Skip to content

Author: William Coben

Dear White People Blog Post

Dear White People was an incredibly enlightening film that possesses various connections and ties to modern-day society and culture. While there are countless examples of Racism in the film, I found the most interesting to be the racial bias that Winchester utilized while hiring the Dean and President of the University. While the two attended the same university, the Dean, a Black man, graduated with honors and outstanding grades whereas the president, a White man, barely graduated. While this scenario is moderately cliche, as the dramatic effect is necessary for films, the principle remains true as there is racial discrimination in the workforce, especially amongst white-collar workers. Historically, Black people have been at a disadvantage and received lower positions and pay than their White counterparts, despite often having reflecting resumes. Also, there have been numerous studies on the influence of names in the workforce, and how racial bias presents itself even with a blind application process. While the country has taken measures to ensure that Black people cannot be discriminated against by unequal pay throughout the job application process; those things continue to endure, putting Black workers at a true disadvantage.

Secondly, I believe that a significant message being conveyed in this story outlines the differences between intention and action. Microaggressions, while not intended to harm POC, can present themselves to be very offensive and frankly, annoying. The conflict at Winchester appeared to be rooted in microaggressions, but the question that I wondered was: were the White people poorly intended, or were they oblivious to the harm that they are causing? To connect the story to my personal life, I often find myself unintentionally committing microaggressions. Whether guessing were people with an accent are from, commenting on someone’s hair, or unintentionally making comments that are offensive; Dear White People opened my eyes to the harms of microaggressions and forced me to look at myself, and spark change. While I am not a racist person and never intend to be racist, I realized that there are instances in time where I have innocently said things that could be taken offensively. While my intentions weren’t bad, the perception of my words could be taken the wrong way, and that was eye-opening to me.

Overall, Dear White People is a wonderful film that provided me with an understanding of how White People can unintentionally cause mental harm to Black people, even if their intentions aren’t meant to do so. Microagressions are a part of society that is often overlooked, but if people make a conscious effort to minimize the number of microaggressions they commit, then society as a whole will feel safer and better off; for people of all color.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Blog Post for 11/16

In Chapter 22 of PHUS, “The Unreported Resistance,” Zinn broadens the scope and significance of protest and social justice movements to the history and upbringing of the United States. Zinn references a “permanent adversarial culture” that arose in response to the Vietnam War and endured through the presidencies of Carter, Reagan, and Bush. This culture of resistance that acted as an unrecognized movement shed light on unprioritized movements like the AIDS crisis along with deteriorating social services.

The two social movements previously mentioned, along with many others, shed light on the abandonment of domestic problems that the United States government exhibited while acting in favor of militaristic priorities and focus. I found it shocking that many of the military actions that occurred throughout the time were taken without public knowledge or support. Bush’s involvement in the Gulf War along with Reagan’s increasing military spending are two actions that were undertaken by the government, yet not supported by the public. Going against the public will spark a principle of government questioning that became extremely prominent in the late 20th century, and the countless years of honoring the military prior to this movement were thrown out the window as the culture in the United States changed.

Overall, this chapter did a proficient job introducing the culture of social reform and providing examples of un-popular movements that hold a significant piece of importance in American history. To draw on our world today, Chapter 22 reflects many ideals of our current times, specifically as they relate to Police reform in the United States. Twentieth-century activists called for defunding of the military, and that same thing is happening in the 21st century as current political activists want reform in response to the killings of countless, Black Americans. It is important to take the lessons of reform from Zinn’s chapter and incorporate those into our lives to make active, and effective political and social reform.

 

2 Comments

Blog Post 11/09

After reading the article, “Four Decades and Counting: The Continued Failure of the War on Drugs,” I was astonished by the extensiveness of the war on drugs. The article mentions fighting the Taliban, drugs in Afghanistan, and other instances of the war on drugs, and they surpassed the level of longevity that I ever knew existed in this everlasting fight. However, the point that I was most interested in, and spent the most time with was the economic aspect of the prohibition of drugs. Early on in the section, “Proponents of drug prohibition argue that by banning certain substances, they can reduce or eliminate both the demand and the supply for drugs, thereby significantly reducing or even eradicating the drug market. What these arguments fail to appreciate, however, is that making markets illegal fails to reduce, much less eliminate, the market for drugs. Instead, these mandates mainly push the market for drugs into underground black markets.” I found this so interesting because basic laws of supply and demand allow a complete understanding of what happens when the two are affected; the black market gains prominence. When the supply of a good is shifted left, or decreased, the quantity of that good demanded decreases and the price increases. While this appears to be a good thing because people are demanding less of that good, they find other alternatives and ways to source the good that are illegal and even more harmful to society. At this point, the black market becomes a large factor in the drug market and begins to do harm to society through the sales of illegal, synthetic, and dangerous drugs. People turn to the black market for cheaper prices and lower quality goods and end up doing more harm to themselves and society than they would have in a previous situation.

I find this war on drugs to be very intriguing due to its complex nature and lack of a positive solution. Despite the government’s best efforts to take drugs off of the streets and out of the hands of junkies, drugs will always be a prominent aspect of society. When one producer of drugs is shut down and arrested, another one arises in his spot and continues the cycle. Also, I firmly believe that drug addicts will find drugs, no matter what it takes. If drugs are taken off of the streets in one area, Drug addicts will find somewhere else to buy them from and incorporate drugs into their area’s again. Accordingly, there will be an everlasting demand for drugs and with that demand always comes a supply; an endless cycle of societal destruction and negative consequences.

 

 

2 Comments

Blog Post 11/2

The award-winning film, Platoon, provides an in detail and realistic portrayal of the incredibly dangerous, cruel, and horrendous conditions that veterans of the Vietnam war were forced to endure during their time in the service. After the conclusion of the movie, I instantly changed the way I thought about the war and gained an immense amount of respect and pride for the men who fought in Vietnam due to the harsh conditions and the danger that the American Soldiers were put through; many of them without a willingness to do so.

Early in the movie Chris Taylor, an enlisted man in the military, outlined the harsh environment and lifestyle that the military men fighting in Vietnam were forced to endure. Chris alluded to Vietnam as hell and clearly outlined his hatred for the place just a few days into his arrival. Chris then alludes to the idea that he made a mistake enlisting in the service and questioned his ability to survive and make it through his one-year bid overseas. While Chris’ hatred for the war and his time in Vietnam was not the only point of view on the war, it seems that there was general disapproval and dislikes for the war by many soldiers who actually partook in it. The platoon made it easy to understand why, understand the hatred of the war and where it stemmed from, and finally provides insight as to why many veterans of the Vietnam war suffer from severe mental health problems as well as physical health problems; a heartbreaking scenario that many veterans wish they never partook in.

Later on in the movie, the motivations of the soldiers to continue fighting in the war are revealed and that scene enabled me to understand why the soldiers kept pushing their way through. The motivation in the minds of the soldiers was to stay alive, and that life would be easy once they made it home. This idea was likely present in the minds of most soldiers fighting in the war as making it home to their families is typically of utmost importance to men in the service.

Overall, Platoon was an insightful movie that provided a deep and detailed insight into what life for soldiers was like throughout the war and allowed me to understand the utter dislike and disapproval of the war by many Americans, active soldiers, and people around the world.

 

 

2 Comments

Blog Post 10/26

For this blog post, we were assigned to read poems from Langston Hughes. I elected to read and talk about two of them specifically because those two clearly displayed moral and ethical lessons that are prominent and common that should be pointed out.

To begin, Night Funeral In Harlem depicts the story of a poor boy in Harlem, New York, that was killed and was too poor to have a funeral. The poor man had no money left to pay for funeral services so his friends contributed. The funeral was simple, but full of love and affection because people came together to provide a funeral for the beloved man who was unable to provide for himself. The poem’s primary theme illustrates the idea of humanity over material good, which is something that we as a world need to understand. Too often in today’s day and age people value material goods over love, compassion, kindness, and other human emotions that generate happiness in the world. If people cared less about materials and more about humanity, the world would be a happier and less greedy place.

The second poem I read was titled “I, Too”, and alluded to the ideas of breaking away from the oppression that Black Americans faced and continue to endure every day. This poem, while short and simple, conveyed an extremely powerful message that, “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table When company comes. Nobody’ll dare Say to me, Eat in the kitchen.” This line delineates that one day, Blacks and Whites will eat at the same table metaphorically, and be seen as equal humans. This poem was written over 100 years ago but continues to maintain relevance in today’s society, further emphasizing the problems with race in this world. This is yet another powerful example of literature that conveys a powerful social justice message that is as pressing today as it was in the early 1900’s.

Overall, these two poems by Langston Hughes illustrate important lessons of equality, love, compassion, and other traits that the world is lacking today. If people went back to the basics of humanity and acted with empathy and affection, the world would be a better place.

3 Comments

Blog Post for 10/19

After completing both of the readings, I have elected to focus on the article that outlines 12 problems with World War 2, and I am going to provide my opinion on these listed problems as I tend to disagree with most of what was said. To begin, “World War 2 Was Not a Just War” provides 12 examples of why WW2 was unjustified and why the United States should have approached entering and fighting the war differently. The article posed many ideas that appear to be more hopeful conspiracy theories than actual, proven knowledge. For example, reason 2 alludes to the idea that FDR intentionally prompted the Japanese to strike pearl harbor for the sole purpose of having an excuse to join the war. This is not proven, nor does this make sense as the Japanese would never have agreed to this proposal knowing that they would eventually be attacked by the United States and lose many, many Japanese citizens. Also, reason 4 delineates the idea that WW2 was not a defensive war and that the United States’ president, FDR, lied about Nazi intentions to rally the American people into desiring war. Again, I do not believe that this is true as the United States would be in shambles if it was proven to be true that the president lied so the country could intentionally incite violence in a foreign territory with the sole purpose of killing.

Furthermore, there are other points in the text that I also believe to be untrue based on familial experience. In high school, I was tasked with tracing my familial roots by talking to my grandparents and great grandparents about their life and immigration stories. I am Jewish and my ancestors fled from Europe during the WW2 era in an attempt to flee the anti-Semitic nature of their home as well as find a new beginning as being a European jew at this time was difficult. Through recounted stories, I uncovered that my ancestors came to America and were welcomed with love, promise, and opportunity the moment they arrived. This directly contradicts the statements and content of argument number 3 saying that the United States had a negative and unwelcoming attitude towards Jewish refugees. That same story holds true with many of my Jewish friends as well.

Finally, I take a large problem with the idea of demilitarization that is proposed multiple times throughout the article for example in reasoning number(s): 6&12. The United States is a world power that maintains our status as a dominant country through military ability. While we are not conquering or seeking un-necessary wars, we delegate money to our military as a preventative measure that protects American citizens, our allies, and our democratic style of government that allows us Americans freedoms that are forbidden all over the world. There are countries like North Korea and China that despise the United States’ type of government, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if a war were to arise because of this at some point. The sole knowledge that those countries possess of our military strength often defuses potential war situations because the United States’ military has the power to defend the country from any foreign threat across the globe. Pouring money into military funding keeps the United States’ homeland safe, and protects the freedoms and safeties that we all take for granted every day.

While I understand that there are many contradicting opinions to my arguments and points made, I strongly disagreed with much of the contents of this article. It was quite interesting to read and hear the perspectives of different opinions on World War 2, I believe that the war was necessary for saving the lives of millions of people, dismantling a racist, homophobic, the regime in the German Nazi’s, and protecting the people of the United States. Without US involvement, there is no telling where the world may be today, which gives me comfort in the United States’ involvement in the war.

1 Comment

Blog Post for 10/12

As detailed by the article along with the video, the Covid-19 pandemic is similarly grasping the world as the Spanish Flu did. Clearly, both diseases were deadly and harmful to society; but, after utilizing today’s material along with further articles and research that I looked into, the situations were quite different. Primarily, the ability to convey mass messages and protective media was incredibly different in the 1918’s than it is today. Back then, it makes sense that the Flu was incredibly harmful and deadly as spreading safety measures and precautions were incrementally more difficult than it is today. However, with the use and access to mass media today, the spread of knowledge, data, and correct/unpoliticized news should be seamless, and the safety and health of people should be much more attainable amidst a global epidemic.

While the video displayed an immense amount of political bias, I believe that the message it was trying to convey was correct. I find it difficult to seriously listen to and learn from things that are used as political propaganda because they typically aren’t credible sources. The video we watched focused more on bashing Donald Trump that it did discuss the similarities between the Spanish Flu and the Covid-19 pandemic, which I find problematic but that is beside the point. The emphasis of the video linked Trump to Wilson and clarified how his poor management of the pandemic has allowed it to spread to the point that it is now. The video referenced neglect of science, fact, and willingness of Trump to acknowledge the pandemic for what it truly is, which is understandable. With access to billions of people, the pandemic should not have gotten to the point it is and the use of media should have been more effectively managed to cultivate a safe and justified response to the pandemic. While that didn’t happen, hopefully, the future will learn from our 21st-century mistakes and utilize the tools they have to dismantle a pandemic; something that the world failed to do throughout 2020.

To connect this to me personally, I am shocked at the lack of comparison in the media between Covid-19 and the Spanish Flu. The words Spanish flu trigger a reaction in the minds of many that imitates fear due to the teachings of the Spanish flu in schooling and through discussion and self-search. The Spanish flu is a big name event that is recognized worldwide as a deadly pandemic that the world never wants to see again. The Covid-19 outbreak has panned out to exhibit similar traits to the Spanish Flu, so I am concerned as to why the media has not compared the two and utilized the fear factor to normalize everyday life again. If the media had demonstrated the true similarities between the two viruses, i believe that people would have taken COVID more seriously, so I am disappointed in the media and the government for not illustrating that comparison for the well being of society,

Leave a Comment

William Coben Blog Post

The readings for this class period focused on the challenges and struggles that different ethnic groups in America face. After the conclusion of the reading, I was left thinking about the concept of identity and how that can be a problem for many identity insecure Americans throughout the nation. With modernization, technological innovation, and globalization, identity can be a difficult thing for people to deal with as there are fewer concentrated groups of individuals like there were prior to western expansion and the discovery of the new world. Back prior to the discovery of the west, it was extremely common for people to spend the entirety of their lives in the same place that they were born. While that occasionally happens in today’s world, it is much more uncommon as work, travel, and exploration leaves people “homeless” in the sense that they are not forcefully rooted in one area because travel and movement are so accessible. The reading discusses Anzaldua being caught between identities and the difficulty and struggle with not being pure blood. Being able to identify with a culture, a language or a group of people is a fundamental human necessity that many immigrants ethnically foreign people struggle with and the reading discusses this idea in depth through the story of Anzaldua.

The chapters from How the Other Half Lives recounts the struggles that immigrant populations often face when migrating to America. In the readings, the Chinese ran small shops in an attempt to provide for themselves, and the Italian immigrant population was forced into highly demanding jobs in return for a ruthlessly low amount of pay. In order to cope with these poor conditions of labor and status in the social hierarchy that endures in American culture, the two groups of people turned to addiction. Italians used gambling and the Chinese, opioids that did detrimental harm to both communities. In response to the cultural problem, the communities were deemed degenerate and dysfunctional in a sense and were looked down upon by American culture. The assumption of degenerateness was challenging for these two populations to overcome. Presently, we see this endure in the black community as the gang-banger and drug dealer stereotypes in a way encourage the black youth to conform to societal constructs and partake in actions that are harmful to society as a whole; that is problematic.

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Blog Post Chapter 9

Zinn’s chapter, Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom, intorduced me to the harsh truths about Americas history with slavery, the treatment of black people, and the false narrative of the civil war. This chapter yet again provided us with a true depiction of what happened with the emancipation, as well as the civil war, and debunked the narratives stories that we as American learners were taught throughout our time in the education system.

 

To begin, Lincoln is revered as an American hero as he “ended slavery” with the emancipation. While this is technically true, Lincoln, as portrayed by Zinn, was indifferent towards the idea of racial equality, and wanted to abolsih slavery to preserve the Union, and capitalist ties between the North and the South. The idea that Lincoln isn’t what histroy books portrayed him to be makes me wonder whether or not he too, will have his name tarnished and statue deminished for the untrue depiction of his morals that most Americans view him with.

 

Secondly, I found it fascinating that the Southern and Northern Elites werent entirely different as their views pertianed to slavery. Zinn alluded to the fact that neither party cared about slaves, they cared about finances. This leads me to beleive that many people at the time didn’t see the true problem with slavery, yet saw it as a beneficail aspect of life that would make White Americans more well off. These types of truth’s, the ones that depict real reactions towards slavery, are the ones that need to be taught in school. The commonly agreed upon purpose of instructing histroy is to prevent bad thigns from repeating themselves… that will not happen unless the truth be told.

 

To conclude, this chapter introduced me to the truth’s behind slavery, its abolition, and the true American perceptions of the maltreatment of Black’s, and it was heart breaking. The fact that Black people were of such miniscule importance and social standing is cruel and wrong, and luckily that has begun to change today. While there are many modern day problems with the treatment of Black Americans, we as a people and as a coutnry are moving in the right direction towards a society of equality and equal opportunity.

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

BLOG POST 9/21

Chapter 6 of PHOUS was quite interesting for me to read as a man, as I have never understood, or put thought into the difficulty and suffering that women endured through history, and even in modern-day life. Women are neglected in history. Similarly to how we have talked about the middle and lower classes in the upbringing of our country, very few women are talked about in history books even though they made up nearly half of the population, and raised and parented the men that are idolized in history books today.

As expected, Zinn did a good job telling the untold and undisclosed truths of history, and the first sentence is enough to understand the point of view that his text is coming from, “It is possible, reading standard histories, to forget half the population of the country.” Throughout this reading, I believe that I obtained more knowledge about women’s role in our country’s past than I did throughout my entire studies of history in prior schooling. In previous years, history classes focus on important male figures, significant battle dates, and outcomes of wars; never before have I encountered a piece of literature with such an intense focus on women, and it was quite enlightening. While it is wrong that women are neglected in history, it contributes to the narrative that we have deeply discussed in this class that states “history is about the victors.” Usually, the victors have been males, and there female counterparts (wives) are left in the shadows but may have played a significant role in their husband’s success. Typically, if women were ever discussed in history, it was the women who were wed to a prominent male figure that was discussed, but this chapter talked about the “less prominent” women, which was new.

Finally, it was interesting to see Zinn’s use of foreign novels as a contributor to the narrative of the oppression of women during these times. There were occasions when a piece of literature written by a man was incorporated into the text to signify the maltreatment and poor perception that women faced in historical times, and I believe that made the text all the more significant and meaningful, to see how men wrote about women, and to see how wrong that was.

 

3 Comments

Blog Post for 9/14

I am always fascinated by the way Zinn portrays the founding of our country, but i understand why he does so. This chapter focused a lot on the constitution and Zinn’s views of it. He viewed it as an oppressive device that has the sole focus of protecting white, Christian males. While this is a very understandable conclusion given the fact that those are the types of people that created the document; I personally believe that his claim is very far fetched. The document was written to preserve and protect the rights of American citizens, so to answer the question being asked in the chapter that focuses on who the laws apply to, it is Americans. The American people are protected by the constitution and are frankly the most free people on the planet, so I believe Zinn’s opinion is extreme, but i respect it.

There is also a focus on the creation of myths, which reflects the podcast content, and that is what i find most interesting about the reading. I have never heard about all of the lies that are the foundations of our country, but frankly i do not care. I believe that historians and politicians create these myths for a reason; and while there are people who will distrust the history and foundation that our country claims, I believe that the myth creators did what they saw fit to create the worlds greatest country, and they did a good job. I find it incredibly interesting to examine and identify what is true and what is fake just to have the information, but I don’t feel as that it makes a difference in the way i feel about America. I would be curious though to know what Zinn would propose in education reform because he is incredibly adiment about exposing these false narratives that are the pinnacle of our history.

Leave a Comment

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.

2 Comments

William Coben Blog Post for 8/30

This reading offered yet another example of the false reporting of Columbus’s journey to the Americas, and truly exemplified the problems and flaws with the glorification Columbus day that we see annually. After listening to the
Podcast immediately before this, I am surely confident that the story I idolized for many years is full of banter, lies, rape, exploitation, manipulation, and many more horrid traits that would disturb the entire world should the real truth become common knowledge.

To touch on a few points that stuck me as more enlightening and interesting than others; the fact that Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in the early stages of his journey, enslaved the residents of that territory unless he was granted gold was sickening to me. It is recorded in the text that in two years that Columbus occupied that territory, modern day Haiti’s population depleted by more than 50% due to enslavement, torture, and suicide. Furthermore, when Columbus came up short on the Gold that he promised his financial supporters in Spain, he instead gave them enslaved people from the Caribbean area, which further aided the depletion of the indigenous population. Overall, the narrative of Columbus arriving in the Caribbean, and after the United States was gruesome, pitiful, and horrifying, and allowed me the opportunity to understand the deep problems rooted in the recordings of history.

To touch on one final point that was intriguing about the passage; Zinn was intelligent to mention the reasons for the celebration of Columbus Day, as well as providing a justification why. He noted that whenever historians account the past, they choose what facts emphasize the narrative that they are trying to push, and consequently people are left with a broken record of the past in which they are unable to obtain the truth without extensive research and digging. Secondly, Zinn hinted at the fact that this type of recording supports the view of governments, conquerers, leaders, and diplomats. In society, those type of people and Regimes are viewed as leaders with goals in mind, and modern day history is taught to unify a country, and celebrate the untrue accomplishments of “leaders” that were actually people of poor moral and ethical standards.

Conclusively, this reading was fascinating for me as I was able to deduct the true story of Columbus, identify the problems with reports and accounts of our countries, and world’s past, and understand the reasons behind this poor reporting.

4 Comments
css.php