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Julia Borger Blog Post 11/30

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

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

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

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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.

 

 

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Jeffrey Sprung Blog Post for 11/30

The movie Dear White People revolves around Samantha White, a black female student at Winchester University, who produces the radio show “Dear White People.” Sam White’s radio show “Dear White People” gains a lot of attention on the campus of Winchester University, a distinguished, predominantly white university, as Sam discusses the racism and segregation between white and black students that takes place at Winchester University. I thought that satire within Dear White People allowed the movie to effectively address systemic racial issues, discrimination, and segregation that takes place on the campus of Winchester University, which represent many issues in society as a whole in today’s world. 

Although I think Dear White People did an excellent job at addressing the problematic racism and discrimination towards black students on college campuses across the country, I unfortunately do not think that Dear White People will help eliminate these race issues that exist on college campuses and society as a whole in today’s world. Dear White People acknowledged many of the stereotypes and racism that takes place on college campuses which will help to bring awareness to these issues, but I don’t think that solely acknowledging these stereotypes and ignorances of white people will allow society to solve these issues and move forward towards racial equality. However, I think that students in college should still be aware of this movie in order to halt these racist acts and stereotypes that can occur on college campuses and beyond. 

Lastly, if I had to criticize one aspect of the film I would criticize the title of the movie as I feel that the title of “Dear White People” falsely implies the fact that all white people perpetuate racism. I completely agree that many white people are racist, but I believe the title of “Dear White People” was too general.

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11/30 Blog Post

After finishing the movie Dear White People, I was able to self reflect. The movie did a great job at sparking conversation about important topics and conversations. The movie presented issues in a seamless way, so that the audience was not too uncomfortable and could understand the situation clearly. The conversations that were brought up in the movie are very apparent on college campuses today. Many students turn a blind eye to the issues on our campuses and pretend as if there is no issue at all. For example, on the University of Richmond campus, students are still fighting for the change in dorm hall names. A few of the dorms are named after racist slave owners of history. The fact that this has not yet been changed, highlights the larger issue at play at the University of Richmond. 

The movie continues the discussion of racism through direct comments on certain issues. Sam acts as the forerunner in addressing hurtful stereotypes such as: Black people don’t tip well, the usage of the “Honorary Black card”, and the stereotype with weed. In fact, Sam calls out one of her friends who was smoking and says, “Stop stereotyping yourself and put that down”. The fact that Sam says this so directly, makes the viewer reflect. I would recommend this movie to people who want to educate themselves regarding race relations. I really liked this movie! 

 

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Blog Post for 11/30/20-Zachary Andrews

Overall I found the movie Dear White People to be very interesting because of its significance in modern-day society.  On top of that, I found the movie’s topic of injustice within the university regarding race and culture to be very powerful. Something that was briefly mentioned in the film was about how the Dean and the President of the university both attended school together. The Dean graduated with honors whereas the President of the university barely graduated yet he has the superior job simply because he is white. I understand that the movie overly emphasized some of the racial aspects seen on college campuses and in other places but it is very unfortunate that many people get more prestigious jobs simply because they are white. Within the job market, white people also tend to make more money even when they work in the same position as a black person. It is unfortunate and unbearable that after years and years of fighting, arguing, protesting, and recognizing problems within our society, that we have not fixed this national problem. This is something that needs to stop because if it does not, then the United States will continue to divide based upon race.

I found this movie to be very relatable because my high school was not racially diverse whatsoever. Numerous events that attacked other races happened that led to students not feeling comfortable at school as well as expulsions for those who were involved. Other students and I ended up inviting in a group of people to attempt to fix our community as well as not be as bias. The problem was that the school board did not like the idea, rather they preferred to sweep the issues under the rug. My group eventually united with my high school’s Black Student Union as well as other groups and together we urged the school to do something about the problem. They then claimed that there was a lack of funding and that the school couldn’t pay for it. In response, we funded the event ourselves to show the school that this was something that the community needs and that they need to listen to their students. Fortunately, the things that happened at my high school were nowhere near as racist as the events in the movie Dear White People.

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BlogPost 11/30 Dear White People

Dear White People, by Justin Simien, is particularly important for this time period in history and for this time in our lives as we see college students’ intersecting lives filled with racial hypocrisy, institutionalized injustice, and emotional struggle presented in a perspective that forces the audience to think, without being directly combative or confrontational. This type of perspective is unique and a particular way to present these issues like racial reassurance, racial “proving”, intense appropriation, and overall frustration as permissive observation is typically how one, anyone, sees these issues in real life. Even if you have perpetrated racist actions or speech, or have been on the receiving end of a racist threat, this movie does not assume your past or perspectives and instead places you into the worlds of Sam White, Troy Fairbanks, Coco Conners, and Lionel Higgins, and allows you to witness a turning point at Winchester University. This type of movie angel is hard to pull off, but allows the viewer to see what actions caused more hardship, and what benefited the University, friendships, relationships, or individuals, in the end, and therefore hopefully creating change in the literal world. I think this type of perspective is purposefully juxtaposed by the perspective brought up by the reality-TV show producer, who is talking to and working with Coco for the majority of the film, who explains towards the end of the film that America can better sell Black Americans having stupid fights about insignificant topics rather than address issues like the cultural landscape at Universities right now. I think this stark contrast between media representation of racial issues and significant problems in higher learning education is the reason movies like Dear White People are created: to present significant outward racism and oppressive systems to a wider audience in order to demonstrate reality, and potentially as a form for the audience to change their realities. 

One journey that is particularly powerful is Sam White, who is the voice of the radio and internet show “Dear White People” that points out her school’s culture, students’ hypocrisies, and societies rules about “racial interaction” with others or with stereotypes (ie. the tip test). Sam throughout the film struggles with her identity as she feels she must overcompensate through her black activism as she has a white father. She begins a path of acceptance and has a developing relationship with Gabe Mitchel who is white, which reminded me of Cassius Green’s relationship with Detroit in Sorry to Bother You. Both movies utilize humor to address systemic racial issues and discrimination, and both Sam and Cash begin to learn how to balance their seemingly opposing identities.

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Charley Blount Blog Post (11/30)

Dear White People offers a bleak, and largely dramatized, image of reality in a country divided on the issue of race. While the issues revolving race, segregation, and cultural appropriation in elite college institutions are very real, this movie ignores any nuance and subtlety surrounding the issues, thus delegitimizing the problems are fueling the arguments of skeptics who believe that racism is dead. Certain parts of this movie create necessary discussion that needs to be central to any conversations involving progress in America. 

For example, when she is leaving her film studies class, Sam references the commodification of black people in culture, specifically hip-hop and film. She argues that black people are incentivized to perpetuate stereotypes that are counterproductive to the advancement of black people in order to profit from a largely white fanbase. While these adverse incentives are notable and problematic, scenes like this one are overshadowed by examples of overt racism that are not nearly as prevalent as this movie would make them seem. In this sense, the perverse incentives that this movie criticizes are exactly what the producers are feeding in to. Dear White People exaggerates culturally controversial issues in order to drive box office ratings. Their attempts to condemn racism and racial inequities are overshadowed by an overt attempt to grow their profits.

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Demaret Blog Post for 11/30

Dear White People was a phenomenal movie on race relations at a predominantly white institution. It was deeply relevant to us given Richmond’s widespread problem of social and educational segregation, so the discomfort it invokes is really important in terms of our own reflection on our experience moving forwards. What I found most interesting about the movie was the ability of the plot to explore so many different identity struggles among the characters. Every character is wildly different, yet still trying to navigate the same oppressive framework. This is where the issue of intersectionality becomes cinematically inevitable; each student has a part of their identity that holds them to a societal standard that limits their movements in the campus life structure. 

Lionel, for example, faces an extremely oppressed identity as a gay Black man- it is clear that when the housing is structured so categorically, he is left without a single place to fit in. While almost no character fits in perfectly with their surroundings, Lionel deals with a level of harassment and excommunication that is hard to watch. He confronted the truth that his marginalization was hard to avoid in the setting, but it was still extremely lonely for him. He was not just gay nor Black, there are a million things that made up his identity and yet his choices of living situations left him stuck between multiple bad options. 

I believe the debate over housing in the film was partly a commentary (there are a ton of discussions to be had on just one plot point) on the implications of intersectionality and identity. The houses were so categorized that almost no one fit in perfectly, and while a sense of community was clearly found, there was never a house that didn’t cause a certain level of marginalization. Garmin may have had the most glaringly violent exclusionary identity, but even Armstrong-Parker struggled with perfect inclusivity. All this is to say that the framework of the university was not built for inclusivity, even worse, the last scene proved it was maintaining oppression-for-profit as the status-quo. I would recommend Dear White People to anyone looking for discussion on race relations at a PWI, because there are so many nuances and views in the film to unpack and discuss. 

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Blog Post 11/18

Sorry to Bother You was horrifying to watch. Cassius’ “white voice” seems almost funny at the beginning of the movie. He puts on a little act to succeed, that’s something almost everyone can relate to in some way or another. But this is obviously wrong. The audience realizes it, Detroit realizes it, the other workers realize it and even the protestors realize it. Cassius, himself, doesn’t realize it, however, until the party. The party was just plain disturbing. From the rapping to the ‘bathroom’ scene, I was incredibly uncomfortable. It only gets worse from there. The riot was terrifying, and the end was the cherry on top. 

 

What was most terrifying about the film, however, was how it parallels reality. Yes, it takes place in an almost alternate universe, but it reflects the social situation we live in today. It is sad that Black people have to disguise their own culture and characteristics just to make it in a predominantly white world. That shouldn’t have to happen. The strongest people are not the ones mutated into horses, they’re the ones that stay true to themselves and their culture, despite the pressures of society.

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Blogpost 13 (11/18)

In The Coming Revolt of the Guard, Zinn talks about the issue of the division between the wealthy and the poor and the different classes which we also see in the movie Sorry to Bother You. The United States as a nation is extremely divided where it has a majority of middle and low-class people who are exploited most. If these people do not see an issue with the system and stand up against it, instead of fighting each other, the system will not change. 

In the movie, we see how the middle working class felt exploited and protested to fight the wealthy in order to gain money to live their lives normally and not have to struggle in order to survive. I think this is where the media plays an important role in highlighting the issues with the class. We see how cash wanted to get money for himself at first and betrayed his friends and then when he realized how inhumane the company exploited people of lower class he decided to stand up against them, however, fails to achieve that as a single individual. This relates to what Zinn mentioned about the country being created by the leaders and founding fathers exploiting the poor and black people. It is fascinating to see how these issues of class, wealth, and colorism still exist until this day and there is so little done by the middle class to show dissatisfaction with the controlling system.

The movie ending implies that middle or lower class people will always be inferior to the wealthy and will lose no matter how much they try to make a change. These revolts are really important as they are the only way for society to achieve equality.

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BlogPost 11/17/20

Zinn describes in this chapter, The Coming Revolt of the Guard, an idealization of the results of revolution for those not represented yet in America, based on glimpses of historical revolution in the past. He described the increasing divide between the wealthy and the poor in the United States and explained that this country was created with so many natural resources, talent, wealth, and labor power, that it can afford to give up a little bit of freedom to those dissenting or not pleased. He also stated that this nation was created with the sole intent of keeping 99% of the population down and against each other, which is partly true. Infighting is the main way to keep people distracted from their real issues and grievances, like safety, health, housing, poverty, food, but I do not think this entire government structure of the United States was created with this intent, but instead has transformed itself into a distraction as a result of the intervention of external influences. Zinn also agrees from his beginning chapter’s that the Founding Fathers, although they had immense wealth and racist attitudes, developed the colonies into the states that they are today, which was the start (or end, depending on how one views it) of their own revolution. What began the delusion is the intervention of American businesses and international influences into American policies, but I think Zinn would argue that the very structure of almost any government in the world should expect revolution as they are based on an unequal structure rather than “false socialism”. 

History and media should show everyone who is making small rebellion actions every day, and large actions too, as it would allow people to see that they can make change. Histories understate revolts because they do not occur often, but they should continue to highlight the importance of revolt as a means for change, but not forget to overemphasize statesmanship as it is what we rely on for everyday function. Statesmanship includes, but is not limited to, voting for representation, caring for your neighbor, participating in your community, participating in understanding, and more. Statesmanship is not a requirement but is a commitment to improving the country through smaller victories, as these tasks can be arduous at times, which is a continuous protest to the brutality of the state of the human condition.

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Blog Post for 11/18

In both Zinn’s chapter, “The coming revolt of the guards” and the movie Sorry to Bother You, we see division through class and wealth. Zinn discusses how divided we are as a country. He discusses the majority being middle and lower class Americans, and brings up the idea that if our country wants to see change, it is up to them. The tone Zinn has here is definitely more hopeful than he has been in previous chapters. He believes that if the middle class listens to him and acts, there might be change towards equal power.

The movie provides a lens into unequal power between classes. The movie shows lower and middle class citizens using the power they have to make change through protests. I think one thing that stood out to me was the fact that it was all about making money for the people protesting. I felt that Cash really cared about making money for himself, and he was able to move up in his job when he learned to talk in a “white voice.” After movie up, he is introduced to a customer of the company, who holds “horsemen” as slaves. When Cash first tries to fix these problems, he fails alone. At the end of the movie, there is a crowd of people a the protest, and he was able to lead change. I think this reflects Zinn’s point in that the middle class has the power to bring other classes together.

What I didn’t understand was the very ending, and maybe that’s because most movies have happy endings, but I didn’t understand what the meaning of Cash becoming a horseman was.

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Blog Post 11/18

In “The Coming Revolt of the Guards” Zinn talks about how the elite oppress the ordinary people.  Writing, “All those histories of this country centered on the Founding Fathers and the Presidents weigh oppressively on the capacity of the ordinary citizen to act.”  The Founding Fathers of course being elites themselves wanted to make sure that they were able to control the common man.  That’s why only the rich white landowners had voting rights back then.  Now however, the elite displays their control in different ways, “One percent of the nation owns A third of the wealth. The rest of the wealth is distributed in such a way as to turn those in the 99 percent against one another: small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and unskilled.”  The elite want to put the rest of the United States against each other for their own gain, and that’s not right.  

Zinn says that there is a growing dissension in the 99 percent, and that it isn’t just the poor people.  However, “Now alienation has spread upward into families above the poverty line. These are white workers, neither rich nor poor, but angry over economic insecurity, unhappy with their work, worried about their neighborhoods.”  This dissension doesn’t bode well for the establishment because they just want to keep the normal.  The establishment doesn’t want the rest of the people to focus on them, but they want to keep the rest of the people fighting amongst themselves.  This is because they are able to keep their power when there are disputes amongst the rest of the people.  

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Blog for 11/18- Isa Keetley

Zinn’s chapter “The Coming Revolt of the Guards” brought what he’s been saying throughout the book together in one cohesive chapter. He focuses on the commonality of the 99% of the population; the people in the middle and lower classes. Zinn writes, “…the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going…they become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying the system falls” (635). He states that the middle class is the buffer between the upper and lower classes, however if the middle class revolts and refuses to do these things just for the benefit of the upper, they can redefine the system and take some power away from the upper class. I think Zinn did a really good job of explaining the importance of the middle class and the clear discontent of the majority of people with the system in this chapter.

I enjoyed the prisoner and guard analogy Zinn used, for the lower and middle classes. I feel like this idea that the middle class is bridge between all the classes is often considered, however no one has called them the “guards”. I think another important point that he makes is that in times of crisis we often look to someone else to save us. This savior ideology only worsens our condition and Zinn explains some of the detrimental effects this really has. Overall, I enjoy how Zinn focuses on the other half of history, the history that many textbooks don’t talk about. This chapter specifically talks about the 99%, the common people and the power they have through unity over the other 1%. History should be respectful of resistance, and Zinn continues to reiterate this message through his book.

Also, in regards to the film, I do not have much to say. I really did not enjoy it, as I had a difficult time figuring out what I was supposed to take away from it. I found the horse people particularly disturbing and would not recommend the movie to a friend.

 

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Blog Post 11/16

Throughout Zinn we have learned about several systematic flaws within America. Examples of these systematic divisions include race, ethnicity, culture, and class. In both this weeks chapter of Zinn and the movie Sorry to Bother You we see the role that class division in American plays in the grand scheme of our national shortcoming. Class is something I think most Americans oversee. For me, I always thought that classes made sense. After all we do live in a capitalist country. I believed that meant we would naturally see large wealth gaps throughout different socio-economic backgrounds. What I realize now is that I severely underestimated how disproportionate and powerful the role of classes within America played on the quality of life for millions of Americans. Zinn goes as far to say that the division within classes might potentially be the most important and concerning of all systematic division within America. 

What role do we as Americans play in this division? What can I do as one citizen to make a difference? Do I rely solely on my vote to try and put leaders in power that have an agenda to tackle this national concern? I’m not sure. I feel like so often Zinn leaves me feeling educated and enlightened, but also kind of sad. The roots that this country was founded on have created a society that is not equal. And that is something I never thought could be true.

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11/18

All about the money. Paying the bills and just making it through… until you are making enough money life changes. During the movie, we see right away after the main character, Cassius, becomes a power caller he has a new way of thinking. His white-person voice and it is all about JUST him making the money. He becomes the “big shot” and is worried about him and his money he will be making. In the span of 24 hours, he is suggesting that well my problems are the only problems that matter. In a way, I feel as if we still see this today in some people—people with a lot of money only worry about themselves and their problems. Of course, this is not all peoples with money, but sometimes the ones we hear about are the snotty, stuck-up,  show-offs of people.  Cassius suggests, “my success has nothing to do with you” (47:30). Right there that is the issue. No one person can do anything alone. It takes a team and more than one person to achieve in this world. Cassius’ desk mate is one of the main reasons that he is promoted—he is able to give Cassius advice on how to make it through in that job. This world is crazy and will continue to be crazy. I believe that the issue we have as humans is that we want to take all of the credit for ourselves and give no credit to those who have helped us along the way. We tend to see selfishness when it comes to money more so than anything. Once the money starts rolling in the personality and creditability of a person also have a shift.

 

Along with the Zinn chapter, America is extremely divided and probably will always be. The division comes along with money. Money creates this notion of power and makes people believe they are more important than other if they make more figures than others—more important and seem smarter because they have the money.

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Bringing it Together

Since the opening chapter of A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn asserts that class, not race or gender, is the most important division in American history. He starts by outlining the long-lasting impacts of indentured servitude and slavery on individuals’ socioeconomic class. By the time he reaches the Civil War he explains how different classes felt different ranges of emotion about the war. In the later chapters he views domestic favor for World War Two and the Vietnam War through the context of class structure. Finally, in today’s chapter, he brings it all together. Class is important to American history and, therefore, society because it is the middle and lower classes that must understand that they — not great figures — who must enact change in history. Even though Zinn admits that the US economic and political system allows the upper classes to manipulate the lower classes to be content with the current reality, he encourages the current lower classes to recognize their ability to make change.

 

In a similar way, the movie Sorry to Bother You encourages the middle and lower classes to recognize their agency. When Cash Green takes a job at a telemarketing company, he is just looking for a way to make some money and help his friends out of a bad economic situation. However, he quickly is promoted up the corporate chain and learns of a plot by one of the company’s customers to control their workers through a class of half-human slaves. In the same way that Zinn recognizes, change is difficult and takes persistence. The first time Cash tries to make change he fails; however, once he gets a whole class of people to revolt at the end, he is effective at getting back at the boss of WorryFree.

 

Looking at today, the movie and chapter’s message seem to be ringing true. After the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Taylor, and too many other people of color, it was the people as a collective — not some great figure — that stood up and demanded change. I think that the impact of this can be seen in the election of Joe Biden. While Biden has been elected to lead the country forward as its leader, he did not win election through an impressive amount of appearances and speeches. In fact, the opposite occurred. The fact that Joe Biden could win the Presidency on the backs of popular leadership shows that a changing of guard could indeed affect change.

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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 11/18

Zinn’s chapter “The Coming Revolt of the Guards” mentioned several points that are extremely relevant to today’s political climate that I found very interesting. The first idea mentioned is that the Founding Fathers and extreme presidential power prevents the common person from acting and involving themselves in politics. This can be seen by looking at the role of political elites in the nation and how difficult it is for people in minority or not elite categories to have a voice in politics. Zinn stated that while we have elections, the majority of them have been deciding between which white, politically elite man do we want to run our country. This worry about elite control, especially the economically elite, is seen in Madison’s Federalist Paper 10. Madison’s main concern is that majority factions will have the most power in a government and this should be avoided. Zinn feels as though this concern has not been addressed and we are still struggling with giving the common person a voice in political affairs. He asserts that the Preamble pretends that the government stands for all people, but in reality it’s just the elites that benefit from having a voice.

What I found really interesting was Zinn’s mention of the different dichotomies that construct the United States. He talks about “small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and unskilled” (Zinn 632). Zinn marks the root of these divisions as the 99% of people that don’t make up the third of wealth needing to compete with each other. At the end of the chapter, Zinn brings up these dichotomies again, but with the idea that we could bridge this gap in the future so long as we create “friendly communities” and a “nonviolent culture” that will allow all different forms of expression to coexist (Zinn 639). He says that in time this is possible, but I question this claim because we have already been working towards this for such a long time without much success. Especially with the middle class as a sort of buffer that Zinn mentions, it’s difficult to imagine a peaceful bridge between upper and lower classes without competition and some form of disobedience. I also think it’s really interesting how Zinn claims that factors such as alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, and mental illnesses are all signs of discontent with the government. I’ve never really seen someone attribute all of these issues to the poor performance of the government in addressing the people’s needs, but after reading this I definitely see this as being a possibility. I don’t think we can completely blame the government for these issues, but when basic needs aren’t addressed by the government, it is their responsibility to listen to the people and address them.

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11/18 The Coming Revolt of the Guards

“Certain basic things would be abundant enough to be taken out of the money system and be available-free- to everyone: food, housing, healthcare, education, transportation.” P. 639

Zinn’s imagined future exists around the principle that the inalienable rights people supposedly have should be more wide ranging than simply life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He is arguing that people additionally maintain the right to things more practical and less philosophical like “food”. I agree with Zinn’s assessment that the overall quality of life would massively increase if the United States adopted these as their basic principles. As nice as I believe Zinn’s hypothetical world would be, I don’t know if the 99% could ever organize well enough to make such a transition possible. As I read Zinn’s writings, I do question how much of the establishments repression of the bottom 99% is maliciously done in comparison to how much of it just naturally developed throughout history. Undoubtedly, what Zinn is suggesting would require adopting many more socialist policies in the United States. Due to the massive amounts of anti-socialist propaganda spread during the Cold War, such a large scale change would require a massive shift in public opinion. The American public would need to be educated about the reality of socialism to the point where the conditioning that occurred during the Cold War could be undone. Zinn using the metaphor of the middle class being the guards to the lower classes’ prison was spot on in the way it depicts why it is so difficult to rise from poverty. In some ways, the guards are so afraid of becoming prisoners themselves that they fight to desperately hold their own position in the economic hierarchy. The defensive position the middle class find themselves in makes it harder for them to worry about and attempt to fix the issues of the poor as they in constant fear of their own taxes being raised. Zinn’s dream world relies on the fact that the cutthroat atmosphere between those in the 99% is beginning to disappear. Hopefully class consciousness will continue to grow in the US and we as a whole will start to move towards Zinn’s ideal world as it would improve the quality of living for the majority of Americans. I am optimistic that we will eventually reach Zinn’s ideal, as it seems that society constantly moves in the progressive direction, but I am not sure of how long such changes may take.

 

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Post 11/18

Zinn uses this chapter to provide a sort of inspiration for the middle class of America.  He describes the distribution of power currently held by American elites, but he provides hope that this can change.  Zinn acknowledges that revolutions often do not work, but that does not stop him from making middle class Americans fed up with the current system.  The American Elites hold their power by inciting violence into the middle class to keep the pressure and flaws at the bottom of the class structure.  Zinn shows that people have been incapable of flipping the script, because of the lack of unity in the lower classes.  I can not see Zinn’s radical proposal working.  It would require such unity that I feel is unachievable in the near future.  I love the perspective and hope Zinn provides for the rest of us, but I cannot see a full revolution of the punishment system to be in the near future. 

That being said, I am hopeful for the future of the country.  America is extremely divided right now, but I think change is coming.  The pandemic and progressive movements within the United States are beginning to bring people together and limit the influence of American Elites.  I feel that politically we are far from united, but people are beginning to see that we are all in this together.  Joe Biden will continue to make this his goal, and I have faith in the American people.  I do not believe in the utopia that Zinn proposes, because of the high expectations he is putting in all American people, but if we can meet in the middle with where we are now and where Zinn wants to take us, I believe in the future of the country.  Zinn even acknowledges his plan is next to impossible, but if we can use the flaws of our past to guide our future I genuinely believe an alternate sort of utopia can be found.  People are far from perfect, and everyone will continue to make mistakes, but if the leaders of our country and the people following them can use this book to see the past to guide decision making, then a better future is there.  America is a young nation that has made so many mistakes, and this historical book is essentially a guide through the years of failures.  Failures that will create a better future in America and the rest of the world.

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