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Month: September 2020

Julia Borger Blog Post for 9/4

Personally, I have always been a huge foodie- I love trying new foods, going to restaurants, cooking, family meals and just about everything about food in general. My family enjoys having meals together and we have some favorite recipes, but we don’t really have significant meals/recipes that have been passed down through generations that are basically part of our DNA.

After these readings, I have a completely new perspective on what the concept of food means to some people. With Twitty, it is his whole life, and the backbone of who he is as a person. I found it extremely interesting how he described the connection between food and understanding where someone comes from, his ancestors, and his story, specifically for African Americans in the time period. Food is the link that helps them find their way home, as they have lost so much and attempt to piece their stories back together. I loved when describing this seemingly painful concept, he compared it to the Japanese art of kintsugi, saying “the scars of the object are not concealed, but highlighted and embraced, thus giving them their own dignity and power” (Twitty, 21). I think this idea is very inspiring and one that I will always keep in the back of my mind- that we must overcome and use our adversities to make us stronger.

I cannot imagine the pain, anger, and frustration felt by many as they try to find their ancestors and trace their lineage to a “nonexistent” family tree. I feel disappointed in myself as well as in my past history classes for not learning about this idea at all- that many African Americans do not know who their ancestors are because their records were simply not recorded, names were changed, or they were not even considered people. It has definitely made me feel gratitude as well as guilt for never thinking twice about knowing exactly where my European great-grandparents came from and how I became the person I am today.

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Kayla O’Connell- Blog Post for 09/07

This week’s readings were surprisingly unique in style when compared to our previous readings. I like how we were able to read a first-person perspective because it introduced a more casual style of conversation. As a result, I was able to delve deeper into his stories along with feeling a stronger sense of emotion. 

 

In the reading “Hating my Soul” by Twitty, he connected his love for food with the culture that he struggled to accept. Despite his efforts to avoid his culture, it was constantly surrounding him, as the walls of his dining room were covered with African pictures that he was convinced were staring at him. Below the African paintings was a record player with a variety of albums that played different styles of music depending upon who was cooking in the kitchen at that moment. One day, Twitty found an album by Steve Curry that was filled with racist assumptions and stereotypes regarding the types of food that black people supposedly ate. Twitty explained that not only were these stereotypes incorrect, but also extremely disrespectful and disgusting. 

 

Oftentimes, people make assumptions about individuals without even thinking. We associate individuals to certain things in an attempt to understand them better. These assumptions are usually extremely general and do not take into account the individuals specific likes and dislikes. Last semester, I took a course where we learned about Business in Imperialistic colonies. In the course we learned about the introduction of multiculturalism into British society, specifically curry houses. The Chinese individuals living in British society struggled with racist stereotypes and assumptions tied to the “stank of curry” that was associated with their culture. The Chinese were treated less than everyone else as a result of these harmful stereotypes. This created an uneven playing field for these individuals living in British Society. Instead of creating bias’s about an individual, we should disrupt these judgements and try to learn about the individual and their culture. It is through this process of learning that we will be able to appreciate one another. Not only was this reading interesting, but also highlighted the effects that stereotyping can have on an individual and their perception of their culture.

 

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Tess Keating Blog Post for 9/7

Within the first moments of starting to read, “Hating My Soul” by Twitty I felt guilt. I never really thought about the reason I liked the movies and celebrities that I did as a kid. Twitty states, “Blame it on a world that taught me early on that the only people who actually mattered were pretty white people getting laid and living large, and their cute children living without want” (twitty, 26). I watched movies and thought “I want to be like her” not “I could never be like her”, because of the color of my skin. The impact of this never truly occurred to me.

 

I also found it interesting and sad that the way Twitty saw (or didn’t see for that matter) black culture in popular culture is the reason he didn’t have the appreciation for “soul food” that his family did. Chain and fast food restaurant take over is something that is damaging to all cultural foods and appetites. “I remember all these soul food horror stories and shudder. They came from a cultural disconnect… a grandson who lived in a world taken over by Pizza Hut and McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and this could have been the end of my soul” (Twitty, 35). While it is impressive to me that Twitty was able to re gain an appreciation for the food of his culture, it is sad to think that this was probably not the case for many people/families, and is the reason that there is a die out in culture. To many, food is a key part in culture, tradition, and heritage, and the “white washing” of food is something that is ruining this for many. I can see this causing some sort of internal conflict in people, especially children, when part of them wants to embrace their culture, but the other part of them wants to fit in and go with what is popular, which is sad. 

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Zariah Chiverton Post for 9/7

One thing I kept thinking about throughout these readings is the unfairness of what is recorded and what isn’t in our textbooks. What is upsetting is that once Africans were kidnapped into slavery in America, they became apart of our history. Yet, despite them being a crucial part of the United States, their experience and perspective are almost completely ignored. They matter very much to the foundations of this country because of this nation’s actions to bring them here, but yet, there is little to nothing in our curriculum that would defend that.

After reading these stories from Michael Twitty, I feel like I learned more about the experiences of those who are descendants from slaves than I ever have before because it is a perspective that was left out in all of my years of schooling. Just from these three readings, it made me think about the magnitude of things that were lost to slavery that is never talked about or acknowledged. At this point, because it was so long ago, and there is no way to replace things that weren’t remembered in the first place, there are so many things that we will never know about. For example, one of the things he talked about a lot was food. This is something that is important in a lot of people’s families because of generational ties. Not only did he explain how it was important to his family, but southern cuisine as a whole. Southern food is a big thing for people but where it comes from is never thought about, which I didn’t know about either. There are other little things like songs and stories, like the one’s he was able to tell, that actually means a lot because these are the type of things that can connect people to their ancestral line. 

One thing I thought was important to note was the internal conflict Twitty talks about a little bit. Apart of him wanted to get to know and understand more about his roots. This can be different for everyone whether they just want to know more about their ancestors in America or if they want to go even further down the line to Africa. At the same time, he wanted to escape the past which is very understandable. His family was all over the place because they each tried to get away from it in their own way.

 

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Blog Post for 9/7

After listening to the podcast, then immediately reading No More Whistle Walking For Me, i immediately understood the use of food as a means of culture described in the podcast. While i have always viewed food as a way to be culturally affluent, i never put the true significance and importance it has to groups of people until i read this first chapter. While there was a wide variety of content in this chapter, i want to focus on a quote from the beginning, as well as the conclusion as i feel like those two moments best displayed the importance of food to culture and sense of self.

Twitty says on page 7, “Many of our most pungent memories are carried through food, just as connections to our ancestors are reaffirmed by cooking the dishes handed down to us.” This quote displays the perfect example of what was illustrated in the podcast and throughout the chapter. Twitty clearly states that the memories passed along through generations are passed through food, and he feels more closely connected to his ancestors through it. While this does not surprise me as many cultures share past experiences through food, i am amazed by the sheer importance of food as a means of connecting to one’s self and lineage that is demonstrated throughout the chapter. Personally, i have thought of myself as connected to food, but after reading this, i found myself thinking of all of the foods that drew memories of family and my past, and was shocked to see the vast amount of them.

The second point i want to focus on is in the conclusion. The last two paragraphs are extremely powerful as Twitty looks back on all of the times he cooked with his mother, grandmother, father, and other important figures in his life. He reflects on the lectures, the scoldings, the pride, the shame, the failure, and the excitement of it all, and finished the masterpiece off with a quote, “It is not enough to know the past of the people you interpret. You must know your own past.” He found his past through cooking and food, and that to me shows the true power of food that i never knew existed.

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Podcast Episode 4

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 4: “We are what we culture”

The word “culture” is one of those terms that everybody thinks they understand, but, when we get right down to it, is far more complicated and messy than we thought. For many people…

Visit Blackboard/Podcasts to listen.

Download here for 10.30 class.

Download here for 12.00 class.

The following works were used in this podcast:

Bezio, Kristin M.S. “Introduction to Leadership, Popular Culture and Social Change.” In Leadership, Popular Culture and Social Change, edited by Kristin M.S. Bezio and Kimberly Yost, 1–7. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2018.

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Blog-post 2 (9/1)

Reading Zinn’s second chapter, “Drawing the Color Line” was really interesting and offered me another viewpoint about American Slavery. In this chapter, Zinn sheds light on the “importance” of racism in the United States and tackles this issue from different angles. He explains the history of slavery and links it to the present-day issue of racism; which makes you wonder whether racism is actually natural or not. The racial feeling of hatred or pity or inferiority as Zinn mentioned were developed from when slavery became a normal labor relation between blacks and whites thus it made the feeling of one race being superior over the other present until today which creates racist thoughts.

By looking back at the very start, when blacks first arrived in Virginia, it was believed that they were servants which were not accurate because they were treated differently than the white servants and denied basic human rights. I was amazed at how brutal and different American slaves were treated in comparison to slaves in West Africa. In the chapter, it was mentioned that “African slavery is hard to be praised. But it was far different from plantation or mining slavery in the Americas, which was lifelong, morally crippling, destructive of family ties, without hope of any future”. The reason behind it is so bad is the fact that the American system was a capitalist agricultural system which made it necessary to enslave people and the fact that they did not consider slaves only a labor force but also used racial hatred to show their superiority. Even the word “black” was defined in the “Oxford English Dictionary” as “…soiled, dirty, foul. Having dark or deadly purposes, malignant; pertaining to or involving death, deadly..”. This led to the bigger inhuman issue of racism where whites believed that they are better than other people just because of their color. The definition of the word “black” had a bigger purpose which benefited the whites by making them automatically associate the idea of blackness to something that is bad.

Understanding these actions that were intentionally created by white people proves the idea that racism was not a result of a natural deep-seated feeling of dislike, but rather an intentional series of acts that whitewashes history and favors the conditions to develop oppression, discrimination, and racism.

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Drawing the Color Line

Zinn’s second chapter, Drawing the Color Line gave me a new perspective on slavery in America. Zinn’s exploration of the question if racism is “natural” or not through the history of slavery is eye opening. In the chapter we learn that before the slave trade, in England the color black was associated with dirt, death, wickedness, foul, etc. So does this existing European view of the color black have anything to do with the histories of racism? Throughout the chapter Zinn explores different events throughout the beginnings of slavery that tie to this idea of racism being natural or not.

At the very beginning of slavery, before any of the inhuman laws were passed and a disgusting racist culture was set, there were white servants as well as African slaves. These servants and slaves, ” behaved towards one another as equals… remarkably unconcerned about the visible physical differences” (31). The servants and slaves would collaborate to create escape plans. They would run away in the hopes of finding freedom. They would start new lives together. The difference in the color of their skin had no meaning. They had a commonality. They were being oppressed by a common enemy. They struggled with the same common oppressions and work. The bond between slaves and servants was strong. Together they were powerful enough to create concern among the slave owners. The friendships made created hope. Hope inspired rebellion and defiance. So in Virginia they had to pass laws prohibiting relations between white servants and slaves. In Virginia they they decreed that, “all white men were superior to black” (37).

Zinn also offers the idea that, “The presence of another human being is a powerful fact, and the conditions of that presence are crucial in deterring where an initial prejudice, against a mere color, divorced from humankind is turned into brutality and hatred” (31). I think this is an interesting point. One has to question if the servants and slaves not had the same common enemy would they have had relationships the way they did?

Before reading this chapter I never really thought about the question if racism is natural or not. I just assumed it wasn’t natural because I know it’s wrong. But after reading this chapter I feel more solidified in the belief  that racism is not natural. The relationships between the white servants and the slaves is a testimony to that. Even if it was their commonalities that brought them together it still gives me faith in the fact that racism is not a natural human behavior. I wonder why I never learned about the slaves relationships with white servants in school? Or why I never learned about the details of Jamestown and the beginning of the slave trade? Why is most of what is studied in middle or high school slavery during the civil war? Why we don’t  study the origins of slavery in America?

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Historical Intensions: Blog Post 2

One of the most striking things I read in Zinn’s second chapter, Drawing the Color Line, was a particular combination of statistics. I was shocked that two out of five people captured died on the death marches to the coast, and only two out of three of those who survived the marches survived the travel to the west. Usually, the slave trade is talked about in more general terms like Atlantic slave trade, labor shortages, and the “slave coast”, but this was the first time I have heard concrete numbers associated with the brutality of the slave trade. These statistics highlighted the unspoken horror and severity of what the slave trade really was in a new way I was never taught. It was not only upsetting to realize how large of an impact the West had on an entire region, but how it was “glossed over” or excluded by historians. 

 

As said in class, all history is written with a specific intention, but how does one go about repairing long-lasting racist intentions, whether calculated or unintentional? In order to answer this, I think what needs to be examined is what was once considered “fact”. When Zinn quoted what was defined as Black in 1600 England, it made me question the foundation upon which people make assumptions. As Black is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “dirty”, “death”, “sinister”, ect, people perpetuated what they considered “fact”, therefore created one of many causes that maintained and enabled racism and slavery. This definition has a clear historical intention: to dehumanize those who are black in order to elevate white people and justify systematically killing people for personal and regional utilization. Although this definition is just part of the complex web that enabled slavery, it confirms that the root of many issues are historical, and not naturally generated as facts are written by people. Only through questioning what is fact and what is a historical interpretation can one move forward earnestly, and only with time could questioning and holding analysts accountable help change the effects of historical racism.

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Pierce Kaliner Blog Post

In Drawing the Color Line I found it interesting how from the very first settlement in Jamestown there was a feeling of racial superiority. White servants were treated differently from the black servants. In order to fight the Indians, “A law passed in 1639 decreed that ‘all persons except Negroes’ were to get arms and ammunition.” Slavery wasn’t technically legalized yet, but it was evident how the white settlers felt a superiority to the slaves. Another example of the superiority is shown in punishments, “The court ruled ‘that the negro women shall be whipt at the whipping post and the said Sweat shall tomorrow in the forenoon do public penance for his offense at James citychurch…”  While the white man barely gets any punishment the black servant is whipped. The power structure is made so that the white ruling class is able to keep its power. 

The way that the slave trade is vividly described is deeply frightening. From capture to the boats to the plantations Zinn is able to show the life of a slave starting from Africa. The trans-Atlantic slave trade is horrifying, and I already knew that. However, the sheer amount of profit from the slave trade was crazy. For example James Madison, “Shortly after the American Revolution that he could make $257 on every Negro in a year, and spend only $12 or $13 on his keep.” That’s a crazy amount of money while adjusting for inflation.  Also, only spending 12 or 13 dollars on keeping a human being is craziness. Meanwhile, James Madison, one of our founding fathers boasts about the terrible conditions in which he holds his slaves. Just a reminder of the horrifying reality of our history. 

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A Color Line Still Present Today – 9/2

In the “Drawing the Color Line” section of A People’s History of the United States, Zinn describes the inhumane actions of early white Americans as the institution of slavery became instilled into society. Through my years of schooling, I have been taught how horribly we treated black people during the slave trade (and how America still fails to treat members of the black community as equal), but it still makes me sick to my stomach hearing how these innocent African Americans were taken from their homeland and tortured just for the white man’s economic gain and insecure need for power. 

The commodification of African people during this time is portrayed through the description of how enslaved people were packed onto slave ships and sold into slavery. They were viewed as something to be traded for money and a resource for economic prosperity; they were not viewed as humans. In one of my previous history classes, I learned the slave ships could not leave the African coast until their ships were at absolute capacity, similar to how cargo ships pack goods tightly onto the ships. This illustrates that American’s dehumanized these enslaved people so they could be seen as a good to be traded, allowing all regard for their human needs to dissipate. 

Zinn also brings up the point that racism was not a natural idea, but that there was “a complex web of historical threads to ensnare blacks for slavery”. One aspect of this “web” that angered me was the fact that there were laws put in place to disable the collaboration of white and black people. The white Americans in power knew what they were doing was morally wrong and that rebellions would occur, therefore they had to do everything they could to prevent it. With these laws, the divide between whites and blacks worsened. Thankfully, laws like those do not exist anymore, but systematic racism still does. It is our job as a society to disassemble the racist institutions early America has created. 

 

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Blog Post for 9/2

Zinn’s chapter “The Color Line,” begins describing the first slave ship to the colonies in 1619. This slave ship, the White Lion, was technically a ship bringing over “servants” from Africa. Rather quickly however, these “servants” became known as slaves instead. I find it very interesting that when these Africans were brought over on the ship, the captain and other colonizers onboard, and waiting on land called these even began by calling them servants. This is interesting to me because Zinn specifically states that the Africans were treated differently and much more harshly than the actual indentured servants from Europe, or the white servants from the moment they arrived. Thus, why even try to consider them servants? The colonizers knew exactly why they were bringing over Africans, but lied to themselves, but why?

Another point Zinn brings up that I never considered is that even though the Europeans were much more technologically advanced than the indigenous people and the Africans they brought over; they could not do the simple tasks needed to survive. They needed the Africans to do their work for them or they would all die, but why then did they treat them so poorly? I believe some of the maltreat came because the colonizers were scared and intimidated by not only the indigenous people (very apparent), but by the Africans as well. The Africans were knowledgeable in agriculture, but also had a great sense of community and grit, this is what the colonizers feared most.

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