Many perspectives and opinions surround the issues related to impoverished communities; particularly communities with high populations of Latin- and African-Americans, as well as legal and illegal immigrants…
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It seems Americans enjoy utilizing, or perhaps taking advantage of, low-wage laborers. Communities of middle- and upper-class American citizens where use of service labor is popular, even mandatory to sustain current living conditions, conveyed a high level of discrimination for the very group of individuals that allow them to maintain their lifestyle. Kristen H. Maher (p. 781-806) reported the responses of several interviews conducted with residents and laborers in an upscale community in Irvine, California. The community population was made up of 90 percent Caucasian and 10 percent Asian homeowners in the Ridgewood community of South County in Irvine. Statements made by homeowners were borderline appalling when they described their feelings about Latino service employees—even those who were actual residents due to a live-in type of a situation—utilizing facilities such as the neighborhood pool and park intended for use by residents. The overall sentiment was the homeowners only felt comfortable when these workers were using the facilities with the homeowners’ children present. For example, if a nanny was swimming with the children he or she cared for, it was acceptable for the nanny to be at the pool. Alone, it was “taboo” for the nanny to use the facility alone (Maher). While the regulations of the community were not written, it seems a posting was unnecessary. Their sentiments were felt by the Latinos; those workers who were interviewed shared their uneasiness about using the facilities, even when the children were present, much less going about the neighborhood on their own or with their own families. A couple of the community members said they did not have a problem with their nanny utilizing the facilities, but would probably have concern for anyone the employee would bring into the neighborhood (i.e. family members, friends, etc.) that may pose a potential threat to the safety of the community (Maher). Furthermore, the residents of Ridgewood voiced a strong desire to have a gate installed around the property to keep out the “riff-raff” that they perceive to be nearing their community from outlying areas such as Santa Ana, California, and even North County, where most of the laborers resided (Maher). The opinion of the laborers was that they were “good,” but it is the unknown that these individuals fear. Since the nanny is working, he or she is considered to be a “good guy,” and all others may or may not want to cause problems for the community. The residents wish to remain unscathed from the perceived dangers that lurk closer and closer to Irvine—specifically Ridgewood (Maher). However, what the residents of Ridgewood and many others, who oppose immigration, are failing to recognize is the fact that due to their low wages, these Latinos are unable to lift themselves above the poverty line. They are forced to move closer to their places of employment (i.e. Ridgewood, and other predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods), in order to cut as much cost associated with commuting as possible so what little of their income is left can be used to support their families. Alejandra Marchevsky and Jeanne Theoharis authored a book entitled Not Working: Latina Immigrants, Low-Wage Jobs, and the Failure of Welfare Reform. In the book, they explore the life of a single, Latin-American woman, Myrna Cardenas, who is struggling to make ends meet in order to provide for her three children. Myrna is no different from the service laborers discussed by Maher. She is working two
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