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.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Zinn Chapter 9- Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom

Zinn’s thesis in this article is “It would take either a full-scale slave rebellion or a full-scale war to end such a deeply entrenched system. If a rebellion, it might get out of hand, and turn its ferocity beyond slavery to the most successful system of capitalist enrichment in the world. If a war, those who made the war would organize its consequences” (p.129). This statement means that in order for society to completely change its way into becoming a country without slavery, something extreme had to occur, and either way it would not be a smooth process.

Zinn’s article talks about the slow and tedious events in history that had to deal with the emancipation of slavery in the United States. Around the early 1800s, slave rebellions started happening more often than before, and the slaves were slowly becoming more educated. The slave owners were silently becoming terrified of these rebellions, and tried to keep as much control over the slaves as possible to make sure they would not run away or try to revolt. Most of this occurred in the south, where slavery was still very common. In the north, African Americans were able to live free and go to school and have jobs as writers, store owners, and other occupations. It is because of the free blacks in the north that the inspiration to become free people in the south became more popular, and leads to the increase of rebellions and runaways. For example, David Walker was a son of a slave, but born free in North Carolina, who sold clothes in Boston. He wrote and printed a pamphlet entitled Walker’s Appeal, which became very popular. This pamphlet spoke about who blacks must fight for their freedom (p.134). This infuriated the southern slaveholders, and “Georgia offered a reward of $10,000 to anyone who would deliver Walker alive, and $1,000 to anyone who would kill him” (p.134). Then over the summer in 1830, David Walker was found dead near the doorway of his shop in Boston (p.134). Throughout the 1800s the government started getting involved with the emancipation of slavery, or so they lead the public to believe. There were new laws in place that stated the slave era was over, and that slavery has become illegal. But the rights that the African Americans had in comparison to whites were quite unfair, especially because those in the south wished to still hold on to their white supremacy. White supreme groups like the Klu Klux Clan came to be, who went around basically hunting African American men, women, and children, and lynched and murdered them. The government did very little to try and control the situation, and various amendments kept switching back and forth between having African Americans as equals, then having unfair treatment between the two races still occur. The emancipation of slavery was a long and drawn out battle, and it was very difficult for the government to keep either side content. The sides of this inner war were the whites, African Americans, and the Northern and Southern states.

An argument Zinn proposes in this article is that the road to emancipation of the slaves would not be as easy as simply banning it by law. I agree with Zinn on this argument. As history shows as Zinn’s proof for this argument, even the government had a difficult time keeping the situation with slavery under control. Basically, no matter that the government did, the African Americans were still in a position that was inferior to the whites. The more “privileges” the African Americans gained, the angrier whites in the south would get. Then to try and keep the white supreme people happy, they set in a different set of laws that would again limit some of the supposed privileges the African Americans had, or find a way to keep them under control. Then the African Americans would start complaining, and the cycle would start all over again. The situation just got worse as time went on, which led to the civil war between the states.

Overall, I thought Zinn’s article was very informative about the struggle dealing with the emancipation of slavery during the 1800s. I learned a lot more about what happened during this time period through this read, and found some points of the article quite interesting. Though unfortunately I had a hard time trying to keep my attention towards the article, and sometimes found myself having to reread a couple sections because I just did not understand what was going on through some of the passages. Even though I believe this article has very strong points about the information along with having a lot of facts integrated, I just couldn’t keep my focus on the article throughout the read.

Monday, October 8, 2007


The main topic of Kindred revolves around Dana, who is an African American woman sent back into time upon numerous occasions during the slave era to ensure that her ancestor, Rufus Weylin, does not die a preemptive death.

The book Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, is about an African American woman named Dana from the 1970s that gets sent back in time on the numerous events that Rufus, one of her slave-holder ancestors, is involved in a life threatening situation. The only way for Dana to return to her present time is if she is scared for her life. Then she just disappears from the scene and gets sent back to where she was last back in her own time period, in Kevin and hers house. Time seems to go on much longer in the past than it does in the present. For example, a trip back in time that may have felt like a few days in the past was only actually a few mere minutes in the present. On one of these trips, Kevin, Dana’s white husband, gets brought along by simply being in contact with Dana. After Dana once again saves Rufus from a life threatening situation, they all go back to the Weylin household, where Dana pretends to be Kevin’s slave, because for them to actually be married during the slave era is unheard of, and even sounds ridiculous to the public. Unfortunately for Kevin’s first time being brought back to the past with Dana, he gets left behind when Dana was being whipped by Tom Weylin, and sent back to her own time period. What seemed as only a few days to Dana of her being back at home before returning to the past, five years have passed for Kevin, trying to make a living and waiting for Dana to return and bring them both back to their own time period. Dana again resumes playing the part of a slave, no matter how demeaning she feels it to be, and she realizes that her present life is simple compared to what African Americans had to endure during the slave era. Dana and Rufus get along for a while, both depending on each other for kindness, support, and protection. Rufus then falls in love with another slave, Alice, who is also Dana’s ancestor. Though Alice is not interested in Rufus, and only wishes to return to her husband, who was sent to the south with his ears cut off after Alice and her husband’s failed attempt at running away. Once Dana returns and Kevin comes back after five years to see Dana for the first time, Rufus becomes angry about Dana leave, and refuses to let her go back. In the end, Dana is forced to kill Rufus on the account of self-defense because of his attempt at raping Dana.

Kindred does a very good job portraying how different the two lifestyles are in the present and the past for African Americans, and shows how hard the slaves had to work, and how poorly they were treated back then. Compared to the slave era, living in today’s society is like a walk in the park for African Americans. This book does very well at describing the two different time periods, and what would happen if an African American from this time period were to be extracted and placed into the situation of the slave era, and how different of a world they would have to endure. With Kevin going back in time as well, it is obvious that he had a much easier time fitting into the slave era situation than Dana did, mainly because he was a white American. This shows that no matter that the time period was in America, white Americans always had some privilege over the other races.

Overall, I think Kindred was a very good read. I found it very intriguing to read how Dana had to adjust herself to be able to fit into the slave era, and how much more work she had to endure, and to not even receive any pay. Being treated as something less than a human being after being used to the current time era would be a rather drastic change in the environment. This book kept my interest throughout the entire read, and I believe that it was very well written. This book gives a very good example of how it would be like throughout the slave era, especially for an African American from a recent time period.