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Month: August 2020

The Beginnings of Slavery in America

I can’t remember ever distinctly learning when the first Africans arrived in America. I learned about Columbus (if you can even call it that), then colonialism and the Thirteen Colonies, then the American Revolution and then the Civil War. The specific details of when and how slavery came to what would become the United States was never directly taught, or at least not at my tiny K-8 school.

Thanks to Smith’s article “Point Comfort: where slavery in America began 400 years ago,” I can now say that I know when slavery started in the Americas. Twenty captives (not willing participants) arrived on the shores of Virginia in late August of 1619. As the title of this article points out, that is (now more than) 400 years ago. That is roughly 127 years after Columbus landed in the Bahamas, about twelve years after the founding of the Thirteen Colonies, 156 years before the American Revolution and 246 years before slavery would be abolished in the United States. 

In school, you learn about these major events, but you don’t learn about every group of people they affected. You don’t get the full story. It was a dark and violent world back then, and it still is today, it just presents itself differently. Smith’s article shows how understanding the beginning of this especially dark time in our history has helped people connect better with their ancestors, and has inspired people to dig deeper into the foundations our country was built on.  Knowing all the details one possibly can does not justify what happened in the past, but it helps garner respect and a willingness to not let the woes of the past repeat themselves.

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Blog Post M. Childress for class 9/2

Today’s reading in “A People’s History of the United States” shocked me by the way it seemed like the African Americans helped the Americans when they needed help the most, yet were then subjected to increasingly brutal conditions, regulations, laws, and oppression. Not that I was unaware of it, but reading about how the blacks taught the whites how to cultivate crops (pg. 24) and showed them ways to survive on their own without relying on cannibalism or other barbaric actions, then were still massacred was eye opening to say the least. I then thought about a point brought up later in the chapter: what would American be like without the hundreds of years spent in slave labor by blacks? Furthermore, if the initial African Americans hadn’t taught the Americans how to survive on their own, would the blacks have potentially taken over control?

This reading reminded me that early America was not only exploitation of labor of blacks, but also a robbery of their relationships, a stealing of their culture and resources, and a thievery of the African American’s pride, esteem, and self worth. However, the most thought provoking aspect of this reading was the inequality in punishment for crimes that, in my mind, was the beginning of systematic racism in the early Americas. For example, if a slave were to steal something they realistically probably needed to survive, they were commonly killed. However, if a white man stole from the slave nobody would bat an eye. Even if the white stole from another white, such an intense punishment as execution would never enter the debate.

Lastly, I wanted to highlight a very important point in the “Cape Comfort” reading. It highlights the fact that African Americans are more interested in connecting to their “roots”, showing that history is interconnected throughout time, and the relationships between people and families lead to beliefs, culture, and customs which form the identity of the individual. Without an understanding of this history we lose connection to our past, and in turn lose connection to the present.

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Mia Slaunwhite–Post 2

Right from the start of chapter 2 in the first paragraph, we see this idea of salves—” She came, she traded, and shortly afterwards was gone. Probably no ship in modern history has carried a more portentous freight. Her cargo? Twenty slaves” (23). From reading the first paragraph, it never occurred to me that we aren’t taught that there are slaves brought to Jamestown. While I was in elementary school, we took a field trip to Jamestown—while here, what I recall, the workers reenact what life was like during the settlement, and not one of the workers was a person of color. Jamestown and education failed to mention the idea of slaves during the early part of the English settlement.

Another interesting thought that really was never taught was the idea that Zinn states, “The Indians were on their own land. The whites were in their own European culture” (25). The Europeans did not ask, they just took and kept taking what they wanted. The natives were forced by the Europeans to move and make room. I wish that just simple phrases and ideas like this were taught in history. We are taught that natives were here, but never taught that this truly was their home and their life. Going back to the first Thanksgiving… we are taught that it was peaceful and there was no conflict at all. No mention of the natives they were basically forced to give way to the Europeans. In a way, all the Europeans thought that they were superior to everyone else. Going back to Columbus he did not care about the lives of natives. If they were in his way, oh well move them out. The Europeans in almost every case thought that they were the shit and we are taught that they are pretty much just that. History in schools needs rewriting.

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Drawing The Color Line, Alex DiMedio, 8/31

I find the relationship between the Native Americans and the Europeans to be very interesting.  The European civilization is far more advanced technologically than the Native Americans, yet they struggle with basic survival skills.  The Native Americans prove to be the superior group, in that they could easily feed their people, and attaining enough food to get through a tough winter was relatively easy, while the European group had to resort to cannibalism and other horrible methods of survival.  The incompetence of the early European settlers however had a terrible effect on the future of the world.  The ideas about race being a factor in whether or not someone should be a slave began to sprout here.  The ideology of white privilege took form among other horrible things.  The white European settlers developed a mindset that they deserved more than the Native Americans, and other people of color, so they took action on this mindset.  The European settlers laid waste to many Native Americans and their lands essentially because they were better at the game of survival.

 

The horrible mindset the European settlers grasped onto is very relevant today.  The United States of America has officially abolished slavery and almost everything connected to it, but racism has done anything but gone away with it.  The way European settlers and early Americans set a precedent that black people are lesser than white people has permanently affected the mindset of so many people even today.  I think it is very important for people to read “drawing the color line,” so people can see the horrible nature of what so many people believe.  This chapter outlines slavery rooted in race, and it provides a new perspective to the black lives matter movement today that I think people need to understand.

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Drawing the Color Line – Kathrine Yeaw

Each reading from Zinn, I am not only reminded of how cruel many of our so-called “heroes” or leaders were, but am made aware of the actual extent of how harsh they really were. Reading the horrible things the settlers and whites did to the African slaves was honestly astonishing. Zinn even mentions how Catholic priests found the sickening ways in which they captured, transported, and enslaved these people to be okay and they even “[bought] these slaves for [their] service without any scruple”. Throughout the years, this unfair treatment of slaves became even more acceptable and in some instances encouraged. Laws were passed in Maryland allowing for “cutting off the ears of blacks who struck whites, and that for certain serious crimes, [they could] be hanged and the body quartered and exposed”. It’s hard for me to understand how that is how they handled things. Their first option was always violence, which now we are taught from the moment we are born is the last option. 

The second thing this reading made me realize is that a lot of the reason for this “color line” that was created was out of fear and need for wealth and superiority; settlers’ fears of starvation, fear of being poor, and fear of rebellion. The main reason settlers began shipping in African slaves was because they were afraid of the Indians, and they knew they couldn’t get them to do what they wanted. Once they realized they could make money off of slaves, they began shipping in more, and using them for profit. The beginnings of the modern Western civilization, that is known to be because of whites, is really based on the foundation of the slaves’ work. One thing that really surprised me is how the separation between black and white became much more apparent when there was this “class fear” that the poor whites would rebel with the slaves, which was even more threatening than the slaves rebelling. Because of this fear they simply proclaimed that “all white men were superior to black” and went on to give them food and land when they were freed. This chapter really opened my eye as to how un-“natural” this divide was and how it was created through the ambitions of the whites at the time.

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Blog Post #2

While reading the second chapter of The People’s History of the United States, I learned many things about slavery that was not taught to me before. One of the most interesting things that Zinn talks about in this chapter is how Europeans justified their own slave trade by noticing how different African states had slavery themselves. I appreciated the contrast that Zinn made throughout this chapter between the two different forms of slavery.  Zinn does a good job bringing African slavery and how it was “better” than slavery in the Americas, but makes sure to mention that, “African slavery is hardly to be praised.” He continues to make examples of why American slavery was “the most cruel”, limitless profit from agriculture and the act of dehumanizing slaves.

The other interesting part of this chapter that really drew my eye was that slavery came from a desperate need for labor. I was always under the impression that slaves were a way for the rich to stay richer, but this chapter explains how “the Virginians of 1619 were desperate for labor, to grow enough food to stay alive.” The people were desperate for more workers and realized that black slaves were the easiest answer to help them get what they wanted. Zinn explains how obtaining these slaves was not easy, but it was easier than enslaving anyone else, so that is what the whites did. Zinn talks about how the only way in which the culture was inferior to white was in military capability. Since the whites had guns and ships, blacks were considered “inferior” even though Westerners could not get blacks to surrender “and had to come to terms with its chiefs.” Even though in some ways, the African civilizations were more admirable than their European counterparts, Westerns took the people and brutally used them for their own profits.

I find it insane that I was never taught the full story about slavery, but only the small bits and details that were mentioned in the history books that I studied in high school. Zinn does a great job of talking about the information that isn’t talked about. He brings hidden facts out so that the real stories can be written.

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Money: Is Slavery’s Motivation Also Its Solution? Not Necessarily.

In class today, Dr. Bezio mentioned an age-old saying: money is the root of all evils. While attempting to justify the application of this saying to all of history’s evils would be both beyond my abilities and result in a reaction much too long for anyone to read, the sayings application to American slavery rings true. As David Smith and Howard Zinn note in their writings, slavery — specifically the enslavement of Africans in America — was born out of the strive for profits. Many of the early European settlers in America were “skilled craftsmen, or even men of leisure” (Zinn 25), thus making them untrained in the practical skills of farming and domestic chores. Recognizing the settler’s struggles, merchants brought African slaves across the Atlantic to be sold in the Americas. Indeed, the potential for profit by both parties — that is the settlers and merchants — is what drew merchants to strip Africans of their ancestral homes, families, and cultures to work as slaves across the ocean. The merchants were not wrong. The sale and use of slaves was so profitable that James Madison once claimed that he could “make $257 one every Negro in a year, and spend only $12 or $13 on his keep” (Zinn 33). This practice started formally in America at Point Comfort in 1619, however, the institution of slavery continued to rob countless more Africans of their lives both physically and figuratively. The destruction of lives in the name of money greatly benefitted the lives of European settlers and, thus, as some argue, a debt must be repaid.

A story from the David Smith article that caught my attention was that of Terry E. Brown, a park service superintendent at Fort Monroe, which sits on the sight of Point Comfort. Brown, the descendant of slaves, did not know the genealogy of his family until recently when he discovered an ancestral link to Cameroon. Discovering his family’s history made Brown “emotionally and spiritually tied to Africa” (Smith), filling a void in ancestral pride that was missing before. Reading this reminded me of a Facebook post made by my friend back in June. Like Brown, my friend could trace his ancestry back only as far as slavery. In his post, I remember him describing the shame he felt whenever an elementary school teacher would ask him where his family originated. Embarrassed, he recalled always answering with the Bahamas, a country in which his family has zero ancestral linkage. This embarrassment and loss of pride is part of what white merchants stole from Africans when they stole them from their homelands. While money was the motivation for this sin, it is not necessarily the answer. US Representative Jim Clyburn has spoken against reparations — the idea of repaying African Americansfor the work of their ancestors — claiming that it is “impossible to monetise” (Smith) the issues associated with slavery. I agree with Representative Clyburn that, while easy, money will not solve this evil the same way it created it. The divisions that slavery inflicted on this nation and the pain it caused in the soul of slavery’s descendants cannot be reconciled with money. The loss of culture and generational trauma will not be solved by paying one generation of reparations. Healing must require change on the personal, national, and institutional level. 

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Blog Post #2

“Concepts of Leadership”

 

I found it particularly interesting towards the end of the article when Machiavelli the Prince was introduced. His thesis provided a great description of what it takes to be a leader. How as humans, it is not in our nature to lead. Leadership opens the door for failure and ridicule. I would argue fear is not experienced at any greater time than when the potential of ridicule by the masses is on the table. That is simply why I believe we view our nations presidents and positions of great leadership as fascinating and impressive. They are doing the job that few can, and I think that is what Machiavelli was trying to convey.

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Podcast #1

Roughly two thirds into the podcast you referenced the idea that history allows us to predict the way humans might react in a given scenario. That idea immediately reminded me of the racial movement we find ourselves a part of today. My question is do you believe we have learned from our history when it comes to civil outrage and protest? Granted, you conveyed well the idea that history classes display and reveal information in a biased manor, so my understanding of the civil rights movement might be less than accurate. What I do know about that era is that is was undeniably successful and I wonder why the protests we are seeing today are not resembling the protests we saw less than a hundred years ago that proved to be so successful.

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Blog Post #1

“Meaning of Leadership”

While reading what seems to be the first of many readings I asked myself a simple question. What do I think a leader is? What I found in my answer and what I believe to be true is that all of us have a similar image when we think of leaders. I would be willing to bet we would likely be able to point out members of American and global societies that are somewhat “universally ” seen or viewed as leaders. That being said, my question is does that make the lack of a single definition for a multi-faceted word a bad thing? The way I see it is that makes perfect sense. How can we describe the leadership we saw with MLK the same way we see leadership from President Trump? Simply, you can’t. That’s why this word continues to lack a universal definition. There are qualities to leadership that make it a unique and undefinable term.

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“Drawing the Color Line” Maddie Orr

In the second chapter of A People’s History of the United States, Zinn discusses the process of slavery in the Americas and how it developed into one of the most cruel forms of slavery in history. Desperation and helplessness played large roles in the quick acceptance of slavery among the colonists, but also among the Africans who were forced into the situation where everything that they were was obliterated. Zinn goes into great detail of the process of the slave trade such as the death marches across hundreds of miles and the horrific conditions aboard the ships that caused frenzy, insanity, and death. He questions, was their culture inferior and subject to destruction? African civilization was advanced in its own ways with skilled farming, improvements in weaving and sculpting, and their tribal life and values were strong. Europeans felt strongly enough to take these people from their homes, destroy their culture, and force them to work under cruel conditions. This relates to the idea from previous readings of who gets to decide what is told and what is forgotten about in history. 

Another interesting point of view described was the mindset and psychology behind the colonists’ behaviors towards the slaves. The natural feelings of distaste for the color black, the desperation for feelings of superiority, and their want for profit fell behind the motives and actions towards African slaves. I was very surprised while reading this chapter at the fact that I have never learned this much detail about the slave trade or behind slavery in the United States. Looking back on history classes, I feel like there is a pattern of learning a general overview of history and never diving much deeper into a topic. While this seems very difficult to escape I think that it is important to try and expose more details of history that are hidden. 

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8/31 Blog Post Elina Bhagwat

While reading Zinn’s “Drawing the Color Line” chapter, many ideas stood out to me. The first thing that surprised me was how graphic many of the excerpts were. Zinn included several quotes and texts that went into very detailed visualizations of the punishments and treatments that black slaves encountered. I think that this plays into the whole idea of how biased history is. Until college I hadn’t read any slavery literature that included mature topics and descriptions. This makes me wonder if my other history teachers didn’t think that the students were mature enough to read graphic, yet truthful history. Or I wonder if my teachers didn’t want to acknowledge the extremely violent and aggressive actions of white Americans. This leads to another topic that was also interesting to think about. Zinn mentions that white settlers were angered by the “Indian superiority at taking care of themselves,” almost feeling jealous at their own lack of abilities and skills (p. 25). For this reason, white settlers transitioned from enslaving Native Americans to enslaving black people.

It seems as though there was a fear that the Native Americans were too smart and advanced that it would be harder to keep them enslaved. So instead, settlers turned to the enslavement of blacks thinking that they were helpless and unintelligent, making this enslavement much easier. This brings about question of where did these ideas of white superiority come from. Is racism deeply rooted in our beings or is it a learned trait that society has contributed to? Zinn offers evidence to suggest that these ideas of racism and white superiority might be more of an innate, deep rooted issue. Zinn says that both “literally and symbolically…the color black was distasteful” (p. 31). This implies that there are several connotations oof the word “black” that contributed to the treatment and enslavement of people with darker skin tones. In the same sense, the word “white” also has several connotations that can appear to be more positive which again made white settlers believe that they hold power and superiority over the people of color.

Zinn starts the chapter by saying that the United States has had an extremely important history of racism, but even with this long history of racism the United States still has a large amount of racism. This makes me wonder why the United States over other countries has had such a long and deep-rooted history of racism and oppression of people of color. I think learning the information that Zinn includes and his perspective that advocates for the oppressed, although still biased, is a step in the right direction of changing the innateness of racism. Teaching younger generations to listen to and respect the perspective of the minority is one way to introduce ideas of equality not regardless of skin color but taking skin color into account so we can recognize that there has been a history of oppression. Rather than forgetting this oppression we should teach it and let it be known so we learn from our long history of racism.

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8/31/20 – Olivia Cosco

I found Smith’s article, “Point Comfort: Where Slavery Began in America 400 Years Ago” to be very interesting and tie back to to what Howard Zinn says in his chapter, Drawing the Color Line.

Zinn discusses the beginnings of slavery and how it was never really about color until the triangle trade. He tells us that black people were the answer to Virginians needing more labor to be done. They were helpless which made enslavement easier; but besides that, they could not force Indians or white servants. Indians had a reputation of being tough, resourceful, defiant and would fight back. White servants had not yet been brought over in a large enough quantity in order to enslave them. I found this to be very interesting, as it made me wonder what our world and history would look like if things did not happen exactly like this.

Going off of that, Smith discusses exactly where slavery began. It was 1619 when a ship with twenty captives was headed toward Mexico and they were captured by the White Lion, another ship. They ended at point comfort. This is where slavery was born. Now, being that it is 2020, Fort Monroe in Hampton, Southern Virginia will celebrate the 400th year anniversary, in hopes that it will be a pivot point in society.

To me, the most interesting part in Smith’s article, was hearing from Walter Jones, whose mother is the oldest living Tucker. Jones discusses being raised to forgive all people for some things, because he was taught that it was rarely just their fault. He then mentioned that not having any recognition for past events makes him a little bitter. He later poses the question about recognition, “if it hasn’t come by now, when will it? And now that it’s 400 years coming up, how many people truly will recognize that?” When thinking about this, if I’m being honest, I do not think without this article being assigned to me, I would have recognized that it’s been 400 years.

That leads me to the final point that stuck out to me. Congressman, James Clyburn believes America still has not confronted the issue of slavery. He feels as though we have ignored it in an effort to make it go away. I do not necessarily agree with this, because I feel that we have started to converse more about these issues in the past couple years, but I still feel there is more to be done in terms of creating awareness of the past.

 

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“Drawing the Color Line” Sophia Picozzi

I found this chapter very upsetting and honestly hard to get through, however, I am fortunate that I have had the privilege of reading such diverse literature and opening my eyes to the horrific realities of slavery. In this chapter, Zinn describes both the horrors of the treatment of slaves and the astounding resilience and resistance the slaves embodied. It was shocking, impressive, and inspiring that they persevered through the worst of hardships, like the intentional separation of families, the eradication of their culture, and the brutal physical and psychological torture. The article also touched on the incredible perseverance of the slaves and focused on celebrating how African Americans have reinvented themselves and survived the most unimaginable treatment. Commemorating and honoring the slaves is probably the newest and most positive outlook I have read or learned in regard to slavery and it really struck me.

Another main takeaway I took from the reading was the conclusion about how racism and slavery was not a “natural” or inherent inclination for all white Americans and how it was learned, engrained, and practically forced on them. This made me think and connect to a reading I recently read for my leadership 210 class where the author detailed Aristotle’s defense of slavery. Aristotle believed that in order for slavery to be just, it needed to be a “natural fit” and that the slave had to suit the role of being a subordinate to a master. He stated that anyone who flourishes in their position as a slave is meant, by nature, to be a slave and anyone who fights and rebels against their role is not by any means meant to be a slave. Aristotle believed that the need for force and coercion in slavery is a direct indication of injustice and therefore should be eradicated immediately; it suggests a completely unnatural fit. It is fair to say that Aristotle would think of slavery in America as completely unjust and cruel, given the constant fear of rebellion and revolt by the white slave owners. This position aligns with the points Zinn was making about the alliance and mutual respect between enslaved blacks and whites, and how racism, slavery, and the idea of black inferiority in America was never a natural process or inclination; it was learned and instilled by legal and social customs.

 

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Drawing the Color Line Tommy Bennett

This was the most difficult reading I have had to do during my brief time at Richmond. Reading about the mistreatment of African slaves especially in relation to their experience with the transatlantic slave trade was brutal, but also extremely necessary to understanding the depth of human cruelty. Readings like this are important and should be mandatory among all people. After reading about the unbelievable cruelties they endured it is much easier to understand how the racism of the past has carried over into today’s systematically racist institutions.

The detachment of African people from their cultures and communities starting in 1619 still has devastating ramifications on African Americans today. Not only was American slavery terrible for the physical conditions placed upon enslaved people, but also it stripped generations of people of a sense of self and community which is mentally devastating.  Zinn is completely correct in asserting that American slavery is the worst form of slavery to ever exist because its goals were endless capitalistic gain and for reducing black people to a less than human status. The first of which created an unbelievable supply and demand chain which displaced or killed as many as 50 million africans and the second of which is still responsible for many of societies modern inequalities. An example of this carry over would be that in a 2016 study on medical students about half of them still believed that black people experienced less pain than white people. Racist beliefs such as this still permeate society and are responsible for income inequality as well as institutionalized racism that results in things like black women being 3 to 4 times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.

I wanted to conclude my blog post by mentioning that I agree with Zinn’s conclusion that no true innate racism exists within humans and that prejudice is programmed into people throughout their lives by society. My evidence of this is usually the baby experiment where babies are willing to play with each other regardless of race, but I also enjoyed his evidence that white indentured servants and black enslaved people being more connected by their economic status than they were divided by their races. The fact that they often connected emotionally with each other before the creation of laws prohibiting it is evidence in support of no innate racism existing in humans.

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Podcast Episode 3

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 3: Cold Comfort

From the first moment that Europeans settled in what would become the United States, their relationship to people who did not look like them—whether indigenous Americans or imported African slaves—was one of domination and oppression…

Visit Blackboard/Podcasts for the whole episode…

Download here for the 10.30 class.

Download here for the 12.00 class.

The following works were used in this podcast:

Jones, Nicholas R. “Debt Collecting, Disappearance, Necromancy: A Response to John Beusterien.” In Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology, edited by Cassander L. Smith, Nicholas R. Jones, and Miles P. Grier, 1st ed. 2018 edition., 211–21. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Shook, Lauren. “‘[L]Ooking at Me My Body Across Distances’: Toni Morrison’s A Mercy and Seventeenth-Century European Religious Concepts of Race.” In Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology, edited by Cassander L. Smith, Nicholas R. Jones, and Miles P. Grier, 1st ed. 2018 edition., 137–55. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. Reprint (1980). New York: HarperPerennial, 2015.

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Alexandra O. Blog Post 8/30

In A Peoples History of the United States, Howard Zinn begins reshaping readers view on history from his first chapter: Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress. The common story of Christopher Columbus is one of heroism where he is celebrated for the so called “discovery” of America. As Dr. Bezio tells us in her podcast, the history we learn is told by the victors, and this rings true. Yet Zinn tells us the other side of the story. The true tragedies that Christopher Columbus caused. The pain and destruction that this “hero” caused. He brought mass genocide and enslaved Indians who welcomed him with gifts and food.

Zinn mentions Bartolome de La Casas, a priest who was originally with the Spaniards, but eventually wrote and released the truth behind the Spanish conquests. Knowing this drove home the some points from Wednesdays readings. How history was selectively recorded and glorified a leader because of his accidental success. But isn’t it possible to acknowledge his success finding America while condemning and bringing awareness to the true cruelty of his ways? We tend to gloss over the flaws of our leaders because of the important symbolism of leaders in America. But this needs to stop. Without Batrolome de La Casas, would we know the truth of the horrors that occurred, or would the genocide of the Arawaks be lost and forgotten history??

One reason we look at history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and we learn from them. But this story, the true story of Columbus is not commonly known, and so it does not appear to be learned from. In fact, a pattern of the same tragedies developed; Cortes, Pizzaro, Jamestown and much more. It created a dangerous pattern in America. One of inequality and glossing over inequality and tragedies because of the reward reaped from the cruel actions. Its something still with us today. I am curious to know more hidden truths of American history that Zinn will continue to tell in his books, something I think that should be widely spread through the American education system.

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Julia Leonardi / 08/30/2020

The first thing that came to mind when I was reading “Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress,” was how robbed of an actual education I feel. Just barely hearing the story told from the people’s point of view, changes my whole perspective of what history really is and how I need to change how it is viewed. Now knowing that it is this easy to just read and teach this side of history, I am disgusted that it took me going to college to read about Columbus as a villain and not the hero he’s been taught to be. This idea of completely ignoring the “great mans” wrong doings was already something that angered me, but to ignore mass genocide (he wiped out half of Haiti within two years!!) and extremely inhumane acts towards people, is nauseating. This makes me want to get back into the public-school system and demand change within the curriculum that is taught to kids all across the state of Virginia.

To quote Zinn, who quotes Camus “in world of “victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” Although that is a factual statement, it shouldn’t be like this. We as a society should be on the side of victims. We should teach the real story of the Americas to children, and not wait for them to get older and choose to figure it out.

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Margot Roussel Blog Post 8/30

In A Peoples History of the United States, Howard Zinn takes an interesting approach to history. Instead of taking the winners viewpoint, he instead tells the story from the opposing view. He gives a voice to those that history overlooks and to a certain extent takes the harder road. It is difficult to find first-hand accounts from the perspectives of women and people of color because so much of their history is lost. The little that remains is usually incorrect, like the story of Pocahontas. Additionally, I find it interesting that all of the primary sources Zinn quotes about the Indian’s feelings towards the white men are from a white man, Las Casas.

 

I found that one of Zinn’s comments really resonated with me; he said, “My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present. And the lines are not always clear.” (10) I have recently found myself somewhat depleted reading and learning about all the sadness and struggle in the world. But I believe it is not something to ignore, instead we must learn about it in a way that empowers us to change the present.

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Jeffrey Sprung 8/30 Blog Post Assignment

In A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn attempts to emphasize many historical events from the standpoints of the minority groups involved in attempt to provide a more well-rounded version of historical events. The first chapter within the novel titled “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress” focuses on mistreatment of Indians in Hispainola perpetuated Christopher Columbus. The ideas in this chapter directly connect with our class discussion as many people in the United States still view Columbus’ legacy as heroic and the colonization of the Americas does not emphasize the lives and legacy of the Indians as much. After reading about the Columbus’ brutal treatment and mass murder that he inflicted on the Indians, I was shocked that Columbus is still heroicized within the United States.

 

I was really intrigued by Zinn’s description of the values in the Indians culture within the chapter. It was very interesting to me that the Indian’s culture was so much more accepting than the European culture. If Columbus didn’t catalyze the mass genocide of Indians in the Americas, and ruin their identity and culture, I wonder if the Indians values of equality between sexes, sharing of possesions, kindness, and peace would have been more prominent at earlier stages of the United States history. On a separate note, I was also surprised by cruelty of Columbus that was documented by Bartolomé de las Casas as I did not realize the magnitude of Columbus’ destruction on Indians upon his colonization until I read this chapter.

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