So says scav, in an astute comment.
On the one hand, it’s important to emote when something bad happens to James Carville or Cokie Robert or investment bankers, even if there is nothing you can do about it. On the other, it’s important to see poor people, especially nonwhite poor people, as lazy, shiftless, undeserving of sympathy, and once you start empathizing, that generally goes out the window.
Wailing and rending of garments is something you do to show you’re the kind of person I’d like to have a beer with, the kind of person I might bump into at the Applebee’s salad bar. Empathy, however, is a threat to the social order.