May 22

Follow up w/ Dr. Arbulu’s talk on Civil Rights

Many thanks to Dr. Agustin Arbulu for taking time out of his schedule to come talk w/ us.



Elliot – Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 –

Harvard’s implicit bias test –

– You can take the test at the link above to find out about your attitudes toward society.

Dr. Arbulu mentioned that honest dialogue is the key to a better future:

  1. Honest dialogue about women in the workplace –

2. How dialogue works –

3. Honest dialogue in the corporate workplace –

4. Creating safe spaces for communication –

Here is the link to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights’ report on the Flint Water Crisis –

Michigan Emergency Manager Law 

  1. Article on how we got started w/ the Emergency Manager law –
  2. Did the Emergency Manager law cause the Flint crisis –
  3. Anger of Appointing Emergency Managers in Michigan – NYTimes –

Sensitive Locations Policy – FAQs from federal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement –

Rights of undocumented workers –

– Know Your Rights – Natrional Immigrants Justice Center

Ban the Box – eliminating the question on employment applications asking if someone has been convicted of a felony –

– Ban the Box organization –

Women’s wage gap – AAUW – Simple Truth about the Wage Gap –

Structural racism – Dismantling Institutional Racism –

– Is America Repeating the Mistakes of 1968? The Atlantic –

– Evidence of societal and economic inequality –

– Issues of Health Inequalities from the New England Journal of Medicine –

LGBTQ+ rights – policy vs. law – interpretation of phrase “prevent discrimination against sex” to include sexual orientation is a policy, not law.

– Issues surrounding LGBTQ rights –

– LGBT rights in America – Wikipedia –

– Washington Post’s article on anti- LGBT legislation –

Differences between Service Animals vs. Emotional Support Animals (Comfort animals). –

– Americans with Disabilities Act criteria for Service Animals –

– Please Don’t Pet Me – service, therapy, and emotional support dogs –


January 22

Blog #46 – Immigration theories

As more and more immigrants come to America, it’s worth looking at three different theories as to what immigrants are / were expected to do when they come here.  The majority of this article comes from “Assimilation in America” by Milton M. Gordon, 1961.

The first wave of immigrants came between 1620 – 1775.  This group is predominantly English, with some Scots-Irish, Germans, Swedes, and French and Dutch.  About 20% of the American population was Africans or descendants from African slaves.

The second wave arrived between 1840s and 1850s and were predominantly Irish and German Catholics and Scandinavians.  This group has been called the “old immigrants” when talking about 19th Century immigration.  

The third wave of immigration hit American shores between 1880 – 1924.  The earliest group comprised French Canadians, Irish, German, Dutch and other northern and western European immigrants.  However, after 1890, the newer arrivals came from southern and eastern Europe: Italians, Poles, Russians, Jews, and Slavs.  This group has been called the “new immigrants.”

The latest wave started in the 1960s and hasn’t stopped.  Initially, people came from Asia and Eastern Europe, but for the past twenty years or so, more Latin Americans have arrived.



This theory concerns itself with the adoption of Anglo-American institutions like the English language, culture and customs.  However, negative attitudes towards other ethnic groups comes hand in hand with this theory, including the belief that Anglo-American ways are the only way to assimilate.  Ben Franklin and other founding fathers expressed “reservations about large-scale immigration from Europe” though they most likely could not have envisioned the role immigration would have on American history.  During the second and third waves, nativist attitudes reared their ugly heads at the Irish and Germans (see cartoon above) including a violent anti-Catholic campaign.  Even the cranky John Quincy Adams basically said, “if they don’t like it here, they can go back where they came from.”   When the third wave arrived, Social Darwinism arose as a way of asserting the older groups’ inherent genetic dominance over the eastern and southern European groups.  They weren’t English, had strange religion and customs, and were very slow to adopt American ways.  There was a pressure-cooker Americanization process undertaken during World War I which ended with hundreds being exported during the “Red Scare” of 1919-20 for un-American ideas like anarchism and socialism.


Melting Pot

We read about this melding of European people in America in the pre-Revolutionary era in Hector St. John Crevecouer’s Letters from an American Farmer when he said, “Who is this American?  He is either an European, or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country.”    The attitude concerning the   new American society was “not a slightly modified English but rather a totally new blend… in which the stocks and folkways of Europe….were mixed in a pot of the emerging nation and fused by the fires of American influence and interaction…”   Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about America in the 1840s as “an asylum for all nations” that would make a new type of individual.   Frederick Jackson Turner broke with the Anglo-conformity mold when he wrote his historic essay in 1893, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” saying that American institutions and democracy were not an offshoot of Europe but something uniquely itself.   In 1908, an English-Jewish writer named Israel Zangwill wrote a drama called (oddly enough) The Melting Pot in which a young Jewish immigrant / composer comes to America in order to complete a symphony about his amazing new country where all ethnic groups are united.


Cultural Pluralism

This theory recognizes the concept that when new immigrant groups come to the United States (or wherever, for that matter), the groups tend to clump together in similar groups based on language, culture, and region.  For instance, in the 1840s, the Irish bonded together in Boston as American society initially rejected them.   By the late 1800s, middle class reformers came to the city to help the new arrivals from eastern and southern Europe get acclimated to America.  Women like Jane Addams respected an ethnic group’s language and culture but also taught them the English language.   The children of the new immigrants, because of rapid Americanization, looked down upon their parents who couldn’t speak English and clung to the old ways, thereby alienating each generation from the other.   But Jane Addams, reflected in her biography, Twenty Years in Hull House, that by creating a “Labor Museum” at her settlement house, she showed the younger generation of immigrants what the older group prized (like sewing and weaving).  “The daughters…began to appreciate the fact that their mothers had their own culture too.”

In 1915, Horace Kallen wrote articles on immigration in The Nation which rejected both the melting pot and Anglo-conformity “as models of what was actually transpiring in American life.”   He pointed out how the immigrants have participated in American society by learning English but while still preserving their culture and traditions.  Kallen felt that by allowing immigrants to keep their culture and traditions, we were actually being more democratic than if we had imposed an Anglo-conformist attitude on them.  Kallen came up with the term “cultural pluralism” in later essays in which he rejected the Klan, the Red Scare and other attempts at ultra-Americanization and stated that cultural pluralism was the “cure for these ills.”


As you’ve grown up, you’ve probably come to realize that America is a land of immigrants; you may be the first generation of your family born here in the United States.  In this blog response, describe at least two examples of where you’ve seen or experienced at least two of these three immigration theories in action.   Talk to your family and ask older relatives what it was like when they arrived in America.  Or, relate your family’s stories in your response.

You have until Friday by class to get this finished.  Your response should be a minimum of 300 words.  GO! 

January 10

Blog #29 – Social Darwinism or Eugenics – you give evolution a bad name!

Social Darwinism – the term actually – is hard to pin down as to its origins.   Some sources say that its a knock against Darwin when his critics try to apply Darwin’s evolutionary biology to a social context, an application that Darwin never intended.   Other sources say that SD should really be called “survival of the fittest” because the man who first proposed these SD ideas, Herbert Spencer, also coined the “survival” phrase.


“Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”  Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, jr. 


Eugenics was an ambitious, worldwide program that set about to eliminate the lowest tenth of the human population by restricting marriages and involuntarily sterilizing those who were considered to be “feebleminded,” or were petty criminals, epileptics, and alcoholics.  The lowest tenth also included, in America, blacks, Jews, Mexicans, and immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe.   In many ways, this technique is akin to treating human beings like live stock and culling the weak to improve the gene pool.  So, beginning in the 20th Century, with the help of such philanthropic giants as the Carnegie Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation, prominent eugenicists wrote and recommended sterilization policies that would become laws in 28 states by 1932.  60,000 Americans would eventually have their reproductive rights taken from them, though Eugenics enthusiasts sought to eliminate almost 14 million Americans 1.


Eugenics actually originated with Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton who drew conclusions from his examinations of prominent British families and inherited traits.  An Italian physician named Cesare Lombroso added to this field of knowledge by stating “there exists…a group of criminals, born for evil, against whom all social cures break against a rock – a fact which compels us to eliminate the[se criminals] completely, even by death.”   in 1874, an English doctor named Jugdale examined on inmates in a New York jail, especially six who were related.  Jugdale sdiscovered that these inmates’ family tree was “full of social deviants” 2.


Coupled with the influx of millions of new immigrants from different places like Eastern and Southern Europe, old stock Americans looked for reasons to restrict this flood of “an army of the unfit”.  So, America began passing laws that limited immigration from those parts of Europe – 1921’s Emergency Immigration (or Quota) Act placed a quota of just 3% of any group’s population based on the 1910 Census.  In 1924, the Immigration Act went further by changing the quota to 2% and changing the Census date to 1890, adversely affecting the most recent additions to America.  The 1924 law also restricted Asian citizenship as well.


But, the worst part about the eugenics movement is that the American movement became the envy of the German National Socialist Party as they rose to power in the late 1920s.  “The National Socialist Physicians League head Gerhard Wagner praised America’s eugenic policies and pointed to them as a model for Germany” 2.   In fact, during the 1930s, both American and German eugenic scientists and programs exchanged information and praised each other as model programs for other like-minded countries to follow.   Euthanasia of the insane was proposed in Alabama in 1936 if compulsory sterilization wasn’t enough to stop the increase in number coming into sanitariums.   Even the inventor of the iron lung suggested that the insane be disposed of efficiently “in small euthanasia facilities supplied with proper gases” 2.


  Though American eugenics programs did not have the depth or breadth that the Nazi eugenics program had (the Holocaust), compulsory sterilization laws were still in effect until the late 1960s and early 1970s.  In fact, 60,000 doesn’t compare with 6 million or even 11 million if you count all of the victims of the Nazi genocidal machine.


But that doesn’t minimize the fact that America is supposed to be a democracy that allows many freedoms and protects peoples’ rights, and during this sad history, the country and its states chose to interfere with peoples’ right to marry whomever they wanted and also to have children.  When the laws of the land and the courts of the land uphold those immoral laws based upon bogus science, what recourse do the weak have?   Isn’t that what the government’s job is – protect the weak, in cases like these?



1. Do states bear any responsibility for the compulsory sterilization laws that they had passed in the early part of the 20th Century?  Why or why not?  If so, what should be done for those surviving victims, especially the ones who are still alive who were sterilized in the 1960s or 1970s?

2. Do you think the philanthropic organizations like Carnegie Institute or Rockefeller Foundation bear any responsibility in this mess?  Why or why not?

3. Is it possible that the Human Genome Project could spur similar sentiments or feelings about fetal manipulation in order to create a healthier, more perfect child?  Why or why not?

(300 words total after writing BOTH of your answers).   Due Friday, January 13 before class begins.  


1. Black, Edwin. War against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003. Print.

2. Quinn, Peter. “Race Cleansing In America.” American Heritage Mar. 2003: 35-43. Web. 2012. <>

NPR’s story on North Carolina’s recommendation to provide assistance for the 2,000 survivors of NC’s eugenic’s program.

January 15

Blog #10 – 4 questions about immigration

While studying the Gilded Age and the 3rd wave of American immigration, we brought up a lot of questions in our discussions. 

1. Is the wall on our border with Mexico morally / ethically right thing to do  given that the majority of illegal immigrants are people who overstay their work or college visas and NOT those who cross the Mexican border illegally?  Why or why not?

Breaking news:

This article talks about how the U.S. is getting rid of the “virtual fence along the Mexican border b/c it’s too costly. 

FILE - In this undated file picture provided ...    US scraps virtual fence along Mexico ...

2. There are vigilantes called the American Border Patrol who patrol the U.S. / Mexican border and occasionally engage in extra-legal activities.  Their leader, Glenn Spencer, also has been one of the more outspoken anti-immigrant voices in American for the past 12 years or so, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.  See link: 

People are allowed to express their opinions and even broadcast them on the internet.  However, do they have the right to patrol the border and take the law into their own hands?  Their defense was that the American government is not doing its job of protecting the border. 

A young man walks next to the border fence between ...

Here’s the ABP’s website:

Also, CBS News put together a segment on the border fence. Here it is:

3. Should America completely cut off immigration to the U.S.?  Why or why not?  Should the country allow in more people legally?   Why or why not?  Among the issues associated with these two questions, we discussed depressed wages and low-paying jobs and their comparison to the Gilded Age.  

4. Should we make it easier for illegal immigrants in the U.S. to become citizens?  Why or why not?  Former President Bush’s plan included putting the estimated 12 million illegals on the road to citizenship by giving them Social Security numbers so that they can start paying taxes on jobs that they already have (some use fake SSNs).  They’d also have to learn English, apply for the citizenship process, and pay fines. 

Pick 2 of the 4 questions and answer them.  Each question should be around 125 words.   Thanks. 

Due Tuesday January 18 before class begins.