Issues of Ethnicity and Cultural Background in The Other Wes Moore

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Many of the problems seen in modern times are due to events that many Americans pass off as “typical” with misfortunes and injustices. The Other Wes Moore perfectly exemplifies these exact afflictions that a multitude of people face in the United States, partially due to ethnicity or cultural background. The instances of poverty, economic injustice, drugs, and family influence in The Other Wes Moore contribute to significant findings in the socioeconomic structure that relate to considerable matters in the present day. An in-depth analysis of the story of both Wes and Moore in the eyes of a student of National Security and Foreign Affairs, and through the perspective of an Intelligence Officer, reveals small factors that both characters faced that resulted in life-altering circumstances. The purpose of this paper is to examine, contrast, and relate the conditions that were faced by both Wes Moore’s, and how those impacts alter political decisions and ultimately matters of national security. Commonalities between Wes and Moore regarding their growth and development included financial issues, fatherlessness, the use and dealing of controlled substances and the overall involvement of their family in their lives. The concepts concerning the field of national security are heavily influenced by the topics states above. Both Moore families face economic injustice in either Baltimore and the Bronx. For the author, his mother struggles to send him to Riverdale County School, a prestigious private school far away from the poverty he is used to in the Bronx. His mother works multiple jobs just to send her son to a place where he can achieve academic excellence and receive the education he deserves. However, once he attends this school, Moore realizes that in comparison to his fellow students who also attend this school, his family is quite economically disadvantaged. Massive amounts of extreme poverty can be deemed a threat to domestic and global security for a variety of reasons. For nations that are forced into widespread poverty, civil unrest is often present and may result in the destruction of borders and total anarchy. Education is an important factor in terms of national security as well, in the United States, highly educated citizens can prosper and pull themselves out of an economic hole, similar to the author, and much like what the original values of the American Dream stood for. To Mary, her acceptance letter to John Hopkins was a godsend and, “It was a golden ticket to another world,” and that it was a pathway to “the life she wanted, the life she dreamed about.” However, even the highly educated can be led into a world of terrorism. Georgetown University professor, Carol Lancaster describes how “[t]he terrorists of Al Qaeda were educated, from well-off families, and mostly from countries that have long ago graduated from the category of the world’s poorest,”. Nevertheless, senior security Iraqi officials reported that the majority of ISIS recruits were, “mostly young men between the ages of 16 and 25 who are primarily poor, unemployed and lack an education.” Based on his background, Wes would have been a prime candidate for recruitment by radicalized groups because they often incentivize means of escaping injustices and gaining power in a group that they are accepted by. The same philosophy applies to gangs are throughout the nation, which increases domestic crime rates. In the future position of an Intelligence Officer with specializations in counterterrorism, it is vital to understand the roots of radicalized groups and the motivations they offer for moderate civilians to join their ranks. It is far less costly to combat these issues, such as widespread poverty, at their source in the United States and throughout the world, rather than invade and conquer, but offer no long-term solutions.

In addition to the misfortunes brought upon by the horrors of economic injustice, the environment of family life has a significant effect on the upbringing of a child. Both Moore and Wes were fatherless from a young age, but from the knowledge of their fathers, they had starkly different parenting styles. The beginning of the story describes one of the few memories that Moore has of his father, Westley. When Moore is three years old, he playfully punches his older sister, Nikki. Joy, his mother, is furious, which upsets Moore, but when Westley comes to speak with him, he expresses calamity and the means and reasonings for correcting his actions and wrongdoing. Westley died shortly after of epiglottitis. Ever since then, Westley was an inspiration to Moore and he strived to make his father proud, even though he was no longer with them. Westley was Moore’s inspiration and set him up on a path for success. On the other hand, Wes’ father, Bernard, left his family before the birth of his son. Wes first meets his father when he is eight, as he is sitting on Wes’ grandmother’s couch in an alcoholic stupor. Bernard does not have a positive impact on Wes’ life, like that Moore did with his father. Wes’ other family members were not conducive to his success either. Although it does not make them “bad people”, much of Wes’ family suffers from alcohol or drug abuse, and are not as present in the life of a young child as most people would hope for. It appears to me that an influence that kept Wes’ inline was the pride he took in his recreational football team.

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[Wes] played defensive end for the Northwood Rams, one of the best rec football teams in the nation. Wes loved football, and his athletic frame made him a natural. Even if he was just going out to play in the streets with Woody and some other friends, he wore that jersey like a badge of honor. The crimson 'Northwood' that blazed across his white jersey gave him a sense of pride, a sense of belonging.

His inclusion and success on the Rams allowed him to discipline himself because the team was so important to him, it gave him something that he truly cared about in a life that offered him so little. Unfortunately, Wes’ life made a turn for the worse when he became involved in the drug game like so many of his peers. Some may argue that this was necessary for Wes as he had few other means of earning money to survive and fulfill his desires. All this is important to understand in my discipline and future career because it is essential to understand critical divergent points in the lives that criminals are created. However, in the field of national security, crimes must be looked at from a broader perspective, so that one can understand the social and political influences that affect the lives of these individuals.

Overall, The Other Wes Moore connects to my discipline by providing a case study of how two people, born into very similar worlds, can have such different results. Understanding those pivot points and forks in road can help me to better comprehend widespread socioeconomic that have the potential to become a domestic or foreign threat. Furthermore, this novel does not entirely change my perception of Ut Proism, but it does provide insight into who I am serving, and why. This story is ever more encouraging to help others take the path that Moore took, rather than Wes, and although everyone’s case varies, it provides generalizations of those who may be at risk for becoming involved with crime.

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Issues of Ethnicity and Cultural Background in The Other Wes Moore. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
“Issues of Ethnicity and Cultural Background in The Other Wes Moore.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Issues of Ethnicity and Cultural Background in The Other Wes Moore. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Apr. 2024].
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