Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Quiz #6

I chose to look on the website, the Heritage Preservation Association website. The general purpose of this website is “a national nonprofit organization utilizing educational resources along with legal and political action to protect and preserve the symbols, culture and heritage of the American South” (HPA). This whole site is dedicated to preserving the “history” of the American South.

This websites gives a rather thorough description of the American South, from a Caucasian point of view. Also, there is hardly any mention, if any, of the existence of African Americans in the south, where clearly they did exist during that point in history, as slaves. The website describes in detail that those in the South should be proud of their heritage, and gives many examples from a historic point of view. For example in the introductory paragraphs in the section “Ashamed to be Southern”, the website asks the reader to make believe he or she traveled back in time, to roughly around 10 BC in Israel. Someone who’s native to that area would come up to the reader and say that he is a proud Jew, and lists off the many reasons why his county is so great and cares about the people. The same event occurs when the reader is act to make believe he or she is in London, talking to a native born citizen. Now, when “fast forwarding” to the Virginian times here, the author of this website believe that the common response to someone who lived in the South would be as such: “I am a proud Southerner. My people have lived here for centuries, but the Union victory over the South has brought wonderful things to my people. They have brought equality among the men of the community. They have brought all of the modern conveniences of their industrial prowess. But, most importantly, they have brought the peace and security that their massive military power provides” (HPA).

This website continues to describe how honorable the American South was in the past. It even goes as far as to state that “In short, the Union showed respect and honor for those who so tenaciously fought for independence and magnanimously accepted the arbiter of war. Nowhere was there any protesting of Southern symbols nor was there any attempt to censor Southern culture” (HPA). This is a blatant contradiction to history, because clearly the censorship throughout this website is the existence of African Americans within the American South. This site focuses strictly on the White Americans and what they went through during history with various events and how their own culture was like. If one was to read the website to learn about history, they would walk away believing that the American South was populated with only White American, with various descents coming from various parts of Europe.

Overall, I found this website to be very interesting. It demonstrates that it does want to preserve the history of the American South in a good point of view, but in order to achieve this viewpoint, they had to basically eliminate the fact that African Americans existed in the south as slaves and after the emancipation of the slaves, they still were not mentioned in the website. This reason was probably because African Americans were still not viewed as equal during that time in history, and those lifestyles of the White Americans would better produce a more “glorious” image in contributing to the history of the American South. In conclusion, I believe this site shows just how elitist some people in the world could truly be; willing to erase the existence of a race in order to “preserve” the historical image and pride of the American South.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Why I hate Abercrombie & Fitch

The author’s thesis in this article would be “Abercrombie has worked hard to produce a brand strongly associated with a young, white, upper-class, leisure lifestyle” (p.66). That this means is that the target group of people Abercrombie and Fitch is focused on the upper class white American of society, which they believe is the best suited lifestyle for an American. Wearing Abercrombie and Fitch’s articles of clothing meant that one was a part of that “cult” and therefore accepted in the typical American society.

The article thoroughly dissected the company that is Abercrombie and Fitch, and exposed it’s clearly racial viewpoints in which they are so deeply proud of. Abercrombie and Fitch first started out as an outdoor equipment/clothing store, first created by David T. Abercrombie in 1892. He was later joined up by Ezra Fitch, who was a lawyer who “sought adventure hiking in the Adirondacks and fishing in the Catskills” (p.62). Fast forwarding, Abercrombie ended up leaving the company in 1907. The store’s inventory expanded to also include sports clothing, and this business was still directed to those who belonged to the upper class. Even presidents and other well known people harbored this brand name. Abercrombie’s reputation “was so well established by this point that it was known as the outfitter of the rich, famous, and powerful” (p.63). Roughly around the 1960s, their business slowly declined, and had to file for bankruptcy in 1977. Though soon after, Limited, Inc., adopted Abercrombie and Fitch, and tried to “position the brand as a men’s clothing line and later added a preppy women’s line under the label as well” (p.65). In the pictures that are plastered everywhere in Abercrombie and Fitch stores, mainly white “attractive” males and females were shown, sporting the Abercrombie and Fitch label. Again, this showed that this company solely wished to focus on those people, between ages eighteen and twenty two, who were white and belonged to the upper and middle class. As for the workers, they were very racist in deciding who to hire. The company would only higher good looking white Americans. They had to look like they were on the football team, or belonged to a fraternity or sorority. The preppy look was the Abercrombie and Fitch look, and was “required” to have to be able to work at such a store. Abercrombie also describes their image as the “natural, classic, American” (p.68).

McBride’s argument throughout this article, besides giving very valid reasons of why he hates Abercrombie and Fitch, is that Abercrombie and Fitch is a very racial company, caring only to please and serve those of the “privileged race”, meaning upper and middle class white Americans. I completely agree with his argument. Throughout the article he gives various accurate examples of what goes on behind the scenes of Abercrombie and Fitch. An example would be how the GM’s would grade one’s staff as being ugly, and each employee was given a letter grade based on how he or she looked. If a worker who was not of the Caucasian race was found to be working in Abercrombie, and not working in the back with the other African Americans and various minorities, the manager of that store was ordered to fire said associate. They were either flat out fired by the managers or GM’s, or they were given the “zero-hour” treatment, where they would just stop receiving hours until they got the picture that they were not wanted, and eventually fired.

Overall, I thought this article was a very good read, despite its length. I think that this article is very informational about what is wrong about Abercrombie and Fitch, and questions why they should even stay in business due to their very racial tendencies. Even though that a good handful of the population in the United States would probably fit this stereotype, that doesn’t mean that the store should exist only to fit their needs, and disregard anyone else who is different from the “privileged” group of people. I personally dislike Abercrombie and Fitch due to the fact that I think their clothes are way too expensive, and way to obnoxious for my tastes. Then again, I don’t really fit the “white American upper/middle class” group of people the store targets, but that shouldn’t really matter…possibly. In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and found many of the points that expose Abercrombie and Fitch’s racism quite intriguing.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Takaki Ch. 7: Foreigners in their native land: Manifest Destiny in the Southwest

1. This group of Mexicans came to be part of the United States when the land was ceded to the United States. They did not really have a choice of the takeover by the United States. Though they were given a choice to stay and become Americans or move to live in Mexico. Though not many people wanted to move because it was too much work, so most stayed where they were already living at.

2. Their own land became part of the United States, and because of this the land started to be governed and controlled by the standards of the United States. These people were foreigners to those of the United States, and even they were living in their own land, which was originally theirs, they began to be treated as foreigners.

3. Social Construction: The social status system was based on the colors of the citizens skins. Those superior were the whites, then those with a slightly darker skin tone have a little less privilege, but more than those on the bottom, who were the African Americans.

4. The different groups in the chapter united and started strikes to receive better pay and equal treatment. They were fighting to be considered to be on the same level as the Caucasians in the United States. Various organizations also came into play which supported the strikers going against the United States racism.

5. Race- "Our race, our unfortunate people will have to wander in search of hospitality in a strange land, only to be ejected later" -p.177

Ethnicity- "In the copper industry, companies listed their Mexican employees on their payrolls under the special heading of "Mexican labor" paying them at lower rates than Anglo laborers for the same job classifications" -p.187.

Race pertains to the physical traits of a person, categorizing them to be part of a certain group of people who have the same various physical features as them. Ethnicity pertains certain cultural aspects, and categorizes them in a much wider group, such as Asians, which can contain Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, etc.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yellow - By Frank Wu: Response Post

What this quote is saying is that despite the fact that both being stared at and being looked though may both be subtle, and contradictory, they still point out the fact that he is different than the supposed norm of a citizen, therefore receiving more or less attention (stared at vs stared through) than the same person would give to another passerby who was a white american. If an Asian American, or another type of minority, were to walk around a town which is mainly populated by white americans, they will be noticed as a person who stands out, and will probably receive subtle changes in receiving attention, ergo the being stared at or being stared through.

I don't really take any notice about any of these things, even though I am also Asian American. Probably because half of my family is Philippean and the other half is Caucasian/Americans, the lines between the two are quite blurred to me, therefore I believe I am part of both kinds of races.

Comic Book Cover

I chose this comic book cover because it represents a few of the stereotypes that America has within its society. The stereotypes represented here are the white man being the strong hero to the helpless but attractive white female, or “damsel in distress”. The white man is also fighting of an “evil” being that seems to be represented as either a black or Asian minority.

This item relates to the class material because we have been studying various stereotypes throughout the growth of America. It always appears that the Caucasian males are always superior to everybody else within the country, and are the ideal people to want to be. Caucasian females still are higher than the minorities, but have a stereotype to be viewed as helpless, and need to be protected by males. From what the comic book cover is representing, the minority male seems to have captured the Caucasian female, and tied her up keeping her captive for some reason. The person that comes to the rescue is the Caucasian male, and proceeds to fight off the minority males, because he represents evil within the situation provided on the cover. Many of the articles we have read which had to deal with the stereotypes of African Americans versus White Americans pretty much show the exact same thing. In the movie Ethnic Notions, there was a silent film that was produced, which showed an African American chasing a helpless Caucasian female, showing that the African Americans were evil within society, and search to cause harm to Caucasian females. In an article called The Ethics of Living Jim Crow was about how African Americans still received unequal treatment even though the laws of equality were already in effect. For example from that article, if an African American bellboy in a hotel was to look upon a Caucasian female with her supposed partner in the room, he risked the chance of either being yelled at or beaten. This shows that the Caucasian males were protective of their female counterpart, and supposedly believe the minority groups as not being allowed to even look at the Caucasian female. Another example was with what happened to Emmett Till. Emmett had just said a greeting to a Caucasian female in a store, and the result of that was him being brutally murdered by a group of Caucasian males. These stereotypes were real, and the comic book cover is a vague representation of these situations.

I think that this cover gives a very accurate representation of how stereotypes were during that time period. Though it is quite unfortunate that these stereotypes actually existed, and the minority groups were always posed as being on the bottom ranking, and either deemed not worthy for anything, or as a threat to the Caucasian society.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says about Race in America

The thesis of this article, by Karen Brodkin, is “The late nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth saw a steady stream of warnings by scientists, policymakers, and the popular press that “mongrelization” of the Nordic or Anglo-Saxon race- the real Americans- by inferior European races (as well as by inferior non-European ones) was destroying the fabric of the nation” (p.38). This statement basically states that America clearly had anti-Semitism and also believed Jews to be an inferior race, which throughout history showed that their racism and elitist tendencies had put the nation in a worse position than it could have been.

Throughout the article, the author talks about how racist America was against almost every race or religion that was not protestant or was Nordics from northwestern Europe. One of the popular beliefs was that “Jews are members of an inferior race. But Jews were hardly alone…as well as against Asian immigrants, not to mention African Americans, Native Americans, and Mexicans” (p.39). It is believed that the United States have gotten these views of superior versus inferiority standards from Europe, because they discriminated against the Irish, even though their complexion was white, just like those from northwestern Europe. Also, Europe seemed to have different ranks within their continent. There were the superior Nordics of northwestern Europe to the inferior southern and eastern races of the Alpines, Mediterraneans, and Jews (p.40). But before all of this, in America, all of the white European immigrants were considered to be included in the white population. After the 1900s was when the racial divide between all of these different races and groups became clearly apparent in society, and included discrimination against women as well. One of the main events that occurred was the Red Scare of 1919. This event “linked anti-immigrant with anti-working-class sentiment- to the extent that the Seattle general strike by largely native-born workers was blamed on foreign agitators” (p.40). By the 1920s America tried using scientific racism to categorize who the “real Americans” were, also known as finding those who came from northwestern Europe. This racism was apparent from any type of job occupation, the military, and even in the education department. Anyone who was not a northwestern European male would most likely be treated unfairly in society, such as being forced to give up his or her job position for a lower ranking one, just because someone who fit the “real American” description needed to take that place, especially those who have just come back from the war and needed to find a job to support themselves and their own family.

Brodkin argues in this article that America’s anti-Semitism and racist views were directly related to believing Nordics of northwestern Europe were the superior race, and that people were born divided into separate classes and cultures that needed to be given different privileges. I agree with the author’s point of view, because the history of America is not exactly a perfect one. America started out as always having racist views against the Native Americans and the African Americans, because the new settlers strongly believed that they were the superior beings in this new country. As the population of the Native Americans decreased, and African Americans were being shipped over to America, they became the inferior race because of slavery. Once slavery was abolished, there were many white people already living in America. Now the government saw that they should divide superiority between those with white skin. Ideally, they believed the northwestern Europeans were superior, because that was their position over in Europe as being the highest in rank. Therefore, divisions between race, class, gender, and even sexuality became part of the privilege process.

Overall, I found this article to be quite bland. The article describes the Euro-ethnics within America, and continuously relates the racism against Jews to her personal life, and how she inherited much from her parents who grew up during this time period. She also made it quite clear about how America was racists through all these different aspects, and what America believed to be the superior race. Though the article was quite informative, I had a very hard time trying to keep focus on the article. Either it was the content, or the way the article was just delivered, I do not believe that this was a good read.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Extra Credit: The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographicall Sketch by Richard Wright

The thesis of Wright’s article is that African Americans received extremely unfair treatment, even after the emancipation of slavery, particularly when involved in the work force run by white managers, and having to work with white co-workers. This also proves how ineffective the Jim Crow laws were in the south, because even though they were “separate but equal”, it was obvious that African American’s were treated as inferior to the whites.

This article was an autobiographical sketch written by Robert Wright, describing his various experiences being an African American living in the south and having to deal with racism from the whites during the time period after the emancipation of slavery. The first incident in which he realized it was wrong of him to think that it was the whites fault he got hurt was when he was just a boy. Him and some of his other African American friends would play cinder against the white kids who lived across the railroad. This time, instead of having cinders like they are supposed to, the white kids had used broken bottles as a replacement. One of the white boys ended up throwing a broken bottle, which ended up hitting Wright on the back of the head, causing an injury that needed stitches. After he told his mom about the injury, he expected comfort, but instead received a beating. He was “taught” to believe “I was never to fight any more wars. I was never, never, under any conditions, to fight white folks again. And they were absolutely right in clouting me with the broken milk bottle…I ought to be thankful to God as long as I lived that they didn’t kill me” (p.23). After moving and growing up in a black populated area, when he was of age to take on a job and support himself, he ended up having to work with white folks in an optical company. His other jobs included portering in a clothing store, being a bell-boy in a hotel, and another optical company. Throughout all of those jobs, the inferiority of African Americans to whites was distinctly obvious. It was believed to be dangerous for African Americans to be out past sunset, because they would be suspected by the police of doing something against the law. Also, while being a bell-boy in a hotel where the majority of the customers were prostitutes, they had to react to them being nude as though they were looking upon a rug or a lamp. In the elevators one must take their hat off, and were hit for saying “thank you” if a white man took of the black man’s hat for him if he was carrying too much stuff. Even though the Jim Crow laws existed, they were barely enforced. It was apparent that the African Americans had to “know their place” if they were to avoid being injured in any way, shape or form.

The argument in this article would be that the Jim Crow laws were very loosely upheld, especially within the southern states. I agree with Wright on this, because in every situation that was presented in this autobiography, it is clear that even the white policemen couldn’t care less about equal treatment between the blacks and the whites. In the various examples, the blacks were unfairly treated because if a white man were to do the same “mistake” a black man would, the whites would most likely get off with nothing, whereas a black man would be considered “lucky” to walk away with a beating. An example from the reading was when a black man was caught in bed with one of the prostitutes. For a white man, that would be considered normal, but this black man got castrated and run out of the town. The other bell boys were warned and saying they got off “lucky”, and the next person who were caught doing that would probably be in danger of their life.

Overall I thought that the article was a good read. This autobiography kept my attention throughout the entire article. I found the various examples of how African Americans had to “adjust” to the Jim Crow laws very unjust. The way African Americans were treated in the past was very poor, and it is sad that the south saw this treatment as being the right thing to do in society. All of these scenarios were realistic, and unfortunately it was pretty easy to picture these events happening in history, given what we have learned about such treatment through other readings. Overall, I thought that this was a very well written article.