‘Some people just don’t want to work hard.’

People in urban areas that get buried under snow know them well: guys, usually old and black, who look like the ones that always hang out on corners in small groups.  A foot of snow on the ground and they’re mobile, with a shovel on their backs as they ask people (usually anyone who looks like they can pay for such a thing) if they want their walkways or whatever shoveled.  Most of these areas used to have a strong factory component; there were jobs that didn’t require the kind of networks that help plug one into the jobs of the future.  Those networks have never really been a local specialty–not like those old jobs displaced so that they could be underpaid in some country with an even flimsier concept of minimum wage.

When people say that the reason black people, still generally regarded in society as part of the perennial underclass, haven’t succeeded in the way other groups have is because they don’t want to work hard (not unrelated, see this NY Times opinion piece: “The Persistence of Racial Resentment”), I suppose, on the older side of the spectrum, such men are whom they’re picturing.  These guys, who used to get be able to get by at the very least, and maybe even build something–these men, who’ll spend all day walking around trying to shovel what, on a relatively good one, could be a thousand pounds of snow.  Whatever you think of them, whatever their very real issues may or may not be, that is hard work.


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