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255

Bigheaded Boy

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Desmond, M. (2016). Bigheaded Boy. In Desmond, M. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Crown, pp. 255-258

256

The worse the Hinkstons' house got, the more everyone seemed to become withdrawn and lethargic, which only deepened the problem. Natasha started spending more time at Malik's. Doreen stopped cooking, and the children ate cereal for dinner. Patrice slept more. The children's grades dropped, and Mikey's teacher called saying he might have to repeat, mainly because of so many missed homework assignments. Everyone had stopped cleaning up, and trash spread over the kitchen floor. Substandard housing was a blow to your psychological health: not only because things like dampness, mold, and overcrowding could bring about depression but also because of what living in awful conditions told you about yourself.

It was once said that the poor are "constantly exposed to evidence of their own irrelevance." Especially for poor African American families--who live in neighborhoods with rates of violence and concentrated poverty so extreme that even the worst white neighborhoods bear little resemblance--living in degrading housing in dangerous neighborhoods sent a clear message about where the wider society thought they belonged. [...] Growing up in a shack in the ghetto meant learning how to endure such an environment while also learning that some people never had to. People who were repulsed by their home, who felt they had no control over it, and yet had to give most of their income to it--they thought less of themselves.

—p.256 by Matthew Desmond 2 years, 7 months ago

The worse the Hinkstons' house got, the more everyone seemed to become withdrawn and lethargic, which only deepened the problem. Natasha started spending more time at Malik's. Doreen stopped cooking, and the children ate cereal for dinner. Patrice slept more. The children's grades dropped, and Mikey's teacher called saying he might have to repeat, mainly because of so many missed homework assignments. Everyone had stopped cleaning up, and trash spread over the kitchen floor. Substandard housing was a blow to your psychological health: not only because things like dampness, mold, and overcrowding could bring about depression but also because of what living in awful conditions told you about yourself.

It was once said that the poor are "constantly exposed to evidence of their own irrelevance." Especially for poor African American families--who live in neighborhoods with rates of violence and concentrated poverty so extreme that even the worst white neighborhoods bear little resemblance--living in degrading housing in dangerous neighborhoods sent a clear message about where the wider society thought they belonged. [...] Growing up in a shack in the ghetto meant learning how to endure such an environment while also learning that some people never had to. People who were repulsed by their home, who felt they had no control over it, and yet had to give most of their income to it--they thought less of themselves.

—p.256 by Matthew Desmond 2 years, 7 months ago