January 15

Blog #107 – The Post


I really hoped that you enjoyed the movie, The Post, this weekend.  I think we got to see some pretty smart acting, decent writing, and a slice of 1971 politics and newspapers.  As we saw, the Washington Post was trying to become more than just a regular, “local paper” as they called it, when Katherine Graham, the publisher played by Meryl Streep, looked to sell stock in the company and raise $3 million to hire 25 new reporters.  At the same time that this stock offering is getting ready to go, the New York Times began publishing the opening series of the Pentagon Papers, a 7,000 page report detailing American involvement in Vietnam from 1945 – 1967.  Ben Bradlee, the editor in chief for the Post, played by Tom Hanks, wants those papers too, since he sees the Times as his paper’s biggest competitor.  Image result for the post movie reviews

Please answer the following questions:

  1. A lot of the movie tries to be faithful to the 1971 time frame – pay phones, newspapers, teletype, black and white TVs, the clothes, etc.  How has life changed since then, and is this movie glorifying an age (the age of crusading newspapers) that may never come back?  Why or why not?
  2. Examine how the film portrayed Katherine Graham as the lone woman in a sea of powerful male players – lawyers, bankers, etc.  Provide specifics from the film as it shows her growth from socialiImage result for the post movie reviewste publisher to powerful player.
  3. The film’s reviews – many have made the case that this film is timely and completely relevant to today.  Freedom of the press is something that must be fought for, again and again.  You could see that Nixon had tried to muzzle the press with the injunctions against the Times and the Post, but the Supreme Court had rescued the press w/ its 6-3 decision in U.S. v. New York Times.  With what’s going on w/ the media (“fake news”) and other issues, how do you see this film as relevant and timely?  And why is freedom of the press so important?

400 words minimum for all  three questions. 

Due Monday, January 29 by class.  

NYT review – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/21/movies/the-post-review-steven-spielberg-tom-hanks-meryl-streep.html

Variety review – http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/the-post-review-tom-hanks-meryl-streep-1202631640/


October 12

Blog #78 – Do we need a new Civil Rights Movement?

After studying the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) this week, you may wonder if the CRM is still around.  And, the bigger question is, is there a need for one?  You might think that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 / 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had fixed many of the egregious racist violations of human and civil rights that had existed since slavery ended in 1865.  Why would we need a CRM when we’ve got a black president, some of the wealthiest Americans are black, and many entertainers are black and are “visible” in movies and TV and on the Internet (as opposed to “invisible” during the 1950s that we saw in the video, The Rage Within).  Right?  Isn’t America dedicated to the proposition that everyone is equal and has an equal chance to reach for that American Dream?  So what’s the problem?

Well, if we limit our civil rights discussion to just Black Americans, we can see several things that pop out at us:

1. The income gap between whites and blacks is dramatically widening since 2007 (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/12/12/racial-wealth-gaps-great-recession/).  FT_14.12.11_wealthGap2Using the chart at the left, you can see that the average household income between whites, blacks, and Latinos has continued to plague the country.  Obviously, the Great Recession (2007-2009) broke a lot of peoples’ dreams to own their own homes and live a comfortable life.  But what these numbers show is that since the 1980s, it’s gotten worse, twenty years after the Voting Rights Act.  Watch this link to a CNN video that explains why this gap has existed (http://money.cnn.com/video/news/economy/2014/12/14/the-economy-in-black–white-animation.cnnmoney/). This leads to my next point.

2. There is systemic racism in this country as shown in the way Black Americans lose their jobs more readily than white Americans and more likely to had been the victims of foreclosure at the end of the real estate boom in 2007 (http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/the-wealth-gap-between-whites-and-minorities-is-growing/).  We see this in still who controls the majority of the wealth of the country and the barriers that still exist for Black Americans to gain home loans and job opportunities. This racism is also seen in urban public schools and their lack of funding.  Most urban public schools are segregated de facto (by choice) rather than by law.  And with urban schools failing, it seems to compound the cycle of poverty that we read about in the excerpt from Michael Harrington’s The Other America.  We also see this structural racism in the way Black Americans are portrayed in the media.  When white mass murderers are examined in the media, they’re sometimes portrayed as loners with mental problems, but when Black men are murdered, the character is called into question as if that justifies their murder.  inmate or nurse

3. Most visibly, we see African Americans made 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.  With incidents in Baltimore, Ferguson, Cleveland, Texas, and too many other locations to mention, even the U.S. government is getting involved in examining the effects of police brutality and unequal enforcement on communities.  (U.S. Justice Dept. report on Ferguson).

4. 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.  (http://alineinthesand.com/respectability-politics/).  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.

5. The school-to-prison pipeline is systematic 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” (https://www.aclu.org/fact-sheet/what-school-prison-pipeline).  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.

If we were to just focus on African Americans to the exclusion of other minorities, I would stop there.  But what about the biggest minority group in America, Latino Americans?

6. Using Donald Trump’s comments over the summer as his presidential race debut, he described Mexicans who came over our porous national border as “rapists” and criminals.  If he had it his way, The Donald would have Mexico pay for this wall he’d like to put up on our southern border (despite the fact that there is already a wall along many parts of the U.S.- Mexico border).  These comments just add to the way many Republican candidates see the influx of Latinos coming into the country as a negative thing. deportations_graph_bigger_0

Source: (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117412/deportations-under-obama-vs-bush-who-deported-more-immigrants)

But what about those already here illegally?

7. President Obama’s been deporting more undocumented workers by 2014 (2 million) than previous presidents, yet the Republicans say he’s not doing enough.  Many plans have been bandied about with regards how to include the 11.5 million undocumented workers legally into the American taxpayer system: give them Social Security numbers so they can pay taxes; put them on the road to citizenship and learn English; pay penalties, etc.

8. Much like the gap between whites and blacks with regards to income equality, the same can be said for Latinos and whites.  Questions include, are there enough resources for ELL (English Language Learners) in our schools?  Why do only 52% of Latinos have a high school diploma vs. 85% whites?  Kids in poverty, regardless of race or ethnicity, tend to do poorer in school and on standardized tests.  (http://www.nea.org/home/HispanicsEducation%20Issues.htm)

Next, let’s talk about women.

9. One of the first things that needs to be addressed is the pervasive rape culture in the United States.  Women should feel safe, no matter what they do or how they dress.  When society tends to blame the victim of rape (87% done by an acquaintance, not someone stalking them in the dark) for how much she drank or provocative clothing, the playing field tends to be skewed towards men and not the victim.  Should 20% of American women having survived a rape be considered the norm, especially when an overwhelming majority of rapists never go to jail?  We need to teach men and young men not to rape, not to tell women how to avoid being raped (as if that’s a normal thing).  (http://time.com/40110/rape-culture-is-real/)

10. What about the pay gap between men and women for the same jobs?  The arguments against paying women the same as men used to be that a woman’s income was secondary to her husband (assuming she’s married), so that money is just extra.  Another argument against equal pay was that women get pregnant and their replacements needed to be trained, so the money comes out of the pregnant woman’s paycheck for loss of productivity.  According to the AAUW, women in Michigan get paid about 74% what men get paid and are 45th out of 50 in a nationwide ranking.  This chart shows what could be done with the extra money women would get if they were paid equallypay_gap_lifetimeFINAL.  It’s in everyone’s best interest to have women paid as much as men. (http://billmoyers.com/content/facts-figures-women-and-pay-inequality/)

11. I don’t even know where to start when talking about the double standard for beauty with women and men.  Women are expected to look beautiful while a man can get away with jeans and a t-shirt and a baseball cap for dates. Men can put on the pounds but women can’t?  Look at the number of people who have eating disorders, mostly women. Make-up, over-sexualized clothes and toys for children, online bullying – the list can go on and on.  Yes, men have their own hyper-masculine body images as well, but this double standard for beauty seems to really impact women.  

I Am Not A Slut by Leora Tanenbaum.  http://www.amazon.com/Am-Not-Slut-Slut-Shaming-Internet/dp/006228259X

And what about the LGBTQ community?

12. Finally, marriage equality is the law of the land thanks to the Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Holmes, decided this summer.  The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned two years ago, and you would have thought that most states would have followed through with it, but it took the courts to secure everyone’s rights.  But this doesn’t mean everyone is accepting or willing to follow the law – see the county clerk in Kentucky for one prime example.  Some anti-LGBTQ groups have pushed presidential candidates to seek to overturn Obergefell, or sign laws that allow for religious discrimination directed at those who want to get married.

13. And if the LGBTQ community is allowed to get married, what about the creation of families and adoption rights?  Only 10 states and D.C. allow adoption by gay parents, and Florida is currently the only state that bans adoption by gay parents, but many other states put obstacles in the way of gay parents, including lots of misinformation like “A child is better off with one father and one mother“.  (http://civilliberty.about.com/od/gendersexuality/ig/Lesbian-and-Gay-Rights-101/Gay-Adoption-Rights.htm)


This list is by no means comprehensive.  That would take books on each of these issues (like The New Jim Crow, Bad Feminist, God Believes in Love, I Am Not a Slut, Between the World and Me, Harvest of Empire, Citizen, The Fire Next Time).

My question for you is this:

If you had to choose one group to join for a civil rights movement, which one would it be, why, and what would be your top priority?  You can list other priorities that I have not mentioned, because though I have tried to familiarize myself with all of these groups, it is just a cursory / surface familiarity.

If you choose to disagree with the basic premise, that no new civil rights movement is needed, please explain why along with facts to back up your argument. 

300 words minimum answer due Wednesday, Oct. 14 by class. 


April 8

Pearl Harbor Interactive Map and more


Check it out.

Also, a link to the wesbite for the film on the Zoot Suit Riots.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/zoot/index.html 

A link about the Detroit riot in 1943 – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/eleanor-riots/ 

Articles on Japanese internment – http://www.pbs.org/childofcamp/history/


A few pages about working women during WW2 – http://www.nps.gov/pwro/collection/website/rosie.htm


May 24

The End of Men Atlantic article

Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences

This is the article that we discussed in class. 


October 1

Blog #2 – Pick a topic to blog

Choose one of the following questions and answer it by Monday, October 4th. 

200 words minimum. 

1. Were the Spanish just in their attempt to Christianize the Native Americans?  Why or why not?

2. Why was there so much tension between the religious groups in America?  Why were so many of them intolerant of others?

3. What are the risks and benefits of refusing to conform with society if you diagree with its principles?  Do you think it’s worth it today?  Why or why not? 

4. How would our population be distributed differently if the Mayfower had landed in Virginia (where it was supposed to land)?  How might this have affected the American Revolution (or would there have even been one)?

5. Do you think that bad people can improve given a second chance?  Take into account the history of Georgia. 

6. Why do you think religious extremists are still present in today’s society?  In what ways do these groups compare to the Separatists / Pilgrims?puritans

7. With the New England education system, independent thinking appeared to have been discouraged.  What do you think this meant for education institutions back then?  What must it have been like to have been a student back then?

8. What were the European explorers’ reactions to the unbounded nature of the New World?

9. If Europeans hadn’t settled the Americas, how do you think the U.S. would look like today?

10. If Powhatan hadn’t intervened in the fate of Jamestown’s “starving time”, what might have happened to the colony?

11. How did a person suddenly come up with a new version of Christianity? 

12. Would people have migrated to America if King Henry VIII hadn’t broken from the Roman Catholic Church?  Why or why not?

13. Was it hypocritical for the Puritans to persecute the Quakers, especially after they were persecuted in England?

14. Were the Wampanoags and other Indian tribes justified in their reasoning for launching King Philip’s War (to stop the spread of the English onto their land) and the death and injury of several hundred English men and women?  Why or why not?  king philip

15. Why did the Europeans treat the natives so poorly when many of them were helpful and peaceful at first?

16. Do you think Father Bartoleme de Las Casas’ idea to use Africans instead of Indians as slaves in the New World was a major factor in the establishment of African slavery in America?  Why or why not?

17. How were the European explorers able to communicate with the Native Americans when they first arrived?

18. If people like John Smith hadn’t helped the settlers survive, what do you think would have happened to the new colonies?

19. What gave certain people or religion the right to pass discriminatory laws?

20. Why did the English monarch send Edmund Andros over to lead the Dominion of New England instead of appointing someone from the colonies?  What would have happened if a New Englander had been in charge?

21. Often times, it’s been said that one leader completely helped a colony to survive;  do you think that it is a fair statement to give one person sole responsibility for the success of a colony (Peter Stuyvesant, John Smith, Miles Standish)?

22. Would Americans have been as religiously tolerant today if the Quakers and Puritans actually had gotten along back in the 17th Century?  Why or why not? 

23. If you were Peter Stuyvesant, would you have given up New York without a fight?  Why or why not? 

24. Do you think the “visible saints” actually believed that they had been chosen by God or do you think that they faked it for the social acceptance and enhanced social standing?

25. How do you think American (and Virginian) history would have been different if John Rolfe hadn’t developed a better, less bitter strain of tobacco to export to Europe?

26. Which of the early American colonies would you have liked to have lived in?  Why?

27. What do you think led Roger Williams to develop his “radical” views on religion?  roger williams

28. Everyone has their own interpretation of religion, so why does that have to affect the way that they live and treat others?

29. Which person that we’ve studied so far was the most democratic?  How about the most aristocratic?  Why?

30. Why do you think the Roanoke settlement disappeared?

31. What changes do you think would have occurred in the progression of colonial society if colonists were less hostile towards Native Americans?

32. During the African slave trade, how could African leaders have so easily sold other Africans into slavery?

33. If you were to start a new colony somewhere, what kinds of principles would you build it upon and why?  Think about religion, education, government, philosophy, morals, etc.

34. How do you think a 17th Century Puritan would react to our society today?  (Think of common behaviors, style of dress, religious attitudes, freedom, technology, etc.).

35. Which of the original 13 colonies do you think best represents America today?  Why?

36. How do you think Old World Europeans viewed those people who left their country and headed out to the unknown New World?

37. Do you think Puritan women felt discriminated against when they weren’t allowed any say-so in law making or decision-making?  Or do you think they accepted their role / fate as what God had wanted?  Why?

38. Why, during the Great Awakening, did slave-owners decide to teach their slaves about Christianity, when they did not even consider them human beings deserving of natural rights (in essence, by recognizing that slaves have a soul to save from hell, it’s a recognition of their humanity – something that had been denied them)?