Wilshire Boulevard Two friends are driving in a late-model Toyota Corolla across Los Angeles on Wilshire Boulevard. ROBERT: Where are we going? DAVE: I don’t know. I thought we would just drive along Wilshire. ROBERT: Why? DAVE: I don’t know. I thought it would be fun. Have you ever driven along Wilshire before? Except to go from point A to point B? ROBERT: No. The two friends drive along in silence. ROBERT gazes at the sidewalk, interested in the activities that he passes by. ROBERT: You know what? DAVE: What? ROBERT: This city is really sad. There is no one around. No one walks on the streets.
DAVE: Bums. Bums walk along the streets. ROBERT: They don’t really count, do they? DAVE: (A beat). Why would ‘bums’ not count? They are people, just like you and me. They deserve respect just as any other person within society. This is one of the major problems within society. It is not just the point of ‘bums’ not counting per se, but that we think about and construct individuals by their group memberships. People are not defined by their individual characteristics but rather how they appear to others. ROBERT: Yes, but they don’t really do anything besides beg for money. DAVE: That’s not the point.
The point is that people are people, regardless if they are gay, straight, Mexican, Russian, Canadian, a Tea Partier, a Liberal, or a bum. All people should have equal rights and protections regardless of their group membership because all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To classify a bum as someone that does not count denies them these rights. It really sickens me that we still live in an ‘individualistic’ society that continues to describe people by physical characteristics. You’re part of the younger generation – you should be part of the solution, not continue stereotypes of individuals.
ROBERT: Yeah, OK. I guess. The two friends drive along in an awkward silence. They pass through the West Side and enter the mid-city district. The streets become worn and ragged-looking. There is a great deal of graffiti amongst older, historic-looking architecture. ROBERT: I’m glad I don’t live here. DAVE: Why? ROBERT: It is just so poor (a beat) and nasty. DAVE: I don’t think I follow. ROBERT: Well, look, there is so much graffiti, and it looks like the street hasn’t been cleaned in over a year. So many potholes. I bet there is a lot of crime. DAVE: You don’t know that. ROBERT: Well, I can assume.
This is a poor neighborhood. DAVE: Don’t you think that that is a bit of a rash decision? Just because someone is poor doesn’t mean that they commit crime. A lot of the problems that we have here in society are because of the social dichotomy in the United States. Look, we just drove through Beverly Hills, past the Pretty Woman hotel, and have now entered a poorer neighborhood within 15 minutes. The rich and the poor live right next to one another. Unfortunately, with the way that society has pushed down the poor in this country, these people that are driving by will most likely never be able to move up the social totem pole.
The quality of education that these people have is lower than the general society, they do not have access to quality health care for themselves or their children, and look, I don’t happen to see much food stores or quality restaurants. Instead, I see a lot of fast food chains – look, there are three at that intersection DAVE points and ROBERT looks. ROBERT: Yes, but these people can just go to school and get the free money that is there for them – the money that we pay taxes with. DAVE: Don’t be ignorant. It is not that simple. You’re lucky. Your parents both went to university and your dad has his own law practice.
These people are barely getting by. They often work more than one job without security, medical insurance, have multiple children, and do not understand the basics associated with getting ahead in society. Many of these people do not fully understand the concept of university, and few have been lucky to be encouraged by their teachers to pursue higher education. ROBERT: Dude, all they have to do is go on the internet. DAVE: Really? And you think they all have the finances to afford a computer and monthly internet services? Come on, I know you were complaining the other day when your cable bill came in the mail and it was over $150 for our TV, phone, and internet. When you’re working at $10 an hour, that would be what, at least 15 hours of work? Two days? ROBERT: Yeah, but – DAVE: Come on… these people lack the resources that the middle class and rich have. This strongly impacts their ability to get ahead in life, and helps to strengthen the financial gap between the rich and the poor. Society has been structured to keep the resources away from the poor and to maintain the status quo. This starts in early education and needs to be reformed in order to socialize children through a multicultural education.
This would help to bridge tolerance and understanding for others, and would also help to develop adults that are compassionate toward others. Educating children about the importance of education would also significantly help. ROBERT: I know what you’re saying. I’m just glad that I don’t live here. The two friends ride along in silence, watching the city streets pass them. The aroma of a Korean BBQ wafts into the car. The friends react and their stomachs growl. ROBERT: You hungry? DAVE: (Quickly) Yeah. ROBERT: Let’s stop at the BBQ. These places are supposed to be really good. DAVE: OK. But only if I get to order. After all, I am Korean.