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.

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