Monday, September 29, 2014

Race in North America - Chapter 3

Chapter 3 makes the case that the modern conception of race as a static way of being finds its roots in the cultural isolation of the English during the Medieval period, the rise of market Capitalism, and the philosophies that descended from these two forces.  England was culturally isolated relative to continental Europe, which maintained extensive trade networks with the eastern and north African cultures, and thus, maintained a much more heterogeneous population in terms of ethnic background and biophysical characteristics among its people.  The Protestant Reformation and the abandonment of the "Divine Right of Kings" began pushing out the old feudal society in which people were more closely associated with the lands they worked and their kinship networks.  This was replaced by the view that labor and land were things that could be bought and sold as commodities which placed a high emphasis on private ownership as social currency.  Protestant thinking was (is) highly individualistic compared to Catholic, and this is reflected in the economic philosophy of the time.  Individual freedom is about self maximization and the unrestricted amassing of personal wealth.  The result of this is that individuals view themselves as islands rather than as parts of a whole, meanwhile labor (and thus, the individual) is devalued or inflated by the market based on market needs.  People become their labor and land, and are judged as being free or not on that basis.

This ideology is what laid the groundwork for English tension with the Irish, and functions as the baseline for the development of modern American racism.  For the Irish during this time, freedom was a concept intimately tied to mobility and one's herd.  Irish pastoralists viewed the English idea of "scratching the Earth" for a living as being essentially bonded and therefore unfree.  The English saw the Irish as being violent and savage with no real centralized authority or stability.  The Irish were social "non-entities" since their way of life did not square with English concepts of freedom and personhood.  Likewise, their so-called "brutish" existence could be interpreted under Protestant doctrine as lacking the favor of God.  They were described as heathens and immoral, dangers to themselves and others, incapable of self control. None of which were qualities of civilized men.  Dehumanizing them in this way allowed for their enslavement under the assumption that they would be "better off."  English masters borrowed the plantation system from the Spanish which was designed to keep slaves dependent.  The application of the term "savage" to all Irish imparts a semi-static nature to their being.  Dehumanizing them through the application of a specific nature opens the door for strict biological hierarchy in keeping with the dominant natural philosophy of the time (and previous 1500 or so years), primarily "Great Chain of Being."

"Civilizing the Savage" became the ostensible goal for future imperialism.  This shows that the concept of race was not yet seen as biologically hereditary as there was at least a sense that the civilizing process could succeed.  This was not to last, though as was described in Spain, Jews and Muslims could transcend their ethnic "deficiencies" through conversion to Christianity.  By the time of colonization in the new world, the concept of the "savage" was firmly entrenched in English thinking and could be applied to any group which lacked the basic properties of freedom as the English defined it (personhood through property and divine favor).  As the Empire spread, it became easier to justify oppressive policies in the name of national superiority and the unifying factor of Protestantism.  This was the beginning of institutionalized racism in the two most important arenas of English and, by extension, American life: National and religious identity.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Race in North America - Chapter 4

Chapter four details the relationships between early English settlers and Native Americans. It interested me to learn that although the English viewed the Native Americans as savages, they had no reason to. By all accounts highlighted in the chapter, the Native Americans were very hospitable and generous toward the English, yet the English burned and stole their resources, killed their leaders, and published pamphlets portraying Native Americans in a very negative light. It seems clear that the English were trying to anger the Native Americans enough to become violent so the English could justify their cruel treatment of them.

Another aspect of the chapter which interested me was the way the English used religion to justify their actions. In several instances, the English believed that it was God's will for them to kill the Native Americans, thus killing them was acceptable. Native Americans didn't believe in the Christian God, therefore they were God's enemies.

Even in the case of some English Christians who chose to convert the Native Americans they came into contact with rather than simply murdering them, conversion didn't mean the Native Americans were treated much better. Once converted, they were forced to worship and live in their own congregations and towns outside of the colony, and they had to follow very strict rules.

Through converting the Native Americans but not welcoming them into the colony, it seems to me the English viewed them as projects, in a sense. They weren't equals (obviously, since they weren't permitted into the colony) and there was something wrong with them (supposedly, since they didn't worship the Christian God), so it was up to the English to come in and save them. Similarly, this shows an English view toward Native Americans as child-like and unable to save themselves or find a suitable god on their own. It's just one more way for the English to excuse their horrid treatment of the Native Americans by disguising it in the idea it's for the Native Americans' own good.

Race In North America-The Growth of the English Ideology about Human Difference in America

In Chapter 4 we take a look at the stages in North American colonies and how those stages according to the English cultural standard were used to develop laws and the idea of race and races. We also see our basic history lesson with what the English wanted {spices} and how that brought them in contact with "Indians and Negroes". In Chapter 4 {Roanoke} there is also talk of how "native people"  were very handsome and goodly, hospitable, and their guest were entertained with "love and kindness" for the first six weeks. The Indians helped the English more but then the white man took advantage of the Indians and started to go and take their land which was not open to them. Then we see documentation that half would use force to get a resolution and then others who saw gentleness and friendship as an option.They also seem to justify the violence on their hardships, but if that was how we still did things we would be living in a constant "Purge" movie. This whole chapter just seems to be the white English taking advantage of the kindness of others and how violence became the way to handle things. All because we as humans do not always seem to take the time to get to know others and are able to be accepting of differences.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Interesting Article

Happy Saturday! I chanced upon this article when I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook this morning.  The article was written by Brittany Cooper who is a professor of Women and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutger University in Brunswick, New Jersey.  The article primarily focuses in on the author's particular distaste towards Iggy Azaela, an Australian woman who has recently and successfully made her way into the world of Atlanta rap music under the guidance of T.I.   The author touches on a lot of topics that we have mentioned in class so far, so if you have a moment...check it out!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ch.1 A Theoretical Perspective

Why do we care about race? Where has this monstrous notion come from? In this opening chapter, Audrey, and Brian Smedley tackle, and pole holes in theories, historically used to explain race. The writers assert that race is a completely cultural construct, rearing its ugly head during colonial expansion. They argue that several individual elements collided to create a new world view. This new maze-way used race as a concept to categorize human differences, and differentiate power. This sense of conditioning perpetuates racism, as even science has historically made excuses through biased lenses.
As European nations expanded, they encountered new cultures. Their nature of domination and competition influenced the way they saw those they encountered. The authors make clear that those who quickly became subordinate, were not active in the invention of race. It was those who benefited from a racial hierarchy who established it. As social processes adapted to this new worldview, race became a mind set. Once society accepts this new mindset, it is no longer questioned, analyzed or critiqued, despite the lack of empiracle validity. The notion that race is completely made up does little to convince people to change their views, as long as they are profiting.
The writers acknowledge that biophysical variations do not carry much weight, yet our social use of race is an issue that creates serious consequences of division. They express that cultures define race in different forms, including: phenotypic differences, class and ethnicity. In order to claim wealth and power, the social application of race changes during social climates shifts. Audrey and Brian discuss the unclear differentiation between “race”, and “ethnicity.” An assumption is made that If race is determined by skin color, a person’s status is fixed in society. You “wear” your rank in this case. Whereas, “ethnicity” is a socially conditional marker of status. They explain that in America, looks determine who you are. If we were a culture who focused on ethnicity,  people with different complexions would be part of the same ethnic category. I really appreciate the idea that while we see our neighbor as black, or white, an outsider would see us as American.

Etymology of Race

Chapter 2 in Race in North America covers the beginnings of the idea of race as it is thought of currently.  Race as late as the 17th century was still a nebulous concept and was used to group individuals not by complexion but by status, temperament and generations among other things.  Later assumptions of behavior were attached to race.  Race was then used to refer to those who were non-European or, in the case of the Irish, non-English.
Evidence of the word race first appears in the Middle Ages in reference to animal breeding stock.  The meaning evolved to be equitable with people/type/variety to classify the native populations in colonized areas.  By the mid-1700s race had become an accepted means of categorizing non-European cultures because the definition now included hereditary traits.

 Value judgments were attached to race in an effort to show non-Europeans as other, not pious or morally lacking.  Also, since value was placed upon wealth, and wealth was necessary for personal freedom, those without wealth did not own their labor or their person.  Since the purpose of colonization is to extrapolate the new countries resources, the human populations were seen as resources since they had no wealth, freedom or the right to personal ownership in the eyes of their colonizers.  Race could then be used as a means of perpetual subjugation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


This is a campaign that was brought to my attention through Facebook from someone I went to high school with.  It features minority students holding up whiteboards with the typical comments or stereotypes that they confront on a regular basis when people find out that they attend an Ivy League school.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lecture with Dr. Ali

The lecture conducted by Dr. Ali was brief but quite informative.  Dr. Ali discussed the diaspora of Africans in the 17th century focusing on Peru, India and Virginia.  Within the lecture he covered how race was perceived and how race relations differed between the studied locations.

From this lecture I learned about Malik Ombar who was an Ethiopian who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  While a slave he was educated and was considered a part of the owners’ family. Since slaves had social status during this period in the Middle East, through education Ombar increased his status as well as his value as a slave.  Consequently he gained in power and influence when he was sold to Genghis Khan.  Upon Khan’s death Ombar was freed (as were all slaves upon their owner’s deaths).  As a free man Ombar became the regent to a series of sultans.  Using his political prowess and influence Ombar harmony between neighboring sultanates.

During the same period in Peru San Marten de Pores was earning his place within the Catholic Church.  Senor de Pores was an illegitimate son of a freed slave and a Spanish aristocrat. His mixed heritage did not stop him from leading a religiously pious life which later (325 years later) led to his being canonized as a saint.

While persons of African descent were making great strides on other continents in Virginia many Africans would suffer a worse fate.  Initially in Virginia the Africans who were brought over to work were indentured servants and were freed after their period of indenture was complete.  This practice came to an end with the racial codification of slavery. Chattel slavery was justified upon race.  Using race as the primary determining factor anyone who was black was a slave.  This system easily let to perpetual slavery of all people of African descent. 

From this lecture I learned how race was viewed during the 17th century on three continents.  I was intrigued by the marked difference in race relations in different areas.  This lecture also showed another aspect of how race relations in the past have effected race relations in the present and why race means something different in the United States than in other nations.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Chapter 15 - Getting under My Skin

This chapter follows the life and racial understandings of a man named Don Terry, who is the son of a white woman and a black man. Terry was a journalist and worked for the New York Times. This piece is different from the other articles we have discussed because it is told in the first person. Every article discusses other people and their stories and from all different perspectives. This is the only one solely focused on one man, with inserts of his mothers, fathers, and brothers lives to explain how a mixed race family dynamic is seen in America. Terry grew up in Hyde Park, a mixed race neighborhood in Chicago and didn't have to decide "what nationality" he was until his college years. In fact, it was those who were solely one race that had to define themselves and he even recalls one white girl making up a story about how her dad was a russian Black. College was very hard for him as he went through what most middle schoolers have to deal with with defining their race. Terry tried to keep ties with some of his white friends, but eventually "chose blackness".
One of the major elements in this article is the family dynamic. With two white older brothers, Terry was faced with a lot of discrimination because of who they were and they had to face a lot as well. Terry was deprived of a father figure because of the angry rage of his father, but deprived of a grandfather figure because of who is father was. We see a number of elements that relate to other chapters in this book like defining oneself by their race. Terry described it like this: "I wasn't split in two-the world was". There is no in between. The world is made up of black and white and the only time we try to justify any grey area is when it is us in the grey area, or our friends and loved ones. The world isn't made for just black and white though, it was supposed to be colorful, ranging in all different spectrums. So why do we insist on making the people "in between", "mixed", or "different" feel like they are in between and different? My favorite part of this chapter is how he ends it. He finds his birth certificate after his fathers death and saw that his father crossed out the races next to "father" and "mother", just leaving those words and leaving a gift for Don Terry to hold onto on paper.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chapter 14 - Bricks, Mortar and Coalition Building

In 1998 the city of Houston, Texas witnessed the election of its first black mayor, an event that was viewed as “a symbol of newfound strength” for the black community. This chapter is mostly concerned with the power dynamics among political candidates and how alliances with supporters of different ethnic groups formed or dissolved in an increasingly multi-ethnic city. Certain ethnic groups within the city of Houston occupied separate worlds that briefly intersected during this inaugural event, and this is evident in the lives of the three business owners: Smith, Castaneda, and Lewis who all came from starkly different backgrounds. For instance, Lewis had a strong conservative background and yet he supported Brown and affirmative action. Affirmative action was opposed by conservatives due to its racially exclusionary nature as a social program. Despite this, Lewis still supported Brown who viewed affirmative action as an equalizer of sorts, or the “glue” that held the minorities together. Many agreed that affirmative action provides economically disadvantaged minorities with more opportunities, whereas others deemed it unconstitutional. Lewis even commented that the days of the Conservative are long gone. So if you can’t beat them, why not join them? Despite Lewis’s contradictory views, he supported Brown simply because it was the most pragmatic thing to do. Lewis made the smart business decision by latching onto the political success of Brown for the sake of ensuring financial stability for him and his business. This reflects the different approaches and practical considerations that business owners took for reasons of self-interest. Much of the election process was underpinned by race relations, but Smith frankly points out that socio-economics is an equally important issue that directs the shifts in political support by minorities. Access, influence, and money seem to be the driving forces motivating these practical considerations and the coalition forming of different ethnic groups. 

In the second to last section, Lewis, Castaneda, and Smith detail personal events of their lives and their relationship with their communities. Smith was adamant about instilling a sense of black identity into his sons. Lewis, despite his conservative background, understood that through fostering tolerance one could alleviate racial tension. Castaneda, however, felt like the middle man in a game of tug of war. With blacks and whites at polar opposites, Castaneda claimed he had “cross racial dexterity.” Also, he brought up the difficulty in assuming an American identity while still retaining certain aspects of his own cultural heritage. This is exactly what W.E.B. DuBois captured in his concept of “double consciousness.”  To sum, the city of Houston is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, and a shift in the demographics of the city might change the representative power of minorities in the political arena and in the government. 

Chapter 11- The Minority Quarterback

       There's a common hypothetical question that is frequently raised in public discussions of racial incidents : What if the situation was reversed or the races of the participants switched? At best, this question possibly serves as a shallow thought experiment about racial politics. At its worst, this kind of hypothetical rhetoric can lead to false equivalences that ignore political and historical context. Ostensibly, the story of Marcus Jacoby, The Minority Quarterback, provides an opportunity to examine one such tidy switch-a-roo, where the racial attribution of institutional power and minority status are reversed from the status quo of broader American society.
    But how accurately does the experience of a white student at a predominantly black school actually reflect the experiences of American minorities in white-dominated institutions? There are certainly distinct commonalities: ostracization, judgemental hyperfocus, difficulties relating culturally, perjorative language and even the threat of violence. However, in telling Marcus Jacoby's story, the author touches on an important distinction: as a white man, Jacoby is "not good at being a minority." This ties in to Du Bois' concept of double consciousness. While Jacoby may have begun to experience this duality, being both an individual and a metonymic representative of his race, during his time at Southern University, he was doing so for the first time as an adult and as the result of a conscious choice. Du Bois and the author of this chapter would likely argue that most racial minorities would have inescapably been socialized to and internalized double consciousness and the gross structure of race in America from infancy. In this way, the experience of race is not solely dependent on the possession of power or majority identity of institutional microcosms such as a football team or a university.
      What separates Jacoby's experience from that of countless racial minorities in comparable but racially-reversed situations is the perhaps inescapable life-long psychological experience of the latter. Though Jacoby's experiences were undoubtedly difficult and painful, and I do not mean to diminish his personal experience of suffering, he was ultimately a tourist in the world of minority status. His naivete, which compounded his problems (compared to his white teammate Bushart), was ultimately born of white privilege, and, perhaps most telling, it was privilege that allowed him to escape his situation when it became too much to bear.



Chapter 13 - Why Harlem Drug Cops Don't Discuss Race

The Harlem Narcotics team is assigned to take out drug dealers by utilizing undercover cops, mostly comprised of African Americans and Dominicans. Racial profiling within the New York police department is nothing new and is ever present. Undercover detectives under Sergeant Brogli describe different experiences of their work on and off duty. However, the topic of race is not mentioned much in the police department. Even after Diallo verdict was established. According to the officers, race is trivial since they rely on each other. Racial differences are more or less put aside for the purpose of their carriers. 
The trust between Cops and African Americans, or any other minority,  has been an issue that seems to resurface quite often. Countless stories such as Diallo, the officers for the cause of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, Ferguson, etc.   Racial profiling by police officers result in actions fueled by panic or distrust. The African American or Hispanic communities in turn develop animosity. Officers seem to act on the stereotypes without a second thought. In this case the officers of the Harlem Narcotics Team are around these stereotypes daily and have learned how to handle them. In a sense they understand the situation more than anybody else.
Moat  incarcerations due to drugs are consisted of minorities. Why is that? Gonzalez recalls a visit to the Dominican Republic where he correlates the experiences of the Dominicans to Americans. The experiences of the Dominicans are more or less the same in America. He notices that drug dealers have lavish houses while others live in poverty. Gonzalez states, " Most are not bad people. They come up humble, county people. It's a choice of living in a shack or getting something better for their families." (pg. 249)  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How Race is Lived in America: Chapter 10, "The Hurt Between the Lines" (Comment)

In this chapter we see how to people working for the Beacan Journal, Carl Chancellor and Bob Dyer worked together with a number of other people to explore the racial attitudes of the City. Eventually this helped create multiracial partnerships among their local community, which gain their journal win the Pulitzer Prize. Although even after the fact, there were still issues that occurred in their workplace that seemed to go back on all these ideas of race that they were so determined to showcase in their research.

We see some tension grow during an incident where the use of "niggardly" was used by a District of Columbia official and both Chancellor and Dyer wrote columns in reaction. Dyler defending the official, while Chancellor stated that unlike Dyler he had a right to have an objection and why should Dyer determine how he should feel of this use of this word. This reminded me a bit about chapter 4, but instead of "who gets to tell a Black story" it was more of who has the right to feel about issues that deal with certain races. Chancellor may have felt more impacted by the word "niggardly" since it reflected a similar sounding to a insulting racial slur used against his race. So because of his racial background does he have the right to be angry, does Chancellor have a right to defend?

Another interesting thing is when Dyer gets pulled over, he says he experienced something comparable to racial profiling. Also he talks about  bad service he got at a restaurant and how another family who were black got the same bad service may thinks its a type of discrimination. He brought in an interesting idea about seeing race where it may not even be, which again reminded me of the previous chapter 3 about the military and how both drill sergeants were equating their lack of opportunities to racial discrimination. Do we truly use race to explain many factors or limitations in our lives? Maybe its just due to race being shoved in our faces on a daily basis, so that is why people become dependant on it for answers.

Dyer later on questions that maybe his views hurt his chances for more opportunities in the Beacon Journal and he thinks this idea of "would it have been easier to get ahead if he were not a white male". Which at first sounds like he's playing the victim for what he claimed was due to "having written so honestly about race" which could have honestly been the main reason he didn't do much afterwards since other articles did seem to offend other race groups. For example like the suggestion of the new mascot for the local high school being called crack head. Maybe he was just being "just writing what he felt like" but can we draw a line, do we place limits on who exactly gets to say things about certain race groups? Also if he had this idea of getting ahead if he wasn't white, then how come Chancellor got his column cancelled and not him, they both commented on racial issues so if he was being denied for being to honest about race then they both would have had their columns canceled.


Ok so lets make this discussion interesting. I would like to open with a simple question on race with, do you think other races should be allowed to join in on an activity that is clearly dominated by a primary culture? This question hasn't only come up in this chapter, but many times in my life. For example, I was once in a dance class where a white teacher taught African dance lessons and she asked the class if white people or other races should be allowed to demonstrate traditional African dances, if they would have the same meaning? One girl who was black, raised her hand and began an uproar of how traditional African dances should only be taught by people that were in the culture.. Of course the teacher didn't appreciate that, however that is just my point... This question gets brought up a lot and is quite debatable by many people, including the people in chapter 12.
A short summary of this chapter would be centered around this idea. It also centers around the question of does rap bring races together or apart? Billy Wimsatt is a white guy that has found peace in comparing his life constantly with rap music and the culture of being black. As he gets older though, it gets harder to make a living or be involved in being a social chameleon of being black. The fact that younger white people act this way and are the majority of the rapper's product, angers Elliott Wilson, a black man. Although he went to a "white school" growing up, he became very interested and felt acceptance in the rap world. Wimsatt stated that he felt rap brought different races together, however, Wilson stated that rap was no longer an equalizer because white kids would idolize rappers and then grow up... Wimsatt gives speeches at colleges about race and Wilson is an editor for XXL magazine and is part of Ego Trip. Both people are quite opposites in where they stand in this debate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Race Is Lived in America: CH. 9

     Even cold hearts and corrupted minds can see true love and friendship. They just choose if they will attempt to corrupt that as well. In the end the choice is those whose hearts are tied together. The three girls were noticed as being best friends. They saw that they were surrounded by divided people. They also realized that their friendship was not the easiest to uphold considering that it rarely stretched beyond themselves because others saw it as the oddest thing. Most people were separated and among their "own" people in solitude. Jordan and Abi are perfect examples.
     "Children do not do what you say, they do as you do." This is the quote from my relative that kept going through my mind as I read. Children's minds are detached from the harsher forms of reality. Ignorance is bliss. Their mindset is what they are, they are learning and picking up new habits as they go on life. Depending on what they go though, some aspects become habits out of what they like.  When they find partners, friends, that like what they like, they connect with that particular person on a different level. They have childlike mindsets. When you begin at that point, you can see past what is on the outside. Kids can accept what is good out of love when no one is corrupting them; which shows how children are taught and that people are not born prejudice. Everyone looks at life differently, just like they do with situations. Because of how people look and choose to see things, they act a certain way that is then learned by those that surround that person. Two great examples of this from the book are the incident in the hallway with the corkboard, and how the two young women come to a conclusion that they do not see music the same. Constantly being reminded of stereotypes will break a person and they accept that as being a part of their person, or it will help them make the decision of not falling into the trap of letting society choose their identity. Aqeelah's struggle and non-decision is a prime example. A question that I continue to think on is: Is seeing one difference between two individuals giving them cause to look or create even more divides?
     Carolyn Morton, a kindergartener, gave a time when she believed the world would be at peace. She stated the year 3000. Most would say children do not have a great sense of time. Whether or not that it is true for Carolyn, choosing the year 3000 is far in the future. This could point out the fact of how much society needs to improve from the view of a child's eyes and heart.

Lecture by Dr. Omar Ali

Painting of Malik Ambar that
was shown in Dr. Ali's presentation

I just attended Dr. Ali's lecture on the global African diaspora in the 17th century in regards to Peru, India, and Virginia.  I had some background knowledge on the topics that he covered in the lecture from being in our capstone course and from having attended one of Dr. Ali's classes a few weeks ago with my Spanish literature class, but today he talked much more in depth about the differences in slavery in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds.  He began by stating the significance of an African man named Malik Ambar who was part of an Ethiopian ethnic group known as the Oromo.  According to Dr. Ali, Malik Ambar was captured at the age of 11 or 12 and brought to the Muslim-ruled western coast of India as a slave, and gained his freedom when his owner died.  Right away we see a stark difference between slavery in the west (Atlantic Ocean) and slavery in the east (Indian Ocean).  Africans who were part of the diaspora and were brought to countries like India were freed with the death of their master, and a child born to a slave woman was also considered free, a trend that we know to be completely different in the history of slavery in the United States.  Malik Ambar went on to be one of the most instrumental leaders in the fight against Mughal oppression and impending invasion from the north, and transcended all boundaries of race and class that may have otherwise held him back.

Next, Dr. Ali mentioned a man named San Martin de Porres, a contemporary of Malik Ambar, who would eventually become the patron saint of Lima, Peru.  Dr. Ali explained that unlike many other areas of the Americas, Peru's slaves worked in urban settings as opposed to the majority who worked on plantations or others in the mines.  Again Dr. Ali has provided an example that really alters the way in which we view Africans in a historical context, and perpetuates the fact that the "winners" of history are responsible for writing it and often leave out key players who they declared to be inferior.

Finally we are brought back to more familiar territory in talking about slavery in Virginia, which brings the discussion on Atlantic vs. Indian slavery full circle.  We first learned that slavery in the United States began as indentured servitude.  Africans would often work alongside their European counterparts for anywhere between seven and ten years in order to earn their freedom in their new home and gain property.  An African called Antonio Johnson even became the owner of a plantation for which white indentured servants worked.  The greatest change occurred in the year 1640, however, and race officially becomes tied with slavery in America.  Three indentured servants, two white and one black, escaped from the plantation where they had been working and were all caught several days later.  The two whites received an extra year of servitude to the plantation, but the African servant, a man named John Punch, was punished with a sentence of life-long servitude.  From the eighteenth century onwards, a system called chattel slavery was enacted in the United States, which declared that the children born to slave women were immediately considered that slave owner's property, thus leading to the dehumanization of Africans brought through the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

There's so much to be said about the themes brought up in this discussion.  From an anthropological standpoint, I think that it is incredibly important to give historical context to modern day culture in order to understand what has lead to the social construct of race and its implications.  Just as we've talked about in class, racial categorization is used explicitly to establish and maintain a system of social hierarchy, and to justify the superiority of one group over another.  One of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, was incredibly influential in using "scientific" methodology in order to justify this system of white superiority, which carried over well into the 20th centuries eugenics movements in the United States that inspired many of the experiments in the Nazi regime.  The lecture really helped put a lot of things into perspective for me, so I hope this information is helpful to someone else as well!

How Race is Lived in America - Chapter 9 Comment

     I think the issue of when children begin to notice and segregate themselves based on race is definitely an interesting one, and one that's prevalent throughout this chapter. The fact that the three girls followed in the chapter were good friends and thought nothing of their mixed race friendship until middle school shows that something must happen during adolescence to increase awareness of race. I think social stigma is definitely to blame for the sudden desire to group up based on race, at least partly, but I wonder if there could be a natural cause as well. Perhaps we have some innate desire to surround ourselves with people who look like us, be it for survival or propagation or some other evolutionary need.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How Race Is Lived In America Chapter 8 "Reaping What Was Sown on the Plantation"

As I was reading chapter 8, I began to notice the central theme is not only centered on slavery, but involves two rather different perspectives. One viewpoint comes from Betty Hertzog, who is quite the typical southern woman who was born and raised on the Magnolia plantation in the small town of Natichitoches. Although it appears that she believes she is not racist, she wants to avoid the topic of slavery a bit too much. I don't think that she has necessarily come to terms with the anguish that her ancestors had most likely (if not inevitably) caused many African Americans throughout their lives on the plantation. Not only is she avoiding the topic, but she also makes some rather ignorant, racist comments towards it  by stating that "they should be grateful they got their freedom back then" and "they ought to be glad they are Americans, living in a free country."  I don't know if she thought this would somehow help end people discussing slavery, but I do know that it is not a very progressive idea towards viewing slavery and the descendants of slaves. She then attempts to defend her family by stating that her family treated their slaves well, and that some of them enjoyed their life on the plantation, yet she doesn't directly state that she feels some kind of remorse for the fact that they owned slaves.

The second viewpoint is that of Carla Cowles, who is not a native to  Natchitoches, but worked with the park services on the plantation and gave tours speaking heavily on the topic of slavery. Cowles had a heavy background in working for historical institutions, particularly involving slavery. She appealed to the tourists' empathy, asking them to imagine themselves as the slaves that used to dwell here. When comparing Cowles' view on how to approach the topic of slavery in modern times to Hertzog's, she states that "We can't heal old wounds until we look at the way life was and all its problems." She recognizes that this small town is dominated by the privileged white people, and that some of the aspects that go into the park are going to make people uncomfortable, but many of them appreciate the work that she does for the park.

In the end, Hertzog's "niece", Mary Catallo, made amends with Cowles and stated that the park was a good thing, because it opened up discussions that had been closed. Catallo clearly had a more progressive perspective than her aunt, as she recognized that there was a problem that could be helped by opening the conversation of slavery to the rather closed town of Natchitoches. 

How Race is Lived in America Chapter 1

While beginning this book I didn't expect it to cover what it has. I expected to read about race tensions in a city with a high crime rate but instead I'm reading of a churches congregational issues. At first glance I probably wouldn't have noticed anything different at this church but as the authors began to dig at the underline story many things are brought to the front line. Never would I have thought that, even though this was written in the early 2000s, that this much "damage control" needed to be handled, especially in a church.
I say damage control in the sense of there being such great racial tension but integration of the same collection of people. Although they "deal" with each other they still seem to realize there is a divide that holds strong long after church service is over. One of the things that I found very interesting was the story of Ruben Burches family. It showed a totally more relevant story than many that I have heard about race relations and issues, but i appreciated it because many times African Americans dismiss the idea of submitting or "selling out" to other ethnicity's when that may not be the case. We hiss and utter at the idea of other people not liking certain races when we as African Americans also do the same but feel as though we should have more leeway because of our Nations History.

How Race Is Lived In America Chapter 7 "When to Campaign with Color"

When I first started reading "When to Campaign with Color" my first personal idea was why does that matter? Then I remembered how 9/11 affected personal views of those who are from the Middle East and how some questioned Obama for a period of time based of religious rumors. As this reading continued it bothered me personally that a few of Ron Sims friends were telling him to keep a part of his personal story bottled up, the part on race because of how some would view him. When he was talking about his struggle between being a political official and being who he is as a person meant something to me; as it has been made known I am half white and half Taiwanese and some call me white it offends me others do not believe it at all. Sims is quoted as leading a "....dual life.....There is Ron Sims the person and Ron Sims the political official". One thing that I feel more then just myself will disagree upon is the fact that, "....Washington has transcended race; in the new century, in the New West, the expressed hope is that politics has shed its color barriers, and even its color consciousness." The fact of the matter, in my opinion is that as long as we have those who have some kind of predigest against a group of people whether it stems from where they are from to skin color to religion we will always have those who think a certain race does not belong in what ever field is in question. We do see those who are in a political power position who are making small changes, like Gary Locke who is the "first and only Chinese- American governor". After Locke's election in 1996 voters threw out laws that allowed Washington to hire on the base of skin ton. Sims then looks at how Locke played up his family story about an American immigrant from a hovel {small, squalid, unpleasant dwelling} in China to help with the peoples vote. From this Sims then concluded that the best way to have people listen to him in a state that is barely 3% black was to figure out what the white majority cares about and to shatter their views on black politicians. This chapter then goes into the typical stereotypes and brings up Locke and how in the mid-1980's a few of his former colleagues in the State Legislature were not sure his ethnic background whether he was Chinese or of Japanese decent but it truly did not matter because the assumption was that he was no friend of America. After reading this stereotype they dive right in another with Sims who is black; he says that, "people call me an 'inner-city politician'....." Sims also brings up that people have done this in cruel way as to remind him of the pigment of his skin. They do not even consider where he was raised and grew up which was a nearly all-white. The reading then goes into talking about how history lesson vs. life lessons, were they states examples of how a white boy at a high school basket ball game yelled at the visiting black players "Go rob a liquor store!". Sims tells a personal experience  back when he was a child how in his neighborhood used to run by his house like clock work every day and shout the N-word, one day he and his twin brother caught him and had a "in your face" type of talk with him. But once his father came home and learned what had happened told Sims and his twin do not stoop to their level. To bring this almost rant to a close in November of 2000 Locke won the re-election by a large margin defeating John Carlson. Ron Sims then completed his work on salmon recovery program and he continued race, he also told those close to him that he would like to run for governor in 2004.

After finishing this chapter the biggest take away I can find is that when someone holds any position of power or wishes to race will come up it may or may not involve your personal back story and it may or may not help you get the position you wish to achieve. Even then you must know what those who you are trying to when over,no matter their color, what they are wanting and what is important. Their is a fine line that must be balanced on to make sure that you do not give into the typical stereotypes yet do not pay special attention to just a select group. No matter what it seems the pigment in your skin will always matter.

Chapter 6: At a Slaughterhouse, Some things never die.

         Chapter six hits close to home in many ways. First the chapter is centered around our own state and  secondly it talks about one of the largest industries in North Carolina; The Smithfield meat packing industry. Which has been put under scrutiny in many ways; from the way they process their pork and how they treat their workers.

         This chapter focuses on on four groups that are "segregated" throughout the meat packing factory and in the Bladen County. Groups or races are groups in descending order; White, Indian, Black, and Mexican.

         There is a lot of resentment among the Black community and the Mexican. They are fighting for jobs that pay under minimum wage so that they can try and make a living. At first in the county it was hard to get a good job if you were part of the miniortiy group, but then with a lot of protests and work. Jobs began to give way to the Indians, and Blacks in the community.

       The issue we see in this chapter is how there is the resentment of Blacks to Mexicans and then Indians, and then Whites to everyone else. The Mexican community feels that the Black community are "lazy and want to take their money" and the Black community is tired of jobs being given to immigrants because they will "work" for lower wages.

     Race is not only being applied to the color of an individuals skin but their cultural background. Where they come from for example the whites, blacks, reds (Indians) and then you have the "Mexicans". The town is being split from who can speak Spanish and those who cannot. Everyone is struggling to make a living and earn money. But when it come to the factory work the easier less labor intensive jobs are given to the white and Indian workers, and then the cut, cleaning, and processing line is split into gender and race. Where if you are black you are placed in a semi higher work status then if you were "Mexican".

     When trying to understand where people and their background line up in the workforce of Smithfields you could make a descending chart or tree that separates into branches of race, background, wage, and language. In what other ways have you seen the racial stigma being used as not only to separate the color of ones skin but against them either in religion, skin-color, or cultural background?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How Race is Lived in America: Chapter 4

This chapter addresses issues surrounding the media's portrayal of blacks in movies, television shows, books, newspapers, etc. One thing that became clear as I read was that, as far as general life experiences go, people tend to assume that those of the same color have had similar experiences. That members of the same race really "understand" one another, and those of other races who try to offer perspectives on their situations automatically lack credibility, because they don't know what it's like to be a member of that particular race. Director Charles Dutton was particularly wary of having too many whites working on the set of The Corner. Since most of them had not grown up in situations like the ones surrounding the characters of David Simon's book, he distrusted most of them and questioned their motives. He even questioned Simon's motive for writing such a book in the first place, stating he was using someone else's misery and profiting from it.

However, there were others within the Baltimore community who praised Simon's work. He won the support of many people in the area and even had the pastor at the largest African-American church in the area preaching sermons based on his writings. Over time, Dutton would also being to give Simon some credibility. But what made Simon different than any of the other whites working on the set, or anyone who chooses to write about races other than their own? It was the fact that he spent a year on the streets of Baltimore, getting to know the people and actively participating in their community. Even when he was unwelcome in the early stages of his visits, he went back every day until he was a regular part of their lives. Because he had lived in and experienced their situation, he was able to offer an emic account of the events in Baltimore, which is what truly gave him his credibility in the end. People were more likely to listen to him and respect his opinions because they knew he shared their experiences.

So although Simon was white, he was questioned very little about why he should be the one to tell this story. Generally, I think people are much more keen to the idea of their story being told from the point-of-view of someone else, as long as that person shares their experiences, regardless of race.

Ch. 5: A Limited Partnership

An aspect that stuck with me while reading this article was the subtlety of racism that Tim Cobb experiences in his life as a business entrepreneur. Though almost all the people that Cobb encounters in this lifestyle are not "racist" and for the most part they seem to work closely with him and accept him despite race, there is an underlying theme that I noticed that continues to separate Cobb from his lighter skinned colleagues. Every time Cobb achieves something good he is praised but still reminded over and over again that he is black. The majority of the time people will make comments that also include an aside about race along with their praise such as, "you've transcended race." Even Cobb's close friend and business partner is guilty of this subtle way of looking at Cobb differently because of color. When discussing golf he says, "Most African-Americans I know are in some way intimidated or uncomfortable with the white man's world." 

To me, this represents an underlying racial stigma that often operates without people noticing it. Though whites may not be actively biased towards color in ways such as business or friendships, and even seek to aid blacks as is the case with Levy, the attitude of their being a difference at all still persists. That in itself is still feeding the idea of racial separation, no matter how subtle it may be. The idea of many companies wanting a competent, strong black man sitting on their board, as discussed in this article, is still an act of going out of their way to separate the idea of "black" from "white," no matter how good their intentions may be. Because of this there are certain ideals that black men, like Cobb, feel they have to overcome or live up to. 

Oftentimes, no matter how open-minded people may be I think they all have an idea of this racial separation, not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that is essentially saying "you are different than me." So is it possible to operate without a sense of racial separation at all? Or is this idea of defining differences between each other something that we, as humans, may never really be rid of? 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How Race is Lived in America - Chapter Two Comment

As I was reading chapter two, I was struck by the way society can alter someone's racial identity. The boys followed in the chapter started out as very close friends in Cuba, paying no mind to the fact that one was black and the other white. As soon as they moved to America, however, they were thrust into separate racial groups and Ruiz in particular, it seemed, felt obligated to behave in ways his group told him were acceptable. He also experienced prejudice for the first time due to this racial group imposed upon him. In my opinion this shows that, at least in this case, race and racial identity are dependent upon the society in question and the norms that society sets up for each group of people.

Chapter One- Shared Prayers, Mixed Blessings

     Chapter one did an excellent job of establishing the tone for the rest of the book. It addressed uncomfortable, yet interesting scenarios of living with the issue of race. It is something that we often shy away from discussing, because it is shrouded by so much tension. The reality is, that it is still a prominent conflict, whether we choose to honestly discuss it or not. Each of us has our own perceptions and experiences dealing with race. Everyone navigates their way through the topic in socially different ways. I admit, this book makes me anxious. Our discussions could get uncomfortable. It is important to remain conscious of the fact that our understanding of race is shaped by our individual relationship with it.
     As lives integrate, people will have to change their adaptive strategies. The first chapter shows us how people of a congregation make use of their opportunity to reexamine their preconceived judgments. There is a learning curve in sensitivity. Some boundaries are more difficult to penetrate than others. It demonstrates how fear of the unknown tends to perpetuate social segregation. I am very interested to hear how others connected with this chapter. I am a Southern Californian, and my perception of race was completely blown out of the water when I moved to a little town, in Randolph County. Though I am from an interracial family, I had not been aware of severe racial differences until I moved here. What is your interpretation of regional differences in racial conflicts?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Chapter 3

Chapter 3: "Which Mans Army" by Steven A. Holmes
Stephanie Brabec

In this chapter we are introduced to two sergeants in the U.S. Army who both declare themselves to be victims of racism.  Sgt. Feyer believes that he is denied a promotion that he feels he has rightly earned based on the precedent that whites have never been successfully promoted in his platoon due to its racial makeup. At the same time, Sgt. Williams is convinced that his transfer to Echo Company has been requested because those above him in rank were unhappy with even one of their platoons being run entirely by black sergeants.  As I go through and reflect upon this article, however, I find myself feeling stuck with conflicting opinions.
What really caught my attention was when the author explained that beginning with the integration of the U.S. Army in 1948, the government has been involved in eliminating racial barriers from the structures of the military’s rank system.  Though members of the Army recognize this law, it has been viewed more of an order to follow rather than a value to accept and understand. One of the sergeants in the chapter even likens the Army’s integration law and equal treatment no matter ethnic or racial background to the rule on having to wear a seatbelt!  Here’s where the two competing ideas come into play:
While this act of legislation can be seen as an attempt by the government to enact social change, we all know that racial stigmas against all people still exist today both in and outside of the Army.  The greatest issue is, and this is also a point brought up by the author, that laws change behavior, not attitudes.  Although the government is often looked to for the resolution of social issues, laws are not able to tap into deeply engrained cultural dogma that shapes the way in which we see and wish to treat one another.  So in this first idea, we have to ask ourselves, does an established system of racial inequality or preference still exist here in this particular example?  Does it explain why Feyer was not promoted in his company, and prove that Williams is being transferred to another unit despite his continued success in Bravo Company? 
The second possibility goes along with the concept that we have been having in class about race as a social construct, and dealing with this cognitive dissonance that is created in discussing this matter as anthropologists.  Although there may not be a structural system in place that reinforces racist behavior and attitudes, the fact that both of these men believe in said system is incredibly significant in and of itself.  The reason that it is so significant is because these two men are playing key roles in inadvertently creating this system in which they are then allowing themselves to be oppressed.  In other words, no one is actually taking deliberate action to prevent Feyer from moving up in the ranks or transferring Williams out of his sphere of influence, but because these two men have accepted this as part of their cosmology for understanding their place in society and more specifically within this microcosm, their feelings have been reinforced and therefore justified.  The author curiously excludes substantial evidence that would lead us to conclude without a doubt that these men are in fact victims of racism, as they believe to be.

I leave the rest of the discussion to you all, as I have not come to a succinct conclusion on the matter myself.  Have these two men indeed been targeted due to their race, or is there not enough evidence to support the assertion that Sgt. Feyer and Williams are making?