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Author: Tess Keating

Tess Keating Blog For 10/26

Before reading Langston Hughes’ poems I read about him and found this information to be very important. It is said that Hughes is known for being a poet who wrote about black people, but most importantly for black people. The messages of his poems were supposed to speak to that community. This helped me to read the poems with a different lens, allowing me to understand more deeply the meaning behind his words. For example, in his poem Dreams, reading this without knowing who it was for and with no context one might think Hughes was speaking to all people about following their dreams. However, having context of the type of poet Hughes was helped me to understand that he was speaking directly to his black audience telling them to never give up on their dreams (of equality) because if they do the world would be a dark place. 

Another poem I found interesting and quite sad was Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too? In this poem he is speaking to the American people, more specifically the white ones, asking what more he could possibly do to be considered an equal. The narrator describes how he fought for the country just the same as the white men, but the victory of the war won’t be the same for him because he was black. This was interesting to me because it alludes to the fact that on the battlefield the soldiers treated each other with respect, but off the battlefield everything is forgotten. It is sad to think that the only place black men were treated somewhat equally was in the dangerous place of the battlefield.

The poems I, Too and Let America Be America Again have a feeling of hope. With his words, Hughes explains that black people are just as American as white people and that someday all people will understand this. To my understanding, an overall message of all of Hughes’ poems is to have hope, keep fighting, and not give up on dreams. Reading about influential black leaders of the Civil Rights Movement Era always makes me wonder what they would think about what’s going on today. 

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Tess Keating Blog Post (10/19)

After reading the article, “World War Two Was Not a Just War”, I was sort of surprised. In my past history classes, it was made out that the United States was the hero of the war because it seemed like they saved jewish people from concentration camps and defeated the horrible Nazis. Everyone fails to mention all the negatives of this war, like the trauma that this caused soldiers, or the innocent civilians that were killed. This is obviously a big part of any war but it is often failed to be mentioned because people would rather highlight the victories. The United States as a whole also feels no remorse for taking as much credit as possible for defeat of Nazi Germany, when in reality the Soviet Union did a majority of the work, “The party that did most of the killing and dying for the winning side, was the communist Soviet Union” (Swanson). This idea takes away from the idea of the “United States Heroes”. 

World War II is most known for trying to defeat the Nazis and save the jews from major oppression, but as Swanson exposes in the article, the United States was nowhere near doing all they could to help them. “The war was not humanitarian and was not even marketed as such until after it was over. There was no poster asking you to help Uncle Sam save the Jews… The U.S. engaged in no diplomatic or military effort to save the victims in the Nazi concentration camps” (Swanson). This factor brings up the idea of America’s need to “save the world”. It feels like the United States entered this war so that they could get the praise after they helped to defeat the enemy. It is sad to think that a main reason for entering this war was for recognition, and not the population of jewish people that were being severely abused and oppressed. Reading this article makes me question many of the United States choices and now I wonder if they were made morally or just so that the United States could remain the heroes be seen as “the greatest nation” always there to save the day.

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Tess Keating Blog Post for 10/12

The video, “COVID-19 vs. Spanish Flu – If You Don’t Know, Now You Know”, is a prime example of the idea that learning from history is necessary. In the introduction of the segment it is stated that “hardly anyone alive has seen a pandemic like this before”, and this is the reason why the world is struggling with it so much. With what we have seen from the reaction to COVID-19 by Americans, it seems like this is the first pandemic to have ever existed. There are shocking similarities in how the nation reacted (and is reacting) to COVID-19. For example, the federal government downplaying it. Woodrow Wilson downplayed the Spanish Flu, and in a striking similar fashion Donald Trump has/is downplaying COVID-19. This was done in order to not cause citizens to be alarmed, however in both cases it did more harm than good. One would think that the response to COVID-19 would be better than a pandemic over 100 years ago, however it seems that history was not looked back upon. Everyone knows that you are supposed to learn from history, especially the mistakes in history. Trevor Noah states, “so far America has made all the same mistakes with Corona that it did with the Spanish Flu”. Americans need to figure out how to learn from history, and fast, otherwise we are bound to fall into the trap of continuing to repeat the worst part of history–– the second wave. COVID-19 is on track to model all that happened during the Spanish Flu, and if we don’t make changes to our response, the worst is yet to come. 

It is up to the federal government, especially the President, to make these changes (quickly) because, “it is not too late to learn from history” (Noah). Right now, and going forward, what the United States needs is a leader who is going to take his job seriously, especially when it comes to the lives of thousands of Americans. The biggest problem the United States faces is that there are citizens who “don’t believe in the virus” and this idea was ignited by the President denying its severity and not doing all he could do to inform the citizens of how to act in response to it. We are where we are today because of the mistakes made at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and if things don’t change quickly, it doesn’t look likely that we will get out of it anytime soon.

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Tess Keating Blog Post for 10/5

When reading Gloria Anzaldua’s excerpts from “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” I was once again disheartened and became more aware of my own privilege. Gloria Anzaldua describes how it feels to be too much of one thing to fit it with the other, but too much of the other thing to fit it with that group too. She was thought of as not being Mexican enough to be a true Mexican, but not white enough to be a true American. She describes how she feels as though she is denied by her roots and doesn’t have a place to fit in. Her poem, “To Live in the Borderlands…” really stuck out to me. Each stanza goes through a different reason why she feels like she doesn’t fit in, from where she lives to what she looks like to how she talks to what she eats. This made me sad because as I was reading this I realized that I am so lucky to not really ever have to think about these things. I am what is perceived to be “normal” in the United States, but that is unfair. Everyone who lives here is just as much American as the next person regardless of race, what language you speak, or what food you eat. 

The United States prides itself on being a “melting pot” when in reality we are not. The United States wants to think that it is accepting of all different cultures, races, and types of people, however after reading what Gloria Anzaldua had to say and how she feels, it is clear that she and other immigrants do not feel welcomed. The United States takes great pride in saying that it is the greatest country in the world, but if that were true they would want to share that with others and let them enjoy it too, not make it so hard to move here and if they ever are finally able to, strip them of their own culture. That is not acceptance. A trademark of being “the greatest nation in the world” is the fact that it is a melting pot, however there is not much different culture to be seen, as the people of diverse cultures feel the need to hide their differences. When people are told to “speak English because this is America”, it takes away a part of someone, causing them to lose part of their culture and themselves. We should want to preserve other cultures and history instead of make everyone feel like they need to be the same. The United States needs to work to get rid of the sense of the “dominant culture” and embrace the fact that there are many cultures here and we should be learning from each other. 

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Tess Keating Blog for 9/27

Over the course of this class, and reading Zinn’s book, A People’s History Of The United States, I have been shocked time and time again. Coming to University of Richmond and going into this class I thought I was somewhat well educated on American history, having taken it in high school, middle school, and learning about it in elementary school. However, this book and everything we have talked about have continued to make me feel like I have only been learning half the truth. It is becoming more and more clear that the education system is somewhat brainwashing society to believe that history in America is not brutal and that there is some bad, but it outweighed by the good. It is now overwhelmingly clear that this is not that case and that it is even worse that it is being covered up.

 

From a very young age we learned about slavery and how it was very bad, but I we are not really taught the full extent of it. I feel like I used to just consider it sort of a blip in history and that was so long ago, but it is so much more than that. It is taught as being an equivalent to all other countries and how there was slavery there too. It was unsettling for me to read, “There was no slavery in history, even that of the Israelites in Egypt, worse than the slavery of a black man in America” (Zinn 180). Reading this came as a surprise to me because I never fully understood that slavery here was that much different than everywhere else, however it does make sense because we are still very much dealing with the effects and repercussions of it. Racism spawned from slavery which is still a huge problem in the United States. All of this makes me wonder how much else of the history I have learned has parts left out of it. I hope that these flaws continue to be exposed so that society is able to be educated about the past so we don’t recreate it in the future.

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Tess Keating 9/21 Blog Post

Even though I feel I have learned a decent amount about the history of women’s oppression, reading the chapter “The Intimately Oppressed” in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History Of The United States made me feel as if I was hearing it all again for the first time. It will never not be shocking to me that women were treated so poorly and with such disrespect. Zinn explained it as being that half the population was invisible. Reading the quote from Julia Spruill when she says, “he was not entitled to inflict permanent injury or death on his wife” (Zinn 106) was horrifying. The fact that it needed to be outlined that it was not okay to kill your own wife is scary. Also something about that quote I found off putting was the word “permanent”, making it seem that types of injuries a husband could give to a wife that weren’t “permanent” were okay. 

 

Hearing about all of the details of women’s oppression makes me so thankful for the first female activists to stand up against this and rebel. Who knows what would have happened if there were never rebellions and protests for women’s rights. However, there are definitely still problems with gender inequality and there is still work to be done, making this history all still extremely relevant. In the last four years there have been plenty of feminists protests where women fight for their rights like wage gaps and their own bodies. I wonder if and when these (necessary) fights will ever stop. This is an issue with such deep roots, so can it truly ever be solved? Will there ever be a world where men aren’t seen as the most powerful and roles will be reversed?

 

On a side note, it is extremely coincidental that we are beginning to discuss gender inequality right after the passing of one of the most famous women’s equality activists, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I am sure we will be hearing much about her legacy and how her death may affect us in the future, because she was a Supreme Court Justice.

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Tess Keating Blog Post (9/14)

After viewing the Leader Portraits I am reminded of the values that leaders want to portray. Art is a way to show things without using words. When studying history, photographs and paintings are brought up to show things symbolically. For example, in at least one of all of the leader’s portraits we looked at, they are either wearing red or there is some kind of red in the background. Red is known to be a color of power and royalty. Obviously in the painting or photograph the person cannot say “I am royalty and I am powerful”, but the colors (and other things can). I find the study of art history very interesting (especially when looking at paintings) because something one of my past history teachers told me is that every single thing in a painting is there for a reason. Whether it be who is in the painting, what colors are used, what the weather is like, and so on, all of it plays a key role in what the image is trying to depict and what message it is trying to tell. You are able to tell a lot about a person and what they want to portray about themselves in art. 

 

Something I also found interesting was that up until recently, in their portraits, leaders did not smile and if they did it was very subtle. This makes me wonder if there was a switch in how citizens see and want to see their leaders. Perhaps leaders used to be “all powerful” and more commanding, but now the type of leader that people want is someone that they can relate to and feel on a human level, instead of feeling like they are above everyone. I personally feel that a leader that is less of a god like figure and more of a regular person with authoritative qualities is someone I would vote for and feel comfortable with. 

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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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Tess Keating Blog Post for 8/30

The first chapter “Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress” of Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of The United States was quite eye opening. Similar to many people, many things I learned about American history at a young age were romanticized. Columbus was the good guy who discovered new land, we got a day off from school to celebrate him, and there was even a catchy phrase to remember the date of his journey (“Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred ninety-two”). We learned about the Pilgrims and Indians in Massachusetts and that they shared a meal together, and for that we celebrate Thanksgiving, while half the class dressed up as Pilgrims and the other half as Indians. While giving us catchy songs to sing and costumes covered in feathers, the education system failed to mention the horrors of what actually occurred. For a while now I have known that these events were always what they seemed, but still hadn’t been actually taught about any of it. To have fun celebrations of American History, children are taught in the incorrect, sugar coated version of it. Reading this chapter gave intense detail of what actually occurred when Columbus went on his journeys. 

 

Something I found interesting was that in many of Columbus’s journal entries he writes about the horrific things he did. Columbus wrote, “They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want… I took some of the natives by force…”(Zinn, 1-2). While he admits and discusses all of his wrongdoings, children and people of all ages are still shielded from this information and are given a false sense of what actually happened and who he actually was. This leads me to wonder what other parts of history the citizens of our country are being brainwashed to believe and if it will ever be uncovered.

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