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Author: Zariah Chiverton

Post for 11/30

In the movie Dear White People, there is an obvious problem of black against white. A lot of the arguments and issues they have through the movie always seem to come back to it being a race issue. While race is definitely a factor, so is privilege. The way it is portrayed, the black students seem to have a problem with everything and the white students don’t think there is much of a problem at all. A lot of it has to do with privilege. The privileged, who would be the white students don’t think it is that big of deal and don’t see the issues having anything to do with race. The is symbolic of the issue of privilege in the first place. Those who are privileged tend not to notice it and recognize that they benefit from it. In this case, many of the students benefit off of white privilege. However, there are examples that there isn’t just white privilege, there is class privilege as well. The characters Coco and Troy are black and come from families with money. In some cases, they don’t think the issues are about black and white because they benefit from the privilege of coming from money. Their privilege blinds them from seeing that race is as important of a factor as many of the black students argue it to be.

The stereotypes that are portrayed are obviously very dramatic and excessive. Even though the characters are doing it on purpose, we still relate to it in some way because they are based on stereotypes that exist in our culture. By portraying the stereotypes this way, it works as a mockery of them to show how ridiculous they are. In the introduction of the movie, the screen showed different groups of people and the groups in which they were associated with. Throughout the movie, you see that almost everyone belongs to a group of some sort. In the beginning, the character Lionel didn’t have any organization to claim and that presented a problem to him. The way that people were so strict to stick by what was expected of them or the group in which they were affiliated with made me think of the song Stick to the Status Quo in High School Musical. In that movie it was about social groups and not race, but it still applies. 

Each group had expectations of how they expected each other group to be, and that was their downfall. They couldn’t get over their assumptions of each other and they couldn’t communicate because of it. In real life it isn’t as obvious as it is portrayed to be, but this problem still exists, even if we may not realize it on a subconscious level.

 

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Post for 11/16

In the chapter, “The Unreported Resistance,” Zinn makes the effort to point out the “permanent adversarial culture” that goes unmentioned. Whenever there is resistance to any institution or any part of the government, the first response is to act surprised as if it’s something new and unlike the norm. As much as this happens, I don’t think this is actually what is going on. I think no matter what, there is always going to be an opposition, but at times it isn’t always heightened and so the media doesn’t feel the need to highlight it. Even when there is heightened resistance to problems, the media doesn’t always feel the need to cover it. For example, this year, there were many protests across the nation and even the world for many different reasons. Although the number of protests was a rising phenomenon, the reason for the protests wasn’t anything new. There have always been people that spoke out against, abortion rights, police brutality, the president’s racism, and many other reasons, but the media made it seem as if these issues were new to America and that people were just starting to have a problem with them. For a while, the media was covering a lot of the protests and demonstrations that were going on but eventually, they stopped, even when the people didn’t. It made it seem like a large part of the country stopped caring about these issues when that was not at all the case. Long after the media stopped covering protests in New York, the people were still out there on a daily basis. The media has the ability to create the feeling of strong ups and downs in institutional opposition, even if it is always there, and is a factor in the “permanent adversarial culture” going unnoticed.

In Ezra Klein’s podcast, he talked about the polarization of American politics. I question how polarized American politics actually are, and if the polarization has more to do with our perceptions of each party. The reason I say this is because when we look at what each president is able to accomplish during their time in office, it has little effect on many peoples’ daily lives. I feel like during presidential campaigns, there is always an emphasis on what each candidate will do differently and how much better they will make the lives of Americans. Yet, regardless of each candidate or what political party they represent, the changes they do make have little effect on many people or they never get around to the big promises they made during their campaign. In Zinn’s chapter “The 2000 Election and the War on Terrorism,” he talks about the democratic and republican candidates Albert Gore and George W. Bush. Although they were from different parties, their views on certain issues were very similar. Neither has plans for health care, low-cost housing, or environmental control. They both supported the death penalty, prison growth, large military, and actions against Cuba and Iraq. They appeared to be completely different just because they represented different parties when in reality, they agreed on many of the same issues. I think our ideas of what the parties are and represent are very polarized, but in action, the parties themselves are close to the same.

 

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Post for 11/9

This movie is a good depiction of how a corrupt system operates and how it is very hard to dismantle it. Even using the law doesn’t always work the way it should because when the people in power are using the law on their terms, it’s even harder to fix these problems. Almost every system within the town was racist and in some way corrupt, and so it made it very hard to achieve anything. What made it even harder is that whenever someone didn’t submit to those in power, they were eliminated from the equation or threatened to comply. The reason McMillian was in jail was because of the testimony of that one man. He didn’t want to do it in the first place but he was put between a rock and a hard place because he was forced to choose between his life or McMillian’s. And then there was the police officer who knew McMillian was innocent but he was fired from the police force when he tried to prove that. When the only people left in the system are those that don’t care about achieving justice but their own agendas, how are you supposed to fight that? This leads me to a point that Stevenson was trying to prove to the district attorney. A conviction doesn’t mean justice and so defending a conviction isn’t always the right thing to do. The police department felt like just because they were able to get a conviction, that meant they had done their job. In reality, what they were doing was the furthest thing from justice.

I think an important character of this movie is the young officer who worked at the prison McMillian was being held. At the very beginning, it was obvious that he was no different from everyone else around him who were undeniably racist.  What took for him to change was watching the execution of Hebert Richardson. His character is representative of what complacency in a corrupt system looks like. Him being outwardly being racist was more than just feeding his ego because he was in a position of power, it was a lot more damaging than that. While he was not one of the people who put McMillian in jail, he was still a player in the corrupt system. Once he saw how damaging the system he worked for was, I think what caused his character change was recognizing that he played a role in it. Up until the execution, he would probably argue that his acts were just “harmless jokes,” but after seeing that racism being played out in a corrupt system was not at all harmless, it changed his behavior.

 

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Platoon Post for 11/2

Throughout this movie, we can see an internal conflict within Chris and within the group of soldiers. The way this war was portrayed, it was more of a mental battle and that deeply affected the physical aspect of it. The soldiers had a lot to deal with mentally and it showed. Through Chris, we saw his perspective of the war change over time. When he first arrived, he was very optimistic and positive about how the war was going to go. It’s not long after he gets there that his positivity is quickly killed by the bad morale of everyone else there. Eventually, his optimism went away and reality was setting in that there was nothing good about what he was doing or the cause of the war. The way the movie played out, we saw each character have some type of internal conflict that they had to deal with whether it was racism, power dynamics, or even just coming to terms with the violence of war. There was also conflict between the soldiers because of actions that were wrong in every way. The breaking point for the group was the scene in the village. Many of them engaged in actions that were morally and ethically wrong in every way, and some didn’t agree but there wasn’t much they could do about it.

I think what it all came down to was the resentment for the war that they all had. They didn’t agree with the war because they didn’t think that the United States should’ve been involved in the first place. The soldiers hated the acts they had to commit because they were horribly gruesome. They also hated the fact that they were there in the first place, doing a job that no one else in the country wanted to do either. There was just a lot of anger in most of them and it created a lot of conflict towards each other rather than the actual enemy. What got the best of the soldiers was the attitude that everyone there was going to die. At one point in the movie, someone said, “Everybody gotta die sometime.” All of the soldiers had this attitude that even though they would like to make it out, they were going to die there. They looked at the new soldiers as replacements for the bodies that were already dropped and that’s why they had respect for the people that were there longer. They respected them for being able to make it for as long as they did. A lot of it had to do with the gruesomeness that they saw and had to be a part of. No matter how much they fought, they didn’t seem to be making any progress to give them a sign of hope. Everything was just so bad for them that they thought if they were going to make it out of there, they’d be lucky, even if they were medically discharged.

 

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Zariah Post for 10/26

Langston Hughes was not only an important writer during the Harlem Renaissance, but his works are still very relevant now. One of the reasons we look at his works is because of the importance of a black perspective during this time period. Another reason we still look at his works is because of the strong similarities in his writings that can be related to even now. Most of his poems were inspired by life in Harlem, New York City, which was a mostly African American neighborhood. In them you see themes of race, injustice, equality, identity, America, and many other influencers of his work. His works have survived him because many of the things he talks about, have stayed relevant to us, and we can still relate to a lot of it.  

In a great deal of his works, race mattered. Out of the six poems we read for this week’s readings, five of them directly mentioned race. Even the sixth poem, “Dreams,” which doesn’t outwardly acknowledge race as a factor, in the context of the times it was written, race very much played a factor in the possible outcome of one’s dreams. Another important component of his writing is the way in which he approaches issues about America. Often when he mentions America, he recognizes it as an establishment that he is not a part of. In “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?,” he questions how much of a victory it will be because although it would be great for America, it won’t mean much for his progress as a black man. In the poem “I Too,” although he says “I, too, am America,” he does so trying to convince Americans that he does belong because they think otherwise. And then in his poem, “Let America Be America Again,” he explains how the greatness of America doesn’t apply to him and other marginalized people. These are just a few of the characteristics of his poems, but they are still applicable to us today. Although we have progressed since then, the social/political climate in the US has produced similar feelings, which is why I think we look back to his works and it still resonates.

The poem that stood out to me the most amongst these readings was “Themes for English B.” I think what stood out to me the most about this poem was the idea of truth being connected to race. Hughes gives the biography of a young black and describes what his truth is. It matters that he is black, from the North, and lives in Harlem. He has typical interests just like anyone else would. However, these identifiers are not at all the same for his teacher because he is white and his whiteness is his truth. Their truths come from being connected to one another but also being disconnected at the same time. He makes a point to add that this is American. Our history has forever intertwined the livelihood of blacks and whites but yet, there is still an obvious separation. In this poem, as well as many others, he is insinuating the idea of a white America and a black one, both with separate truths. These truths are the histories that came before them. There’s not one that’s right or wrong, but there are obvious differences that play a role in who they are, and how they understand each other.

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Zariah Post for 10/19

After reading this chapter, I can’t help but think how different the world we live in would be if governments operated under moral code rather than political and economic agendas. I don’t only mean the United States, but every other country who seems to put their imperialist goals above basic ethics. In this reading, Zinn makes connections between President Roosevelt and President Lincoln during their terms. As we discussed before, Lincoln was not too concerned with slavery from a moral standpoint. He mainly used that as a way to follow through with his own agenda. Then there is Roosevelt. He also didn’t have much concern for the Jewish people from a moral perspective because if he did, when the Nazis first started killing the Jewish people, he would’ve intervened then. The fact that they both used these reasons as justifications for getting involved or to defend their point, shows that they understand that morals do matter in politics, but only when they want them to. They only used the basis of the opposing actions as not being right when they ran out of other options, but by this point, it is too late.

Another very big problem that Zinn talks about is the dropping of the atomic bombs. What I learned from this chapter that I didn’t know before, was that the United States government knew that the Japanese were going to surrender but they still chose to drop the bombs anyway. Not only did they drop one, but after seeing the aftermath of the first one, they went ahead with the second. I will say it is a strong maybe the first one can be justified, but there is no reasonable defense for the second one.

Hitler’s rise to power had a lot to do with him capitalizing on the weak economy of Germany and using that for his gain. I see a parallel to the United States government in later years. During the Cold War, the Truman administration presented the Soviet Union as an immediate threat to Americans. There were drills and propaganda during this time that put Americans in a state of constant fear because they did not know what could happen. Although the types of vulnerabilities were different, how different is it from Hitler who also used the vulnerability of the people for political gain? I’m not trying to say that Truman was turning into Hitler and that genocide was going to happen. However, the government did decide to evacuate and place Japanese into internment camps, another unethical choice on the U.S. that goes ignored. There are so many similarities between America and other countries, but for some reason, we only focus on the minuscule differences and not on the obvious problems that are there. How do the U.S. and its people continue to distance themselves from the wrongful actions of other countries when our actions have proved that we may not be all that better? Something to think about is a point that Zinn makes about these wrongful actions, “Was it a “mistake”-or was it an action to be expected…” (416)

 

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Post for 10/12

I’ve learned that the closest thing to the Coronavirus outbreak was the outbreak of Influenza A in 1918, but I didn’t realize how similar the timeline of events matched our last few months of quarantine. Just about everything that Trump and the United States government did wrong, were the same mistakes that were made in 1918. There are parallels between Trump and Woodrow Wilson, who both ignored and underplayed the severity of the virus. In both cases, it only left the country in worse hands than if we had taken the necessary precautions in the first place. What really surprised me were the similarities of how things started opening up again. I obviously knew that researchers and scientists were making these suggestions based on what they knew, but I didn’t know that it was also because they saw the exact thing happen before. The fact that in 1918, people started opening up too early and then there was a second wave, but we still decided to do the same exact thing 100 years later, completely shocks me. In his video, Trevor Noah says that the “un-American thing” to do is not learn from our history. We’ve been learning about many problems in years past that are present now, but this is concrete proof that we are all too good at repeating history and our mistakes. How is it that so much time has changed, and almost everything around us has improved, but yet we are still no better than we were 100 years ago?

The biggest thing I pulled from the video was Trevor Noah’s point about the lack of trust in leadership. This is a bigger problem that only seems to be getting worse and worse, especially in our current state. The problem is, our leaders, Trump specifically, tell us to ignore the Coronavirus for months. This only made the problems for us even worse causing us to go into quarantine. Our leaders are supposed to be helping and protecting the people but during that time, that was the last thing they did for the people who needed government assistance. People were left without pay and life essentials such as food and other basic necessities. Thes problems went on for months and are still going on. Then there are the many events of injustice that have occurred over the past few months that went ignored by the same systems that are supposed to correct these problems. I think there has always been a certain level of distrust with the government by the people, but throughout 2020, the government made it so much worse for themselves by messing up in every way that they could. This is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed but I wouldn’t even know where to start. The people don’t trust the government to do what it is supposed to do, and the government hasn’t been doing it’s job effectively, so how does this problem get fixed? Is there a way to rebuild the trust the people should have for the government?

The last thing I want to mention was something that was said at the end of the video which was that it is too late to stop us from getting to the point that we are at because what has happened has happened, even though it could have been avoided. However, it is never too late to learn from history. I think we need to take more seriously the value of learning our past. Being knowledgeable about history is only beneficial if that knowledge is applied for the greater good.

 

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Post for 10/4

Reading through Gloria Anzaldúa’s excerpts made me think that no matter who we are or where we come from, we will have this idea that if something is different, then it is bad simply because it is not us. I wish that this wasn’t true, but stories like this prove that this is. Her stories about outwardly speaking Spanish stuck out to me because I see a lot of these problems from an outside perspective. For my friends who speak Spanish, they feel that when they speak Spanish around English speakers, they are being judged for not speaking the same language, or for their heavy accent when they do speak English. It is so much of a problem for some of them that they don’t even feel comfortable speaking it at home either. The fact that many people feel this way is a problem. It’s not just about Spanish speakers, what about the many other languages that people speak in the U.S.? I am sure that this is something that they feel as well. This can be very damaging because smaller problems can snowball into bigger ones. If one generation within a family doesn’t feel comfortable learning their native language and they grow up not passing it onto the next generation, then that as an aspect of culture that is slowly being washed away from a family tree.

 

I think this problem originated with imperialism in the Americas. Although the history of the Americas is not the first example of imperialism, identity mattered the most then and that is why it matters so much now. The three parts of identity that mattered the most were your race, gender, and economic status because those were telling factors of the life you were going to live. As time went on, these problems were only perpetuated further and made things worse. The fact that differences amongst people were used as a tool to advance other people, its something we can’t let go of and is the basis of many problems in our country today. If differences between cultures were embraced years ago, it would be a much different story. Do you think that this is something we will ever be able to change? I really do think that the way our country was founded and progressed is the reason why we automatically think that anything different or new to us is either a bad thing or something we can use to advance ourselves. We are wired to think this way. Can we rewire our way of thinking to do the exact opposite? Beyond recognizing and addressing it as a problem, can we ever naturally assume the difference is a good thing?

 

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Post for 9/28

At the beginning of this chapter, a very important point is brought up. “Liberation from the top would go only so far as the interests of the dominant groups permitted.” The same group of people that weren’t sure about granting freedom to slaves were also being credited with their emancipation. Not only that but their newly found freedom lied in their hands. This just goes to show how important it is for us to look at the context and the bigger picture. This is tied to another very important point that is brought up later in the chapter; the government will only accept the conditions if they are controlled by the whites. The time this was referring to, it solely meant white people but it is still just as true today. The government will only make a change if it is on their terms, not the peoples’, even if they make it seem like it is the peoples’ choice.

We see a lot of this today. Whatever policy change the people want to see never comes easily or without some type of adjustment by the government. This brings me to my next point. There were a few things that were mentioned in this chapter that are closely related to current issues. The first one would be Frederick Douglass’s opinion about the fourth of July. He brings up a very important point, how is it that we are celebrating freedom for a country when some of its people had yet to be free. There was a lot of talk about this past summer because of the recent spark of the Black Lives Matter movement. Even after recognizing that the fourth of July only freed white America, we still celebrate it even though we definitely shouldn’t. We have already started recognizing the problem with Columbus Day and began addressing that but when will the same happen for the fourth of July? Another parallel I thought about between then and now is the KKK. While they are a group that has never disappeared, it feels as if the recent influx of social justice movements has brought them out. The parallel that I see between then and now is not only how they determine justice from a radical perspective, but also how it goes unpunished. In this chapter, we read about the crimes the KKK started committing and how bad they were but that is about it. It is acknowledged that it is pretty bad and gruesome but at the same time, nothing was done to change or stop it. We are seeing the same thing happening right now, but I would say it is even worse. Now, this blatant racism isn’t hidden under KKK robes how it once was, we see it every day behind police badges, in positions of power, by open radical white supremacists, and all around us, but nothing is being done by the government to change it.

I am genuinely curious, what are racists people actually so mad about? Do they genuinely believe that giving other people basic human rights somehow takes away theirs? Or are they just that ignorantly racist? Somehow this anger towards another race has lasted for hundreds of years and that anger is still very much alive today.

 

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Zariah Chiverton for 9/21

In chapter 5 of PHUS we learn more about the oppression of white women from the American Revolution to the Civil War. I think it’s important to note that when we read “women” in this chapter, it is specifically talking about white women because the oppression the whites women faced definitely is not the same as black women. This goes back to what we were talking about before about intersectionality which explains why the treatment of women at this time was not universal because it depended on many other factors besides womanhood. At the beginning of the chapter, the author calls this problem the “invisibility of women” which I think is an interesting way of putting it because it is kind of true. In history, with the exception of well-known female leaders, women are mentioned and acknowledged but it’s hardly ever in their own capacity. Instead, they’re always tied to whatever men are in their lives. Despite this fact, their oppression was also seen as an opportunity for “equality” granted by men. Although there were definitely strict ideas of what women could do, the fact that they could do anything at all, was an opportunity, for their time period at least. This gave the illusion of them being equal to men only because they weren’t on the same level as servants and slaves. While they were above them, they were still below men which they did end up getting fed up with also. 

Even though we are learning more about the perspective of women from this time, it is the same problem that we have with history in general. A consistent problem there has been with the women’s rights movement is that it often gets whitewashed by middle-class white women. We are reading the same problem. Just as U.S. history focuses on white men, the history of women’s rights ignores most women except those who were privileged. Another topic I want to talk about is the disenfranchisement of women through language. In the United States constitution it says “men,” and at one point, the New York constitution specifically said “male.” While it is acknowledged that this was to purposefully to keep women out of politics, how is it possible that this language is still used today? People argue that when the founding fathers said “men,” they meant everyone. This is can’t be true because they weren’t dumb, and if they wanted the constitution to protect everyone, that would have written that in the first place. On a smaller level, I feel like this argument is backed by our current use of gendered words. For instance, saying things like “you guys” in reference to everyone or “mankind” for all humans only defends the mocking statement made by Jefferson that women are “too wise to wrinkle their foreheads with politics.” I am not at all defending this comment but what I am saying is that little things such as language can be impactful which the founding fathers clearly understood.

 

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Zariah Chiverton post for 9/14

What’s interesting to me is how twisted the story of the American Revolution has become. When I learned about it, it seemed like everyone in the colonies was for the war and was very patriotic. The reality was, there were a lot of people who didn’t want it and wanted to better their circumstances instead of getting involved with the war. However, it was hard for them to show their opposition to it when they were legally being forced to fight. When it’s these stories and perspectives of events that are being ignored, it’s easier to push the false narrative that the Revolution was great for everyone.

I just want to take a minute to talk about William Scott. He was a great revolutionary fighter who sacrificed a lot for the war, but up until this reading, I have never heard anything about him. This just goes to show that it was class before anything else to the wealthy people in power. Scott was another white man in “power” who didn’t get the recognition he deserved despite taking part in a war to carry out the agenda of those above him. Despite this, he was just another poor citizen that fought in the war while middle-class and higher citizens just watched. Instead, we learn about George Washington, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin who all had money before the war, and only made their pockets bigger.

Even years ago when the phrase “We The People” was written, it didn’t actually mean the people of the United States. It excluded the most important people in the country, the slaves, indentured servants, the working-class and poor citizens, and just about every other group that was not a rich white man. Considering the racial demographic of this nation’s politicians, it pretty much means the same thing.

Everything about reading this chapter shows how there has always been such a big disconnect between the rich and the poor. Although it is has been a problem for such a long time, I really don’t think it has to be a problem, but the reason it is is to keep the classes separate. More than economically, now and even during revolutionary times, the rich and the poor lived in two different worlds. The wealthy men in power were happy to be finding success in the war while the poor citizens were the reason that was possible. Now, big companies and CEO’s are able to get richer and richer by the day, but the working-class and poor citizens that work underneath them, are hardly recognized or properly rewarded for their work. Although things don’t always have to be about class, it is very hard to escape when it is ingrained in our country’s foundations.

 

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Zariah Chiverton Post for 9/7

One thing I kept thinking about throughout these readings is the unfairness of what is recorded and what isn’t in our textbooks. What is upsetting is that once Africans were kidnapped into slavery in America, they became apart of our history. Yet, despite them being a crucial part of the United States, their experience and perspective are almost completely ignored. They matter very much to the foundations of this country because of this nation’s actions to bring them here, but yet, there is little to nothing in our curriculum that would defend that.

After reading these stories from Michael Twitty, I feel like I learned more about the experiences of those who are descendants from slaves than I ever have before because it is a perspective that was left out in all of my years of schooling. Just from these three readings, it made me think about the magnitude of things that were lost to slavery that is never talked about or acknowledged. At this point, because it was so long ago, and there is no way to replace things that weren’t remembered in the first place, there are so many things that we will never know about. For example, one of the things he talked about a lot was food. This is something that is important in a lot of people’s families because of generational ties. Not only did he explain how it was important to his family, but southern cuisine as a whole. Southern food is a big thing for people but where it comes from is never thought about, which I didn’t know about either. There are other little things like songs and stories, like the one’s he was able to tell, that actually means a lot because these are the type of things that can connect people to their ancestral line. 

One thing I thought was important to note was the internal conflict Twitty talks about a little bit. Apart of him wanted to get to know and understand more about his roots. This can be different for everyone whether they just want to know more about their ancestors in America or if they want to go even further down the line to Africa. At the same time, he wanted to escape the past which is very understandable. His family was all over the place because they each tried to get away from it in their own way.

 

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Zariah Chiverton Post for 8/30

Although we should never just take things as they are, the first chapter made me realize how much we really have to analyze the information we are given. As we have been talking about, we know that history is written by the victors, and because of this, we are left with a one-sided story from conquerors, masters, and other exploiters. What is left behind are the histories that were ignored but still very much matter, because their lack of accounts in textbooks is telling of another story. Even instances where a perspective other than an imperialist is included, important information is casually brushed aside. Take the journeys of Christopher Columbus for example. While what he did to the native people is not completely ignored in textbooks, it is not fully emphasized either. What he did was mass murder but that type of language was never used to describe his expedition. This is not the only example of this but instead, this happens in the time, even with major events in history. How events are being written in textbooks is as much of a problem as what is being written and is as problematic as leaving information out.

 

Throughout this reading, what kept getting my attention was the drastic difference between the natives’ introduction to new people compared to that of the invaders. Despite there being foreigners on land that was rightfully theirs, they were still welcoming and generous. For some reason, that was never offered in return. Whether the invader was Columbus, Cortés, or Pizarro, their response to generosity was violent and savage behavior. For the sake of short-lived materialistic gain, they treated the natives as expendables and had a constant disregard for the value of their lives because they were different. Regardless of where in Europe they came from, these colonizers showed a pattern of violence. It is unfortunate that due to the lopsided history that we are provided, we are unable to analyze the patterns of the native people, who, in only a few accounts, proved themselves to be respectable people.

 

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