Monday, May 11, 2009

BDSMN - Epilogue; race today and you

In the epilogue Tyson says, "we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it" (318). What does this mean? How is a national confrontation of our history possible? What prevents this catharsis? What is to be gained from such a process?Later Tyson comments, "America owes a debt that no one can pay, and yet it probably remains what Lincoln called 'the last, best hope' of human freedom.... And the enduring chasm of race is still with us, in some ways wider than ever." (320). How do you reconcile these statements? Tyson wrote his exporation before President Barack Obama (and Reverend Wright) became figures of wide, national prominence. Like Tyson, the Obamas (both Barack and Michelle) have invoked the notion of hope. How do you understand hope in the context of United States - both domestically and internationally?

44 comments:

Curtis said...

In terms of the quote that discusses how "we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it,” I have found that transcend is defined as to rise above or go beyond; overpass; exceed. We, as Americans, in essence, want to improve upon what we have done so far, and try to rise above or go beyond our history, yet most Americans want to hide from the truths and are not inclined to face and deal with problems that have been created in the past. Such problems include racism in America, the ongoing dilemma of prejudice, and a constant perpetuation of paternalism. The reason why I am saying “most Americans” is because the majority of American society wants to hide from truths set in history; some Americans go as far as twisting truths to influence others. An example can be seen, for those who want to hide, in my 7th grade textbook: The South before the Civil War was majorly agrarian. Who worked the farms? Farmers of course. What the book didn’t say was what kind of farmers, rather individuals, operated the farms. Even a textbook left out the fact that slaves worked southern farms?! Were the writers trying to censor a major part of American history, or were they simply trying to hide from the brutal, grotesque truth, or did they believe that a measly 7th grader wouldn’t be able to handle the magnitude and severity of slavery? To this day I am puzzled by the writer’s motives.
More recently, various individuals have not been willing to accept that Obama is black. “He’s half-black, a mulatto,” they claim. Personally, I believe that the discourse on Obama’s race is frivolous. Race shouldn’t be an issue, since he’s already been elected, and the majority of America seemed to be in favor of him. Yet, this brings up a question: disregarding my opinion upon race, can or will Obama lose/gain control/popularity/support because of his own race? Or, can America confront its history, and work in some way to provide reparations/respect to those affected in the past, and transcend its history and live up to its name perceived reputation: the Land of Freedom and Equality.
A somewhat disquieting occurrence happened recently at the Westport Police Station. I was faced with a case of prejudice/racial profiling. It was Sunday night, and the individual teaching the class expressed prejudice, or maybe it's racial profiling, at yesterday's class (probably unknowingly and unintentionally, but I still picked it up!) We were discussing terrorism, and the topic of the Japanese Sarin attacks in the subway stations came up. As the medic brought this up, he asked the class if anybody knew of the event, and immediately looked at my sister and I, and would not look away. My sister and I knew nothing of the attack, yet my sister was made very uncomfortable because of the sudden "shift of the spotlight" upon her. I do believe that the teacher meant no harm and didn't have any anger against us, yet what angered, rather bothered me was that he had looked at us right after he brought up the topic about the sarin attacks, presumably because we were Asian, thus believed that we would have a clue about what the attacks were about.

Later that night, he brought up a "local joke" from the city, where he used to work: "How can one tell if the Chinese food here is fresh? If there's a new cat running around the street each day." Again, after he finished, he looked in our direction; for what reason, I'm not really sure. Maybe he wanted to see if we thought it was funny, or maybe he meant it in a neutral fashion, like just "putting it out there." My sister looked around nervously, and gave me a glare, almost indicating "That guy's nuts! HE hates us!" I simply smiled and laughed along. It was a funny joke. And if he was trying to attack Asians, it didn't affect me. The individual may have not been aware of what he had just done, but I picked up on the prejudice. This worries me a bit. Even in everyday life, prejudice serves as an ever-looming presence, like a chlorine cloud with no wind present, just waiting to swallow up everything within its vicinity. Thus, this brings up a question: is it possible for America to overlook its past truths, and “transcend [its] history without actually confronting it?” In the case of EMS, is it possible for an individual to catch him or herself of the potential prejudice that he or she might utter/indicate/ convey to the audience?

Finally, will America, like a horse that has trudged through a swamp, be able to shake off the remaining droplets of paternalism and racism, and will it shake its head and toss its white mane of supremacy as the persistent fly of prejudice buzzes in its ear, or will it allow the fly to get its full attention and swat it dead with its tail of justice?
I am really itching to know, and if anybody has an answer/opinion (Cole, I’m sure you will come up with something great, so don’t disappoint me please) ;) I will pacify your soul with my violin (only if you want me to). Thanks!

Michael said...

I think that the phrase, "we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it" reflects mainly on the fact that we, as a nation, have never truly confronted our mistakes. We are still afraid to face the ugliness of our own country. And until we can openly admit and reflect upon our past mistakes, we will not be able to move on as a better nation and "transcend" this history.

Many examples of the ignorant, evil face of humanity can be seen throughout the civil rights movement. However, I feel that a very prime example of this is the outrageousness seen through the Japanese Internment Camps. We, as a nation, have yet to truly face the fact that we imprisoned thousands of Japanese people for virtually no apparent justification or concrete reason. It is so ridiculous that many people do not know about this event and that the only way I have ever heard about this is through a few discussions throughout education. Another example is our ignorance of the Native American rights, which we have discussed earlier. The sterilizations done in hospitals, the reservations that we isolate them to , and the open racism we often throw at them is greatly ignored in society.

Therefore, not only through Civil Rights events (such as the outrageous trials like that of Emmet Till) we can see ignorance of our own national ugliness. We can only find hope to transcend one we confront our complete mistakes and our ongoing mistakes. Only then can we hope to overcome racism and other problems within society, both nationally and internationally.

Suzanne said...

I think that Tyson means that the United States wants to forget, and not learn from our mistakes. There are certainly problems with this method. If we try to forget our mistakes, then we will be soon confronted with them later on. By trying to move forward without racism by trying affirmative action plans, we are putting a band-aid on a broken leg.


To solve the problem of racism in our country, or at least try to solve it, education needs to be regulated. We need to make sure that all schools in the country are teaching the same thing. We need to stop trying to save face, and finally learn from the mistakes that we have made, just like every other government. If schools study the Japanese interment camps, and dissect how it happened, and how an immoral fear diseased the public, than students can stop it from happening again. I wish that schools would universally learn about our mistakes, and thus, help prevent them from happening.


America needs to confront the issues that have haunted us from the beginning. We need to look racism in the face and study it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. Only through education can people learn different ways of thinking.


We are facing the ramifications now, as we always have. What makes this time different, I think, is how much time has passed. It’s more permissible to allow these speed bumps when a nation is developing, but now a black president is in office, when situations like the one in St. Lewis (a black community is so ignored that their schools are flooded with sewage) still live on in America.


I think that we need to try and solve all differences with other races and groups of people. Yes, African Americans are the first group that pops to mind, but what about the gays? Aren’t they ignored and made fun of?


Now is too late, I think, but late is better than nothing.

Brendan said...

When Tyson says we want to transcend our history, he is literally saying that Americans want to rise above the events of the past without facing what the events meant. This can be further simplified to say that Americans will take certain actions that may or may not be controversial, but will try to move forward without examining what they actually have done. When Tim Tyson finds that a court he is visiting has gotten rid of evidence, it “…baffles him that people think that obliterating the past will save them from its consequences” (295-296).
The other posters have mentioned examples of transcending history, but the problem with Native Americans seems to be another key instance. It seems in many instances that America does not want to admit that they have historically ignored and mistreated Native Americans terribly, particularly by taking their land from them. In an example, the Battle of Little Big Horn is often renamed “Custard’s Last Stand,” showing a preference to name a famous battle after the fallen general rather than admitting that the battle was fought bravely and won by the Native Americans.
A national confrontation of this is possible, so long as Americans are willing to do it. Tim Tyson gives a good example of this in the epilogue. He says that despite the fact that whites often opposed the Civil Rights Movement, America as a whole has since tried to make it look as though it was never opposed at all (318). I agree with Suzanne that teaching others about the events that are being transcended currently, particularly racism, so that America is better educated to know how to not repeat those actions. Tyson's theory that "employment, education, and infrastructure activities..." (321) would only begin to correct what happened during slavery is important and should also be noted. America can address the problems with an apology, but only through trying to do something to correct them can it solve them and finally confront its problems successfully. This attempt to solve these problems will help to further bring America together and to could possibly help a little to put the past a bit behind it. If America can overcome its apparent reluctance to admit when it was wrong and when it came off as the enemy during a certain event, this can happen.

Michael said...

This is Berlin

During the Civil Rights Movement, Malcom X proclaimed, “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.” (thinkexist). In modern society, X’s audience has dwindled to the few that have enough cojones to stand up for themselves. Too many Americans are becoming bystanders, waiting for a messiah to step in and bring them to the Promised Land. Not only is endangering one’s life daunting enough, the change that can come along with being a “savior” is just as chilling. For that reason, “the majority of Americans reject social programs that could help close the enduring chasm of race, believing it is not our history, but their genes” (321). Integration comes at too high a cost for those who are sitting pretty. The insecurity that results from change comes at too great of a risk, even though it would make giant strides towards relieving a people from oppression that they have been enduring for hundreds of years. Therefore, if there were any hope of bridging the chasm of race, it would have to come in a package similar to Martin Luther King Jr., a man of virtue who withstood a multitude of threats to inspire change. It is very hard to be intrinsically motivated to overcome such a barrier, especially while “white supremacy remains lethal” (321). There is hardly a chance to achieve better equality (true equality is more fantastical than Harry Potter)

Stephanie N. said...

In response to the first quote, I think that Tyson brings up an interesting and very relevant point. I think that people want to not make the same mistakes as the previous generation, however, they are not ready to confront the racism that existed and still exists. This makes me wonder: can racism ever truly be eradicated from society? Tyson states “The majority of Americans reject social programs that could help close the enduring chasm of race, believing it is not our history, but their genes. The ancient lie of white supremacy lurks in the unconscious assumptions of most whites and many backs, who believe, deep down, that something is wrong with black people” (321). As much as I would like to say that I am completely prejudice-free, I know that I’m really not. In one episode of ‘The Office’ Michael tells everyone to picture a prison, then a prisoner. He asks what the prisoner looks like. I hate to say it, but when I did this, the prisoner was an African-American. Although most people might not be as overtly racist as others, the idea of “white supremacy” is ingrained into our society. Some use the excuse that we are a “capitalist” society and that people of every race have to make their riches through hard work. What those people don’t take into account is the little things that make it that much harder for blacks. Even assuming that a prisoner is black is adding to the racism in society. All in all, I think that erasing racism completely from our society is an impossible task. However, I think that we are taking baby steps in the right direction.

Elizabeth said...

When I was little, my parents taught me that to properly apologize, one has to say sorry, state what they are sorry for, and promise to try to do better and not do it again. This lesson was refreshed in my mind when reading Tyson’s epilogue, specifically, “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it. We cannot address the place we find ourselves because we will not acknowledge the road that brought us here” (318). As my mother would say, it does no good to apologize and not mean it, or not know what you’re sorry for. When Tyson said, “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it,” I related it to times when I might have pretended it wasn’t me that drew on the wall, but my brother. Trying to remember or recall things differently to avoid the guilt I deserve, our country has been doing the same thing with the treatment of blacks. Tyson said, “Our failure to confront the historical truth about how African Americans finally won their freedom presents a major obstacle to genuine racial reconciliation” (318). Retribution cannot and is not repaid properly when the guilty refuse to accept full responsibility for their sins. When our nation refuses to accept their faults, hiding events such as in chapter twelve when all the information about the Henry Marrow murder cases is discarded, justice isn’t properly awarded. The nation has to confront it’s history of faults, instead of just remembering a better past than the one that actually happened, to begin to pay the debt that America owes to those people they hurt. Whether America will ever be able to repay what they owe to such a large portion of its population can be debated, as Tyson comments, “America owes a debt that no one can pay” (320). I believe America is on its way, but nowhere near full retribution. People might think we’re close, but as Raph said in class the other day, “are you an optimist or just oblivious?” It will be hard, but maybe with Obama as the first black president, things might move along faster.

Cole said...

To respond to the quote by Timothy Tyson, I find his statement ("we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it") particularly relevant today, when we have finally overcome our inability to elect an African-American candidate.
Of course, electing a black president is just one step forward in confronting our entirely prejudiced and unequal "democratic" history.
Like others have stated, for years generations of people have agreed to progress (both democratically and as a nation) without actually acting upon their statement.
People have constantly agreed and, in some cases, argued to advance society to include minorities and women. However, time and time again these pledges "in the name of democracy" have fallen from cries for action to dreams to hopes to non-issues.
Take, for example, the womens' suffrage movement. For decades, society told women to wait, saying that eventually suffrage would be granted; but, until Alice Paul starved herself, nothing changed. Society turned a blind eye to the cries of a forgotten sex and it took desperate action for suffrage to finally be granted.
As Tyson hypothesizes, it is much easier to exist apathetically as a spectator watching the dreams of the oppressed shattered than it is to stand up and challenge the ill advised aims and societal norms of past generations.
As I have heard many times, "Democracy is not a spectator sport;" but, it seems that in America not many people have received that memo. Maybe the memo was ignored; maybe it was considered and then rejected; or, perhaps as Tyson agrees, that memo was such a scary prospect, such an unconquerable foe, that it was thrown away into an ever increasing pile.
There are, of course, exceptions. The revolts and counter-culture revolutions have sprung, some successful and others failures.
But, overall, the majority has yet to move into that critical phase of challenging history, instead of weakly obeying the laws that have guided this country ever since 1776.
Perhaps we are “A Nation of Cowards.” The optimist and idealist in me tries to reject that notion; but, then again, that is the same attitude that has led people to constantly agree to transcend history without actually doing anything to change it.

Joanna said...

I believe that the quote "we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it" (318) shows human nature at its worst. We discussed this in class today, but the truth is that to truly learn history we must take responsibility for it. We must admit that we were wrong, even if we "won" the war, we must admit our faults. I believe that we should try to teach as unbiased a history as possible. However, this beautiful ambition, is rarely possible because human nature defies this goal. However, I will try to be idealistic for one moment and say that if this is possible and we are capable of shedding a light onto the most naked and revealing moments of history we will benefit because we will truly be able to overcome our ancestors' past.
Now, back to my cynical ways :), I believe that the racial divide which is in "some ways wider than ever" will never go away. As Tyson points out on page 317, " as a nation and as individual human beings, we would rather hear the gospel stories...than the blue stories of murder, retribution, and injustice that mark our actual history." Human nature will not change and I believe that the best we can do now is to live a life where there is no escape from such horrific historical events. The only way, I believe, to overcome the divide is to blur the "color line." We must forget that Barack Obama is black, not because we do not want to acknowledge the success of a black man, but because this success should not be singled out, for it only alienates others. I remember listening to the Tyra Show once (I know don't mock me :) and hearing Beyonce say that when someone opens a magazine and compliments that "beautiful black woman" she is actually creating a divide because there should be so many beautiful black women that seeing a new face should be completely within the norms of society.
This is why I do not believe in affirmative action and why I never fill out the race box. Race doesn't matter, after all that is what Dr. King preached, and by singling out people for their race we create animosity and divide the races further. We should applaud Barack Obama's success for many other things, his education, his childhood, and his strength, but to overcome racism means to blend the races completely, in the way that Jefferson preached to do in colonial times.

Stephanie said...

I feel that the quote, “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it” (318) means that people generally want to move forward with their lives without facing shameful experiences from the past. This makes sense as it is human nature to want to avoid negative occurrences and just move on, as exemplified by the southern plantation Tyson and the students visit in the epilogue. By conducting a tour of the plantation from a wealthy, white southern perspective and not mentioning slavery at all, the tour guides demonstrate that many people refuse to come to terms with the past and want to present history in a positive light. Tyson noted this idea later on in the epilogue by writing, “As a nation and as individual human beings, we would rather hear the gospel stories of Mrs. Roseanna Allen and Miss Amy Womble’s witness than the blues stories of murder, retribution, and injustice that mark our actual history” (317). It seems that if we gathered the strength and courage to confront our past of slavery and racism, it would help facilitate reduction in prejudice and stereotyping that still exists in society.
America is ‘the last, best hope’ of human freedom, as Lincoln said, because our democratic system is based on principles of equality and freedom which allow for change to correct injustices through our Constitution and three branches of government. Our culture, I feel, is becoming more accepting of diversity regarding race, religion, and gender. Barack Obama himself is a paradigm of how far our nation has come in terms of tolerance toward others. During the primaries, he delivered a speech on race relations in response to the Jeremiah Wright controversy. Obama explained how his mixed ethnicity should not affect the way the public perceives him as a candidate and how only in America it is possible for someone like himself to be able to run for president. “I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible...It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.” Not only did Obama begin to directly confront our history of racism, but he also further supported Lincoln’s statement that America is ‘the last, best hope’ of human freedom.
An April 26, 2009 article from The New York Times entitled Obama Presidency Nudging Views on Race, Poll Finds reports that Obama is changing the perception of how many Americans feel about race and race relations. One survey respondent said, “Mr. Obama’s openness and acceptance have helped others be more open and accepting.” Under the President’s leadership, there is hope for blacks and other minorities through new domestic social programs, including healthcare and enhanced educational opportunities, that will benefit lower socioeconomic classes comprised disproportionately of these groups. Internationally, Obama’s leadership is inspiring allied nations to work together toward a better future, to collaborate to reshape the financial system, to achieve nuclear disarmament, and to tackle terrorism. Overall, Americans are optimistic that Obama’s presidency will bring significant progress in domestic and international policies as well as in race relations.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/18/obama-race-speech-read-th_n_92077.html

Ally D said...

In reaction to Tyson's quote, "we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it" (318), I think that he's saying that the nation has not confronted the mistakes that have been made and thus not moved past them and improved. When I read the epilogue, and considered the quote that was pulled out, many events came to mind that, for lack of a better word, prove this point. For example, during WWII, while the United States was fighting for the freedom and equal treatment of Jewish people in Europe, we were creating Japanese Internment Camps left and right, even though the people imprisoned were American citizens. This event, as well as the dropping of the atom bomb, resonates loudly and negatively in American History, and though many people look back and see how the events could have or should have been avoided, as a whole it has not been addressed or "transcended". Since people chose to ignore the small facts and just look at the overall general picture and the ends rather than the means, it is easy to forget about those affected by each situation and extremely hard to move past it in a healthy and positive way.

I feel that these dark pieces of American History that are so often pushed into the corner out of sight are everywhere. So many of these injustices were never brought to my attention until this year, and it just riles me up! Things like the cruelty towards Native Americans with sterilizations and Leonard Peltier should be shouted from the roof tops so people can acknowledge all the faults in our system and try to FIX them! And, with a more direct relationship to the Civil Rights movement, all the lynchings that occurred in the South (including Emmitt Till) that ended with the murderer(s) walking away free will forever remain as a stain on this short history of the United States. If the idea that who we are is shaped by our past experiences, good and bad, is true, shouldn't it count for a nation rather than just for each person? No matter how shameful or terrible part of our nation's history becomes, it is still there. Whether or not it's visible doesn't matter, because the truth can always been uncovered, and more importantly, recalled and never forgotten.

And to those who argue that ignorance is bliss, in this situation ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is simply stupidity, because by not teaching all parts of our past, there is a larger chance of certain historical events to reoccur, which, depending on the situation, could be terrible and terrifying. As much as a healing process it is, confronting mistakes and moving past them also works as a preventative step towards repeating past offenses towards the population.

Rose said...

Rosie L.

I chose to take a slightly different approach than originally asked for, but instead are discussing one of the main themes I found in the epilogue. In the epilogue, a reccuring message was the ignorance of our history. However, I am here to prove that especially in history, ignorance is not bliss.

I fully understand that ignoring the truth of the civil rights movement, and trying to "diminish its memory, often grinding off the rough edges and blunting its enduring critque of a dehumaniziing economic and political system" (319) its easier, it is not benefitting anyone. Maybe it was regarded as not important to show to history, or perhaps it was to preserve the innocence of the little 6th and 7th graders learning about the Civil Rights movement but it's actually doing the contrary. Not being exposed to the full truth has forced people to become oblivious, and forced with unliked honesty they won't accept it. For example, my 7th grade sister who is currently studying the Civil Rights Movement could not accept the harsh truth. When I presented the idea of Martin Luther King Jr. not being completely non violent she just looked at me like I was crazy. I told her MLK had an armery within his house, and his campaign promoted the use of throwing rocks at police officers and gun usage. My sister's response was simply MLK is non violent, thats what my teacher taught me and he had the guns because of the stalkers. I was truly appalled then to hear what she was saying, but it's true. Our nation is plagued by a special bug, caught in a spiderweb of lies.

Also, in order to clarify myself I want to verify that the denial of truth was not just for the white people. Rather, everyone experienced the lying. A black minister once preached that people were" our best selves and reminded us just how good we really were. preceded by the simple sense of decency we learned as children." (318). The white population of America are to themselves as well. Many people claimed the nation was not flawed and that Robert Teel was not responsible for the death of Henry Marrow. What a joke. America is still like a court in a shoeshine parlor-there is no true justice existing, since no truth is being presented.

The fake honesty was not a good idea to start off with. Now it is ingrained into our society like Gossip Girl is ingrained into my monday night schedule, and irrevocable. The "prettifying" of American history to make it appear less inseure and vunlernable did nothing of the sorts. Thats because, now when discovering the truth, i feel ashamed for all of America's problems and personally I don't want to believe its true when I know it is.

Another problem with original denial of the truth is the reminants it's left behind. I no longer know what is the truth and what is a complete lie, in terms of American history. After only discovering all of the flaws within our political and social system at age 15, I can still cannot completely grasp it. If I am not able to understand it fully, and are exposed to national flaws everyday in our US class, how can the common citizen acknowlege the dirty past of all people?!

We now must recognize we are caught up in a tangeled web of lies an alse truths, and it appears to society as inescpble. However, it doesn't need to be that way. honesty works. For example, at age six i decided not to make my bed that morning. When my mom asked me if i had made my bed i couldn't look her in the eye and said yes i made it. As she marched down to my room to check it, sensing my insecurity, i felt ashasmed. When she noticed my bed was unmade, i got in big trouble. Since then, i haven't intentionally lied about making my bed and have not faced any incidents about it. Making your bed and not lying isn't a crime, but a blessing. I have a nice neat bed to crawl into every night, and I don't have to worry about being yelled at because of my bed.

Our deeply flawed history is not going to magically heal itself, and those shined edges of history won't shine for ever. At one point, without being re shined, they will become rusty and dirty.

sally said...

I agree with Michael about what he said the meaning of"we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it," means. I think that America has grown an ego bigger than any other country, which prevents us from addmitting fault. In BDSMN, one of the black characters in the book says "it was like we had a cash register up there at the pool hall...just ringing up how much money we done cost these white people. we knew if we cost'em enough goddamn money they was gon' start doing something," (204). When blacks and even some whites, starting rioting in Oxford for equal rights, the government was very aware of the segregation they allowed however tried to turn a blind eye. The rioters finally got the attention from the government after destroying public property which affected whites. The government tried to manage both the southern and northern wants, however contradicted themselves in the process. the supreme court realized that the brown vs. board of education decision was false and stated that it was not seperate and equal, however they did nothing in the South to ensure equality for all races.
Today there is a black president which proves that America can progress, however in it's progression, apologies and debts have not been repaid to those minorities who were severley discriminated against in previous years. In presidents before, most likley and sadly because they were all white, none of them adressed the issues becauae it was a thing of the past and it didn't matter anymore. They tried to convince themselves and the citizens that what happened needed to happen and it wasn't a terrible thing to do. However like Michael said with the interment camps the American government placed Japanese Americans in, whenever someone speaks of it, you can help but quiver. This is a natural reaction because the truth is, it was a horrible thing to do and it was allowed by our government. This shouldn't be ignored because if we pretend to forget that it ever happened, we will never learn from our mistakes.
However, now that Obama is president, there is a possibility that he will be the courageous leader to take the stand and adress the country with the truth: that everyone makes mistakes, even America, and we are sorry, however we are still a strong country and can learn from our mistakes to make sure they never happen again. America needs a strong leader that will represent hope for all minorities, so everyone will truly trust the government and justice they live by.

Jake McCambley said...

This is Jake McCambley

The notion of hope in America has become the lighthouse on the rocks of injustice, setting a course away from the violent, pounding waves of racism and inequality. Surely the waves still crash, but frequency and strength of these waves is diminishing. Saturday November 8th, the Saturday following the election of Barack Obama, my family took a trip in to Harlem to visit Sophia’s, my brother’s favorite restaurant in New York. The waiter who served us, and African American, was still overjoyed with the results of the election and commented that his attitude reflected the emotion that flowed through Harlem, thoughts and talks of hope and peace had begun to emerge, “now, more than ever” he had said. Howard Zinn points out that, “in times of crisis we must look to someone to save us” (Zinn), and it seems as though Obama has become a savior in the eternal fight for equality. On November 4th, 2008, I have to admit there were tears in my eyes as soon as Obama took the podium and began to address the nation. Obama stated that, “It’s been a long time coming… but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America” (New York Times). The moment I heard those words I had a feeling that if there was a time where integration was possible, it was now. Just like the waiter, I felt as though I exemplified the feelings of many people in my community, if not our country. Maybe saviors are the cure, history has looked to saviors for instance, and the country had Lincoln during the slave crisis, Roosevelt during the depression, and others as well. Maybe Obama is the savior of the race crisis, the man who will be able to help this country, “transcend our history” and bring about an era of equality among races, without the chance of making the mistakes of our past.

Jake McCambley said...

This is Jake McCambley again : )

Today in Class, Suzanne brought up an interesting in which Tyson stated that, “we are all the captives of our origins” (Tyson). For starters, I like this quote because it brings up an interesting topic of the human mind. It is well known that human brains are more receptive at a younger age, and as they develop, loose the ability to take in new facts or change old ways. My mom and I both started piano in the year 2002 and, not to put her down or anything, it took her longer to learn beginner’s songs than it took me. Part of this must be because she’s a mom, and I was a simple living 9 year old at the time, but it also has to do with the fact that her brain was not able to absorb the skill as well as a child’s. The same applies to transcending our history and bringing about equality, the older we get, the more difficult it is to change our ways of life through integration. Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% for integration, but it seems almost unfair to as people to change their way of life and integrate after living mostly segregated for so long. Of course, I don’t think it stops there, I think it is more crucial to the cause to worry not about the adults and their fully developed sense of living, but the unborn children who will one day run this world. In order to close the “chasm of race” it is necessary to raise these children with the knowledge of racial equality, and not racial inequality. Although these children, brought up in an integrated world, will be imprisoned in their origins, these origins will not contain the putrid concepts of racial discrimination.

Cole said...

In response to Curtis' posting (sorry Curtis for taking so long to answer your question :), firstly I think that part of the problem is actually understanding and acknowledging the extent of the racism problem in America. Although the election of Obama was a step in the right direction (perhaps, using your complex metaphor Curtis :), a few drops of paternalism and racism were shook off), the much larger and more blatant problem of the color line still faces 99% of the black population. The world most minorities live in is far different than the peaceful, halcyon life we live. Due to inequalities in education and in the socio-economic playing field, many blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other minorities (although they will soon be the majority) are unable to advance economically or socially, something I have said before in reference to Zinn's critique.
Overall, I think it would take an immersion into the life that many minorities (and whites) face every day.
Part of the racial divide, I think, stems from the fact that white elites in power are unable to imagine the reality for the majority of Americans, a reality that is horrific and scary to some, but a reality all too common for others.
Perhaps the only way the racial divide can be overcome is if the middle and lower classes revolt up against the upper class to form a more democratic, socialistic government and society.
To some (Joanna :), this seems idealistic, a far-fetched dream that is great on paper but not so great in reality.
These skeptics say that socialism is a nice picture, but turns easily into a dictatorship.
Maybe this is the case, but, as an outsider challenging U.S. history, I find it ironic, frustrating, and even maddening to see the fatcats in skyscrapers above earning ever increasing paychecks while the millions of homeless people are living below out of shopping carts, covered in the sweat and dust of the uncaring or passive people who walk by them, unable or unwilling to help.
Is this the democracy that we apparently exist in?
Can democracy even be whispered in the same sentence as America without one laughing in hysteria?
To me, the capitalist government we all mindlessly follow, that which hands over 90% of the wealth to 10% of the population, is a poor, laughable excuse for a government.
To me, a society which exists on capitalists' principles, where it is fair and even just for there to be billionaires along with the homeless and impoverished is, in fact, entirely undemocratic.
So, to finally answer your question as a whole :), I think that unless the middle class and lower class are able to throw off their chains of indifference and finally challenge history and the elites in power there will continue to exist a race divide, unaltered and protected by our inability to revolt.
As John Locke stated time and time again, revolution is necessary for there to be a healthy society.
To me, that time came decades ago, and the droplets of paternalism and racism, which I think are actually more like floods, will never be fully eradicated unless a full scale, widespread revolt is undertaken in the name of Karl Marx ( I bet you will love this Joanna:), who hoped and envisioned an equal, democratic society, where race is not a factor and where all people are accepted and allowed to prosper.
This may seem like the idealistic hopes of a crazed liberal, but maybe, just maybe, these seemingly radical, revolutionary hopes can be made true.
Well there it is Curtis- I hope you have garnered at least some answer from my response- Im sorry if I dragged on or digressed. I have a habit of doing that- and if you need any clarification, please let me know :) This was a very interesting question to answer, since it required me to analyze the problem of attempting to improve history without actually doing anything to change it.
Also, if anyone can think of a separate way to transcend history and establish a more democratic, less racially focused society, please let me know :)

Chester said...

"We want to transcend our history without actually confronting it.(318)"Simply, this is saying that The people who lived in the south during this time period want to forget about what happened and move on into an era of racial equality. Transcend is defined as "to overpass" and this is just what these people want to do. They want to get past this time period of hate and inequality without actually confronting what they did wrong.

In my opinion the only way a national confrontation of this time period would occur is through tragedy. Historically, tragedy has brought Americans closer together and seems to infuse patriotism into everyone. For example, Pearl Harbor, the assassinations of JFK and MLK and September 11th have brought us all together. The tragedy of course, would have to be an assassination of a prominent African American (INSERT BARACK OBAMA)or some sort of hate crime that gets attention from the media and touches everyone in one way or another. Although it is a terrible thought, the assassination of Obama would lead to everyone bonding together and trying to overcome the president's death. While the nation is mourning the President's death, people would point out times throughout history that blacks had been mistreated. This is the only way that I could see a national confrontation of the past racial issues in America.

In the world, America is seen as the promise land, "The Land of Opportunity" but, I do not think it is seen this way by people who have lived here for generations. Through the media, we see immigrants portrayed as wide eyed and so happy to be here. Unfortunately, I look at immigrants and I do not see them this way. They do the "dirty work" that no one else wants to do. I feel that this is the reason America is seen as the promise land internationally but is not seen that way by most of its residents.

Cole said...

Also, in response to Stephanie N.'s comment, it was very refreshing and, for me, optimistic, to see someone else seeing through the great capitalist bluff that democracy can be obtained in a competitive market-based society where there are only a certain number of spots for people in the upper class.
Like Stephanie stated, the excuse she mentions (if people are in the lower class it just means they have not worked hard enough) is entirely false and a sad reminder of the great lengths politicians and citizens alike go to defend the "holy" capitalist mission, which is currently stripping society and our government of any resemblance to democracy.
Also, when I read Stephanie N,'s response I was reminded of Ishamel, an enlightening book I read last year in English class which challenged the notion that modern society, which the author labels as the takers, is just in abusing the Earth to accumulate vast amounts of resources.
Like the author of Ishmael who challenged the current means of gathering food and natural resources, whose name escapes me, I think it would take many more people to challenge the so elevated status of U.S. History before the racial divide can be decreased and demolished.
Over the centuries, elites have proven they are unwilling to give up their power to create a democratic, just society. Thus, it is time the people of the middle and lower classes wake up, along with any members of the upper class, to establish this, perhaps idealistic, but much more progressive and equal society.

Gabe said...

“We want to transcend our history without actually confronting it”. I believe Tim Tyson has an aspiration to improve and advance society, without remembering the countries past faults. He wishes to rise above the notion of segregation, without actually facing segregation. I believe Tyson wants to advance society in this manner, because he is afraid. He is frightened that if we look back at our past and learn that there was such a thing as racism and hatred, segregation would never disappear, because we will always have the knowledge of its existence. However, I believe the only way society may be able to change is to confront our past actions. As Al Franken, an entertainer and politician, once said, “Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from” (Oh, the Things I Know). Who knows what would have come of our lives if we did not make mistakes. Who knows if the African-American Community in North Carolina would have risen up and fought for their rights if Teel was brought to justice. What if the Court Room had ruled Teel guilty of his charges, and sentenced him to prison? What would have come of the entire civil rights movement in North Carolina if an injustice were not made at that time? I believe it is imperative that we confront our past and understand our wrongdoing. Therefore, hopefully, we may learn from our mistakes and improve and advance ourselves.

Jenn said...

Jenn H here.

I believe that the quote, “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it” is blatant truth (318). When we transcend our mistakes, we indeed move up, beyond and surpass the flaws embedded in this nation. This is the dictionary’s definition of transcend. However, have we transcended them? It could be argued that we have, but in terms of realism, we have not. How can a nation as scarred as ours surpass the subtle cruelties we’ve committed without first confronting them? Americans look the other way when it reaches the point where we must apologize. Apologize? When has humanity in generic terms apologized for actions? Man is arrogant in admitting the slightest hint of failure. This nation is not a failure, but the system of equality very well may be. For it is frequently said that the “opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.” Exchange the word love, for acceptance. The indifference that plagues this nation is overwhelming. Hatred pooling from the baggage of our previous generations cycles about through society, such as the cycle of rain would. As the feelings of hatred and prejudice are evaporated for a short period of time, they mingle in the cloud of injustice. And then, the downpour. But the common misconception is that the downpour of hatred is what plagues us. On the contrary, it is the indifference. Americans who simply duck their heads when considering the oppression we’ve implemented are apathetic. We live in a short-lived nation of apathy. Rather than fixing what we’ve acquired from our former generations, we merely allow the cycle to continue. No longer fueling it - but letting it go on and on and on. So when will the cycle stop?

emily c. said...

Since the first chapter I have questioned the Tyson's motives for both supporting and trying to understand the African American's causes. In a community where a major part of the white population has some sort of prejudice and acts upon it, the Tysons seemed to have separated themselves from this crowd.
After reading ch.1, I narrowed their motivation down to three increasingly specific reasons. 1. the general belief of staunch Christians. 2. The belief of the Tysons as Christians and 3. the Belief of Tysons as individuals (meaning that their religion has no impact on their views).
As I continued to read, the option "Tysons as Christians" seemed to stand out to me. For example, when Vernon Tyson took Tim and his brother to the KKK meeting he says that he "wanted you to know what hate looks like" (52) but in the car ride back from the meeting they sang "Jesus loves the little Children, all the children of the world" and "Red, yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight etc." His reason for taking the boys to the meeting was not to show them hate and explain that African Americans are citizens just like everyone else, his reason was to show them that the KKK's actions were in conflict with the tenets of the Christian faith.
My reasoning that the Tyson's 'support' of the Civil Rights movement was reinforced by the fact that in chapter 8, Tim says that "But the truth is that the Tysons got embroiled in this mess for decidedly mixed motives. It was not that they were crusading heroes so much that they were passionate, willful, stubborn Christians responding to the world around them" (169).
I stuck with this thought until I read the epilogue in which Tim states that "Any one of the Tysons-- not just that Gator-- was capable of the kind of the murderous rage that killed Henry Marrow" (316). While the Tysons may have had rage too, their overpowering Christian beliefs negated this and prevented them from possibly acting on their rage.

I now believe that the Tysons may have not truly believed in the Civil Rights movement but they rationalized that they were responding to this conflict in the way in which a 'true' Christian is obligated to.

Coop said...

When Tyson says, we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it" (318), he shows how dark of a time he thought America went through. He believes that the magnitude of what happened to the black people in america is so great that even confronting it could spark memories. Tyson is saying without fully taking responsibility for what happened to the black people, and confronting the issues, we will never truly get any better. He makes the point that throughout history we always try to forget instead of trying to fix. This makes me wonder if he asking for too much? The point comes up if we jut forget about our mistakes they will come up again and we won't know how to deal with them. However, if we try and confront we are faced with the possibility of another "war" arising again. The radical whites can become more radical because of the ideas of trying to look back and confront what really happened. Just like most of the events our history has seen, there will always be a group that is for it, and there will always be a group that is against it; a double edged sword.

And with the second quote said by Tyson, "America owes a debt that no one can pay, and yet it probably remains what Lincoln called 'the last, best hope' of human freedom.... And the enduring chasm of race is still with us, in some ways wider than ever." He talks about the "chasm of race is still with us, in some ways wider than ever." There is a connection between the second and first quote. Firstly, Tyson confirms that he is he is hypothesizing that racial problems in America, in modern days, will not dwindle at all unless confronted. I am going to have do disagree with Tyson on this, because looking from a different perspective of this almost seems brighter. I cannot ever fully understand what it was like to be a black man during the times of racism, however, even though the two events are nothing alike, I am jewish and 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Again these events are totally unalike each other however, some Jewish people carry hatred for even modern Germans, and some black people carry hatred for white people. And the hardest thing for someone especially personally effected by the Holocaust is forgive. Not to forget, but to forgive. Because forgiveness, surprisingly, is the right answer for a lot of things. Some people say it is a sign of forgiveness, but it is quite the opposite. Forgiving is so much harder then carrying that feud you have. That is why when Tyson says without confronting the chasm between the black and white racial groups could never be filled, I disagree. Because even though confrontation might accomplish some things, it will also add negative attributes because of the disagreement that will arise. I think that true forgiveness, even though much harder to come by and harder to accomplish, will help refill the hole in our society that racism has created.

Tessa said...

In response to Sally: I strongly disagree with your last line, “America needs a strong leader that will represent hope for all minorities,so everyone will truly trust the government and justice they live by.” Although Barack Obama is a savior that many of us agree with, one man who already has all the power he could is not going to significantly change the racial structure of our nation.

As we’ve seen again and again, in the works of both Zinn and Tyson, we idealize our saviors. We’ve made Martin Luther King into an “innocuous black Santa Clause” (107), he has his own holiday, and, in our elementary school years, we were taught to attribute the success of the Equal Rights Movement to a single nonviolent man. However, even non-violent protestors fought with “non-violent” bricks, and King wasn’t a completely perfect person.

In the same way, Thomas Jefferson, the man who penned the Declaration of Independence, kept slaves of his own. Being alive here and now doesn’t make Obama any more perfect, even if his flaws don’t appear to be related to race relations.
Regardless of whether he wants to even things out between the races, a single person couldn’t accomplish so much on his or her own. The events that occur are complex products of the actions of large groups. As we read in The Coming Revolt of the Guards, a revolution has to form because of the coming together of many, many people. A single great orator is not enough to overturn preconceived notions. It took centuries of mistreatment and many years of eventual effort for the Civil Rights Movement to do anything. We must confront our history, rather than transcend and move past it, and acknowledge the fact that a single great speaker cannot change the world alone.

Farrel said...

I have read through the blog posts of everyone else and completely agree with Elizabeth’s standpoint regarding Tyson’s quote, “We want to transcend our history without actually confronting it,” (318). Her simile to blaming the drawing on the wall on her brother truly resonated with me, as I can easily relate to that type of situation. I too have found myself “trying to remember or recall things differently to avoid the guilt I deserve,” and agree that “our country has been doing the same thing with the treatment of blacks.” However, I feel that the aforementioned quote has been thoroughly exhausted by many of my peers, and I want to touch on a different one, the quote in the epilogue that “the enduring chasm of race is still with us, in some ways wider than ever," (320).

It is now 2009, and although African Americans weren’t considered humans in 1776, they generally are at this point in time, and according to the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal.” African American or Indian American, Asian or Caucasian, all humans are equal to one another, as noted by that esteemed document.

So shouldn’t the inferior and superior attitudes and societal standings amongst the many races cease to exist?

Instead, a chasm, or gap, is evident between the different races of America.

For instance, according to the US Census Bureau in 2004, with regards to the Americans with the top 5% household income, 1% were African American, whereas 88% were Caucasian. This contrast displays the unfortunate gap between the African Americans and Caucasians, as they are “created equal,” yet extremely far away from economic equality.

The only way to bring African Americans and Caucasians to social, economic, and political equality would be to bring down the rich, raise the poor, and create communism in the United States of America. Stereotypes would have to be defied, discrimination eliminated, and superiority become nonexistent.

This is a tall order for the wealthy, the racist, and the generally judgmental American. Society does not appear ready to bridge the chasm between the races. Nevertheless, any one person can, and should, attempt to treat all Americans as equals, regardless of the color of their skin.

rachel said...

When Tyson says, "we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it" (318), I believe that it means that our nation is covering up the truths of what actually happened/happens in America. We try to make up lies, or give half-versions of the truth to make events seem justified, even if in reality they are not. By masking something that largely affects so many people, like racism, we are not putting an end to it. When reading this quote I almost immediately thought of another quote that I had pulled out of chapter 11 when Tyson said, “If I did not turn to confront the demons that drove me, they would eventually catch me from behind” (287). Looking at the quote from the epilogue on a smaller scale, I looked at the contents from which the quote in chapter 11 was used. Tyson decided that he was going to drive to Oxford, North Carolina and ask Robert Teel why he had killed Henry Marrow. Clearly this murder committed by Teel had been unsettling to Tyson since the crime had been committed. Instead of ignoring it, or just not finding out the truth behind it, Tyson had taken it for what it was. However, Tyson was eventually able to make the decision and go to Teel for the answer and truth of his murder of Henry. Even if he never quite got down to the bottom of it, or was simply unsatisfied with the response he got, Tyson didn’t sit20back and take what he was given, he confronted this issue, and tried to prevent the demons of his past from “catch[ing] [him] from behind”. Unlike Tyson, in America we take things for what they are, and if we don’t like them we make up excuses for them. An example is something we talked about in class today. Some people, on the issue of slavery, claim that if we hadn’t had it, our economy would never have turned out like it did. This pathetic and unacceptable excuse for enslaving another human being is an example of transcending our history without actually confronting it. Instead of admitting to how horrible it was and how we should have never enslaved other humans, we make up justifications by saying that our economy thrived because of it. Unless we are able to confront our mistakes of the past like Tyson had done, our nation will not be able to move forward.

SABRES said...

NICK MAKI
The truth hurts. Many people realize that the way they treated blacks in the past was completely wrong and immoral. However, admitting these mistakes is very hard to do. By saying “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it,” Tyson suggests that the people of America want to forget about the past, therefore not learning from the mistakes made. In order to fully move on from the past, we as a nation must confront our history. Tyson writes, “Turning to face the past meant that perhaps I could set the record straight, be free of it, and move forward” (310). This confrontation would be most affective through a monument or museum so people can truly learn from the past. Over the summer, I visited Buchenwald, a WWII concentration camp. Walking through the camp, I was completely lost for words, my jaw literally stayed dropped the entire time I was there. The fact that the Germans retained the camp, turning into a museum, and allowing citizens of Germany and of the world to openly see how the camp operated, is a perfect example of the German’s confronting the atrocity of Nazism. If America would more openly challenge itself by dedicating museums, constructing monuments, and creating a national debate, we as a nation could finally move on from the past. However this catharsis is prevented because people are still hesitant to open up to the past. The Germans did not open the Buchenwald until 1991. In a historical timeline, the Jim Crow era is considered recent. National confrontation of this era will take time, but it will come.

When Tyson says, “America owes a debt that no one can pay,” I believe that he is saying that there is nothing that can be done to replace what America took from the black population (their dignity, pride, freedom, families, and their humanity.) However, Lincoln’s statement suggests that the existence of this eternal debt and America’s focus on it is perhaps the best hope that America can move beyond race.

Before Obama was elected, there was absolute no hope. If I told people (both black and white) that a black man would be president, they would have laughed. Whites would have laughed because they believed that they were the superior race and blacks would have laughed because they believed that they were the inferior race. However, the election of Obama has proved to the people of the world that there is hope. People now realize that it does not matter what color they are, they can truly become what they want to be.

jkasanoff said...

Tyson says “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it.” What he is implying is that confrontation is necessary to truly transcend our past. I tend to disagree. Tyson is calling for an apology of sorts, a moment for individuals to look at their past and realize what they have done, and that it was wrong, and fully transcend their previous beliefs. I disagree with Tyson purely on a logistical standpoint: the rate of change vs. the rate of birth and death means that people are being born each day with a new “default” set of morals. They have no history of their own, or mistakes to confront. A child born in the Obama era will see a black with power as normal, and is more likely to accept blacks. Should he or she learn about slavery, lest his or her generation repeat the mistakes of the past? Of course. Should his or her generation repent for the mistakes of the past? No.

Morals, in my opinion, are determined mostly by outside sources - what you see, what you are told, what society believes. Society only really changes when forced to. Thus, I do not think that those who believed, for example, blacks were a lesser race were evil or cruel. I do not believe that the our generation, which leans more towards equality, does so because we are enlightened or more intelligent.

I think that all that happened was blacks fought to change society, and society changed our morals. Society has no obligation to apologize for conforming to its own views. We will “transcend” the mistakes of the past simply by moving forward in time. Through birth, and through death, the racists will be wiped away, and the accepting will be left.

Although I believe (obviously) that racists are wrong, and acceptance is right, the racists will not be wiped away because they are wrong, but because society has changed to condemn them. Society’s condemnation and acceptance are not a result of moral and correct choices in my opinion. Those who fight to change society will change it (provided they are not beaten down by a stronger power) for good or for bad.

For example, the Holocaust was led by Hitler, who believed that Jews, homosexuals, and gypsies were unclean and should be purged from the land. Hitler was obviously not, by today’s moral standards, correct in his beliefs. However, he convinced many of his own people that he was. He succeeded in killing millions of his targets. Eventually, other countries banded together to stop him. But imagine they had not, or the Nazis had been more powerful. Might today’s morals reflect Nazi beliefs? Would we, as Aryans, look down upon those who accepted Jews? I believe so. I believe that society inspires morals, and not the other way around.

emily said...

Tyson begins Chapter 12 with a quote from Bernice Johnson Reagon who said that "If, in moving though your life, you find yourself lost, go back to the last place where you knew who you were, and what you were doing, and start from there" (288). Tyson uses this strategy as the basis for obtaining his research and goes back to his hometown, but it also can be implemented in our society to "transcend our history." The quote emphasizes going back to the past and allowing the past to guide who you are now and who you are going to become. It suggests that the only way to grow or move on is to confront the past. Similarly, as a nation we need to confront our past to improve our country and make amends. Tyson asserts that, "We have to weave the future from the fabric of the past" (307). We can't ignore the racial discrimination that plagued our country, the terror blacks were put through, or the unsaid feelings that many Americans still have towards blacks. Most would agree that "you learn from your mistakes" and this expression can be easily applied to our nation. Once we identify that what was done was wrong and a "mistake" we can "learn" and move on. It won't be easy but then again "America owes a debt no one can pay" and any effort to lessen this debt is beneficial. Currently, our nation is perpetuating this racial inferiority cycle by ignoring what happened in the past. I know that as a student my eyes were truly opened this year as I found out what really "went down" but unfortunately many Americans are completely unaware of the extent of these racial conflicts. Things won't improve until we, as a nation, can see what is wrong. This process could potentially eliminate hostility and, even though it is completely unrealistic to say it would be possible to eliminate the underlying racial prejudices, it would help to identify that those feelings or stereotypes are wrong.

Lauren said...

Hi it's Lauren K.
When Tyson says “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it” I think fear. I think of whites that know how poorly their kind treated the blacks but will not admit to it. Sure, maybe they do want the treatment of African Americans to be different, better, but that is never going to happen if they don’t look back to what has previously happened in America. You learn from your mistakes. Tyson said that, “We cannot address the place we find ourselves because we will not acknowledge the road that brought us here” (page 318). But if what Tyson says is true then we are never going to be able to transcend our history if we are afraid to look back and accept the error in our ways. Tyson’s father said, “The shooting and the burning and the destruction which followed it are only the fever, not the disease…the disease has been around for three hundred years” (page 143). Racism is a disease and we have had time enough to become immune to it, but if we ignore it the disease will not go away. You cannot sit around and hope the disease passes through your system. That is living in ignorance and although “ignorance is bliss” you can never make a difference if you don’t begin to treat the problem and the way to do that is to look back at the mistakes that have been made. In one instance Tyson describes the intentional ignorance of whites when he took people to go visit a plantation where tons of African Americans had been murdered. “The tour included virtually no mention of slaves or slavery, let alone the 1811 revolt. A black handyman working outside told some of the students that the management had recently fired a young tour guide who’d insisted on talking about slavery. ‘Our guide’s presentation was about prayer schools, parlors, ladies’ portraits on the wall, tall ceilings, hand-carved banisters…’” (page 314). This was the tour that they received in a place where hundreds of blacks were brutally murdered and had their heads stuck on pikes for all to see. We are afraid to confront our past but the time has come to do it. Racism may never go away fully but a fair chance should be given to all people to allow them to succeed.


The last question asks how you understand hope in the context of the United States. Well to understand hope you need to know what it means. Dictionary.com defines it a, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”. However, I do not feel that this is all that hope is. I feel Tyson inadvertently describes what hope is better than an actual definition of the word when he says, “It was not that they were crusading heroes or political leaders so much as that they were passionate, willful, stubborn Christians responding to the world around them” (page 169). It is a belief in something no matter how you think things will turn out. Hope is standing up for what is right even when others think that you are wrong, but you do it anyway, because it is right, and just, and you know that people deserve better than the treatment they are receiving. Hope is Tyson’s father asking if white people could learn from the terrible way they treated blacks when he said, “We ask that these pains of love might bring a harder wisdom” (page 315). He has accepted the past but not forgotten it. He is going to use what people have learned and take that information into the future and help to close the chasm of race. All throughout their lives, the Tyson family showed faith and hope for a better life for all people treated differently based on race. “But the faith was there, even when they stumbled, and they worked hard to do better, even when they fell. The Tyson’s had broken some of the shackles of fundamentalism and white supremacy and they all had gotten some education” (page 316). The Tyson’s were an exquisite family who hoped for a better life for people who were treated unjustly even when it was not to their benefit to have those beliefs. Hope is found in unique and changing places which are different for different people; however, Barack Obama and his family had created a frequently used source of hope for people of color and people suffering from racism. He is an inspiration to all and shows that anything is possible, all you have to do is learn, whether it is from the past, mistakes, or anything, looking back is key to moving forward.

Scott said...

I have to disagree with what Jeff is saying. Just like in an AA meeting, acceptance is the first step towards progress. We must first acknowledge our past wrongdoings in order to move past them in the future, as history of course tends to repeat itself. The only way to avoid that is through education. The present generation must be educated about the mistakes made in history, in order for our society to learn from past experience and truly progress. No one likes to admit their mistakes, but Tyson is absolutely correct in stating that confronting our history is most important to overcoming it.

The most basic example seen in class would be the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier. Clearly he was unfairly imprisoned and especially in his current state, he is being held for the protection of “national security” just because he killed two people. It is evident the government has made a mistake, but it is too hard for them to confront this, apologize to the community, and do the just thing. Denial is just so much easier, especially for one’s own morals.

Only truly brave individuals can stand in front of society and say, “I made a mistake.” Just like the former Ku Klux Klan leader that we watched be interviewed in period 1, he had a true sense of remorse and bravery in order to perform that interview. That signified a progressive movement away from the Klan, as he moves forward in his life and accepts that his previous lifestyle was absurd and ridiculously racist.

As we accept the mistakes we have made before in history, we set up a path for the following generation to learn from them. We prevent history from repeating itself through education. It is the times we do not acknowledge these mistakes that progress is hampered, as egos overpower morals and racism triumphs over justice.

haylee w said...

I have a little different out look on Tyson's quote "we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it,” I feel that we have transcended or risen above in a way. We are able to look at what we have done and say that it is bad. We are able to look back and say things are bad however, we cannot confront it.

As Elizabeth said you cannot confront something unless you apologize for it which we haven’t done. We haven’t apologized for enslaving people or anything that we have done. Since we haven’t apologized and understand the depth of the errors we made yet we still look down o past generations errors we are lost in a cycle that is never ending. We cannot confront it and as Suzanne said learn from it, then after we have done all this we can transcend and confront our history.

Brian said...

When people want change, a majority of the people fighting for it are not willing to put the work in. These people that Tyson speaks about are the bystanders, the people who believe that there is injustice, but are not willing to fight for it. In order to confront our history, it would require the government, and all those who kept injustice from stopping to formerly apologize. Until that happens, it is as if these people do not actually feel bad about the crimes they committed against what is right. If they do not do so, they signify that they believe that what they did was okay and right. When Tyson says that "America owes a debt that no one can pay," I believe that he means that nobody is willing to pay that debt. The white society of the 1960s and before(well at least the racists) are in debt to the black community, as they had wronged them for so long. I also believe that the election of Barack Obama is a gigantic step towards equality. Although we may have equality in terms of the law, I do not believe that equality has been reached, or the debt has been paid. The real reason for this is that nobody is willing to pay this debt. The people do not feel it necessary to apologize, or are not willing to lower themselves. But would an apology be enough? No. The best way to makeup for wrong doings of the past would be to completely rid ourselves of the racism in our country. Now of course my view of racism is going to be a bit naive. After all, I have lived my whole life in Westport, a town with a lot of prejudice as there are so few minorities in our town. My few experiences have shown me that we are gradually transforming into a society free of racism. During April break I was in Georgia, a southern state. I encountered many African-Americans, all of which were so gracious and kind to everyone. They did not seem to take any offense or unhappiness against whites.
Now in terms of confronting our nation's history, I feel that the only way that we can do so is to move on. We must move on from what has happened to the citizens of our nation, and use them as examples of what can not happen again. We must learn from the history of racism as a way to never let this happen again to any race, religion, or gender. We have had so much oppression in our society. But we have also gotten passed the oppression and made a more equal society for all. Now that's not to say that all people are treated equal, and that race is no longer an issue.

Diane said...

Tyson is an author who obviously recognizes the prejudice, violence, and racism that has marred American history and, unfortunately, passed into the present. When he says that “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it" (318), I think Tyson is essentially describing the irony of American introspection. As many others stated, for one to transcend or overcome one’s history requires a sense of conscience and willful progression as well as a clear view of one’s past mistakes. However, we, as Americans, can only gain these necessary assets by learning from our errors and confronting our turbulent history. Tyson ultimately tells how Americans want to “move on” from mistakes in American history while remaining ignorant to the nation’s past offenses and wrongdoings; America wants to say it has bettered itself and cleared its conscience without examining what and why it must improve. This poses a problem because understanding and recognizing history is the key to rising above the past. For example, how can America know to overcome racism if it has not confronted the horrors of racial discrimination? Although Americans would like to take the “easy way out,” we can’t truly complete our catharsis and better our nation without exploring our history. As Tyson wrote in Blood Done Sign My Name, he realized that he had been “infected with white supremacy” (Tyson 61) by first the grade; he only truly realized the wickedness of the truth, when he was “forced to confront… that monstrous lie and moral cowardice” (61) that preserved it.

I think that the “enduring chasm of race” (320) is still prominent among Americans because we have not yet collectively been able to confront our history, and, currently, many resist it. To close this gap, we need to consider ourselves, our surroundings, and our society with a whole new perspective; we need to look beyond the facets of our specific lives and examine the effects of race in the lives of others. Why is it that wealthy schools are predominantly white when many less privileged schools may be mainly composed of African Americans? Why is it that we see “Custard’s Last Stand” instead of the Battle at Little Bighorn? How are these things perpetuated within our society, and how can we confront the discrimination that crosses our paths on a daily basis? While these are questions Americans should be asking themselves to shrink the racial chasm, it is continually widened by ignorance and shortsightedness. Some refuse to believe that prejudicial events such as the holocaust took place, so how many don’t believe in the importance of the civil rights movement? As a result, it becomes apparent that in order for our nation to progress, proper education is crucial. If social and academic education could, only sixty years ago, instill “depressing clouds of inferiority” (69) in the minds of African Americans, it can certainly teach the value of racial equality.

“America owes a debt that no one can pay” (320); we owe rights and equality that have been too long been denied to the various races of our country. This is so far overdue that it seems our debt can never be repaid, but, now, by confronting our past and applying its teachings to the future, we may prevent our country from sinking any further into moral debt. The election of President Barack Obama, for example, is a manifestation of America’s measured progress; during Tyson’s childhood in the south, whites held every position of power while the general populace of blacks worked beneath them. Now, about seventy years later, we have come to a time where we, as a nation, can elect a black president to lead our country. This change represents hope; it gives hope that one day, perhaps within our lifetime, we may see an equalizing force crush the cultural hierarchy, and, eventually, the world may witness a notoriously racist nation properly confront its past in the effort to better the future.

Raph Ray said...

In response to how a national confrontation of our history is possible, i just don't think there is a way that in doing so everyone will understand...or for that matter have an equal amount of sentiment for the subject. This is for many reasons, one of the reasons i think about is authority being flawed and therefore from the instant this 'confrontation' began--whether it be a national holiday or school day, the information would be tainted (just take the civil rights movement as an example). To completely undo original sin i suppose you'd have to wait generations, and during those generations you'd have to isolate the youth most importantly and force them to understand the basis for such actions taken in the past. How i understand hope in the context of the United States, its everywhere for starters partially because Americans seem to be so helpless they find such gratification in things such as religion etc. Yes, recently the Obama's have brought a lot of hope in America and throughout the world, however i just cant help but feel like only some of this 'hope' is tangible.

Ellen said...

We understand Tyson’s idea that “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it" (318). This implies that we want to move beyond our past without dwelling on the path that led us here and the bumps we hit along the way. This notion is exemplified in the Author’s Note of BDSMN in which Tyson explains that while his master’s thesis, Burning for Freedom: White Terror and Black Power in Oxford, North Carolina was available at the Richard H. Thornton Library in Oxford, NC, someone had torn out the pages describing the actual killing of Dickie. Even though Tyson was aware of the missing pages, he chose not to replace them. Tyson writes, “Those missing pages make my central point more clearly, in some respects, than their content ever could have. Our hidden history of race has yet to be fully told, and we persist in hiding from much of what we know” (324). This is an excellent example of how we conceal our mistakes rather than confront them, in this case, by ripping out the most inflammatory pages from a dark time of American history. Another comment in the Author’s Note further supports this contention. When explaining the names in his book, Tyson says that he used almost all real names, except he had “altered the identity of one distant relative, whose daughter pleaded that his grandchildren needn’t know the historically unimportant details of his misdeeds” (323). But can any historical fact be unimportant? All of our ancestors’ actions and statements contributed to where we are today. What good can come from not knowing the truth? And the daughter’s concern is further proving Tyson’s point. By hiding the name of her relative to protect his grandchildren, she is shielding them from his mistakes. How can you learn from something that you have no knowledge of? Her grandchildren must learn about their grandfather’s actions, whether they were morally right or questionable, in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. This knowledge doesn’t debase their feelings or respect of their ancestor, but allows them to understand him all the better.

We have also said that we Americans are too proud to admit that we have done wrong and as such we too are perpetrators of the crime of forgetfulness. Few of us, however, have proposed a solution to our collective historical amnesia. Nick suggested that a monument be constructed in America similar to the Buchenwald, the WW II Nazi concentration camp in Germany. However, most if not all of the monuments we see in this country commemorate brave Americans such as Ground Zero firefighters and police officers in NYC, to remember the loss of our loved ones. The statue next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC shows Theodore Roosevelt on a horse helping a Native American. But we know that American history is full of examples of the mistreatment of Indians and the only time we “helped” them was when it was in our own best interests. Monuments across our nation commemorate the greatness of America, how we’ve helped others or how we’ve endured hard times. Would a monument that immortalizes our injustices to our fellow man be popular, let alone accepted? In Germany, people attest to disliking Adolph Hitler, but in America, no one person can be held accountable for the cruel treatment of African Americans. It was a nationwide problem and even those who weren’t actively involved in mistreatment were complicit in the evil because of their failure to confront it. But it’s human nature not to want to blame oneself. Besides, it wouldn’t be possible to atone for the sins of the many with a single monument, but at least it would be a start.

Alexandra said...

This is Alexandra k... (just incase)

At the end of Blood Done Sign My Name when Tyson stated “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it” (318) I felt that the quote accurately described the way America is today. As a whole, the nation of United States continues to make mistakes that could have been avoided if one had taken the time to correct them when they first occurred. Attempts to confront past mistakes in our history have either been minor or avoided completely. In order to progress and became a stronger society, we need to “transcend” the obstacles of our history not just evade them.

During the Civil Rights movement blacks faced the extreme obstacle of overcoming the feeling of white supremacy, which had been imprinted in their minds ever since the first slave ship arrived in America in 1619. Furthermore, they had to be able to overcome the belief that African-Americans were a less intelligent inferior race in comparison the whites. Even today racism still exists in our country because this “cloud of racial superiority” was never fully erased and Americans have avoided with completely dealing with this division among races that has been apparent throughout our history. In chapter seven of BDSMN Tyson’s describes proof of the lingering mark of white supremacy “the old Rebel soldier in the town’s main intersection was more of a monument to white supremacy than to the Confederacy and in 1970 most whites either liked it or simply did not think about it” (159). By not acting to correct inaccurate occurrences it only escalates to further the problem along. The situation of white supremacy vs. black inferiority could not be resolved by shoving the matter aside and hoping that some else with confront it. Part of solution to this obstacle is to make oneself aware that “to confront white supremacy was not just about confront white people… but also a matter of stamping out internalized feelings of inferiority among blacks” (162).

If we are too wholly “transcend” our history, than we have to admit to our faults. This creates part of the issue because “most of us would rather claim to have always been perfect than admit how much we have grown” (176). I believe that we need to first learn to accept the mistakes made in our past, before we can strive to go beyond the events of our history.

Nicole said...

Hi, it's Nikki sorry this is so late...
When I read Tyson’s point that “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it” (318), I had similar ideas as previously stated about the age of denial America seems to be stuck in, but to specify, I believe that the denial blinds Americans to the point of guiltlessness because we have always been allowed a person or group to blame our mistakes on.
We are constantly reminded that slavery and racism was bad and a blot on our country’s history, but we are not crippled by the guilt of the horrible injustices done to African Americans because it is all dished onto “the South”. Up until this year, I was under the impression (thanks to many years of elementary and middle school brainwashing) that the North was against slavery and the South was the awful perpetrator of the disgusting institution. But luckily we don’t have to worry about racism today because that South is pretty much dead, and any signs of racism that are still present in America come from the remnants of “that South”.
I completely agree with Tyson when he says that “America owes a debt that no one can pay” (320) because it is impossible to completely unify the 306, 422,510 people that live in the United States without allowing an “us” and “them” situation to arise. Until there is no one but ourselves to blame, reparations and progress cannot be made. To make things worse, there are still 6,479,673,874 other people overseas for us to blame our lapses of humanity on.
Racism is not dead, it’s just hidden, and so many people are in denial about it. I don’t see any hope that racism can be stamped out, because no one wants to admit that they are racist. As long as the memory of “the South” remains, the blame will never be on modern Americans’ shoulders, and racism will thrive in secret.

Michael G said...

Many people in the blog have already picked up on the main point of the quote, which is stated in the next paragraph in the book: "Our failure to confront the historical truth about how African Americans finally own their freedom presents a major obstacle to genuine racial reconciliation" (318). Tyson is saying, of course, that we cannot truly go forward and be completely culturally seamless in society without number one, knowing the real history of the movement, and number two, having the courage to stand up and say we did something wrong.

To me, one of the most perilous things about living in a place like Westport in a country like ours is that we are put under the impression that we have some sort of all-seeing eye, an omniscent view of the world in which we are not biased and everything we learn is correct and fully captures the idea. This is dangerous for two reasons.

The first is that it is untrue. In learning the Holocaust in middle school, for example, we learned that Hitler simply hated Jews and other groups because........he just did. This is illogical and false. Hitler massacred the Jews because, after World War One, the Jews were a part of the group that made the German's lives terrible. The Nazis were not just some evil devilish force; they were out for vengeance, in essence. I am not justifying this, I am telling the truth, which was not told to any of us in school. We also, by the way, were put under the impression that the Holocaust was the biggest manslaughter ever to happen. This is also very untrue, but let's be honest; there are few Armenians making an impact on Westport.

The second reason this false omniscient view is dangerous is because of who we are. We literally live in the richest cluster of towns in the richest county of the richest state of the richest country in the world. Frankly, people like us are going to grow up and call the shots in the world, and if we are being fed such propaganda and skewed information, one can only imagine what the world would be like.

Oh wait, that's the world we live in now.


This is the reason we have trouble confronting our history: the falsehood of the all-seeing eye. Tyson says that "the problem is why we cherish that kind of story," (318) referring to the stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other such leaders. He is implying that the general public does cherish that kind of romantic story, in which one fights for a cause and is killed, but is successful in the end. Our society absolutely accepts that and assumes that nothing bad ever happened again after MLK died and the movement was "over." This is a bad way to see it, of course, because the roughness between race still exists (Duke lacrosse) and is a heavy issue in our society. We like to act like it's not a problem, exemplified by Debrah coming into here trying to convince us that "most intelligent people 'got over' race a long time ago."

The problem, really, is with American society. We pretend. We hide in bubbles. The truth is staring us in the face every day, when police officers shoot down black men because they *mistook* their car keys for handguns.

We, in 2009, like to act as if we are living in "modern" society, but really, how much better are we?

schager said...

This blog is solely for educational purposes and the use of students in periods 1 & 8 - Honors U.S. History. All posts are expected to be mature and respectful. Any posts by outsiders or anything deemed inappropriate will be removed by the administrator.

Charlotte Corbo and Chloe Ellison said...

In my personal opinion, “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it” (318) means that as a nation we must recognize our past’s faults and innovations without trying to defile it. We as humans have memes, information patterns held in an individual’s memory that are essentially the “filters” of an individual, a result of nature and nurture that effects what a person will remember from their past. Memes are in correspondence to genes, however they emotionally affect a human being; therefore the reason why Tyson says that citizens do not wish to confront our history because confronting history would mean to alter your meme.

Another important factor to the human mind and this cathartic ideal of “confronting history” is the fact that memes can be inherited to offspring, meaning that perhaps the reason why Tyson had the rare capacity to try to pay for this “debt that no one can pay” (329) because his father was a very inquisitive and persistent person who was willing to see both ends of the spectrum before making his descision. However, not all families are so lucky, if you have a family like the Teel-Oakley family, then what will be passed on the children are ideals of white supremacy, and as Deborah stated before, “Intelligent people got over race a long time ago.” Fundamentally it is a challenge for people to change their inherited informational patterns in their memory because humans are simply creatures of habit.

margot said...

First I'd like to start by responding to Michael's thought, which had an especially poignant impact on me. To restate his point, he said, "Our society absolutely accepts that and assumes that nothing bad ever happened again after MLK died and the movement was "over".

I had a similar thought in class last week as we were discussing why it was that people only began to support the civil rights movement once the seventies rolled around. I was thinking about what it truly takes for any movement to be supported, and I still have not come to my true conclusion.
Up until the death of Martin Luther King Jr., the attention that was being payed to the Civil Rights Movement was incredibly weak. We spoke in class about how difficult it was for blacks to keep fighting without a protecting leader such as MLK. Emily Cooper made a sure point to shed light on the fact that the whites also struggled in order to feel comfortable showing their liberal stance in supporting African American's rights. I found this extremely thought provoking, thinking to myself, "Does it really have to take a catastrophic event, such as a murder, in order to be taken seriously?".

Why is it that we are fed such masked information? Are we supposed to believe that the murder of Martin Luther caused for an all encompassing, eye-awakening realization for our country? Are we supposed to believe that "all was well" after Dr. King was shot? In the words of Tyson, it is "as if throwing away the empty cake plate could help you lose weight" (294).

Erica said...

I think that the class has more than thoroughly dissected Tyson’s quote, “we want to transcend our history without actually confronting it” (318). I agree with everyone who has said that this quote is explaining that we, as a nation, want to look beyond our past mistakes or maltreatments of others and attempt to move forward, into the future, without recognizing and apologizing to those who were wronged.
In the article “A Nation of Cowards?”, by Charles M. Blow, there is a quote from Attorney General Eric Holder, “about America being “a nation of cowards” because we don’t have “frank” conversations about race.”” I agree that our country, as a whole, does not have a sufficient dialogue about race relations. I think that this is because many feel embarrassed and uncomfortable when talking honestly about issues considering race. However, I do not necessarily agree that this is enough cause consider American’s “cowards.” Blow also argues this point when he states, “The fear of offending isn’t necessarily cowardice, nor is a failure to acknowledge a bias that you don’t know that you have, but they are impediments.” Theses hindrances are disabling us from looking at the past and into the truth of the race relations in America. Which consequently, is obstructing the county’s path towards understanding, and apologizing to blacks or any other minority that was wrongly treated due to their race.


Even if we can confront our country’s past is there any way for us to appropriately apologize of all our wrongdoings?

I think that it would be impossible to do this and Tyson agrees by stating, “America owes a debt that no one can pay” (320). It is not enough to just say that we were wrong, but at least by recognizing this America will be out of denial. Hopefully, this recognition of the truth will begin to settle and equilibrate race relations in America.
In classes, like our US History class, we are learning much of the untold truths of America’s History. However, in many other towns in the country the students are not being taught about harsh truths of race relations because to the adults in their community believe that it is not politically correct or appropriate for a school’s academic content. However, it is in the schools where the next generation should be talking honestly and openly about race in America so that we can attempt to alter the way that the issues of race have previously been handled and set standards for an open dialogue about race for the future.

Cole said...

To me hope represents one of the steps or gateways to confronting the racism problem that still exists (and even flourishes) in parts of America, but cannot be solely responsible or powerful enough to demolish the color line.
When Barack Obama was elected on November 4, 2008, I remember myself thinking about the progress we have made since importing millions of slaves from Africa until now, when we have finally broken at least one color barrier in electing a black president.
To me, on that night, Barack Obama's election was a major step forward in terms of narrowing the "chasm of race" because, as the new face of politics, Obama exuded hope for a part of the population that had been living in darkness, without political rights or triumphs for so long.
This hope was tangible and was best exemplified by the thousands upon thousands of cheering fans, both black and white, in Grant Park, Chicago, after hearing Obama had succeeded.
The cries of joy and hope that rang out from that park that night were inspiring.
However, hope and inspiration can only go so far.
As Timothy Tyson explains, “To find that higher ground, we must recognize, as Dr. King tried to teach us, that we are ‘caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny’” (BDSMN 319).
To me, as to Tyson, it is not enough to hope for change. One has to act and inspire others to demolish the threads of racism that still exist in many sections of America.
Dr. King inspired millions of people to follow and listen to the goals of the Civil Rights Movement, but it took bus boycotts, sit-ins, blood, tears, and, yes, death, for there to be any improvement in the status of African-Americans in society.
Currently, we still have to break the shackles of ignorance, obliviousness, and impudence to fully demolish racism, in both society and in the minds of citizens.
As Tyson demonstrates, racisms’ looming presence still casts its’ shadow over segregated proms, country clubs, and in schoolrooms.
However, “The question remains whether or not we can transfigure our broken pasts into a future filled with a common possibility” (320).
Yes, as president, Obama can try and alleviate the strains racism and economic inequality place on minorities.
But, as a nation, theses shackles will never be cast aside, these broken dreams will never be solidified, unless Americans act to preserve our most sacred principle, the egalitarian principle our country was founded upon, that “All men (and it should read women) are create equal.”
The cynical side of me laughs when I read that now. Time and time again racism has shown its’ resilience, emerging as that seemingly unconquerable opponent because it is a hidden enemy, the sad reality that is hardly ever addressed.
For decades, racism has hidden, justified at segregated country clubs because of tradition.
“[T]e he freedom struggle persists” (321) while wars are fought, economies plunge, and ignorant presidents are re-elected, and yet, the question remains.
What will it take for the American people to wake up and address the question of racism?
I, for one, am a skeptical that the ever ignored chasm of race can be fully narrowed and, eventually, deleted. It would take governmental programs and societal change to become more accepting, and less apathetic towards the many issues that face minorities.
One of the first inequalities that needs to be addressed is the educational gap between white and black schools. Apart from this, there needs to be a widespread understanding of the racism problem. We continuously ignore the flaws in our so-called “great” capitalist system without addressing the inequalities that make it undemocratic, a mistake that has and will increase the widening race chasm with every year that it goes unanswered.

ben said...

This is Ben Lewin, I have to disagree with what Cole says about Barrack Obama, for, and im sorry for this Cole, it seems like he is doing exactly what many other Americans we have studied thus far in the year have done. He is glorifying history. Yes Barrack Obama was elected president, and yes he is African American, but we also have to remember how the election really was. 95% of the world wanted Obama elected simply because McCain's foreign policy was so warlike, and his Vice President candidate could barely stumble through a debate. We can pat ourselves on the backs and say how we were so righteous in electing an African American president, but that isn't how real equality works. By focusing on the color of his skin, one is being no less racist than someone who spews hatred because of color. What we have today isn't the full blown murderous lynching racism of the 1800's and 1900's, what we have today is this sort of closet racism that exists through jokes and little subconcious actions. Did you know when a clerk at a store is African American a customer is less likely to touch his hand when giving him money? Its little actions like that that show exactly what our country has become. We are so scared of being called racists that we go out of our way to be accepting, but someone going out of their way to be kind to you because of race is still racist, sure its nicer than being lynched, but its a different, patronizing kind of bad that needs to be addressed before it becomes too deep rooted in our culture.