Tag: African Americans

‘Social Death’ and ‘Possessive Individual’ according to Grace Hong

Grace Hong’s essay titled ‘The Possessive Individual and Social Death: The Complex Bind of National Subjectivity’ offers numerous insights into historical social constructs.  Focusing on the evolution of American history since the time of the Declaration of Independence, the author charts a cogent description of how the socio-polity resisted progressive changes.  The book is focused on women of color feminism and the culture of immigrant labor. But prior to arriving at their specific discourse, a broader framework of understanding is laid out. Hereby, two important terms are introduced by the author.

Possessive individual traces its origins to the framing of the constitution, whereby, only the propertied white males of the new country were accorded citizenship.  Not only were blacks (who were slaves at the time) were excluded, but so were women and a large section of white male population. The privileged minority of propertied white men enjoyed laws that . . . Read More

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Did women have an impact on American political culture through nineteenth century?

In many ways, women are history’s largest minority.  Their voice was for most part suppressed under male domination. It is only in recent decades that they have attained legal and nominal equality with men. America has been a theatre for women’s rights going back to the late 18th and 19th centuries. The Catholic Church provided a semblance of political emancipation for women. This it achieved through allowing Sisters to assume high offices within the rigid hierarchy of the institution.  Though there was a degree of democracy and representation within the Church, in practice, “internal governments combined authoritarian and hierarchical structures with participatory and egalitarian elements.” This meant that Sisters were subject to the authority of officers, but in turn influenced the officers through elections and consultations.  In this somewhat compromised democratic system some members were disenfranchised to vote.  Even in the absence of a . . . Read More

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How and why does ethnic identity affect the idea of ‘beauty’ cross-culturally?

Beauty, especially physical beauty, is often dictated by universal standards. But the particular culture, history and social sensibilities of a community do also play a role in defining beauty. In the modern social context, the public relations industry plays an influential role in setting and imposing standards of beauty weather people agree with it or not. Hence, there is a dialectical engagement between ethno-centric sense of beauty and that offered by the consumerist model. Often, it is the financial imperatives of mass consumerism that gains the upper hand. As a consequence, ethno-cultural idea of beauty is in a process of losing its prominence. This essay will further substantiate this claim, namely, that ethnic identity mediated notions of beauty is challenged and weakened in contemporary America.

To begin with, let us take the case of the United States which has evolved as a melting pot of cultures, races and ethnicities. As a result, American society has developed . . . Read More

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American History: Reconstruction Era

The American Civil War the period following it was critical in the nation’s history and it has deeply influenced subsequent social and political developments.  The Civil War would have its most important effect on the lives of millions of African American slaves, as a large proportion of them would be decreed ‘free’ toward the end of the war.  Despite historical injustices suffered by them, black Americans exhibited bravery in the battle grounds as they joined forces with fellow Unionists and staked their lives for the promise of emancipation.  Having achieved their freedom from their white masters, African Americans would celebrate their newly won liberties and rights in the years following the war – also referred by historians as the period of Reconstruction.  In the book America: A Concise History by James Henretta and David Bordy, we get in-depth analysis and commentary on this crucial period in American history.

We learn from the text that the . . . Read More

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Challenge to the American social fabric: Racial Discrimination

Racial Discrimination has been a persistent problem plaguing American society through all its history. In the United States, for much of the country’s history, the important institutions were dominated by the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) community.  As a result, all other immigrant groups were disadvantaged from the outset. (Takaki, 1993, p.406)  Even among whites, Eastern European ethnic groups and South European communities (the most prominent of which are the Italian Americans) were discriminated against.  The challenges were all the more steep for immigrant groups of other races.  This includes the Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans.  A typical example of the potency of ideological racism is the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred Chinese immigrants from attaining citizenship.  This legislation was prompted by the ideology of the dominant group, the WASPs, who believed in modeling American society on the basis of their traditional values . . . Read More

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History of Ethnic Groups in California

The history of minorities in the United States and more so in California has been one of many injustices.  While some discernable improvements have been made in race relations in the state, the socio-economic and political order has not changed drastically.  Thomas Almaguer is a credible Latin-American scholar, who had done some incisive analysis and research on the assimilation or lack thereof of Hispanics and other racial minorities in the state of California.  The “Color Bar” he refers to in his works is the second class citizenship handed to non-white minority communities during the period starting 1941 and lasting well into the early 1960’s.  What is also known as segregation, blatantly unjust as it sounds now, was a usual aspect of the life during this period.  But a change in the collective conscience of the American people was on the cards, especially after the racially instigated atrocities by the German Third Reich during the Second World War.  The Latinos and . . . Read More

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Slave Religion by Albert J. Raboteau

Author Albert Raboteau’s book will find a place in any American religious history canon.  Raboteau, being an African American himself, was able to bring out the compassion and earnestness in his cause – which is to bring to light the plight and travails of enslaved Black Americans from a religious perspective.  The book is written in such a tone that it opens more profound levels of understanding and appreciation for the reader.  In this way, the book is a piece of art as well as a document of history.  The book succeeds in taking the reader to the original setting and milieu that forms its background.  More importantly, the book adopts simple prose style that appeals to readers from all walks of life.  The rest of the essay will be a summary of the central points in the book.

The book takes the form of Raboteau’s responses to some of the reactions he had experienced over the years.  In line with his literary mentor Sydney Ahlstrom’s anticipation, the . . . Read More

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