Free «The Level Playing Field» Essay Sample

American society is quite diverse to contain just some positions or approaches towards the different problems. One of them is the matter of meritocracy which means the idea of the equal chances for everybody to succeed in their life. Nevertheless, the proverb says that so many people, so many minds. Thus, the standpoints of Michelle Alexander and Wes Moore upon the American meritocracy differ from one another substantially.

Michelle Alexander is the author of the investigation The New Jim Crow. The main issue of it is the problem of mass incarceration that, on her opinion, involves predominantly African Americans and other non-white residents of the USA. The evidence of it is the overcrowded jails where the whites form only the little percentage of the imprisoned. She displays it on the various occasions that affirm this phenomenon. As a result, the non-white past immigrants suffer from the race discrimination, as she explains it.

On the contrary, there is another work in this focus written by Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore. His position is that everyone chooses his own path in the life in spite of the race, nationality and so on. He illustrates it on the essentially distinct fortunes of the two different people with one name from one city. The first Wes chooses the way of drug dealing while the other finds himself in the military school and adopts the best habits of the just, worth person to serve his people in the city. Therefore, the influences of their choices make them see the world in quite various ways.

Consequently, these two works of M. Alexander and W. Moore propose the separate viewpoints upon the possibilities for African Americans’ realizations in the USA. Both of them have the confirmation of their thoughts and the personification of their truthfulness. However, the readers can understand them from their own positions. The last ones will be proposed to examine in more profound consideration further to allow everyone to realize the strength of both views on the chosen topic.


According to the abovementioned, Michelle Alexander expresses her own opinion upon the American meritocracy. Her proofs possess the significance of such viewpoint, nevertheless they contradict Wes Moore’s ones. She uses the historical approach to form the single narration of the statements that confirms the review of the past. Moreover, her opinions are worthy to consider them while thinking about the equal possibilities to succeed in the American conditions nowadays.

First, the author describes the extension of the tradition that proves the discrimination of the definite groups of inhabitants in the United States. She begins with the serfage that was transformed into the slavery and then continued as the imprisonment according to the Jim Crow laws and the War on Drugs. M. Alexander explicates these examples because of the unjust law policy, which worked on behalf the white people. In sum, at the end of the twentieth century such attitude of the power bodies developed into the mass incarceration of the black residents.

Moreover, M. Alexander points out that the recent law legislation of America conducted its policy using the race-neutral language to avoid the misunderstanding between the power and the minorities. She writes: “The War on Drugs, cloaked in the race-neutral language, offered whites opposed to racial reform a unique opportunity to express their hostility toward blacks and black progress, without being exposed to the charge of racism” (53). Such “colorblind” demeanor confirms the will of the policies to disguise their genuine attitude towards the minorities of the USA. Thus, this affects the perception of the American citizens at all.

Overall, The New Jim Crow contains the analysis of the situation of the African Americans and other non-white minorities there. M. Alexander provides the reader the sufficient evidences of her standpoint upon it. The matter is in the fault of the power structure and the law legislators to grant their residents the equal civil rights in spite of their race or other implements. However, everybody can elucidate the guilty side according to own thoughts and expressions.


To counterbalance the previous position, Wes Moore consumes another approach to the interpretation of the matter of meritocracy in the USA. He writes the book that tries to compare the human nature and behavior in the identical city circumstances. The strength of his position is that everyone in this world has the choice, which depends mostly on the person who chooses it. After reading Wes Moore’s work, the reader begins to feel the difference between the various perceptions of the similar situations around.

Initially, the writer proposes to evaluate the living conditions of both characters of the book. The evidence of their similarity is the identic names and the one city they live in. However, while one of them joins the worthy kids to play and be friends with, the other chooses the money, drugs and the appropriate company to deal with. Their priorities differ from one another radically and they influence their future place of existence.

Moreover, both Wes Moore’s characters are brought up in the single-parent families. The following quote describes it exactly: “Your father wasn’t there because he couldn’t be, my father wasn’t there because he chose not to be. We’re going to mourn their absence in different ways.” (Moore 4). The role models in their families could contribute into their following demeanors. However, they are not the key points to define the life styles of the heroes of the book.

To sum up, the individuals with the identical names, city, similar lack of fatherhood, they impersonate the distinct views on life, their role models and the environment around them. Their biographies demonstrate the different ideals and perceptions of their missions in the community. Notwithstanding the minor peculiarities in their infant conditions, they accepted the singular behaviors and, correspondingly, life paths. The representation of their fortunes is the serving in the military school of one Wes and the drug addiction and dealing of another Wes.


Both the first and the second approaches have their pros and cons, but Wes Moore’s explication inspires more cogency than Michelle Alexander does. The proof is in the strength and reflection of the definite lives. The idea that the human choice is beyond the governmental laws and their tools of control provides more essential background of the explanation of living conditions of the minorities in the United States. The strong points of it lie under consideration.

The preference of W. Moore’s standpoint becomes apparent through the real life stories. He doesn’t use the general groups of minorities but he consumes the true life experiences to show the circumstances that are similar for them but how their own choices influence their stands in the same society. The reality of this background defines the perception of them by the other people and authority too. The truth that elucidates the determination of the concrete people and their fortunes becomes more powerful than the legislation’s charge because of their mistaken policy.

Meantime, the history provides the repetition of similar events but it is based only on the people who make it. If there were no criminals in the United States, the government would not hunt them. More profound review would let to display that the behavior of the minorities, especially African American, provokes the appointed demeanor to them. In other words, if the last ones would not feel themselves defenseless and depressed, they could attract another treatment of themselves.

Consequently, W. Moore’s standpoint prevails over M. Alexander’s. The evidences are obvious as the concrete people can provide better explanation of the truth. Persuasive illustrations of both Wes Moore’s protagonists elucidate the possibility of alternative way in any situation. Nevertheless, there are other powers who try to take the person under the control, but the internal motives and wishes make the conclusion for everyone’s final choice.


Thus, the comparison of the two works, M. Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and W. Moore’s The Other Wes Moore, purposes to show the different interpretations of the meritocracy in the United States. Both authors provided the appropriate explanations of the matters they deal with using the historical background and biographical data correspondingly. However, their approaches differ from one another basically as theoretically and in their choices of the protagonists. Therefore, the perception and final word of the reader depend on the personal statements and critical analysis of its own environment.


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