US history class pages

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A question that I have asked myself repeatedly while reading Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow is how can all of this discrimination still be possible in the twenty-first century, a century that I had viewed as one where many rights have been gained? How has this discrimination and mass incarceration not been fully eradicated? Mass incarceration uses techniques that justify its actions. In chapter 9 of The New Jim Crow, Alexander shows how history is repeating itself when comparing the old Jim Crow to the new Jim Crow in the present day. Racial castes in both centuries were each started due to the same feelings that white people felt towards African Americans, “anger and hostility.” (1) Thus gaining supporters by blaming the other race for mass corruption, “conservatives in the 1970’s and 1980’s sought to appeal to racial biases and economic vulnerabilities of poor and working class whites through racially coded rhetoric on crime and welfare.” (1)

Even though the civil rights movement achieved in sparking the idea of equality in people's minds and although we are taught in school from a young age to respect everyone and that everyone in the world is equal to each other,  discrimination in different forms, especially in our justice system, still occurs.  Alexander mentions how “school children wonder out loud how discrimination could ever have been legal in this great land of ours,” (1) and then proceeds to say, “rarely are they told that it is still legal.” (1) The thing is, is that the discrimination finds a way to hide itself from the naked eye. We can see this with voting, “formally race neutral devices were adopted to achieve the goal of an all white electorate without violating the terms of the fifteenth amendment.” (2) Although they have destroyed “race neutral devices” (2) there is still racial discrimination in voting in the present day, “less than two decades after the War on Drugs began, one in seven black men nationally had lost the right to vote, and as many as one in four in those states with the highest African American disenfranchisement rate.” (2)  The biggest way of hiding discrimination from the people is similar to how Jim Crow segregated white americans and African Americans, “water, sewer systems, and other public services that supported the white areas of town frequently did not extend to the black areas.” (2) Therefore causing separation between the races, stereotypes were easily produced about “black values and culture.” (2) Because if you don't know how it feels, if you don't experience the feeling of being treated differently based on your race, it doesn't affect you, “it also made it easier to deny or ignore their suffering.” (2)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Michelle Alexander explores the war on drugs during the new age of colorblindness, an age of implicit (rather than explicit) bias against African Americans, making African Americans more likely to suffer from drug searches, and other law enforcement searches than white Americans. Michelle Alexander uses real cases to illustrate this argument. Consider Erma Faye Stewart, who was a “thirty year old, single African American mother of two who was arrested as part of a drug sweep in Hearne, Texas.” (1) Erma Faye Stewart is forced to plead guilty (even though she is innocent) in order to return home to her children however, she is still seen as a “drug felon” (1) who has no place to live.

Alexander goes on further to describe how the war on drugs have been acts of colorblindness as law enforcement have been more likely to be harsher on African Americans than on white Americans. “Nevertheless, black men have been admitted to state prisons on drug charges at a rate that is more than thirteen times higher than white men.” (2) So how does implicit bias allow the law enforcement to be tougher on African Americans? Easily, by allowing police officers to be able to “stop, search, arrest, and charge for drug offenses.” (2) All of this results into more implicit bias being administered outwardly by random searches on people who weren't doing anything but “walking down the street.” (9) Throughout all of this Alexander presents to the reader how easy it has been for the law enforcement to manipulate and justify its searches in order to create a new racial caste system. This makes me wonder if it's harder for an African American to seek help from police officers who have been discriminating against them as well as incarcerating their fellow African Americans.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Conservatives tactics targeting poor whites and dividing the Democratic Party.

Law and order rhetoric was used by southern democrats to discredit the civil rights movement by identifying it with criminal motives in order to gain more white supporters to resist the movement and to support other conservative interests.  Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow informs us that, “civil rights protests were frequently depicted as criminal rather than political in nature.” (1) Conservatives adopted the law and order rhetoric to convince poor whites and working class whites to be for the conservatives because they believed that poverty was caused by “black culture.” (3) Conservatives were clever in targeting the poor working white class, as most of the whites had already held a strong resentment towards the African American population and actually felt, “threatened by the sudden progress of the African Americans.” (3)

Alexander proceeds with a review of the discussion that Thomas and Mary Edsall made in their book, Chain Reaction, about how working and poor whites had struggled with employment competition with African Americans and lived close to African American neighborhoods while their kids went to schools that were integrated. The Conservatives used this information to persuade the common worker that the liberal democrats did not fully understand the common worker or represent their interests. As proof of this Alexander points out that in a 1968 Gallop poll, eighty-one percent of the respondents felt strongly that the law and order system in the United States had fallen apart and that African Americans were the ones to blame as they caused the riots.

Not only did the conservatives managed to convince the poor working whites that African Americans were the cause of their struggles but also managed to break up the Democratic Party “New Deal” coalition. (3) The Democratic Party “New Deal” (3) was a group that had relied on votes from whites, blacks, and people that received low income. In 1972 beliefs had changed from being about socioeconomic status to racial problems that decided the “voters’ political self identification”.(3) The conservatives racial beliefs slowly developed across the nation during the 1960’s but was fully achieved in the election of 1980 when Reagan “built on the success of earlier conservatives”. (3) Reagan did this by adapting the idea of race to exploit African Americans as dangerous criminals without explicitly being racist. Reagan also obtained many poor white supporters who felt “betrayed” (4) by the democrats party allowing the civil rights movement to happen without protest.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander shows the roller coaster ride that African Americans have experienced throughout the years of fighting for equality. Alexander informs the readers that many of the achievements gained toward “greater equality” (1) were later torn down. For instance when Alexander writes about the beginning of Reconstruction in the south she mentions how African Americans were gaining, “political power” (1)  and developing “greater social and economic equality” (1). The end of Reconstruction happened because of the whites reaction being “pain and outrage” (1). Whites were the ones who got what they wanted: more control over the south when “the federal government no longer made any effort to enforce federal civil rights legislation” (1).

The Jim Crow laws rose, segregating blacks from white bathrooms, schools, water fountains, and more. When World War ll occurred, the United States showed the world a country not of freedom but of hypocrisy. During World War ll while the United States was fighting its enemy Germany, who was practicing the mass genocide of Jewish people, homosexuals, disabled people, and other minorities, the United States was still persecuting African Americans on its home soil through the Jim Crow laws. The Supreme Court recognized this and sought out to change it.  Alexander demonstrates this when writing, “In 1949 the court ruled that Texas’s segregated law school for blacks was inherently unequal and inferior in every respect to its law school for whites” (3).  Alexander writes that, “earlier decisions chipped away at the “separate but equal” doctrine” (3). Unfortunately, Jim Crow still managed to survive with southern supporters.  Alexander points out that even though the case of Brown v. Board of education was a high point of achievement for African Americans against Jim Crow, it still did not mean that the Jim Crow laws were disappearing in the south. When NAACP members started to get “beaten, pistol whipped, and shot” (4) the objective of having integration in the south weakened.  Soon to follow though, the civil rights movement started to rise with demonstrations, sit-ins, and boycotts, the results were amazing. Alexander mentions that between 1964 and 1969 the rate of voting for African Americans rose, “In Alabama the rate leaped from 19.3 percent to 61.3 percent.” (4) There were many more achievements that the civil rights movement gained however there is still today a battle of a “new racial caste system without violating the law or the new limits of acceptable political discourse, by demanding “law and order” rather than “segregation forever” (5). This shows that even though there were many achievements for African Americans through the history of fighting for equality there is still a battle being waged to destroy these achievements and degrade the status of African Americans today.

Racial bribery in a democracy

How did the planter elite stop white supremacy from being destroyed in the 17th century? Easily, by using race as a divide. When Bacon's Rebellion occurred in the 17th century on the basis of creating alliances between poor whites and slaves, white supremacists such as the planter elite were worried. Their strategy towards this problem? Racial bribe. The planter elite class used the racial bribe in order to provide privileges to white people who were poor, thus creating a divide between poor white people and slaves. The idea was that if you're poor and white, it's fine because you are still white and not black. The racial bribe consisted of providing Native American lands to white indentured servants and allowing poor whites to have authority over slaves by patrolling the slaves. The planters soon created the caste system which made African Americans look not only  unintelligent, but the lowest race on the caste of races. The planters started importing people from Africa to be their slaves since African slaves would not know how to speak English and didn't understand the culture. Due to this language and culture barrier, African slaves could not have an alliance with a poor white person. Thus no other Bacon Rebellions would be produced. The members of the African race according to the planters were not suitable enough to be classified as being part of the human race. This made it easier to make Africans into slaves and make poor whites not have alliances with them because the planters were suggesting that they were not civilized to be human and that they were less human than the Native Americans who at the time were seen as being wild beasts. Thus the planters enforced again the idea that everyone was equal except the slaves as they were seen as being less human than all the white people living in the United States during that time.  Racial bribe had created the idea of race, it replayed the idea that has been endlessly enforced in our justice system, that whites have the privileges and that African Americans don't.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stereotypes and why they're still around


Welcome to Hanas US history blog!

Even though people say that we have gotten rid of stereotypes, there are still an overwhelming number of stereotypes in our day-to-day lives. Often without noticing, we automatically categorize people in our heads. This unconscious categorization of a person or thing is known as implicit bias. For example, with the bias of race, a white person may unknowingly favor another white person over someone of a different race, perhaps a black person. Unfortunately, in such cases these unconscious stereotypes could shape our actions and the way we treat others, without us even being aware of them. Confirmation bias on the other hand is very different to implicit bias. Confirmation bias is a conscious decision to favor one thing over another.  I believe that everyone has some implicit bias , whether it is from household and upbringing or exposure to certain specific cultures and media. Even though I feel that in the present day culture is trying to persuade people not to be bias against anyone in an effort to be more politically correct, bias and stereotypes still happen everyday.

Today one of the biggest political issues in the United States is immigration and safety. This issue brings up several problems of stereotypes in our country. Some people feel worried if they see a woman wearing a hijab in the airport. One reason that Brexit was successful in England was because people were worried about immigrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen being involved in terrorists groups, including ISIS. This fear was driven by the stereotype that all Muslims are extremists. Imagine if the US allowed religious profiling at airports? Since the 9/11 attack of 2001, racial profiling at airports has been increasing. However in 2003, George W Bush put a ban on racial profiling (this did not include religion, nationality, or sexual orientation). Having profiling at airports is extremely controversial, as some people worry that it encourages racism; however, other people justify profiling at airports as a tactic to prevent a tragedy and save thousands of lives.  Even though sometimes people's implicit bias drives their behavior, and stereotypes have hurt others, people have felt that they were totally justified when they were not.  Month after month we have seen unjust racial profiling by white policemen towards black men. In Europe the world has witnessed  endless terror attacks, and a major question of immigration being who are the terrorists and who are the actual asylum seekers coming into Europe.  Before I studied US history I had never believed that America could have had a similar idea that Germany had with the "pure Aryan race." When I learned about how America grew and flourished by stripping Native Americans of their land, however, I realized that the United States too faces a society geared towards one particular group.