This photograph by Smith (2020) depicts individuals waiting in line at a food bank in San Antonio, Texas. The number of immigrants that have become reliant on food banks has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Simultaneously, the availability and supply at the food banks have steadily declined (Wilson, 2020). That is, the supply is not keeping up with the demand of the reliant immigrant households. This suggests that immigrants are becoming more food insecure, which holds important sociological implications since food security is linked to how immigrants construct identity and integrate successfully into new countries (Soo, 2010). This is also representative of social inequalities in American society as households with lower socioeconomic status (i.e. those living in poverty) have needed to rely on food banks to get by. Restrictions on businesses have had adverse economic implications on workers, restricting their already limited income (Wilson, 2020).
This photo by Wernikoff (2020) depicts a tent encampment erected in West Oakland. At this encampment, many of the residents are individuals from other countries who have either immigrated to the United States or refugees who have been granted permission to enter the United States before the lockdowns (Levin & Botts, 2020). This image illustrates the prominence of the homelessness crisis throughout the United States, which has not been alleviated by any substantive progress in recent years. Levin & Botts (2020) assert that immigrants do not constitute the majority of the homeless population. Despite this, the fact remains that immigrants are of a poorer social class and are prone to experience economic struggles in the United States.
The theme underlying these photos is how immigrants are affected by poverty in the United States and how the coronavirus pandemic has magnified these inequalities. The first image, by Wilson (2020), captures the problem of food insecurity and poverty within immigrant populations. Meanwhile, the second photo captures the problem of housing or shelter for immigrants in the United States (Wernikoff, 2020).
From these photos, the connection between immigrants and poverty has arisen as a primary source of inequality in the United States. The first image reveals the increasing problem of food insecurity, while the second portrays the issue of housing amongst immigrants. Both of these factors have contributed to increased poverty levels and adverse sociological implications within this population.
It is clear that social class as a social structure significantly influences the choices and opportunities that immigrants to the United States encounter. According to Beeghley (2015), social class in the United States has been a controversial issue. In particular, there has been some considerable debate about whether or not discrete social classes exist in the country. I believe these immigrants’ social classes play a significant role in their life’s choices, determining their occupation, education, and income. As evident in the pictures, immigrants’ poor social class affects their livelihoods and health due to lack of sufficient food and proper housing. In general, the two images have taught me the impacts of the pandemic on the less fortunate in society. It has also caused me to reflect on how one’s social class affects one’s life choices and socioeconomic status.
Beeghley, L. (2015). Structure of social stratification in the United States (5th ed.). Routledge.
Levin, M., & Botts, J. (2020). California’s homelessness crisis and possible solutions. Cal Matters. https://calmatters.org/explainers/californias-homelessness-crisis-explained/
Soo, K. (2010). Newcomers and food insecurity: A critical literature review on immigration and food insecurity. (University of Ottawa, Master’s thesis).
Smith, L.W. (2020). People at a San Antonio food bank. [Photograph]. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/04/food-banks-problems-immigrants-coronavirus-texas
Wernikoff, A. (2020). Photograph of a tent encampment in Oakland where immigrants and refugees live [Photograph]. Cal Matters. https://calmatters.org/explainers/californias-homelessness-crisis-explained/
Wilson, J. (2020). Food banks struggle to keep pace with immigrant communities hit hard by pandemic. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/04/food-banks-problems-immigrants-coronavirus-texas