly polluted because of the factories, so they worry about how the teratogens may have effected your development.
One Year - Your parents bring you to regular appointments even though it is difficult because of transportation. They can hardly communicate with the doctor because of the language barrier, so they can not discuss your development and needs as well as other parents can with their pediatrician.
Three Years - You are being educated by your mom during the day while your dad works twelve hour days to keep food on the table. By this age, you have already heard 30 million less words than a child from a wealthy family. (Read more about this here.)
Five Years - You have been labeled the "bad" kid by your teachers in your kindergarten class because you have trouble communicating and get violent because of your frustration.
Nine Years - You are still learning to read, but you should be able to read well enough to start using textbooks as tools for learning. You quickly start falling behind in academics.
Eleven Years - The "bad" kid label followed you through elementary school. You were the bad kid in first grade, the bad kid in second grade, the bad kid in third grade, the bad kid in fourth grade, and the bad kid in fifth grade. Why would sixth grade be any different? So you accept your identity as a bad kid and a bad student. (This is called learned helplessness and you can learn more here.) As you are walking home, a local drug dealer sees your raggy shoes and the next day buys you a new pair.
Fourteen Years - Your mom and dad need you to get a job to help support the family. You get a job at a local fast food restaurant being paid minimum wage. You work thirty hours a week, but your family can still barely afford rent this month because your dad had been injured and couldn't work for a week. The landlord says he will evict your family if he doesn't get his money. Your boss can't give any more hours because business is slow, but your friend has been selling marijuana and prescription drugs and making a lot of cash. You ask if you can help sell the drugs to keep your family in the apartment. Oh, and you are failing out of school because of all the hours you have been working.
Sixteen Years - You have been selling drugs for two years now. Your mom says "for the first time, she feels like everything will be okay". Your distributor says that you can make enough money to send your sister to college, but you will have to quit school so you can work on the streets all day.
Eighteen Years - You were able to send your sister to college and she is about to have her associates in nursing. This will mean there will be a good paying, stable income for the first time in your household. You plan on getting your GED after she is done with school, but while you are making a deal, police officers stop you and find an unregistered weapon and illegal drugs.
Let me ask you, did any of this sound like a choice? (And this is only the first eighteen years). Want to know what you might do? Click here.