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Author: Elina Bhagwat

Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 10/21

I think it was really interesting to see how Carson humanized King in a way that made him heroic without placing him above anyone else. The idea at the end that King just wanted to “love and serve humanity” was extremely grounding and gave perspective to King’s work. While he was a charismatic leader who preached his beliefs through his oratory, he risked support and popularity in order to advocate for non-violence. His ideas of non-violence could get in the way of having a large following especially from the black community. This makes it evident that he was one of the few leaders that actually cares about the issues and their agenda for the common good than remaining in a position of authority with a large following. On the topic of non-violence Carson raises an interesting point that the actions King advocated for are “respectable in the eyes of the white majority.” Although King’s main goal was equality and civil rights for black people, he realized that in order to do this he had to appeal to the majority. Thinking about civil rights, it’s clear that there needs to be cooperation and team work from both sides or both blacks and whites in order to make progress. Thus, King focused on civil communication between different groups and leaders to advocate his non-violent agenda.

However, on-violence doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is peaceful and abiding by the law. King was applauded for breaking the rules and “[challenging] authority” and this idea of “creative maladjusted nonconformity” which refers to sort of breaking the status quo and embracing differences. This reminds me of King’s civil disobedience in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which he was arrested for protesting peacefully. In this letter King justifies his actions and makes a distinction between written law and natural law. He argues that natural law is above written law and therefore one can break written law if it is for a morally just reason. I think that this relates to his idea of nonconformity because he thinks it’s okay to stray from the norm or laws if it’s advocating for a moral purpose or mission. In this way, I think that he appealed to several other proponents of the civil rights movement because although he was non-violent, he was willing to break the law and go the extra mile to achieve his goals. This is another reason in which he was more than just a charismatic leader. He used his religion and belief in a higher power to justify his actions.

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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 10/14

This reading was really interesting because my views about John changed drastically from the beginning to the end. I think that the first person narration really helps to view the situation from the perspective of John’s wife, and therefore feel the same emotions that she felt in the story. At the beginning of the reading, I felt as though the narrator was a hypochondriac in a way, and was being taken great care of by her husband. It seemed that he was going out and working to provide for the family as well as taking care of his wife while he’s home. She explained that he meticulously keeps track of all her medications and tells her that she must have the “most perfect rest.” However, towards the middle of the reading I start to question his sincerity and start to think of him as controlling over his wife. She seems almost trapped in a way where she deeply cares for her husband but he has a dominance over her that she can’t fight. It appears that almost every aspect of her life is dictated by John. She wanted to go visit her cousins, but John said no.

This makes me wonder if she was ever really “sick” in the first place or if John asserts his dominance and tricks her into thinking that she is ill. This reminded me of Munchausen Syndrome where a person causes someone to deliberately act as though they are ill. John acts as though he cares for his wife and has medical knowledge but seems to need this sort of power in order to feel in control of all aspects of his life, including his wife. Even when his wife feels fine, like when she asks to go visit her cousins, he says no because it’s not good for her, even though she doesn’t feel sick. This psychologically tricks her into also thinking that she is sick. The story escalated very quickly in the short ten pages but the ending wasn’t completely unpredictable based on the series of events that led up to it. It’s interesting to see the man in the relationship playing the role of the care-giver because that seemed to be an uncommon idea not too long ago. However, the way the story depicts it explains that the changed gender roles serves to show that men had a clear dominance and there’s a strong power dynamic between men and women. John as the care-giver was just a way for him to assert control.

 

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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 10/7

Something that stood out to me very early on in the reading was how interconnected the world is and how much of an influence globalization has on the world. Even when a country intends to stay neutral in a global crisis, it’s difficult for an isolationist policy to actually occur. Especially when it comes to a powerful country like the U.S. who had been claiming neutrality but was actually supporting one side of the conflict, it is hard to stay out of these major conflicts. The fact that the U.S. was supplying war materials to Germany’s enemies shows the importance of trade and industrialization. The U.S. becoming involved was in some ways an assertion of dominance as a global power with a strong and stable economy. Knowing that the First World War resulted in the Great Depression and stock market crash is interesting to look at in comparison to the successes of the United States prior to this. This is where more class conflicts come into play. As Zinn says, capitalism creates “a safety valve for explosive class conflict” (p. 363).  It’s interesting how so many historical events all relate back to class struggles and socio-economic development. It seems that any conflict that occurs at a global scale can result in shifting classes and economic statuses because of how interconnected the world is and how economies rely on each other.

Zinn’s reading is also interesting to compare the statuses of several groups in different countries. The United States clearly had higher levels of racism and different standards of living. Zinn says that “American capitalism needed international rivalry” which creates an “artificial community of interest between rich and poor” (p. 363). I think this means that because the United States is constantly competing with other global economies, there becomes a sense of unity within the country. However, this sense of unity is false because there is so much economic disparity and wealth gaps within the country. This became more evident after major conflicts because the country unites while the conflict is current but then frequently results in a worse internal economic situation such as the Great Depression. Now, citizens are fighting for jobs and economic disparity is even worse which diminishes any sense of false unity that may have been present previously.

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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 9/30

I found Walt’s article to be an accurate representation of how I have viewed America, especially in recent times. It’s become increasingly evident that many Americans view the United States as being the most important and powerful country in the world. They argue that this makes the United States more important and contributes to our strong national sense of patriotism which is a dominant sentiment in the US. These ideals discussed in Walt’s article directly relate to Zinn’s discussion of expansion because the idea of American exceptionalism contributes to American’s thinking that the United States has the right and authority to expand. I think that in a sense, yes, the United States is a powerful country that has an economic and political presence in the world. As Zinn states, “American trade exceeded that of every country in the world except England” (p. 301). Thus, in some ways it is fair to say that with the US’s power, military, and economy it makes sense to expand.

However, thinking back to previous class discussions about listening to the voice of the oppressed and minorities, the same ideas apply. The United States, a country predominantly ruled by white politicians, asserts an excessive amount of force to expand into the land of another country made up of mainly people of color. This “‘right to intervene'” that Zinn mentions ties into the common myth that Americans believe they have a divine mission to lead the rest of the world that Walt brings up. I’m unsure if this is somehow rooted to white supremacy and that sense of nationalism or if it is genuinely an idea expressed in religious philosophies. Regardless, what we see in Zinn’s discussion of the US’s involvement with Cuba is an example of how American exceptionalism can actually be dangerous when it comes to the United State’s interventionist policies with the rest of the world. Ultimately, the US is not as important as we think it is but it’s the common myths and misconceptions that Americans have of the states that leads to such strong beliefs in nationalism. It’s also important to note a difference between civilized expansion where treaties and negotiations occur, and less civilized expansion which seems to be the majority of the United State’s expansion. If deals can be worked out between both parties, expansion and American exceptionalism is less of an issue than when military force is taken advantage of to take land.

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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 9/23

After reading Zinn’s chapter “As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs,” I realized how much information was left out of my history classes in high school. I remember learning about the Trail of Tears and how Jackson forced Native Americans out of their land. However, we never discussed what the motives for each side of the arguments were. On one side, the Native Americans were the first people on their land and therefore the land belonged to them. For this reason, the white settlers should be removed and boundaries should remain how they were created by the Native Americans. The other side argues that removing Native Americans from their land will create more opportunity for the economy and agriculture to expand. While we focused on the first perspective in high school, a perspective that I agree with, this chapter has confirmed the importance of being informed of every perspective. The fact Zinn mentions that some tribes were willing to adopt the white settler’s civilization in order to live in peace really surprised me. I knew that several tribes were against violence but I didn’t realize that some were likely to give into the white settlers’ wishes. However, after reading the rest of the chapter and understanding that friendships between the settlers and natives formed, it became evident that Native Americans felt pressures from the government much more than they did from certain other white settlers.

Similar to the concepts discussed during the American Revolution chapters, laws and acts that are passed might not necessarily represent the sentiments of the common person. Jackson, a white wealthy man and political elite, wanted to encourage settlers to move onto Native American land through formal legislation such as the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act which asserted that all treaty-making and negotiation between tribes and settlers are under the control of the federal government. This law applied to the Native American territories and pushed many tribes west as they had limited control over the governmental power over them. Additionally, the Removal Bill gave Native Americans no say but stated that Native Americans who did not move west would have no protection under the government. Zinn explained how this issue was very polarized between Northern and Southern sentiments. This is fairly comparable to modern day politics. A lot of issues have two partisan sides and people tend to form views based on their party affiliation. In the same sense, northerners shared similar sentiments and southerners shared similar sentiments.

Another idea that stood out to me was how some Native American tribes slowly started to own slaves and resemble the societies of the white settlers. I drew a connection between this idea expressed in Zinn’s chapter and the writing by Roanhorse. The main character in the story, Jesse, seemed embarrassed of his culture while also being protective of preserving his heritage. In Zinn’s chapter, the Native Americans changed their society maybe to appeal to the white settler’s way of living. This is similar to how Jesse was forced to change how he portrayed his Native American culture in order to appeal to the stereotypes that tourists expected. This brings me to the idea that minorities or people of color are seen as exotic and therefore are prone to having their cultures appropriated or forced to alter their cultural traditions in order to be seen as more exotic. This was shown when Jesse had to speak in the “best broken English accent” that he could or when he changed the name from “Pale Crow” to “White Wolf.” This contributes to false ideas of history and culture because tourists are getting an altered and exaggerated enactment of a culture.

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Elina Bhagwat Post 9/16

After watching 1776 there were many aspects that stood out to me that we talked about in class and were also present in the movie. I think that the discussion of gender roles and social class division was very evident in the movie. For example, while the dialogue between John and Abigail Adams seemed loving there was still a clear power dynamic between the two. Abigail was sitting at home waiting for her husband to come home while John was busy with his important work. Additionally, the dynamic between the custodian and the congressional delegates was an important division between social class. The custodian was clearly in a lower social class while the delegates are all wealthy and hold a great deal of power. I think that this contributes to the ideas we’ve been discussing about history being written by the victors and Zinn’s chapter from Monday’s class about the American Revolution. There’s such a focus on the wealthy men’s wants and perspective on declaring independence but we get no perspective from the common man such as the custodian. Just like how only one fifth to one third of the population was for the American Revolution, we can’t tell what proportion of the colonists were for declaring independence because the emphasis is always on the people in power.

Another aspect that stood out to me after discussing the connotations of various portraits of leaders was the inclusion of Benjamin Franklin getting his portrait painted. This scene drew a sharp distinction between different types of leaders and approaches to leadership. On one end Franklin is depicting his social status and wealth by paying someone to paint a portrait of him in a powerful position. On the other end we see Adams very passionate about his work and being painted in a more personable light as he writes letters back and forth to his wife. We also hear him say “I’m not promoting John Adams. I’m promoting independence.” This gives the impression that Adams is less worried about his socials status and more interested in pushing the agenda that he thinks is best for the people. This relates back to the portraits because we also see these two sides of leaders when looking at Lincoln’s and Washington’s portraits versus the candid photographs we saw of Obama. There’s one side to the leaders that is focused on power, wealth and status while the other side emphasizes personality and passion.

I think that the elements of comedy that were incorporated into the movie made it hard decide whether the movie was an accurate depiction of the historical event. The movie itself also seems to show the perspective only of the delegates and not of the common people so even if the movie is accurate to the political elite’s perspective, it’s just a portion of the sentiments that were shared during this time. This made me think how difficult it must be to make a historically accurate movie because you can only create a movie from one point of view so there will always be several voices left out.

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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 9/9

Zinn’s chapters “Persons of Mean and Vile Condition” and “Tyranny is Tyranny” discuss the growing class and racial divide between Americans. White settlers contributed to this class divide by not only treating people of color as inferior but also pinning minorities against each other. Something that really stood out to me was that black slaves were used to fight the Native Americans. The same idea discussed earlier that white Americans thought black slaves were easier to control is also portrayed in these chapters. Zinn mentioned that Native Americans rebelled more than black slaves, so settlers started to enslave black people more than the Native Americans. However, as the number of black slaves increased, so did the likelihood for the slaves to rebel. I think that the dichotomies that Zinn mentions are really important to recognize. He speaks of the contrast between slavery and freedom, servant and master, tenant and a landlord and finally the difference between the poor and rich. This inequity and class division seems to be what lead to the growing gap between classes.

The “Tyranny is Tyranny” chapter also discussed these class differences but more in the sense of financial differences rather than racial. However, these two ideas seem to go hand in hand, especially during the time of increased slavery and the establishment of the country. Zinn mentioned how Edmund Morgan sees racism as being more of a class issue than a race issue because both issues are related to one another. Generally the upper class would receive more benefits and monopolize the political power while the poorer people were struggling to fulfill their basic human needs. This brought about the issue of whether we should take some wealth from the richer people in order to prevent one group of people from being financially and politically elite. However, when you think about the people who are making laws and signing legislation, these are all white and wealthy men. Thus Zinn states that Indians, black slaves and women were all left out of the Constitution because they were “politically invisible” in comparison to the white wealthy men that ruled the nation.

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Elina Bhagwat Podcast Comments 9/6

I found this podcast very interesting because I come from a multicultural background. I am half white, half Indian, and my white side is Jewish. Rather than saying that I have three different cultures I believe that those three aspects of my life and traditions that go with them make up my culture. I think that saying the idea of culture is a “combination” of elements is a really good way to put it because there’s so many aspects and ideas that contribute to a culture. A lot of the time when I think about culture my mind immediate goes to race and ethnicity but it doesn’t always need to be categorized by that. When thinking about all the elements that make a culture I’ve realized that different people in the same ethnic, racial or religious group can have extremely different cultures. Many people relate race to culture which is why I think stereotypes are so prevalent and generalized.

It’s important to recognize that people of all cultures can be stereotyped or represented incorrectly. I agree with the idea that having minorities and people of color play a positive role in pop culture is really important for the younger generation. I also think that if children see a person that looks like them shed in a positive light then they will be more accepting of their heritage and skin color. However, it’s important to recognize there’s a huge distinction between representation and inclusion. This brings about the question of is it better to include diversity in pop culture even if it’s inaccurate or should we not include diversity if it incites stereotypes and generalization. Obviously it’s best if we accurately depict people in movies and shows but that hasn’t been the case so far. The podcast made me wonder why stereotypes are so commonly portrayed in children’s movies and if they contribute to racism and biases.

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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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8/25 Blog Post Elina Bhagwat

All three readings assert several claims about the true meaning of leadership and how history relates to leadership. Corfield makes an interesting claim that “all people are living histories.” This means that everyone has a past and events in their lives that have brought them to their current point in life. I think that this concept is important to look at when studying leadership and how to act as a successful leader. With studying history also comes examining human beings and how humans have learned from the past. This relates to Bass’ claim that the “leader should be the most important element of government.” This claim may have been more relevant while monarchies were more common, but as times progress and we learn from history, so does leadership. In the same sense, Corfield mentions that humans have the ability to learn from “vanished” cultures, further supporting the claim that history can tell us a lot about successful leaderships.

Bass makes a claim that leadership in itself has many definitions and meanings depending on the institution and environment in which the leadership is discovered. This directly relates to Corfield’s ideas about the distinction between cultures and societies throughout history. Corfield says that one cannot learn from the future but humans must learn from the past. History is always being made and with this, we learn from events that have occurred and people that have lived in the past. What I think Bass really means when he says leadership has many definitions is that leadership is constantly evolving just like history. How we learn from history and the past is also how we evolve our leadership styles and use prior leaders to change what makes a successful leader in the present day.

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