"Social inequality is the elephant in the room strangling us all." Please explain what this means.

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kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The phrase "the elephant in the room" is used to describe things or situations which people don't want to talk about but is difficult to ignore. Social inequality is certainly one of those structures which many people don't like discussing or see as a fact of life which cannot be remedied. As little as people may desire to talk about social inequality, it still exists, and will most likely get worse the longer we try to ignore it.

Saying that the "elephant" of social inequality is strangling us alludes to the constraints social inequality places on "us" as members of a society. For many, there are damaging limitations and obligations. People at the bottom of a social hierarchy typically have roles and lifestyles entirely intended to benefit the upper class(es) while reproducing their own poverty or low social status. A common cycle of entrapment for low socioeconomic status people is that they have grown up in a low-income home and cannot afford to attend university or receive training which might earn them a higher-paying job. Being of a low socioeconomic status contributes to poor health and higher rates of stress, which take a hard toll on a person's body and can further limit social or economic mobility.

Social inequality which thrives when the labor and lives of certain people are devalued perpetuates a life cycle where poverty begets poverty. The upper classes are reliant upon the lower classes to perform duties they don't want to do. In this way, the upper classes are also strangled by the elephant of social inequality.

This quote about whether the elephant in the room is strangling us has  been used to create discourse about social inequality in Australia and around the world. 

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