White Backlash to Electing Black Politicians – Then & Now

This blog entry from CNN discusses how the first Black man to be elected to the U.S. Senate was met with a white backlash that “helped destroy Reconstruction” after the Civil War.  It draws parallels between the white backlash then and the white backlash to electing Obama in 2008.  What are your thoughts? Is is a reasonable comparison to make? The post quotes a history professor from Fordham who says we aren’t post-racial but we also aren’t going back to the days of legal segregation. So what does the “middle” between those two ends of a continuum look like? The … Read more

“We Are Not to Blame” … Or Are We?

Lipsitz (2008) discusses the thoughts that a sixteen-year old high school student expressed to a reporter from the Los Angeles Times. She said, as I’m sure many other white men and women have, that she could did not believe that white people owe black people anything. She claims that because our ancestors were the ones that were responsible for slavery that we should not have to pay the price for what they did. As I was reading, I was surprised at first to see that someone would actually say or even think something like that. After thinking it over for a little while, however, I realized that there are probably many people that believe the exact same thing that this sixteen-year old girl believes. Why would they think any differently? As a white girl, she has not been taught any differently through examples of her social group and through the stereotypes that white people and institutions have placed upon other groups. A seventeen-year old girl expressed to the reporter an opinion that basically implies that because her family did not own slaves in the past that she should not be held responsible for what the ancestors of other families have done. I was equally surprised by this opinion as by the prior one at first.

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Can’t escape the discourse surrounding racism: Spring break at Mardi Gras

For spring break this year I ventured down to New Orleans to visit friends and partake in crazy Mardi Gras festivities. I had not known a lot about the traditions or the meaning of Mardi Gras and carnival time before I arrived, but from the moment my plane landed I started to learn a lot. After speaking to my friend throughout the week and experiencing many aspects of Mardi Gras, I can surely say that it is not all rooted in the accumulation of beads. As many cities in America, New Orleans has very wealthy and very poor sections, as well as sections that reflect middle socioeconomic statuses. While driving through the city, structural racism and direct effects of slavery were clear. I would be driving down one street with beautifully regal homes and then would turn the corner onto another street that had small homes that looked run-down. There was a serious discrepancy between who lived in these houses, as well as who could afford to make repairs after Hurricane Katrina. I found out that this “patchwork” layout of the city was derived from the era of plantations in which slave owners would want their slaves to live close to them for easy access, but would not want them directly on their land. Once I learned of this urban planning technique, I saw the city very differently and realized that there are a lot more racial inequalities that stem from slavery and perpetuation of racial discrimination.

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