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NCJ Number: 208853 Find in a Library
Title: Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America
Author(s): Leon Dash
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 286
Sponsoring Agency: Penguin Books
New York, NY 10014
Publication Number: ISBN 0-452-27896-1
Sale Source: Penguin Books
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
United States of America
Type: Case Study
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book presents the life story of Rosa Lee in illustration of the plight of the urban underclass.
Abstract: The urban underclass are described by the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, as any family that “is headed by a single female and its members are welfare dependent, marginally educated, chronically unemployed, and engaged in repeated patterns of criminal deviance.” The author explores the world of this urban underclass through the eyes of Rosa Lee, a 52-year-old longtime heroin addict with a long arrest record, the mother of 8 children and the grandmother of over 30 grandchildren. Lee lives in Washington, DC’s poverty stricken urban neighborhoods where she has survived by waiting tables in nightclubs, selling drugs, stealing, and engaging in prostitution. The author spent 4 years interviewing Lee, learning about the daily lives of her and her children and grandchildren. The author illustrates how Lee survives from one crisis to another on the streets of inner city Washington, DC, and describes how Lee views her illegal activities as “just trying to survive.” The book traces how six of Lee’s eight children followed her into a life of crime and drug abuse while two of her children managed to escape the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to a better life. The author shows how Lee taught her children and then her grandchildren how to steal and sell drugs to survive. Indeed, there is mention of historical racism and oppression as it is revealed that Lee’s grandmother and many others were routinely raped at the hands of White male slave owners. The notion of oppression as eventually leading to a life of desperation and exploitation in current day urban America is woven through the book as everyday oppressions and exploitations are seen through Lee’s eyes. From September 18 through 25, 1994, the Washington Post published daily excerpts of “Rosa Lee’s Story: Poverty and Survival in Washington.”
Main Term(s): Case studies; Urban criminality
Index Term(s): Poverty and crime; Race relations
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