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Author: Margot Roussel

Margot Roussel Blog Post 11-30

After watching Dear White People I was surprised by how much the characters fought and hid the race of their parents. This idea that you were somehow not black enough if you were mixed was a strong these throughout the movie. This is seen in the dean’s son and in Sam. I have never understood the argument that having a white parent somehow makes you less black. I understand that it can make you light skin and have a bit more privilege, but it is a matter of how you identify. This relates to the common theme throughout the movie of not white enough for the white kids or black enough for the black kids. I think this is a problem that is faced by many mixed kids and society as a whole has not yet figured out how to address it.

Additionally, I was really intrigued by how the movie commented on sexuality. Lionel was also kind of isolated from the black community because he didn’t feel like his sexuality was accepted. I thought a really interesting scene was when he was sitting on the steps and watched a boy go from one group of mostly white people where his sleeves were rolled up in a more feminine style to unrolling and puffing out his shirt to look baggy with the other group. This short moment showed what he was going through and his internal debate to conform to the group or not.

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Margot Roussel Blog Post 11/16

After listening to the podcast and reading the latest chapter of A Peoples History of the United States, I am reminded how much history continues to repeat itself. People think much of what’s happening has never happened before and that our country has never faced problems like today, but we have. The narrative of the history is simply changed to be an easier tale to tell. I especially noticed this when Zinn was talking about the Reagan and Bush elections and how they were both “overwhelming victory.” This was not actually the case and in fact if people looked closer at the actual voting numbers it was not too far off, this is much different than what the electoral map showed obviously. Additionally, there were a large portion of Americans who just simply didn’t vote because they wanted neither candidate.

Ezra Klein also talked about how things are not portrayed how they actually are when discussing how voters think things are majorly polarized and that there are some huge differences between the parties when actually its not that huge. Zinn seemed to agree with this assessment saying that the parties are not too different, they both mainly work for the rich.

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Margot Roussel Blog Post 11/9

Being from Louisiana, the worlds prison capital, I had learned extensively about the United States’ criminal justice system and the many problems with it. I was the president of my community service club and we worked to try and break the stereotypes around previously incarcerated people. We also partnered with a local organization, First 72+, that helps people make the transition out of prison and back into society. Needless to say, this issue is very close to my heart. Through all my time learning about this issue I have always found the most powerful thing to be people’s personal stories.

That’s why when rewatching Just Mercy this weekend I was again touched by the struggles of Johnny D and Herbert Richardson. I constantly felt the frustration of Bryan and wanted to get up and help. These movies are good because it gives humanity to people on death row but also inspires others who do not know much about it to look into it more. Specifically the statistics in the end of the movie that point out how many people are wrongly put to death, and how for every 9 people executed 1 person is proven innocent. This is scarily high and needs to be corrected, and I think the first step is by raising awareness through things like this movie.

 

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Margot Roussel’s Blog Post

After watching Platoon I was in shock. I didn’t know much about Vietnam and so I was shocked with the horrors it depicted. There were many times that I had to look away because it was too gruesome. I found the scene when they destroyed the village especially when they raped the young girl and killed the mom. I was shocked at the war crimes that were committed and how little accountability there was. I always thought that the military had a strict power hierarchy and when there were good people on top, it worked out. That was not the case for the characters in Platoon because even though Lieutenant Wolfe was in charge all the men deferred to Barnes.

This movie really highlighted the horrors of war and how easily people can be pushed to do things they normally wouldn’t. I cannot imagine going through what these men experienced and wonder how much it truly effected their mental health. I know PTSD is a common diagnosis after returning from war, but I wonder if anyone truly saw into the soldier’s minds. I think taking someone’s life in such an up close and personal manner can be truly harming and that made this war different from others where they were constantly hiding in a trench.

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Margot Roussels Blog Post 10-27

Langston Hughes poems show his skill of proses, but he also uses them as a vehicle to get his message out. Some of his poems are more direct in the point they want to convince the audience while others are vaguer. In his poem Over There, / World War II, Hughes uses thinly veiled questions and similes to question Americans on if they will treat African Americans as equals after they return from the war. African Americans were subjected to Jim Crow laws and voter suppression despite fighting and dying for their country. He acknowledges how ridiculous this seems because he is basically fighting to be a second-class citizen.

I found this poem particularly moving because fighting in the military is one of the highest honors and people continuously try to recognize these people by calling them heroes or giving them discounts at store. Moreover, this poem is in response to African Americans not getting to receive the benefits outlined in the GI Joe bill that gave people that fought in the war a right to a free education and to affordable housing. This supplies context to the piece and allows readers to understand where Langston Hughes frustration was coming from and what he was trying to achieve: getting African American soldiers be included in the GI Joe act.

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Margot Roussel Blog Post 10-19

The arguments presented in Swanson’s “World War Two Was Not a Just War” caused me to stop and pause. I was always taught that World War II was America’s shining moment. Many times my school would go visit the National World War II Museum that was located just down town. Throughout the museum examples of America’s greatness were all over the wall. I remember my teacher telling me that if you went to a WWII museum in the UK, they paint themselves as the hero of the war, but no matter where you go this war was always presented as the fight against fascism and to protect the Jewish communities.

Therefore, when I read that the war wasn’t marketed as a humanitarian war until after I was surprised. I was taken aback that the United States did not accept many Jewish refugees and that the public was in agreement with this policy. Many of my close friends from home had grandparents that emigrated from Germany and other parts of Europe because they were Jewish and feared Hitlers rule. I don’t know how their lives would have been different had they not been allowed into the United States. Moreover, I found it horrific that the main reason citied was that it would be too difficult to transfer that many people to the United States. This whole ordeal made me wonder how much of our history has been reshaped to paint us in a better light.

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Margot Roussel’s Blog Post 10/12

What I found so interesting reading this article and watching the video is that I’ve learned about World War 1 numerous times but have never learned about the role the Spanish influenza played in it. I did not know that many of our deaths towards the end of the war were due to the rapid spread of the disease rather than battlefield casualties. I am left pondering who this part of the narrative seems to be left out. It makes sense that they wouldn’t advertise it during the war because it would lower moral but why did my history classes leave it out?

Another thing I found kind of funny when watching the video was the point Trevor Noah made when he said that we really haven’t come that far. We still don’t have many solutions to slow the spread of disease other than wear a mask and to stay away from infected people. We have come far in the sense that we know more of what causes these diseases and the many ways they spread but have not improved the solutions to these problems. Additionally, we make the same mistakes like as soon as restrictions are lifted we all immediately flood the streets, we don’t have parades like they used to but the spike of people going out is the same.

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Margot Roussels Blog Post 10/5

I am cannot help but think about how the multiple parts of Gloria Anzaldúa’s identities intersect. Ever since learning about intersectionality and how the different parts of our identities overlap rather than add together to create how we see the world, I have been applying to my everyday life. I have been thinking about how my identities intersect and it has quickly become complicated to think about. In these excerpts from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza Gloria Anzaldúa seems to be struggling with the same thing.
She is frequently thinking about how she doesn’t quite know what to call herself because she is Mexican, Spanish, and American, while also having Indian and Black roots. She also talks about what it means to be Hispanic vs Chicano. She seems recognizes how hard it is to properly acknowledge and respect all the different and sometimes conflicting parts of her identity. She said, “we know we are more than nothing; we call ourselves Mexican, referring to race and ancestry; mestizo when affirming both our Indian and Spanish (but we hardly ever own our Black ancestry)” She talks about how her identity is constantly changing depending on who she is talking to, but despite this they have persisted. Even though her culture had been warped and beaten down by the predominantly white culture of North America, she has not lost her language or her culture. It is a powerful message of persistence, but I hope in the future it will not be this hard. I hope North American culture becomes more accepting and celebratory of other cultures.

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Margot Roussels Blog Post 9/28

After reading Chapter 9, Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom and watching the video, I began to realize how different the story of the Civil War is from what is told. Firstly, Abraham Lincoln is painted as the great emancipator who tirelessly fought against slavery when in actuality in the beginning, he repeatedly said he was not going to take slavery away from the south just prevent its growth. Moreover, for many of the first few years of the war he refused to make the battle about slavery instead he was just fighting to keep the union together. This made me wonder if he should get all the praise that he does. Although, he did always retain that his personal views were against slavery, but he would do whatever was best for the nation.

Another thing that really struck me from the reading is that the southerners were confused when their slaves were not loyal to them. I honestly found these accounts hilarious because the slave owners were consistently surprised when their slaves deserted to the “enemy” meaning the north. This just shows how deeply engrained slave culture was into the society that these people could not even see the cruelty that happened every day and why it was wrong. Zinn told us that it was estimated about 1/5 enslaved people ran away to the north and helped by doing the most grueling parts of army work like digging trenches.

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Blog Post 9/21

After reading about the backgrounds and poetry of both Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatly, I have reflected on the power of poetry. These two women both lived difficult lives, but somehow found solace in words. I was especially moved by Phillis Wheatly’s story because she seemed to overcome so much. Although I was confused on how she was educated and traveled to Europe for her poetry, but somehow was still enslaved and kept at arms distance from the family.

Additionally, I can understand the frustration from 20th century critics of Black American literature because it seems that to a certain extent, she does not criticize slavery. In her poem On Being Brought from Africa to America she talks about educating people with Christian values and how she is grateful for that, but she did not criticize the fact that she was taken. I do not understand this, but she may have just been educated to believe this is ok. Another argument on why she didn’t speak out is that it was not safe to do so, or it would not have been well received by her audiences. I also agree somewhat with the article argued, that she used biblical allusions and her faith as a way to argue for abolition just more covertly.

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Margot’s Blog Post 9/14

I am forever startled by the greediness of human nature. When people are given a chance they always seem to choose themselves over the greater community. That is why this quote stuck out to me as a perfect synopsis of American history. Zinn said, “Indeed this became the characteristic of the new nation: finding itself possessed enormous wealth, it could create the richest ruling class in history, and still have enough for the middle class to act as a buffer between the rich and the dispossessed.” This quote opened my eyes to the reality of the American Revolution, and it wasn’t about freedom it was about economic control.

With this realization in mind, it is crazy to think about how much of history may have been rewritten to be the perfect narrative. If the American Revolution can be rewritten to become about a small group of revolutionaries who believed in democracy and wanted to fight against the elite who taxed them without representation. These same men turn around and crush shays rebellion. These supposed insurgents quickly become the regulators and they are quite good at their jobs because they put systems in place that no one has been able to rise up and overthrow to this day.

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Margot Roussel’s Blog Post 9/7

I am from New Orleans and many of the southern foods that Twiddy mentioned are all foods I eat quite regularly. At least once a week my school would have okra in some form either in fried, cooked or in a gumbo. However, I have never really taken the time to examine the history and culture behind the foods. Twiddy said, “The connection between and heritage of both southern and soul cuisines is hotly debated and arouses old racial stereotypes, prejudices, and cultural attitudes and intercultural misunderstandings.” He is right and when I stop to think about the many foods and products I use have racial stereotypes attached to them. I think it is somewhat unavoidable in the south.

 

Another thing I found quite interesting about the readings was how different they seemed. Even though they were all by the same author I thought that they sometimes sounded like they were different people’s stories. I felt like he focused more heavily on different parts of his identity in different pieces. In Hating My Soul he focused more on being gay and how that effected his childhood and relationship with his family. Whereas in No More Whistling Walk for Me, I thought he focused on his African heritage and cooking styles.

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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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