Sunday, November 4, 2007

Foreigners in Their Native Land

Mexicans did not necessarily go to the United States, the United States more or less came to them. Americans came to California at first in small numbers and the Mexicans accepted them, however, as time went on more and more Americans came to take over the Mexicans land and the Americans started to out number the Mexicans. Americans would cross the boarder and come to Texas as illegal immigrants. And at first the Mexicans chose to leave the boarders opened to the immigrants to come over, however, then the boarder was moved and now the Mexicans were located within the United States.
The titled of this chapter holds significance because it describes how the Mexicans felt on their land. “Foreigners in Their Native Land” shows that the Americans treated the Mexicans as foreigners on their very own land. The Americans came and took over the Mexicans land and treated the Mexicans as though they did not have a right to live there. “Suddenly they were thrown among those who were strangers to their language, customs, laws, and habits” (177). This shows that the Mexicans were surrounded by Americans and their way of life. Mexicans were now under American laws and controls and therefore they were expected to abide by them. They were allowed to vote usually, however, there were not enough of them to make a difference in most places. Also, laws were aimed at Mexicans such as the “Greaser Act” and “Mexican Miners’ Tax”.
The social construction mechanism discussed in this chapter is the different class levels that they were separated into. According to this chapter, the people were separated into classes based on their skin color. Also many times they are separated based on their jobs.
They resisted discrimination and racialization by demonstrating that they were capable of defying stereotypes such as docility and submissiveness (187). They had a sense of self-respect and the worth of their work, and they repeatedly went out on strike. They developed things such as the “Mexican system” which was a way of irrigation that helped turn the Texas land from scrub bushes to green fields. They also extracted ‘red metal’ used to manufacture electrical wires. On top of the great things they discovered, they also developed groups and organizations that often held strikes to try to get fair working conditions.
One example of race in this chapter is that “many countries established ‘white primaries’ to disfranchise Mexicans as well as blacks” (179). An example of ethnicity in this chapter is “These strikes reflected a feeling of Mexican ethnic solidarity” (189). Race is more of a socially constructed idea of a group based more on their color and the way in which they look while ethnicity has more to do with their culture and where they are originally from.

Monday, October 29, 2007


One time in which I remember that I have been stared at was when my family was at the airport awaiting the arrival of my brother from Iraq. Due to the fact that we had signs and were crying when we saw the plane pull up, many people sat, staring at us wondering what the big deal was. However, we were so proud and so happy we did not care that people were staring. This may not be an example in which we were stared at in an odd, and dehumanizing way, but because we were going against the social norms, people did stare at us and wonder why we were acting this way. However, in this given situation, we really didn't care what others thought because we were just go happy that he was home. Although, once we got off the plane and we were walking through the airport, with my brother, who was in his military uniform, we did get a lot of looks and people were actually rather rude to him. However, there were many people that stopped us and told him thank you for serving and shook his hand and aknowledged us for getting through a whole year while he was over there as they realized how hard that could have been for us as well.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Comic Book Analysis

I chose this comic book cover because it showed many stereotypes that we have discussed in class. It shows the powerful, white male, it also shows the white female being portrayed as a damsel in distress while being attacked by a minority race. All of these topics we have discussed in class and seen in other readings and videos.
On the cover it shows a white female who is tied up and held captive by members of the “yellow” race. She looks very scared and helpless. She is surrounded by men who have been holding her captive. This is similar to what we have seen in the video Ethnic Notions. In the video the white women were being chased by black males and they are running from the men. In some cases the females would jump off cliffs to escape these males because they felt that it was a better alternative than being caught by the men. There was never an image of black females being chased or being scared because they were not seen as feminine or helpless like the white women were.
Also on the front cover of the comic book is a picture of a white male coming in to save the day for the white female. It shows him fighting off many other men all by himself. He is coming through the ceiling with a gun that appears to be very powerful and is portrayed in a way that makes him look very dominant. There is also another white male in the background who appears to be very well built and is fighting off the yellow Gestapo as well. This shows the white male as being dominant and almost super hero like compared to the yellow race. They yellow race appears to be very weak and troubled that the white man is there. The fact that the one white man can fight off the whole Gestapo shows the dominance that the white male has over the yellow race.
I feel that the repetition of these comic book covers being printed during this time helped to develop such stereotypes. With people seeing these kinds of images on a daily basis, they cannot help but start to think it these ways. The fact that they show the white woman as being helpless and the white male dominating definitely played a part in the way we think about the genders today.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How Jews Became White Folks

In Karen Brodkin’s writing called How Jews Became White Folks she talks about how anti-Semitism played a part along with other discrimination toward immigrants in forming a perception of the Jews. Brodkin explains what the Jews went through before and after the war and how Jews were able to climb higher in class and were finally seen as white people and not just Jews. Brodkin’s thesis states that it took federal programs to create conditions in which Jews and other European immigrants could be recognized and rewarded while at the same time completely sealing off any opportunity for social mobilization for African Americans.
The point at which Europe was divided into inferior and superior races began with the large numbers of European immigrants that came to America and due to such a large amount of immigrants they were not easily assimilated. One thing that many white U.S. born Protestant elite feared was the mixing of races. Madison Grant stated that he believed that the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew was a Jew. (40). Grant also believed that race and class were one in the same and that the upper class was racially pure Nordic while the lower class came from the lower races (40). These notions from Grant and other scientist made people believe that Americans were white and that real whites came from northwest Europe. Therefore at this point, Jews and African Americans were still being discriminated against.
Changing views, after the war, on who was white made it easier for Euro-ethnics to become middle class (43). According to Brodkin, “The economic mobility of Jews and other Euro-ethnics derived ultimately from America’s postwar economic prosperity and its enormously expanded need for professional, technical, and managerial labor, as well as on government assistance in providing it” (43). Due to the abundance of jobs that needed to be filled, the Jews were able to step up and take a position in society that they had been previously denied. The passage of the GI Bill of Rights was a massive affirmative action program that aimed at and helped male, Euro-origin GI’s.
Due to the GI Bill, many white males that would previously not been able to obtain a college degree were granted the opportunity to go to college. Before the war, most Jews were part of the working class, however, after the war they were able to move up to the middle class due to their educational and occupational opportunities. However, by allowing white males to climb higher in society, it left white females and black in the dust. Black and white females were not experiencing all the benefits that the white males were after the war. Discrimination in the workforce, housing market, and educational opportunities made it hard for blacks and white females to experience what the white males were experiencing.
The Federal Housing Administration believed in racial segregation and therefore, did not allow the high quality housing that they offered for the whites, to be extended to the blacks. With the federal government behind them, virtually all developers refused to sell to African Americans (47). Through the process of urban renewal, the Jews and other working-class Euro-immigrants became middle class while leaving the blacks in the working class.
Therefore, in the end federal government programs were designed to assist demobilized GIs and young families while systematically discriminating against African Americans.
So did the Jews truly pull themselves up by their own boot strings to be a part of the middle class? Not exactly. Without the help from the federal government, the Jews would have had a hard time mobilizing as quickly and as well as they did. The government passed such things as the GI Bill, which created many opportunities for the Jews that allowed them to move up the social ladder. Also the Federal Housing Administration built affordable and nice housing for whites to live in while they did not provide the same services to the blacks. More so, VA mortgages would lend money to whites and would discriminate against the blacks. Therefore, the Jews experienced privileges because they were extended to the whites but discriminated against the blacks.
Overall, I found this reading to be interesting. I liked how she had it laid out and broken down into sections. It made this reading easy to follow and helped the reader know where she was going with each section. I also found it interesting in how the Jews were finally ‘accepted’ into society while discriminating the blacks in the process.

Monday, October 1, 2007


In Octavia Butler’s Kindred, the protagonist Dana Franklin who lives in Los Angeles in 1976 is brought back into history during the early 19th century. She is brought back to the antebellum south into the state of Maryland by one of her ancestors, Rufus Weylin. However, Dana is a free black women living in 1976 and Rufus is a white slave owner in the south during a time of slavery.
During her time in 1976, Dana is a writer who is married to Kevin Franklin who is white and also a writer. Kevin travels in time with Dana for one of her trips to Maryland during the early 1800’s. However, Kevin’s experience in the south is much different than Dana’s due to the fact that he is an educated white man and Dana is an educated black female.
Kevin spends his time in the south at first on the same plantation as Dana, working as a teacher for the master’s son Rufus. Kevin teaches Rufus how to read and write while on the plantation and Dana spends her time working as a slave in the cookhouse and doing other things around the plantation that the other slaves were responsible for doing. However, Dana is brought back to 1976 without Kevin and Kevin spends the rest of his time in the 1800’s traveling, teaching slaves and helping slaves escape.
However, once Kevin is gone and Dana is back on the plantation she does not have Kevin to stick up for her. She spends time in the cookhouse with the other slaves but she also has other privileges that the other female slaves do not have. Dana and Rufus had a special friendship that Rufus did not have with any of the other slaves. Rufus liked it when Dana would read to him while he was sick. At first they had to keep this a secret from Rufus’ father but then Tom Weylin began to have some respect for Dana throughout the novel and he allowed her to read to Rufus and teach him how to write.
Although Dana was black she had other privileges over the other slaves due to the fact that she could write and read and that was something that Rufus and Master Tom were not so good at themselves so they were somewhat scared of her because she was a literate slave. Rufus and Dana had an understanding that Dana would not leave Rufus if he would not hurt her.
During the time that Dana spent in the south during the 1800’s she experienced things such as power, gender roles, and racial conflicts in ways that she was not subjected to in 1976. The power that landowners had over their slaves was obviously something she had never experienced and it was hard for her to deal with at first. Also the different gender roles of the males and females on the plantation and off the plantation were quite different than those in the 1800’s. However, most significantly different was the racial conflict that was going on. The whole idea of slavery and the different lifestyles the blacks had in the 1800’s compared to the lifestyle she lived in 1976.
When Dana returns with Kevin to the present day, she says that she, “never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.” How does this reflect the current attitudes about race and ethnicity? The fact that Dana would continually be brought back into slavery after she had lived most of her life as a free black women and she would instantly accept the roles of slavery during that time was shocking to her that she could do this. However, because she was in a time period that this is all they really know, and this is how they think things are suppose to be, their attitudes rubbed off on her and she did not know of any other way to act.
This reflects the current attitudes about race and ethnicity today because we too have been socially constructed to accept race and ethnicity for what we perceive that it is. We are taught through society that race is something that cannot be changed and we are led to believe that it is biological. Because we see race and ethnicity as something so deeply part of our culture, we don’t do anything to try to change it. We just go a long with what society leads us to believe. This is exactly what Dana was doing with slavery. She knew that it was wrong and that it would end eventually but she did not do anything about it and in some ways even accepted it and gave into slavery.
I really enjoyed reading this book a lot. It was a quick read and it was very different from anything else I have ever read before. I like the fact that the author took us back into time and allowed us to view slavery from a point of view outside of the time period that was actually experiencing it. Everything about the book was very relevant to what we have been reading and class and there were many connections in the book that I was able to make with other readings that we have done in class thus far.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Takaki: Chapter 3

In Chapter 3, titled The “Giddy Multitude”: The Hidden Origins of Slavery, Takaki talks about the origin of slavery and how it came about. He starts off by talking about The Tempest and the characters whom played a role in this play and relating them to what really happened in the coming of slavery. I believe that Takaki’s main thesis for this chapter is the fact that the “Giddy Multitude” which is “a discontented class of indentured servants, slaves, and landless freemen, both white and black” (63) constantly threatened the social order that constructed slavery.
I this chapter Takaki starts with the stating that some of the first slaves where Indians but in the play The Tempest, the slave was portrayed as an African. He then states that twenty Africans had been brought to Virginia by a Dutch man and although they had been sold, they were not exactly slaves because they were not reduced to property. They, in fact, were more like the white indentured servants who were bound by contracts to serve a certain number of years and then they were set free. Slowly more slaves were brought over to the Virginia colony from places like Germany, England and Ireland. Like the Africans the white indentured servants were brought to the Virginia colonies unwillingly. They were typically of the low class of society, brutish, vagabonds, whores and cheats.
Because the blacks and the whites were coming from different places, to the Virginias and serving as slaves and indentured servants together, they had no negative feelings toward each other. These white and black servants would runaway together and worked together everyday. However, finally Virginia legislators spoke up and started to make relations between the blacks and the white come to and end. They were strongly punished if they ran away together, or if they had any kind of relations with each other.
Once they started to separate the blacks and the whites, they started treating them differently as well. The whites were not punished as harshly as the blacks were for disobeying their masters. Also, the whites did not have to serve for life like the blacks did. Another thing that was happening was that the Africans were being degraded into the status of property.
Now that the white servants were free, they wanted to own land but the current merchants would not give them any land. So the “giddy multitude” became a threat to social order. They led conspiracies, revolts, and other rages that caused the upper and middle class to become frieghtened of this group of people. Large landowners, such as Thomas Jefferson, realized that the social order would always be in danger if they had to depend of white labor so they decided to go strictly to slaves.
Virginia wanted to let some of their white servants go so they brought more blacks over to become slaves. They saw the value of having slaves for life however, something else had happened too that opened the way for a switch from indentured white labor to black slave labor (61). This is something is the fact that the hidden origins of slavery were indeed rooted in class (61).
By having blacks strictly as slaves, they wanted to make sure they did not make the same mistakes with them as they did with the whites by allowing them to have too much power. In order to keep the blacks as socially low as possible, they passed many laws restricted blacks from doing things such as voting, or having the freedom of assembly or movement. These laws made the cultural gap between the blacks and the whites much larger.
Thomas Jefferson felt guilty about the slave situation and said that he would abolish slavery once his debts were paid off. He said that once slavery was abolished all of the slaves would have to be removed from America because he believed that blacks and whites could never coexist in American because of “the real distinctions” which “nature” had made between the two races (71). Jefferson also believed that nurture would not improve the nature of blacks (74) and that blacks were not as smart as whites.
So what would happen to a president today if they said that they believed that whites and blacks could never coexist in American because of “the real distinctions” which “nature” has made between the two races and that blacks are inferior to whites in such things as intelligence? If such a thing was said today, by almost anyone, it would be greatly refuted. First of all, the only “real distinctions” is the skin color and the only reason it has any meaning in our society today is because we have socially construed it to be that way. Second of all nature has not made the blacks inferior to whites, it was our social class that made us believe that they were, and treated them as though they were. And finally, it is very obvious to us now, that blacks are not less intelligent than whites. There are many intelligent, successful of both races.
I didn’t particularly care for this chapter. I felt that it was long and drawn out. I also thought that it was laid out weird. I felt as though it wasn’t necessarily in chronological order. He would talk about how they changed to having all black slaves, and then it went back to having white indentured servants. I just felt that it could have been written better and more smoothly.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chapter 6

In Johnson’s chapter six titled What it all Has to do With Us he discusses the idea and the role that individualism plays in our society. He also talks about the path of least resistance and what is truly means to be involved in oppression and privilege. I believe that Johnson’s thesis in this chapter is to explain that when considering the role of privilege and oppression you have to also consider the role of social categories and not focus so much on the individual. Johnson wants to point out that the social categories aren’t just something that one person can change, that it is a societal thing so much that we sometimes don’t even realize it.
Johnson first starts off chapter six by stating that society encourages us to think that the social world begins and ends with individuals, when in reality that isn’t true. When believing in the individual way of thinking, we find ourselves believing that everything is someone else’s fault and makes it hard to talk about such topics of racism or sexism. It also makes us not even acknowledge the existence of privilege because individualism so focused on the individual it fails to consider societies influence. This is why Johnson says the individualistic way of thinking is not correct and we must consider society as an influence in what goes on. Johnson talks about how individuals must play a part in social systems in order for social life to occur. He then brings up the concept of the path of least resistance. Johnson says that in the end the default position is to adopt the dominant version of reality and act as though it’s the only one there is (80). To explain the path of least resistance Johnson tells a story about being in an elevator and the fact that we all know to stand and face the front of the elevator in a relatively quiet manner. However, if someone was to stand in an elevator and face the back of the elevator, many people will give them odd looks and wonder what they are doing. However, they are not doing anything wrong, or hurting anyone in any way, it’s just that they are doing something that is not the social ‘norm’ so people find it weird and may judge them. So if you don’t want to be judged or looked at funny, people do what is socially accepted as normal, which would be the path of least resistance. Also, people know that there are other paths that exist but they do not choose that route because they are afraid of what will happen if they do. Johnson then goes on to point out that similar dynamics operate around the issue of privilege (80). People in a corporation tend to promote the people and mentor the people that are most like them, making it difficult for other people to get promoted. And Johnson states that what we experience as social life happens through a complex dynamic between systems such as families, schools, and workplace, along with the choice that people make as they participate in them. And through this process of these systems working together is how social life helps produce privilege and oppression. Johnson states that most of the time we do not even realize that the path of least resistance is there and that is what helps create and maintain privilege.
So do people really follow the path of least resistance in most cases still today? Of course they do. The path of least resistance is the path that will cause the least amount of fuss or attract the least amount of attention because that is what we view as socially normal. For instance, when men are sitting around and telling each other jokes, and one man says a very sexist joke and some of the men find it offensive but they just laugh and play along because they do not want to draw attention to themselves. They know that if they bring it up they will either get laughed at and teased or it may start a heated argument so they just take the path of least resistance and laugh along with the rest of the men. Also, school kids my tease one boy for having glasses and the other kids may think it is mean, but they do not say anything because they do not want to get made fun of either. So the path of least resistance is certainly a common path still today in many countless situations.
I enjoyed this chapter by Johnson. I feel that he did a good job of using a lot of examples to help explain his ideas better. I like the Monopoly analogy that he used throughout and also the stories he used to describe the path of least resistance. I think he did a very effective job of explaining his topics and his points in this chapter. I also found the concept of the path of least resistance very interesting and it helped me realize how prevalent it is in our society today in some many aspects.

Chapter 8

In Johnson’s chapter 8 titled Getting off the Hook: Denial and Resistance he talks about the ways that people of privilege try to disconnect themselves with the cause of someone else’s misery. Johnson states that we are all on the hook because there is no way of avoiding being part of the problem (108). Johnson states eight different ways in which people try to get themselves off the hook. Johnson’s thesis statement is that our first response when it comes to causing someone else’s pain is to try to get off the hook and that there are many ways in which people do it today.
The first way that Johnson brings to our attention is to deny and minimize. He states that one of the easiest ways to get off the hook is to deny that it even exists in the first place. People claim that the American Dream is readily available and equally easy to achieve for everyone no matter what their race, gender, or sexual preference. Also he says people like to minimize the problem by saying that is does exist but it ultimately doesn’t lead to anything. The next way to get off the hook is to blame the victim. Whites can see that there are problems surrounding blacks in society but they blame their problems on the blacks. They say that they should work harder and get an education and then they would be able to be just as successful as whites. Another example of blaming the victim is that men claim that women who have been sexually harassed were asking for it, or they wanted it. Putting the blame on the victim takes the privileged party off the hook. The next way of getting of the hook is to call it something else. Instead of calling it gender inequality, they call it the battle of the sexes, which makes it seem more like a game. Gender inequality is one problem that we often laugh about because it is so deep in our lives that we must go to great lengths to make it appear normal (112). Another way that Johnson talks about is saying that it is better this way. This means saying that everyone actually prefers it to be that way, that women actually prefer to be dominated by males and blacks prefer to live in an all black neighborhood rather than live around whites. This is a way of thinking that there is nothing unpleasant or unfair to think about, and just think that everyone is happy this way when in fact that is not the case. Another way of getting off the hook is by saying that it doesn’t count if you didn’t mean it. By saying “I didn’t mean it” it can avoid getting into a conversation or an argument that may end up being very serious and many feelings being hurt and many buttons getting pushed. So by acting as though you were not aware of the effects of your actions helps to get you off the hook. Johnson uses the example of men opening doors for women and women finding it as a way of showing that the women is helpless and can’t open her own door. This shows male dominance, however many men said they were doing it simply because it was polite and that they didn’t mean to offend the women at all. Also another example Johnson uses is saying that I’m one of the good ones. By stating that they aren’t racist and don’t support any racist groups, this makes it seem as they are just an innocent observer. However, by being a silent observer of those who do participate in wrong doings shows that their passive acceptance goes a long with the group and makes them just as much of the problem since they didn’t do anything to stop it. Another way to get off the hook is saying that they are sick and tired of hearing about it. When you are annoyed by something it seems as though it is everywhere (121). Privileged groups don’t want to here about the oppression of their counter parts at all because it makes them no longer oblivious to the fact that they are actually privileged. And finally the last way of getting of the hook is by getting on. Being on the hook, Johnson points out, is what distinguished adults from children. By being on the hook you are aware that you are able to do something about it and move in a forward motion to fix it.
So do people really try and get off the hook by using these ways that Johnson has named? The answer is yes, these methods are used so often in our daily lives that we sometimes fail to even realize it. Male superiority is so prevalent in our society that we don’t even think to criticize them. The gender inequality is one of the most prevalent inequalities that is has become a joke in our society. There is evidence in our television sitcoms such as Everybody Loves Raymond and the King of Queens which both portray the wife as doing all of the work around the house and the male working his day job and being able to come home and sit on the couch the rest of the night.
I liked this chapter of Johnson because everything was very clear and spelled out. He laid out the chapter nicely in the beginning by letting us know exactly what to expect out of the rest of the chapter. Also, once again Johnson did an incredible job of including very useful examples of how these things occur in today’s world. The use of his examples helps to better understand how this affects us and others in society.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Johnson: Chapter 3

In Johnson’s chapter three of Power, Privilege, and Difference he talks about capitalism, class and the matrix domination. He approaches the fact that many students don’t know where racism comes from and don’t understand why it still exists. Johnson answers these questions by going back into history of race where he points out that history hasn’t always been around and the racism and capitalism came about at the same time. I believe that Johnson’s thesis statement of this chapter is that capitalism played a major role in the development of racism and especially white privilege.
Johnson states that capitalism has been the predominant and virtually the only economic system around since the demise of the Soviet Union. He defines the basic goal of capitalism as “to turn money into more money” (42). The capitalists did this by employing people to work for them for low wages. The employees had no choice in how much they earned, they were just lucky enough to have a job. So because capitalists profited from the difference of the cost of producing the good and the cost that they sold it at, they wanted to higher the cheapest labor they could get. Also capitalism not only produced a large amount of money it also produced a very large inequality between classes. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and more middle class people moved down to the lower class.
So not only did capitalism separate the population into classes based on wealth, it started white privilege with the direct connection of the enslavement of Africans as a source of cheap labor (45). Whites hired slaves: Africans, Chinese, Japanese any labor they could get that was cheap so they could profit from their labor. To justify their forms of imperialism and oppression, whites developed the idea of whiteness (46). They used this idea to control white workers. This racial division became an effective way to divide the different segments of working class against each other. This is still present today with the idea of affirmative action and the fact that whites find it unfair that other immigrants are getting jobs because they will work for a lower wage. Also capitalism exploits people with disabilities and also shapes gender inequality in the workforce. However, Johnson states the idea of the matrix domination and the fact that people can be privileged and unprivileged at the same time. It’s not a (+) and (-) thing, both privileges and unprivileged categories can be assigned to one person. Such an example would be a black, male, heterosexual. He possesses the privilege of being male and heterosexual however he is unprivileged for being white.
So as Johnson asks at the beginning of the chapter, why all the oppression and hostility and violence over something that is made up? Well, as Johnson points out through his argument, racism has been around for a long time and we, as Americans, do not know much different then thinking in this way. Privilege is so prevalent in our society that oftentimes it goes unnoticed. Many white male will state that they don’t experience white or male privilege when in all actuality they do, it is just so ‘normal’ to them that they take it for granted. Therefore, racism is something that is not easy to get rid of or forget. It is something that will be a part of our lives forever. Even though it may seem like it is made up, it has become such a large part of what this nation is that it will be nearly impossible to get rid of it.
I really enjoyed reading this article and learning how capitalism relates to whiteness and privilege. It truly was an eye-opener to see how it has come about and clears the waters about why it is still around. I also liked the explanation of the matrix of domination and how it really isn’t a numbers thing.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Power, Privilege, and Difference

In his book titled Power, Privilege and Difference Allan Johnson explains the affects that privilege has on our society and the way that we live. In his opening paragraph Johnson states “The trouble that surrounds difference is really about privilege and power—the existence of privilege and the lopsided distribution of power that keeps it going” (12). The thesis the Johnson presents in this chapter is that privilege is not something that we are necessarily born with, it has been socially construed and it affects our lives more than most people are aware of.
Johnson starts off by stating that difference is not the problem. Some people believe that if we were to ignore privilege as the problem, it would make it seem as though difference was the problem when in fact it is not. Johnson states that it is a myth that people are afraid of things that are different from them, and he states that it’s not what we don’t know that frightens us, but what we think we know (13). He then further supports this idea by stating that young children are not afraid of the unknown and are often curious, this is because they don’t have an idea in their mind as to how those unfamiliar things are said to be. Johnson also states that we have socially constructed differences in our culture. If we live in a culture that does not recognize differences as significant, they are socially irrelevant (18). For example, if a woman lived in a predominately black society and had not experienced white privilege, she would consider herself a woman, not a black woman. Also, when someone is not part of a privilege class, we often label them strictly by their lowest identity, such as if a person is blind, we refer to them as a blind person, not a white, or male. This in part is because as humans, we have socially construed these labels to have those meanings. Finally, Johnson talks specifically about privilege. Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they have done or failed to do (21). Oftentimes people do not realize that they have such privileges because they are so strong and so socially “normal” that they can go on day-to-day and not even realize the privileges they are granted. Such privileges age white privilege, male privilege, or heterosexual privilege often go unnoticed by those who belong to those groups because they are so dominant, but one little change of any of those characteristics could severely alter their lifestyles.
So are these privileges still present and practiced in our society today? Absolutely. Whites are still experiencing white privilege everyday, whether it is in the shopping mall, workforce, or even jail. Also, males are experiencing male privilege still today by receiving the higher paying jobs in the workforce and holding the leadership positions of our nation. Women experience the ‘glass ceiling’ in many different occupations still today. The ‘glass ceiling’ is a term that refers to the fact that women can only get so high in the business world and they find them selves being held back by the ‘glass ceiling’ while they watch the males continue to climb up the ladder.
Overall, I found this article very interesting. Johnson was very right when stating that we often go on with our daily lives without realizing the privileges that we have over other socially construed groups. I really enjoyed the part that Johnson went through and listed the privileges that whites, males, heterosexuals, and non-disabled people experience in our society. It truly was an eye opener. In conclusion, I believe that privilege really is socially construed but that it will still continue to be that way.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Race: The Power of Illusion: Difference Between Us

In our previous readings, we came to believe that racism is something that is biological and unchanging. However, in the video Race: The Power of an Illusion: Difference Between Us we come to find out that there is no genetic marker that defines race. The difference between a white person and an Asian person is not biological. It is believed that the difference between races is a socially constructed difference.
When we look at a person, we identify their race just by looking at them, when in all actuality there may be more to them then their skin tone, eye shape, or hair texture. However, we have socially construed race to be based on looks that we don’t take the time to consider what other ethnicities a person might be. For example, in the video they stated that people could not remember who the Italian baseball play was that hit so many homerun, because he was black, so they did not associate him with being Italian.
In the video they also talked about athletic performance, or any complex trait such as musical talent and how we have not been able to put specific traits to certain abilities. They gave the example that the American basketball dream team was composed of mostly African Americans and started to believe that they were best at basketball. However, then the top player who was drafted the next season was Chinese. This totally threw out the whole idea that only African Americans were best at basketball.
So is racism culturally or biologically derived? Well through the students’ experience that they did in the classroom, it showed that those of the same race did not necessarily have the most in common when they compared their DNA test results. Students who were of the same race had more in common with those of a different race than the student of the same race. Also stated in the video was that a person who is black will not be any similar genetically to another black person than they would be to a white person. Therefore, I think that it is safe to say that race is not as biological as we may think. It is more socially construed throughout history and even today, that it seems so natural to us.
I really enjoyed this video and found the topic to be very interesting. I especially like how well this video went along with the other readings that we have done in class so far this semester. It gives us a chance to compare articles and points of view and allows us to decide for ourselves which side we truly believe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Zinn's Drawing the Color Line

In Zinn’s article Drawing the Color Line He asks if it is possible for blacks and whites to live together without hatred. He then states that by looking back through history we can find clues to help answer this question. Zinn then continues to recite the history of the blacks and the white from the beginning of time which, as most of us know, started with slavery. Also, with this color line comes the idea of racism, something that we cannot change about our selves or others. It permanent and there is nothing that we can do about it. Therefore, it may be very hard for blacks and whites to live together without there being any amount of hatred or inequalities because of this racism.
Zinn states that “Everything in the experience of the first white settlers acted as pressure for the enslavement of blacks.” The Virginians had a hard time growing enough food for everyone and they couldn’t ask the Indians to be their slaves because the Indians were already living off of the land abundantly and with less labor then the Virginians so to get back at the Indians they decided that they would own slaves. These blacks that they had as slaves were stripped from their culture, families, language, and customs and sent from Africa under horrible conditions in which many black chose to die instead of living through it.
The slaves that did live through their horrifying experience and made it to the U.S. did not exactly have a pleasant life here either. They had no rights and were treated very badly. Zinn states that when white servants and black servants tried to run away together, and they got caught, the white servants received lighter sentences while the black servant received “thirty stripes and to be burnt in the cheek with the letter R, and to work in shackle one year or more as his master shall see cause.” So even though whites served as servants as well, they were not punished the same as the blacks were.
Also, going along with the racism, Zinn states that blacks were taught “to see blackness as a sign of subordination, […] to merge their interests with the master’s, destroying their own individual needs. This shows that racism was very present. That the fact that they were black meant that they should loose all of their beliefs and assimilate to the white culture and beliefs. And because they were black, and there was nothing they could do about it, they had to abide by these rules.
Finally, Zinn sums things up in the end stating that these conditions that happened in history are not natural and that there is possibility for something else, but there really is no easy way of getting there.
So can whites and blacks live together without hatred and inequalities? It seems that today whites and blacks are able to live together without a noticeable amount of hatred. We can eat, study, vacation, and live all in the same places without any major hatred or battles going on. However, there will always be inequalities present. Whether it be the whites being favored over the blacks or vice versa, there will always be inequalities present. Like Zinn stated, what happened in history was not natural and there are other possibilities, and those possibilities are being discovered and worked through today. However, Zinn also stated that they would not be easy to work through, so it takes time.
I thought that this article was a very good article. I liked how he started with a question as his thesis to get us thinking and then brought us through the history of what happened that might help us answer this question. I also like how he then, in the end, made a point that there are other ways of how history could have worked out, and that it is something that can be fixed, but will take time. I feel like it was a very accurate and not biased article and that’s what I liked about it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The "Tempest" in the Wilderness

It the article The “Tempest” in the Wilderness Ronald Takaki shows how Shakespeare’s play titled The Tempest served as a “masquerade for the creation of a new society in America.” Through Shakespeare’s play he presents circumstances that the English were going through with their new inhabitants and also circumstances that they will find occurring in the future. The story was about how Prospero and how he took possession of an island that was previously inhabited by Caliban. Throughout this play and the article Takaki and Shakespeare are presenting ways that the English and Prospero tried to rationalize the Indians’ and Caliban’s savagery.
To begin, the English encountered the Irish who, like the Caliban, were viewed at savages and the English believed that they were very uncivilized because they did not have manners or the knowledge of God. To the Englishmen these concepts were very important to them so when they encountered the Irish, they believed that they were living like beasts and were thought to be barbarous. So because the English viewed the Irish as savages, they made laws stating that no Englishman is allowed to marry someone who is Irish. The colonist also were very violent towards they Irish and did things such as burn their crops and slaughtered people and kept their heads trophies. However, this was their way of rationalizing the fact that the Irish were salvages and barbarous so there was no need to treat them like humans.
When the English came across the Indians they found that the Indians reminded them a lot of the Irish in the fact that they too were savages. To the English, the Indians seemed to lack everything that they deemed important. Such qualities like Christianity, cities, letters, and swords, that were a very big part of the English life, were completely missing from the Indians’. The native people were viewed as the “other” as was Caliban in The Tempest. The English took away the Indians land for a long time, even when Jefferson was president and he told the Indians that their land was their own and the colonist would not try and take their land from them, but then Jefferson went behind the Indians’ backs and tried to create conditions that would make the Indians willing to sell their land. The English turned what was once ‘the wilderness’ into a market area and took over the Indians land too hunt and grow crops, which caused the Indians population to decrease. However, the English still saw nothing wrong with treating the Indians this way because they were ignorant heathens.
In the end, it is truly okay to treat humans with little respect just because they do not have the same beliefs, priorities, or values as one does? If we were to treat people today, the way the colonist treated the Indians then, the United States would not be the melting pot that we have become. Everyone would have to share the same beliefs such as religion, family values, work values, and life goals. This is truly unrealistic and in no way would it ever happen. Also, it’s not only that it’s unrealistic that we would all have the same beliefs, but it’s truly wrong to kill such a large population of people just because you find them below you. However, this is an example of how we have learned from our past and have become better because of it. We know now that what happened between the Indians and the English was wrong and we would not allowed that to happen again.
I think that this article was very long and drawn out. I felt like it was doing a lot of repeating throughout the article and did not present much new information, only went on about similar things. I thought that it was interesting however, that they mentioned the incident with Christopher Columbus as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Zinn Response

In Howard Zinn’s article A People’s History of the United States he states that he believes that in telling history it is important that we accept atrocities as a “deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress” (Zinn 10). Also Zinn believes that history should emphasize new possibilities by being creative and anticipate that future without denying the past. In other words Zinn believes that we should not try and hide the truth even if it is brutal and that we must learn from the past.
One example that Zinn uses throughout his entire article is Christopher Columbus’ trip to the Americas. The story that we learn as children in school portrays Columbus as a hero when in reality he did harsh and brutal things to the native people. Columbus used the Indians as slaves to look for gold that he promised to the king and queen. He took some of then Arawak Indians aboard his ship to show him to the source of gold. While not only using the Indians as slaves, he would use women and children for sex and labor and also he ordered anyone who was 14-years-old or older to collect certain quantities of gold each day and if they did not meet the quota he would chop off their hands and they would bleed to death. After all said and done, the population of the native people dwindled and ceased to procreate. However, this is not the story that we hear in middle school or high school, instead we see Columbus portrayed as a hero and we celebrate his doings each year on Columbus Day.
Zinn thinks that it would be more appropriate and beneficial if the truth would have been told about Columbus and his voyage. He believes that it is important to show that atrocities are a necessary price to pay if we want to make progress. However, by hiding what truly happened we are unable to truly learn history and understand what really happened. Zinn states that it may be beneficial if we could see history from the standpoint of others. Such as what the slaves thought of the Constitution or how the Cubans felt about the Spanish-American War, or World War I as seen by the socialist.
However, seeing history from ‘the other side’ may not always be a bad idea. It is important that as a nation we support what is being done. If we viewed history from the other side, it may seem as though things will never be solved. We would question what is being done and our nation would also be torn between what we are doing and how it’s affecting the other party. If many Americans believed what Columbus did was wrong, we may not even have an American today. I think it is important as a nation to stick together. During this time of war, when everyone has very opposing views, it is still important that we support our soldiers and what they are doing over there. They need our support more than anything and it is important to stick together as a nation.
I enjoyed the reading because I had no idea that is what really happened. It was interesting to learn a whole new side of a story that I was taught all of my life. However, I still believe it is in the best interest to stick to the original story and it is too late to go and try and change what everyone has been taught so far.

About Me

My name is Michelle Ranly. I am currently a junior at BGSU and I am a journalism major specializing in public relations. I live in a house with seven other girls and we like to have fun. I work for the Office of Academic Enhancement on campus working with students who are undecided in a major. I am originally from Minster, OH which is a very small town that is one square mile. In my free time I like to run, shop, and have fun.