How does Lorene view money in Black Ice?  What is her attitude towards money and economic inequality?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this autobiography of Lorene Cary, her views about both money and income inequality are indirectly stated.  Therefore, as readers, we must look closely at the story in order to infer what Cary actually thinks on the subject.

A native of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cary originally went to public school in the 1970s and was part of the first generation to benefit fully from the Civil Rights movement and, specifically, of desegregation of schools.  In her very early life, Cary had almost no contact with white suburbia.  Enter scholarship to St. Paul's in New Hampshire, that appeared after recruiters noted Cary's giftedness.  It is at this early point in the autobiography where, in my opinion, the most important quote arises about both money and income inequality:

No matter what, I wanted to go. ... How was it that I should have this opportunity and they should not?

In other words, Cary realizes she is being given an unprecedented opportunity here.  Something that is NOT the ordinary.  Something spectacular.  What she laments is that it is not offered to ALL who are able to live up to the challenge.  Through this, we can infer that Cary believes the lack of money in America to be a hindrance and that income inequality is undeniably wrong.  Why?  Because it leaves deserving Americans in the dust.  Cary realizes that she is the EXCEPTION, not the norm; therefore, she spends the rest of her life working against income equality and giving a "leg up" to gifted children whose mission is, like hers, to "turn it out" and become a success in school and in society.  This makes Cary a social activist against income inequality.

It is important to note, however, that Cary doesn't see America as intrinsically flawed.  On the contrary, she sees America as the means by which MORE exceptions such as hers could very well become the norm.  eNotes says it this way:

She is able to look honestly at herself and her life in America not as an aberration or flaw in the social fabric but as an integral and pertinent thread.

Now in the leadership of St. Paul's, she looks into the faces of gifted students from lower classes, such as she herself once was.  She welcomes those students, just as she had been one of the very first to be welcomed.  America, then, is truly the world of promise and historic opportunity.  What allows this promise to be realized?  CORRECT CHOICES or "an exemplary enactment of choices."  Cary encourages, by her own story, others to also make empowering choices.

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Black Ice

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