Unformatted text preview: Li 1 Hannah Li Mrs. Lifson College English 24 February 2017 Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City At the first glance of the term “eviction,” I suddenly had a strange feeling, which was mixed by distance and disconnection. None of I nor my surrounding friends have ever experienced being evicted. I did know the literal meaning of ¨evicted,¨ but I didn’t have any concrete concepts about it. The book E victed by Matthew Desmond unfolds the whole process of how poor families are evicted and become homeless in America. It reveals the frustration, desperation, and exhaustion from the bottom of the heap with detailed storytelling. For instance, Larraine wanted a hot bath to relieve her fibromyalgia, but she gave all her money to the landlord; Arleen and her kids lost their house in the coldest week of the year; Crystal had to sell sex to pay for her residence. They are just a small part of those typical victims. All people in this book live an extremely erratic life, stay on the brink of the society, struggle with unending debts and shaky apartments. They try hard to get out from this mess, but the reality always gives them big blows which push them back into the gutter again. Before, I just simply considered a house as a resting place for people. After finished reading, I came to realize that home is actually a synonym of hope and gain. Before reading this book, the attitude I hold toward eviction was much different than now. I used to have some preconceived ideas about tenants. For instance, I would think that the Li 2 problems are more likely to be caused by the tenants in random housing disputes. This is because I firmly believed that no landlord would evict their tenants without valid reasons; firmly believed that there won’t be defective houses in the renting market; firmly believed that landlords will have a strong sense of duty to assist in fixing any problems that occur in the rental houses; firmly believed that having children do nothing with housing searches. For me, this merciless reality is a reflection of the law of jungle. If the tenants can not pay their rent, then they are no longer qualified for the residency. Just like natural selection, it’s fair to sift out the people who are unable to adapt to our society. Nevertheless, Desmond’s book subverts what I originally thought. In Evicted , Desmond tells us the story of eight families which are on the edge of our society. In fact, I didn’t know any negative things about the housing system in the United States before I read this book. At least in China, when we mention America, the term “superpower” will naturally jump into most people’s minds, which lets us mistakenly believe that the social problems in the United States won’t be so biting. However, what Desmond figures out really surprised me: “ what the chief failed to reveal, was that his department’s own rules presented battered women with a devil’s bargain: keep quiet and face abuse or call the police and face eviction” (92). This is completely unacceptable, since people have the basic right to pursuit happiness in America. His book contains plenty of surveys which are about how the entire system works while describing the fate of each character. As the plot goes on, the racial issue and sexual issues are being connected to eviction. It let me understand that some social problems can cause negative effects to the others. Eviction is one of the cruel examples: “In a typical month, 3 in 4 people in Milwaukee eviction court were black. Of those, 3 in 4 were Li 3 women” (97). It strongly shows that the racialism and the female discrimination are connecting with eviction. At the same time, what comes with eviction is racial segregation. Desmond shows this with the mouth of his character, Crystal: “It would be nice to get away from these black motherfuckers” (245). In the process of reading, I gradually recognized that a major of the opinions I held before are opposite to what the reality is. Additionally, since my experience, age, and racial limitation, I never imagined eviction is related to much more things in a person’s daily life than what I thought. Nevertheless, as a daughter of a landlord who seldom evicted tenants, I could understand both tenants and landlords. Although my dad didn’t want me to be involved in this adult economic deal, I could still see the tension on his face when he talked on the phone to bargain with the tenants. In all fairness, I definitely know that it’s inhuman to evict the poor. However, landlords also need to pursue their own happiness, which may be based on the misery of tenants. While reading, I automatically switched in these two identities and kept tangling with them. After reading this book, I had dispelled some prejudices of the poor. I used to think the poor people mostly are lazy, unbusinesslike, and indulgent. Therefore, at the first time talking about eviction, I thought this is what they earn for themselves, they deserve this result. Yet, things are unexpected. I have discovered that not only them but also their lifestyles are different to what I took for granted. Everyone’s life is a battle, and the poors’ who are evicted are much tougher. I learned that they actually work hard, seek help and long for a better life. Even though they freakout, sell sex, they still remain dignified and courageous. However, once some abrupt accidents happen to them, they will meet a financial bottleneck and start behind the rent which leads an eviction. They are too fragile in such a changeable environment. Besides, with so many Li 4 compounded limitations, it’s difficult for them to control themselves well. Therefore, they would like to get high; drink; gamble or anything that make them feel better from despair. I really sympathized with them and I was grateful that I was born in a middleclass family in China which let me have the opportunity to obtain a superior education as well as kept me away from being homeless and drug abusing. Nonetheless, I felt too powerless to change anything, so I just shared what I have learned about these disadvantaged people with my family and my friends. At any rate, it was better than nothing. Desmonds’s book is a mirror that reflects the darkness in real estate market as well as the basic human necessity. It ends with a wishing from his character, which is simple and plain: her children will become something better than her and all of them will be able to laugh at the adversities they are enduring now. Maybe in most people’s eyes, her wishing is so small. Nevertheless, in my eyes, this is what she really needs a placid life. The housing problem for America's poor has occurred a long time ago and eviction is not something special. Desmond uses his words to restore these people’s lives, shows us the brutality of poverty, points out the systemic loopholes straight from the shoulder. The story is not just about exposing what took place in the shadow of the law, but also about the relationship between personhood and home. According to Desmond’s description, Scott, a dope who became able to remain sober, find a stable job and set life goals for himself only after he was provided with an affordable apartment by his company. It illustrates that residential stability influences directly on how well a person perform in the society, which relates to their future successes. The undeniable problem is acute. Yet, fortunately, it was disclosed, and this book is an alarm for all of us. It keeps sending a blazing signal it’s time to change. Li 5 Works Cited Matthew, Desmond. Evicted. Crown Publishers, 2016. ...
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- Spring '17
- English, United States, Evicted, Matthew Desmond, Milwaukee eviction court, racial segregation. Desmond, extremely erratic life
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