May 29

Blog #129 – Have we overcome racism yet?

As we talked in class this morning (please listen to the discussion if you missed class – it’s the first 10 minutes or so), most of you who talked said that we have not overcome racism yet.  So, let me modify the question to read – to what extent have we overcome racism?  This gives you some leeway in interpreting and answering the question and allows you to tackle it however you want.

Obama Is Sworn In as the 44th President - The New York Times

I think that if I asked the original question say in 1964 after the Civil Rights Act was passed or in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected, I might have gotten different answers.  From today’s vantage point, the Civil Rights Movement looks like an inevitable juggernaut where America finally wrestled with the demons of racism and vanquished their most odious forms as seen in Jim Crow laws, voting restrictions, and racial violence.  But from back then, it was anything but inevitable.  Black and white Americans were trying to defeat centuries of entrenched racism and traditions.  The fact that they did it in a mere short eleven years (1954 – 1965) belies the fact that Black Americans had been laying the ground work for the CRM for decades.  Yet, to look at racial relations today or at any point in the past thrity years or so, one doesn’t need to be Black to see that we still have so much work to do.

For instance, there is a MASSIVE wealth gap in total and median incomes between Blacks, whites, and Latinos.  See the charts below.  And this video / article from CNN explains how the coronavirus will just make this gap worse.

Besides the wealth gap, there is also structural racism in the country where the vast majority of the levers of political power and finance are controlled by white men.  Things have gotten better since 1965, but just take a look at Congress which remains about 80% white. And one Black president in forty five.

CNN published this article on Wednesday showcasing inequality in 6 different charts here.

Another thing that we have seen, specifically this week was a bad reminder of this, is that people of color are the direct victims of police brutality and violence.  With the proliferation or spread of camera phones, dash cams, and other video recording devices, murders or assaults by police that might have been hushed up are now receiving the attention they deserve.  But we have to keep in mind that this violence has always happened, primarily to Black men, but with the increased transparency we have today, bad cops are much less likely to get away with it.

Documents show US monitoring of Black Lives Matter | News | Al Jazeera

The continuing rise of respectability politics puts down one aspect of the Black community while highlighting another aspect.  This idea comes from an early 20th Century movement in the Black community itself to change “Black American culture – and Black Americans themselves – are broken and need to be fixed.  And “fixing” means improving the “Black underclass” that holds us back.”  Much of this comes from forcing Black Americans to attain the standards of white America as a way to improve upon Black culture.  (  The underlying thinking is that one group of Blacks is making it impossible for the “more respectable” Black Americans to rise up and defeat racism.  President Obama has been guilty of engaging in respectability politics when he talks about the role of the father in Black families.  Comedian Bill Cosby has also been a big proponent of this concept.

Next, the school-to-prison pipeline is emblematic of two things: underfunded schools and lack of real job opportunities for African Americans.  This pipeline “refers to the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.  This pipeline reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education” (  With insufficient funding in urban schools and zero-tolerance educational practices, students who violate school rules in major ways are shuffled out of school and into the criminal justice system.  This kind of educational discipline, made in response to the numerous school shootings that have happened since 1999, also affects students with special needs.  Some for-profit schools are being created to treat drop-outs or “troubled children” with a no-nonsense approach and have had dismal records of meeting the needs of these students.

The intersection of race, sports and culture: Kevin Merida and The ...

But, to further cloud the picture, we should look at Black Americans as champions of perserverance.  They defeated Jim Crow and overt forms of racism.  They have achieved wealth and status that 50 years ago was unheard of – Barack Obama was elected for 2 terms!  Black Americans shape American fashion, culture, music, and entertainment in ways unimaginable 50 years ago.  When I was a senior in college, Black students held a sit-in at MSU to push for more Black faculty and an African American studies program.  Today, we have an African American History class at Groves.  And a few Black women are being considered for the Vice Presidency in a Biden run for the White House this year.  And as we have seen in Minneapolis the last couple of days, most Black people have had enough and are rebelling.

So, your job is to think and write about the extent to which we have overcome racism today in 2020 America.  Feel free to use examples that I haven’t included here or build on ones that I have listed here.  There is no right answer.

400 words minimum answer.  Due Monday night, June 1, by 11:59 pm. 

June 3

Blog 87- Obama + Hiroshima = Apology?

“I will never apologize for the United States – I don’t care what the facts are.”
George H.W. Bush

President Obama went to Hiroshima recently and some people were clamoring for an apology to the city or the Japanese people for the dropping of the atomic bomb(s) in August 1945. An individual quoted in the New York Times was quoted as saying that “an apology by the president ‘would set the tone of reconciliation that all nations can respond to.'”

In the same article, another person said that Obama could “lament the damage caused by the atomic bombs without apologizing for their use.” A third person said that the president shouldn’t apologize for the bombs because the bombs “saved lives by avoiding a [total war] military invasion of Japan.”

A fourth opinion suggested that Obama use his speech to get the Japanese to confront their troubled legacy from World War 2 and their atrocities in Korea and China. A fifth person suggested that since Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for advocating the reduction of nuclear weapons, he should announce his veto of a previously approved plan to spend $1 trillion on improving our nuclear arsenal.

When Obama gave his speech at Hiroshima, he said about the victims:

“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become… How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to the [truth that science allows us to bend nature to our will]? How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause… Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well… Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering [as at Hiroshima]. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”

Please read the whole speech here:  Click here. 

Some things to think about:
– Does America have a moral obligation to lead the way with nuclear weapons since we were the only country to use them on a population?
– Would an apology open up the door to Japan asking for reparations for the bombing?
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for his country’s treatment of Native Canadians in the past. An apology “doesn’t cost anything… Has no effect on policy. It was just the nice thing to do.”
– America has apologized to Japanese Americans for their internment, to Rwanda for not getting involved in their genocide. But there are many, many things that America (the president, Congress) has NOT apologized for.
– Americans have been worshipping our war heroes, but the nuclear bombs makes it seem like they might have done something wrong.
– Japan hasn’t apologized for Pearl Harbor, but are the two acts comparable?
– It seems that liberals want to be transparent, self-critical, and ask “are we living up to our values?” Conservatives stress national strength and unity, they want to instill pride, and remember the great things that we have done as a country.

My questions:
1. Read over Obama’s speech. Do you think he apologized for the atomic bombings? Why or why not?
2. Using the “things to think about” section, which of these comments resonates with you the most? Explain.
3. Which of the five opinions from the New York Times article fits best with your own views on this issue? Why?

300 words minimum. Due by Thursday, June 9 by class.

May 22

Blog #36 – Voter ID

After reading the article, “Can I See Some ID?”, I just wanted to sum up some of the details and arguments:

–          In Texas, a new voter ID law requires Texans to have a picture ID with them in order to vote.  The article said that this law would negatively impact college students b/c the address for the voter at the polling station and on the ID MUST be the same.  Texas is a massive state, one which could take a 12-14 hour drive to cross it (as does Michigan), and so if a student lives up in the panhandle put goes to college in Houston, that student would have a problem.  What is he/she to do?

–          A majority of these laws are being pushed by states that have Republican-led legislatures, and with the 2012 elections coming up, this could be seen as a partisan (political party) tactic to limit the number of eligible voters who could vote for the Democratic incumbent, Barack Obama.  Those being affected by this call for voter ID are the poor, the elderly, college students, and minorities (estimated 21 million, according to the article dated April 2, 2012).  Many of these groups voted for Obama in 2008, and voter ID opponents like Civil Rights pioneer and Congressman, John Lewis, called these laws “another form of a poll tax.”  Obviously, this could have a huge (read HUGE) impact on the election in November:

Twenty-four laws or executive orders restricting access to the ballot have passed in 17 states since the beginning of 2011 and 74 more such bills are pending. By November 2012, there will be at least 30 states that will require identification to be shown at the polls. This requirement will disenfranchise up to 11% of eligible voters in America, and will have an even larger impact on groups that have traditionally faced discrimination at the polls. 1

 – Republicans state that these laws are intended to reduce incidents of voter fraud.  Also, they argue that showing an ID like a driver’s license or passport at the airport is a normal procedure, so why couldn’t you be expected to confirm your identity at the polling place?  It is just common sense to carry a piece of ID with you in order to function in today’s society.  Isn’t our democracy worth safe guarding with a simple, free ID?  Opinion polls cited by Republicans also state that 75% of Americans “including majorities of Hispanics and African-Americans — routinely support such laws.” 2 

 The Supreme Court has also weighed in on the Constitutionality of Voter ID laws (like Indiana’s) and has said YES! in 2008. 

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Voter ID Laws
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

The South Carolina law mentioned in the Colbert video above in which Governor Nikki Haley promises to drive all of those who are inconvenienced by the law has been blocked by the Justice Department.  It says that the SC law would target eligible minority voters. 1   In March, the Justice Dept. also blocked the Texas voter ID law for the same reason.  Wisconsin’s voter ID law was also blocked by a federal judge in March 2012.  The judge in the Wisconsin case said this about his decision:

“Without question, where it exists, voter fraud corrupts elections and undermines our form of government,” wrote Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess in his decision. “The legislature and governor may certainly take aggressive action to prevent its occurrence. But voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed, they are two heads on the monster.”

In fact, the group that is pushing for voter ID laws has stated that non-citizens with photo IDs have already registered to vote, though the number appears to be small (2,000 in Miami-Dade county of 250,000).  Sometimes, in Florida and other places with Latino populations, some U.S. citizens are asked to “document their status” as Americans so they can stay on the voter rolls.  Occasionally, these residents are flagged as ineligible voters – in effect, guilty until proven innocent.  3

In a typical, hidden-camera investigative report, PJ Media trickster James O’Keefe sent a film crew to pretend to be the Attorney General of the U.S. and vote in his place, or technically, to see how easy it would be to vote at his precinct posing as a gentlemen named Holder (the A.G. is named Eric Holder) without ID.  Obviously according the National Review article, the pollster is plainly clueless, unable to recognize the Attorney General of the U.S..2 

A super-lobby group called ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has been cooperating with big businesses and legislatures around the country to write some of these voter ID bills.  Here’s a link to one of their co-written laws in Arkansas:    As it says on the document, these voter ID laws aim at disenfranchising the poor, elderly, minorities, and college students because they move often or don’t have a driver’s license or have lost the required paperwork.   Sometimes, the states will provide free IDs but the offices aren’t close to the people or aren’t open at convenient hours. 








So, what’s the right answer?  Voter IDs or not?  Or is there another possibility?  Put it out there.  Discuss the issues in your answer. 

200 words.  Due Wednesday by 5/22. 


1. “Voter ID Laws: Silencing the American People,” John Whitehead –

2. “Why We Need Voter ID Laws,” John Fund – 

 3. Fox Points to Voter ID Laws as Solution to Potential Non-Citizen Voters Who Already Have IDs, Emily Arrwood –


March 3

Blog #13 – Kids Taking Over the Blog – Part 2

Pick one question from the following choices below and submit your answer by class on Monday, March 7.   Let’s shoot for 300 words minimum.  Dig deep! 


 1. During the suffragist movement, many women were arrested while demonstrating in front of the White House on charges of “obstructing traffic.”  Do you think that this charge legitimate? Why or why not?  Also, is it possible that by arresting these women that the government was violating their First Amendment rights (i.e. freedom of speech)? Why or why not?  – Ellen


2. Do you believe it was right for Roosevelt to take advantage of the revolution in Panama to get the Canal. Was it worth to help this country? Would you have done the same if you were in Roosevelt’s position?  Why or why not?  – Brendan


3. Consider the following scenario:  It is 2008; John McCain and Barack Obama are the two main party candidates and you can vote.  A Rooseveltian candidate created a third party with a platform similar yet more drastic than the one you had planned on supporting much like what had happened in 1912.  Who would you vote for?  Why?  – Saul


4. Today, there is a little known world-wide company called Unilever. Unilever is a British/Dutch company that owns most of the world’s home, beauty and food brands. They control more than 400 brands and millions of popular products like Axe deodorent, Dove soap, Pond’s cold cream, Suave shampoo, Vaseline petroleum jelly, Signal toothpaste, Surf laundry soap, Slim Fast weight loss foods, Lipton tea, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Breyers ice cream, and Country Crock margarine. With all this success they take advantage, just like the monopolies and trusts that Teddy Roosevelt busted. They have been proven to use child labor, (what we would consider) racist ad campaigns in foreign countries, degrading ad campaigns in America and animal testing. They have been accused ounilverf being a monopoly multiple times but have also been defended because they have “competitors” like Procter and Gamble and Nestle.

Do you think Unilever is a monopoly? Why or why not?

Do you think it is dangerous to have this big of a company with this many popular products? Why or why not?

Supposing Unilever is a monopoly, what can we do to fix it today? Explain.  – Riley


5. Woodrow Wilson’s campaign slogan in 1916 was “He kept us out of war.” However, less than half a year after he was elected on this mantra, Wilson asked Congress to declare war, and on April 6, 1917, they obliged. Although he didn’t want to, Wilson broke his campaign promise, similar to many politicians today. What could Wilson have done differently so that the United States wasn’t forced into war?

 – Also, do you think that modern-day politicians make promises just to get elected, knowing that they will break them later on? Or do they whole-heartedly support these causes and are prevented from following their planned course of action as Wilson was? Are both plausible or is there an additional explanation?  Please explain.  – Andrew


6. During the Gilded Age, powerful men dominated American business. They built huge companies and helped the society with its outcome. Carnegie’s Steel Company was created in 1870 and soon became the one of the largest and most profitable industrial enterprises in the world.  The company was sold in 1901 to J.P Morgan for $480 millions. Did these decisions change our society as we know it?  If you could be any important figure at the time, what would you have changed ? Would you have done more or less than what the person originally had done?  Why?  – Ophelie


7. If you were a Cuban during the Spanish-American war, would you have trusted America’s motives?  Why or why not?  How would you have reacted to the Platt and Teller Amendments?  Explain. – Philip


8.   As we have all seen in the news lately there are many protests and revolts in Middle Eastern countries. Egypt just successfully overthrew its leader Hosni Mubarak. There are now protests in Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, and the ongoing struggle in Israel. The U.S. has been very active in this area of the world, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we did this to take out Al-Qaeda and others “terrorists”. This new development of people over throwing their governments is very different than American imperialism.   Americans believe that we should have the right to over throw our own government if it becomes tyranical – it’s written into the Declaration of Independence.Picture1


Do you believe that we should help these rebels to overthrow their oppressive governments, or should we leave them alone and see what happens?  Why or why not?  Or is there a different approach? – Sam

There are a ton of great links on the North

Newsweek’s “Why Americans Love Revolutions” –


9. Do you agree with TR’s assessment of Taft when TR said that Taft was a status quo president who went along with what Congress said?  Why or why not?  Also, do you agree with TR running for a 3rd term to spite Taft even if they both lost?  Why or why not?  – Dorian


10. For a long time, the iPhone was only available on AT&T, raking in massive fortunes for both companies.  Many phones are only available on certain networks, many clothing brands are only available at certain stores–do these arrangements/exclusive rights resemble trusts?   Why or why not?  Should any product be able to be sold by any company to prevent this?  Or if a company invented a popular product, do you think that company should at least be able to sell the product for a few years without competition?  Why or why not?  – Calvin



11.  Back during the Imperialism era and even today, most of the important decisions that occur in the United States, are debated in Congress. 

Even though we [citizens] think we have a say in what goes on in Washington, many times, the final decision is made by politicians.  In many cases during imperialism in America, such as when the U.S. liberated Cuba of Spanish rule, and when the Philippines were liberated, do you think that there should be a vote to invade or not and the flat results are the one and only deciding factor whether to invade or not?  Also, do you feel like there should be a system in place, today, where the people have more say on issues in Congress?  Please explain.  – Brad


12.  Do you think the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 where necessary during America’s first major war since 1865 or were they pointless breaches of 1st Amendment rights?  Why?  Could there have been a middle ground somewhere?  If so, what?  If not, why not?   – Michael


13.  If you lived back before the passage of the 19th Amendment, would you ever become a women suffaragist? If so, why? If not, why?   Also, what organization (National Woman’s Party, or NAWSA) would you join and why?  – Cierra

uss maine

This really isn't a photo but a photo of a drawing.

14.  What do you think was the real reason that America went to war in 1898 with the Spanish?  Was it either a general desire for war (to avenge the bombing of the Maine)?   Were there humanitarian reasons?   “Large Policy” or “Formal” Imperialism?  Or was it to expand and meet our economic needs?  Choose one of the four and explain why. – Devon


15.   Why do you think the American people were so against America’s involvement in the Great War in 1917?   If you were alive back then, would you have been against it?  Why or why not?  – Drew H.


16.  Who are some examples of women activists in today’s society?   Have we (women) truly acheived equality after all these years?  Why or why not?  – Emily


17.  Compare the labor riots of 1919-1920 in America and the riots / protests occurring in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia going on today and how the government responded to both.  Why did both the Middle Easterners and laborers rebel against conditions and treatment?  – Lenny


18.  Though President Wilson was quite the “timid” pacifist, he often went over senators’ heads to ask for the opinion of the sovereign people.  Why do you think he did this repeatedly?  Do you think going over the senators’ heads contributed to his fall from grace in Paris and during the League of Nations rallies?  Explain.  – Erin


19. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  Can you name 2 other inventors whose inventions have greatly impacted life in America?    Please name both inventors, what he/she had invented, and how it has impacted America.  – Brittany