Agee takes a compassionate approach to social inequalities that manifest across U.S. society and beyond. In particular, he argues that society is to blame for gender inequality and other disparities. In other words, gender, racial differences, and associated stereotypes and prejudices are socially constructed. When discussing society’s role in perpetuating systemic racism, Agee touches on the U.S. educational system that offers two types of education: one for the rich and the other for the poor. Socioeconomic class emerges as a critical theme in Agee’s work. For instance, he asserts that students from poor backgrounds would always be behind in academics and employment-wise. Agee firmly believes that a student’s socioeconomic status (SES) is inextricably linked to their educational opportunity. The underprivileged are least likely to escape various race-related issues, such as unemployment, crime, substance and alcohol abuse, and teen pregnancy.
Agee’s insights into different social inequality dimensions and their role in furthering poverty and limited development opportunities for the socially disenfranchised are strikingly similar to what we face in our country today. I witness educational, employment, and health disparities daily in Chicago, where I live, and several other parts of the country. While recent studies have shown a significant reduction in performance gaps, one’s SES remains a predominant predictor of the educational success of the minority. Specifically, in 2019, 30 percent of Chicago public schools lacked a teacher for approximately one year. Interestingly, teacher shortage and inadequate funding do not manifest in all schools, but mainly in predominantly black schools. For example, I visited an all-black school located in North Chicago and found that most of these students hail from high-poverty families. As a result, a considerable number of started their schooling later than their white counterparts. School dropout is not uncommon in the school and this neighborhood because students and their illiterate parents are uninformed about education outcomes, including political participation and access to employment opportunities or the labor market.