Friday, November 21, 2008

FInal Paper Thesis Statements

Please post your proposal argument as a comment here!  I look forward to reading everyone's thesis statement.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

John Schilling's group

Paul L. Wachtel states in his essay, "Talking About Racism: How Our Dialogue Gets Short-Circuited," that the real problem with society is the indifference towards discrimination which stems from the overuse of the power words "Racist" and "Racism." This indifference affects everyone in one way or another because it leads to a lack of communication and a lack of progress towards resolving issues. The terms "Racist" and "Racism" have become weapons that shoot down any chance of ever overcoming our miscommunication. Therefore in order to combat discrimination and the related ills of society, we must leave our tradition of arguing about generalized buzz-words and enter into open, specific communication to resolve our differences over time.

It should be evident why one cannot change the attitudes of 300 million
people overnight by any means. Racism however, naturally dissipates over
time, making other efforts useless. George Fredrickson's essay, "Models of
American Ethnic Relations" discusses the concept of an ethnic hierarchy,
integral to the concept of racism. In his essay, he clearly shows the
alleviation of racism over time by citing social groups throughout U.S.
history. Initially, immigration laws only accepted "White" immigrants,
however the Irish were clearly discriminated against and not seen as
"White." Over time however, they were integrated sufficiently into society.
Later in history, the concept prevailed that Northwestern Europeans were
innately superior to those from the Southern and Eastern parts of the
continent; a concept that again has vanished as time progressed. History
clearly shows that racism dissipates over time.

Jon Schlavin's Group

The problem that Paul Wachtel addresses in his essay “Talking About Racism” is the causes of racial inequality in America. He states that the word “racism” no longer is clearly defined or has the same negative connotations that it used to possess. He continues to say that this has caused a general indifference among Americans. To deal with this problem, Wachtel proposes that we, as Americans, need to “retire the rhetoric of racism” and whites need to acknowledge and take responsibility for their indifference (554). Wachtel, however, fails to provide any tangible means of implementing this solution in the real world. He probably intended this essay to be read by the general American public, particularly those who might suffer from indifference. Wachtel's proposal, while it would help with the problem, fails to offer any workable solution. A more feasible solution would be to stop bringing up racism and educate people on how to judge people fairly based on their own character and not on their race, culture, or ethnic background.

“In the socialization process, individuals acquire the values, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of their culture or subculture” states Vincent Parillo in his essay “Causes of Prejudice” (514). This shows that the socialization process has a big influence on an individual's attitude towards different races. It is important that we realize this powerful tool that we have as a culture and use it to shape the next generation in a positive manner. Parillo continues and says that “prejudice, like cultural values, is taught and learned through the socialization process” showing that as a culture we could do away with racism if we were willing to shape the next generation to be tolerant of all races (514). If we teach the next generation to be more tolerant of other races then they will imbibe this ideal and progress towards actual harmony and mutual respect with all races. As Parillo says, “the child usually accepts these concepts without questioning. We thus learn the prejudices of our parents and others, which then become part of our values and beliefs” (514). This is a more specific aspect of Wachtel's vague solution to the problem with racism, educate the next generation and wait for time to heal the wounds that racism have caused.

Alan's Group

In Paul Wachtel's essay, "Talking About Racism,"
he addresses the problem of our inability to effectively
communicate on the subject of race because of the
over-use of the word "racist," which has led to
a lack of understanding and indifference towards the
word. Wachtel's proposal in that we should understand
the difference between racism and indifference. While his proposal
seems to strike at the psychological root of the problem,
it would be near impossible to bring about a change in
attitude for the entire nation. However, if we adopt
more specific vocabulary for the issue, then we can
deal with the roots of the issue rather than group them
together and deal with them all at once.

Wachtel says that by using the word "racism," we
shut down all forms of communication regarding the issue
because it no longer has inherent meaning to anyone,
therefore everyone is indifferent to the issue. Instead,
the issue can be broken down into several and more
meaningful subcategories that give rise to the issue.
Issues like prejudice, bias, discrimination, stereotyping. etc
all lead to racism. Unlike "racism," the issues above
are tangible, because, according to Wachtel, people know
they exist as problems and can actually deal with such problems

Monday, November 3, 2008

Race, Spectacle, and Performance

Today in class we approached the subject of "performed" behaviors in American society with regard to the "race question" (following our reading of Wachtel).    It appears that, according to the class, people in America are taught to self-police their speech (we heard several examples of this in class, "Oh no!  You can't say that!") and to perform a kind of tolerance in keeping with what might be a mythological dream of what American is and represents.   We seem to espouse racial harmony and to respect, in a culturally relativistic sense,  ethnic and religious diversity.  Nevertheless, it appears that many of you think that, a) there is something of a "race problem," and b) the only way the situation concerning this "problem" will be improved is by the passing of time.  So, if that's what many of you believe, why "perform"?  By performing, do we in any way move closer to actual harmony, honest mutual respect, tolerance, and acceptance?  In essence, through performance do we move closer to not needing to perform?