The Analysis : The Birdcage Metaphor

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The birdcage metaphor explains how “the large number of wires arranged in a specific way, and connect to one another, serve to enclose the bird and to ensure that it cannot escape.” This is commonly used to describe systemic racism that plagues today’s institution, whether on purpose or subconsciously. With this metaphor, each wire of the cage represents a system in society that traps minorities in a lower position compared to the dominant group. For Both Hands Tied, Unequal Times, and The New Jim Crow, these wires represent the welfare system, managerial power over worker’s time, and mass incarceration, respectively, which Dr. McGriff understands and thus tries to align his behaviors to what is racially expected of him. In Both Hand Tied, the migration from a primarily male-dominated industrial-based economy to a more female-dominated service-based economy marked the beginning of the new system that would trap low-income minorities below the poverty line. Because low-wage women had replaced high-income men, this pushed some of these unemployed men to commit questionable actions that often lead to incarceration, leaving single mothers to fend for themselves and take care of the children. This often would lead to these mothers to take a leave or seek a new job, which would initiate the grueling cycle that was the welfare system. Facing the dueling role of breadwinner and the mother, these women would have to take up low-income occupations where they commonly faced

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