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Author: Julia Borger

Julia Borger Blog Post 11/30

After watching the film Dear White People, I was overcome with many thoughts and emotions. My main emotion while watching was a deep sense of discomfort, as the film portrayed a very modern way of life on a college campus, one that could have easily been the University of Richmond. Although it definitely dramatized certain aspects for the film, the underlying message was clear- cut and relatable for anyone attending a prestigious university, which I’m assuming was its intended goal – to rethink our established normal way of life from a different perspective.

One aspect of the film that stuck out to me specifically was just the overall bluntness of the messages and dialogue expressed by the characters. I feel like in movies there are certain topics that are very “hush hush”, especially conversations about race or politics, but in this film that was the plot of the entire story itself, so they were able to talk about those controversial topics without censoring or editing the script, which I thought was very enlightening and definitely brought a refreshing aspect to the film.

I also found myself comparing this film to the previous film we watched, Sorry To Bother You, as they both had a very similar structure and intended goal. Both films brought to life the racism we see on an everyday basis, whether in the workforce or in the education system, but did so in a satire way. I think portraying this topic as a satire had a greater impact on those watching than if the film were produced in a serious tone, because it is indeed a very serious topic but because it is told in this way, the content stands out even more. After watching both these films, I was struck by how they touched some of the biggest problems in our society today with a combination of modern elements, allowing the audience to see many different scenarios that are definitely present in their own lives, to a greater extent.

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Julia Borger Blog Post 11/16

After reading “The Unreported Resistance” in PHUS, I am left with a feeling of disappointment and distress about the relationship between the United States government and its people. This chapter really highlighted the “permanent advarial culture” during the late 1900s that plagued our country. I had always thought Reagan was one of our best presidents, but after reading about the number of contested and controversial events that happened during his time, now I am not so sure. For example, on the topic of nuclear war, the fact that there were 151 meetings on college campuses as well as the largest political demonstration in history of the country taking place in Central Park protesting the arms race, is concerning. I have never even learned nor heard about the Central Park protest, which I think is a significant thing to learn, as it was the largest in history.

I couldn’t help comparing the public unrest and resistance to the government during this time period of the reading, to today’s political climate. I find it crazy that more than 20 years later we are still protesting against the government, almost more than ever before, and the government still doesn’t know how to deal with it. Will there ever be a day when protests and riots mean something to our government? Will we ever have an authoritative figure who cares enough about their “people” to listen to what they are arguing against and fighting for? I believe there is a large disconnect between the government and the citizens of the United States, a gap that has always been there and continues to widen with each passing day, and will only worsen unless something is done. With the election of a new president this year, it will be interesting to see how our country responds to his policies, and whether the protests and resentment towards the government as a whole will change.

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Julia Borger Blog Post 11/9

I found the article “Four Decades and Counting: The Continued Failure of the War on Drugs” to be extremely interesting and eye-opening. I have never done much research or reading on the War on Drugs or the drug market in general, so I found many concepts surprising. I could not believe that nearly half of the 186,000 people serving time in federal prisons in the US are incarcerated on drug-related charges. This is such a staggering number that I think should be more publicized so people are aware of how many people are affected. Additionally, I found what happens to the individuals after they serve time in prison equally as surprising, with it haunting them for the rest of their lives, especially minorities or other disadvantaged groups.

Such a controversial topic that our country is divided on, such as the drug market, makes it difficult to make decisions and laws regarding it. On the surface, one may think it is a simple right and wrong scenario- drugs are bad, let’s get rid of them, however it is much more complicated than that, especially because of the money factor. I wonder if drugs did not generate as much money flow in the market, how the country would respond, if they would be more or less likely to ban them.

The statistics in this article are what make it so compelling, because the numbers do not lie. The fact that more people died in the United States from drug overdoses than from car crashes between 2000 and 2014, is astonishing. That should not happen, and should be a huge reality check for anyone reading. It also seems like launching the War on Drugs had some opposite effects than what it was hoping for, such as the spread of drug-related disease increasing as well as violence. I wonder what will happen to the drug market as the years continue, and how many more people are pulled into its world, willingly or unwillingly, and if we will come up with better ways to help those that are.

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Julia Borger Blog Post 11/1

After watching Platoon, I have gained a newfound respect and perspective on soldiers fighting and enduring the conditions of war. My father was in the Marines, and he and my older brother enjoy watching films associated with wars, and I would always shy away from watching these with them because personally I don’t really love the violent and gruesome scenes that generally frame those movies. However, after watching this film and finding it extremely riveting and inspiring, I think I will definitely join in the next time they are watching or even watch them on my own.

I found it very interesting to see the contrast between the soldiers lives while in uniform and on the fields, compared to hanging out in their bunks while “off-duty”. It seemed so strange – there was a war raging miles from them that they were participating in, yet they still could relax enough to dance, sing, and joke around with each other. I feel like this ability to let their guards down a little and experience some type of normalcy in their insane routine of eat, sleep, and fight, is a very crucial aspect to keep their morals high and serve as a distraction from what was happening around them. It is crazy how we take chilling with our friends whenever we want for granted, when for these men it could possibly be their only saving grace during the war.

I was also struck by the concept of being a drafted solider vs one who volunteered, especially for the Vietnam War, as there was so much controversy surrounding that idea. I thought it was interesting how in the film, Chris informs his fellow comrades that he volunteered for the war, and they were dumbstruck, unable to fathom why, as they could tell he was an educated white man who definitely would have gone to college. Chris explains that he gave up going to college because he wasn’t going to learn anything worthwhile anyways. The class stereotypes surrounding the war are evident here and allow us to understand how many felt about them during this time.

 

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Julia Borger Blog Post 10/26

After reading this contingent of poems by Langston Hughes, I am struck by an overwhelming sense of emotion. Instead of feeling like I was reading a poem, it felt like he was telling me a story, his story- which is a goal all poets should have for their writing. I was astonished by the realness and deepness of the works, how he is not afraid to voice exactly how he is feeling as a black man during this time period in America, and gives an inside look into how the events were impacting him through metaphors, comparisons, rhymes, and other characters. The two poems that struck me most on an emotional level would have to be “Theme for English B” and “Let America Be America Again,” as both of these really portrayed how the narrator (Langston)  views himself as truly different compared to everyone else because of the color of his skin.

In “Theme for English B”, he emphasizes how he is the only colored student in his class, so writing a paper about what is true to him might not necessarily be true for everyone else. However these lines, “Well I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. I like to work, read, learn, and understand life” I found very relatable and things the majority of people like to do, showing how similar everyone really is on the inside.

In “Let America Be America Again” he highlights how he wishes America would go back to the place full of dreams and freedom, a beacon of hope for all. It is a surprisingly spirited poem in general, with many exclamation points that add to the enthusiasm for change. Although it does seem upbeat, he does take time to highlight who he is with many “I” statements, emphasizing struggles and adversity he has experienced as a black man who is not free.

After reading, I wonder how the rest of the world felt towards these poems both during this set time period and after. It is crazy to me that the same words can have such different meaning to people depending on its context and who is reading them. I imagine many had differing views on his works during the midst of the Harlem Renaissance compared to today, with the Black Lives Movement and many others based on confronting the racism in our country.

 

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Julia Borger Blog Post 10/19

Today’s reading from PHUS, “A People’s War” and the article “World War II Was Not Just a War”, gave a very behind the scenes look into World War II and our country’s role in it. I was shocked by much of the information presented in this chapter, as much of it was depicted in a very negative tone, bashing the United States for everything they did before, during, and after the war. Specifically, both works denote president Franklin D. Roosevelt almost as a villain, for many reasons that I had no prior knowledge about.

I thought it was very interesting how Zinn compares FDR’s stance on ending the oppression of the Jews to Lincoln ending slavery, with both leader’s priorities focused on national power, not minority rights. I thought this was a little harsh, as I had never thought of them being compared in this way, as I thought I had been taught that the United States did not learn about the oppression of the Jews until it was too late.

In addition, I found the idea from the article that FDR knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor before it occurred, sickening. Having visited Pearl Harbor myself and doing numerous school projects on it, I could not believe I never read or saw anything that gave me this insight. I’m not sure how accurate this really is from the article, however they must have heard it from somewhere, which is definitely concerning.

Overall, after reading the chapter and article, I have gained a new understanding and perspective on the United States and their role during war. I believe much of the information in these works have either not been discovered, or swept under the rug by most people, and that needs to change. We need to stop only focusing on the simple facts from history, and instead focus on what was actually going on between people behind the main scenes.

 

 

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Julia Borger Blog Post for 10/12

Similarly to my classmates, after the video and reading, I was taken aback by the comparisons to the Spanish Flu of 1918 and Covid-19 of 2020, in the viruses themselves as well as the world’s responses to them. I don’t remember learning very much about the Spanish Flu in past history classes, or maybe I did and just didn’t find it as interesting because I couldn’t relate to the concept until now. It is crazy to think about this fact, that reading about the Spanish flu at this time last year I could never imagine the whole country shutting down, social distancing, and wearing masks 24/7- yet that has become our reality today and now I don’t think twice about it.

I found many facts about the Spanish flu from the reading specifically fascinating, such as that it was named the Spanish flu because Spain was one of the only areas that covered the outbreak through media. This shows how influential media was at the time, which is another comparison to Covid, as the media is where we are learning most of our information, which is usually misinformation therefore causing more panic and harm than good. I found another concept peculiar- the fact that the Spanish flu did have a large effect on healthy young people such as soldiers, with more soldiers dying from the virus than in the war. This is interesting because Covid seems to be severely effecting a mostly older, more immune compromised population.

All in all, after learning more about the Spanish flu, I definitely feel extremely uneasy and anxious about the future of the Covid pandemic. It is clear that the United States has trouble learning from history and avoiding the potential to repeat past mistakes. I am not sure what 2021 is going to look like, but I just hope our country can pull it together and it looks better than this.

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Julia Borger Blog Post 10/4

I thought the reading “From Borderlands/La Frontera” by Gloria Analdua was extremely powerful and eye opening. I had no idea that some of the different sectors of the Spanish language were considered illegitimate. As I was raised speaking English in the United States my entire life, I have realized how easy it has been for me- to speak the most universal language in the world without second thought. Language is such an important part of culture and identity, and to have one’s language categorized as “wrong” is unbelievable. I think a major problem with our world today is not recognizing smaller languages, as we believe everyone should have to learn English or Chinese or Spanish, and we just gloss over the other languages. I am worried about the effect this will have on the future, as elements that made a specific group unique and special are erased, and people become more and more similar until whole cultures are ultimately eliminated. In addition, from the reading I was inspired by Gloria’s tone and outlook on the topic in general. Although she acknowledges that she did experience adversity with her identity and language, she states she will not let this get to her as she claims, “I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice. Indian, Spanish, white….I will overcome the tradition of silence.” I think this empowerment is very influential for every audience reading- those who can relate to what she is saying, and those who are having their perspectives enlightened for the first time on the topic.

I was also struck by the “How The Other Half Lives” chapters for many reasons. It really made me think about the concept of immigration for the past, present, and future of America. The fact that immigration is such a controversial and difficult subject today, when none of us would be here if we did not have immigration to the United States back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, is very concerning. How can we keep calling ourselves a “Melting Pot” when there is nothing in the pot?

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Julia Borger Blog Post 9/28

After reading chapter 9, Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom, I was again overwhelmed with a new perspective on previous history I thought I knew and understood to be the truth. I thought this chapter did a great job on diving deep into the issue of slavery in our nation’s history by giving more context than I had ever before known, especially context from the slaves themselves and their experiences. I felt like in this book they were highlighted for the individual people they were, not grouped together as one single unit- all under the category of “slaves”. For example, when former slave John Little says, “…at night, we would sing and dance, and make others laugh at the rattling of our chains. Happy men we must have been! We did it to keep down trouble, and to keep our hearts from being completely broken”(172). This quote emphasizes their humanity and the idea that they really are just people, a stark contrast from many textbooks who only brush over the concept that they are indeed separate individuals who have feelings and lives too.

Adding to the idea that this chapter really emphasized the compassion of the slaves, the author gives detailed insight on the process of the separation of families at auctions, something I had heard once or twice but was not something my history classes focused on previously. My heart broke reading the letters from the families being torn apart, asking for a piece of their child’s hair, because that was all they would have left of them to cling on to and remember them by.

Finally, I was shocked when I read that “there was no slavery in history, even that of the Israelites of Egypt, worse than the slavery of the black man in America” (180). I think I found this so hard to believe because I had never really thought about the comparison of the slavery in our country to other countries, and how they could possibly be different. I think this is a telling sign that my education was not complete or as thorough as it should have been, because what I was learning was focused only on the United States, with the idea that we are the superior country and everything else not connected to us is irrelevant. I think this is a big flaw of the United States education system, as we need to understand the big picture of history, and not centralize only on us, because there is indeed a whole world out there that we need to learn about.

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Julia Borger Blog Post for 9/21

I thought this chapter, “The Intimately Oppressed” was fascinating for many reasons. I knew it was going to be about women during early history, however I also knew that this specific book would tell the history in a very unique way, which it most certainly did. The first sentence, “It is possible, reading standard histories, to forget half the population of the country” had me contemplating the enormity of that concept and eager to keep reading the chapter.

I definitely learned more about women in early history from this chapter than all of my history classes combined. Never before has there been this much writing devoted to just women in a single history textbook, usually it is just a few paragraphs here and there, not wanting to distract the reader too much from the more important battles and significant dates. I couldn’t believe that I was learning about some of these concepts for the first time, such as the counterpart to the Boston Tea party, the “coffee party”. But it does make sense why I only knew a little about certain women and feminist groups, because tying back to the idea of history being written about the victors, the victors were their husbands, so only the women with famous husbands had their names recorded in history. Therefore this in-depth take on the unsung heroes no one has really heard about was quite refreshing and appreciated.

I also really enjoyed how the author implemented excerpts from not only the less appreciated women during this time to get their perspectives, but also from books and novels written by men, to condemn and criticize their astonishing writings. One such writing that stuck out to me was by Edmund Burke in his Reflections of the Revolution in France, who said “a woman is but an animal, and an animal not of the highest order”(111).

 

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Julia Borger Blog Post for 9/14

After reading the chapter “A Kind of Revolution” in our text, I felt like I had just read the transcript for one of John Green’s Crash Course history videos. Although a little overwhelmed with all the information, I now feel like I have a good base of the background history of the US during the later 1700s, even though I did take AP US History junior year and it was giving me not-so friendly flashbacks. Although much of the information I had learned about before, I felt like the facts were not just facts, but part of a story due to the conversational tone of the writing, which I really enjoyed.

One part that really stood out to me from this chapter was when it was highlighting how the Revolution started to create a space for blacks to start making demands of white society, and the author includes a excerpt from Benjamin Banneker who was appointed to plan the new city of Washington. I thought his phrase, “…One universal Father hath given being to us all; and that he hath not only made us all one flesh, but that he hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations and endowed us all with the same facilities…” was extremely powerful and was definitely a big stepping stone in gaining rights for the blacks (89).

I also found many of the statistical information astonishing. I could not believe during the Revolutionary period, 1/3 of the population were small farmers, while only 3% of the population had large holdings and could be considered wealthy. In addition, the fact that in Maryland to run for governor one had to own 5,000 pounds of property, or 1,000 pounds for senator, which excluded 90% of the population from office. I always knew about the large gap between the elite holding all the cards and everyone else in society, but I don’t think I ever realized how far the gap widened and just how much the wealthy did control, with so little people.

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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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Julia Borger Blog Post for 8/30

After reading the first chapter of A People’s History of the United States, to say I am eager to keep reading and learning from this book would be an understatement. I loved how authentic the entire section felt, explaining the beginning of the discovery of the Americas without sugarcoating any details, widening my perspective on everything I was previously taught about Columbus and the early world explorers. I found many details astonishing and almost unbelievable, and found myself angry and disappointed in past textbooks, articles, and lectures that left this kind of information out to fit the mold of traditional history lessons. I believe all history textbooks should take notes from this book- not only because they need to update their lessons and details, but also to adapt their way of relaying the information. Instead of boring, monotonous facts we have all heard before, this was descriptive, fresh, and much more relevant, which helped establish a greater connection to its readers.

 

I also enjoyed reading the small excerpts written by the people of that time period, giving the reader a firsthand look into what was really going on at the time, and the writer’s opinions on it. I liked how it broke up the actual author’s text, adding evidence and proof to support their claim. I found Las Casas’ accounts of the way the Spaniards treated the Indians very compelling, especially when he said, “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write” (7). It inspired me to begin writing in a journal again, because who knows what history books will want in 100 years!

 

Finally, I could not help thinking about the comparisons between the conquerors and the people of today. Although the world has changed considerably since 1492, primal human instincts are still the same- people desire things that are valuable to assert their dominance, and will stop at nothing to procure these things. Instead of valuable gold and land, they are pay checks and houses. People yearn for status, power, and wealth, and I don’t know if that will ever change, or what that will look like in the future.

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