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Author Topic: The White Guilt Thread  (Read 10759 times)

elegantpearl01

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #60 on: June 25, 2005, 11:05:24 AM »
I know the article is from the 60s, I thought it was interesting because it's on the Department of Labor's website..lol...I love John Hope Franklin's Book on the topic, from Slavey to Freedom....it was actually our text book for African American History at FAMU (a class that everyone was required to take). JD, I was actually a history major in undergrad (always good to see someone else who is interested in that topic).

 I had a chance to study with Dr. Larry Rivers at FAMU, he's the author of the Rosewood report.  Professor Eaton was there too, he established the Black Archives here in the State Capitol.  It's a very jarring experience to go there and see the slave chains and the relics from that area, jim crow, etc. I could talk about history for days. My focus though, in college wasn't African American History, it was ancient history, but we had some phenomenal professors on the topic. 

I do think it's important to look at the differences in the slave trade in the United States versus other countries, I think its very relevant in understanding the race problems in this country.

Funny in law school, in one of my classes during the Virgil Hawkins Summer Institute, we had a white professor (who has adopted a black child) basically argue the point that racism/sexism/sexual orientation were all the same struggle...I think she was in tears by the time students explained to her the differences in the struggle...good hearted lady, just a bit misguided...

Is vintage HBCU back??? That neo-soul HBCU is scary.


J D

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #61 on: June 25, 2005, 12:01:15 PM »
I know the article is from the 60s, I thought it was interesting because it's on the Department of Labor's website..lol...I love John Hope Franklin's Book on the topic, from Slavey to Freedom....it was actually our text book for African American History at FAMU (a class that everyone was required to take). JD, I was actually a history major in undergrad (always good to see someone else who is interested in that topic).

 I had a chance to study with Dr. Larry Rivers at FAMU, he's the author of the Rosewood report.  Professor Eaton was there too, he established the Black Archives here in the State Capitol.  It's a very jarring experience to go there and see the slave chains and the relics from that area, jim crow, etc. I could talk about history for days. My focus though, in college wasn't African American History, it was ancient history, but we had some phenomenal professors on the topic. 

I do think it's important to look at the differences in the slave trade in the United States versus other countries, I think its very relevant in understanding the race problems in this country.

Funny in law school, in one of my classes during the Virgil Hawkins Summer Institute, we had a white professor (who has adopted a black child) basically argue the point that racism/sexism/sexual orientation were all the same struggle...I think she was in tears by the time students explained to her the differences in the struggle...good hearted lady, just a bit misguided...

Is vintage HBCU back??? That neo-soul HBCU is scary.



Elegant,

I studied history at FIU in Miami.  My focus was primarily in Ealry Modern Europe (by choice and by default, class selection is very limited in a small department), but I also took a couple classes in Roman Britain and Ancient Greece (VERY GOOD STUFF).  I never really had the chance to take any courses in Afircan-American History, per se (those were always at the North Campus; too far for me), but we did address many of these issues in classes like The Age of Jefferson, and one of my lit classes focused entirely on issues of race in the South (Faulner, Baldwin, and *ick* Gone with the Wind).  Unfortunately, we recently lost our specialist in African-American History, Clarence Taylor, to Case Western, and we haven't been able to hire a direct replacement for him.  But we have hired a specialist in the Caribbean African Diaspora (but I didn't get the chance to take anything with her).

As far as the comparative slavery issue, please don't misunderstand me.  Comparing the experience of slavery in the US and that of other countries is useful, but one has to be careful with what one is comparing.  What I'm really uncomfortable with is when the comparison is based on a more normative kind of issue (i.e., who had it the worst?  which slavery was the most horrible?), because it's hard to make that kind of comparison with precision.  Even if you could determine who "had it the worst" in their slave experience, I don't like the tendency this has to devalue the experiences of other slave cultures, who still had it very bad, but maybe not "the worst" (whatever that means.  This seems to me like a kind of "victim snobbery" (e.g. Who suffered more, the Chinese in the Great Leap forward, or the Soviet population during the Stalin years?).  Also, I think in a way it can lead too easily to the kind of ridiculous stuff they try to explore on the History Channel (or as I call it, the Hitler Channel, because every time I turn it on, I am confronted with SS troops marching through Brussels), like "Who was the most *evil* ruler of the last 2000 years?"  Comparisons are wonderful.  Compare mortality rates, compare importation rates, compare legal rights and rememdies for slaves, etc. all you like.  I would just like the comparison to be made with precision, and I think we should stay away from purely normative terms like "better" and "worse," in general (at least as far as history is concerned).  The comparison in itself isn't bad, but I think care is required in the conclusions drawn from the comparison.

As far as the one prof you mentioned, I might have heard a similar type of argument from an early colonial specialist at FIU.  Basically his big idea is that the battle over abolition, civil rights, women's rights, and now GLBT rights is all a part of the continuing process of the American Rveolution.  Whatever its real motives may have been (and I personally think it was in large part economically motivated) the rhetoric of the Revolution "unleashed" the ideas of liberty and equality, even though those ideas weren't really put into practice in the aftermath.  That disconnect, he postulates, was siezed upon by these disaffected groups who stood up and said "WTF? What about us?  What about our freedom, our equality?"  They were, and are, he says, merely taking the arguments of the Revolution to their logical conclusion.  A country ostensibly founded upon freedom cannot be true to that principle if it maintains a system of bondage and apartheid.  A country founded on equality cannot be true to that principle if one half its population are relegated to the private sphere merely because they have different reproductive organs.  And now, the argument is that a country ostensibly founded upon liberty and equality cannot be true to those principles if people's private sexual choices are a matter of criminal law and civil discrimination.  Is this similar to what she was trying to say?  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  On the one hand, it sounds very nice, but on the other I think it is more than a little oversimplified.
"I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough."--Albert Einstein

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #62 on: June 25, 2005, 12:19:35 PM »
I know the article is from the 60s, I thought it was interesting because it's on the Department of Labor's website..lol...I love John Hope Franklin's Book on the topic, from Slavey to Freedom....it was actually our text book for African American History at FAMU (a class that everyone was required to take). JD, I was actually a history major in undergrad (always good to see someone else who is interested in that topic).

 I had a chance to study with Dr. Larry Rivers at FAMU, he's the author of the Rosewood report.  Professor Eaton was there too, he established the Black Archives here in the State Capitol.  It's a very jarring experience to go there and see the slave chains and the relics from that area, jim crow, etc. I could talk about history for days. My focus though, in college wasn't African American History, it was ancient history, but we had some phenomenal professors on the topic. 

I do think it's important to look at the differences in the slave trade in the United States versus other countries, I think its very relevant in understanding the race problems in this country.

Funny in law school, in one of my classes during the Virgil Hawkins Summer Institute, we had a white professor (who has adopted a black child) basically argue the point that racism/sexism/sexual orientation were all the same struggle...I think she was in tears by the time students explained to her the differences in the struggle...good hearted lady, just a bit misguided...

Is vintage HBCU back??? That neo-soul HBCU is scary.



Elegant,

I studied history at FIU in Miami.  My focus was primarily in Ealry Modern Europe (by choice and by default, class selection is very limited in a small department), but I also took a couple classes in Roman Britain and Ancient Greece (VERY GOOD STUFF).  I never really had the chance to take any courses in Afircan-American History, per se (those were always at the North Campus; too far for me), but we did address many of these issues in classes like The Age of Jefferson, and one of my lit classes focused entirely on issues of race in the South (Faulner, Baldwin, and *ick* Gone with the Wind).  Unfortunately, we recently lost our specialist in African-American History, Clarence Taylor, to Case Western, and we haven't been able to hire a direct replacement for him.  But we have hired a specialist in the Caribbean African Diaspora (but I didn't get the chance to take anything with her).

As far as the comparative slavery issue, please don't misunderstand me.  Comparing the experience of slavery in the US and that of other countries is useful, but one has to be careful with what one is comparing.  What I'm really uncomfortable with is when the comparison is based on a more normative kind of issue (i.e., who had it the worst?  which slavery was the most horrible?), because it's hard to make that kind of comparison with precision.  Even if you could determine who "had it the worst" in their slave experience, I don't like the tendency this has to devalue the experiences of other slave cultures, who still had it very bad, but maybe not "the worst" (whatever that means.  This seems to me like a kind of "victim snobbery" (e.g. Who suffered more, the Chinese in the Great Leap forward, or the Soviet population during the Stalin years?).  Also, I think in a way it can lead too easily to the kind of ridiculous stuff they try to explore on the History Channel (or as I call it, the Hitler Channel, because every time I turn it on, I am confronted with SS troops marching through Brussels), like "Who was the most *evil* ruler of the last 2000 years?"  Comparisons are wonderful.  Compare mortality rates, compare importation rates, compare legal rights and rememdies for slaves, etc. all you like.  I would just like the comparison to be made with precision, and I think we should stay away from purely normative terms like "better" and "worse," in general (at least as far as history is concerned).  The comparison in itself isn't bad, but I think care is required in the conclusions drawn from the comparison.

As far as the one prof you mentioned, I might have heard a similar type of argument from an early colonial specialist at FIU.  Basically his big idea is that the battle over abolition, civil rights, women's rights, and now GLBT rights is all a part of the continuing process of the American Rveolution.  Whatever its real motives may have been (and I personally think it was in large part economically motivated) the rhetoric of the Revolution "unleashed" the ideas of liberty and equality, even though those ideas weren't really put into practice in the aftermath.  That disconnect, he postulates, was siezed upon by these disaffected groups who stood up and said "WTF? What about us?  What about our freedom, our equality?"  They were, and are, he says, merely taking the arguments of the Revolution to their logical conclusion.  A country ostensibly founded upon freedom cannot be true to that principle if it maintains a system of bondage and apartheid.  A country founded on equality cannot be true to that principle if one half its population are relegated to the private sphere merely because they have different reproductive organs.  And now, the argument is that a country ostensibly founded upon liberty and equality cannot be true to those principles if people's private sexual choices are a matter of criminal law and civil discrimination.  Is this similar to what she was trying to say?  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  On the one hand, it sounds very nice, but on the other I think it is more than a little oversimplified.

J D,
I agree with you.  While I find the discursive practice of identifying discriminatory practices as a continuum in the long process of elaborating the freedoms inscribed as part of the revolutionary act intellectually persuasive,  a varigated approach is necessary in order to truly delve into the historical and socioeconomic realities of minority  experiences in this country.  Even in imagining a collective struggle for equality, we can acknowledge that the processes of marginalization have varied, and thus a meticulous researcher would do well to render the opaque, clear by instead focusing on dialogue concerning struggle.  How do we perceive the other in reference to ourselves?  How do we delineate patterns of reasoning within the discourse of similar groups?  In searching for such lucidity, I think we make the foundation for a community struggle much more apparant, even if in the end it cannot be embraced by all parties.

elegantpearl01

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #63 on: June 25, 2005, 12:21:24 PM »
Side note: we basically had the same emphasis of study that's sorta cool..

My problem with ignoring the brutual nature of slavey in the US is that the majority's argument is often "my grandparents or great grandparents came over from ____ country and they were able to do well, so Black Americans should be able to do the same." I think that argument is intellectually dishonest and ignores the psychological scars that the Black community still bears to this day from the brutality suffered by slaves hundreds of years ago.

seu2002

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #64 on: June 25, 2005, 12:26:12 PM »
E, put that thesaurus down!   >:(

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #65 on: June 25, 2005, 12:29:16 PM »
Side note: we basically had the same emphasis of study that's sorta cool..

My problem with ignoring the brutual nature of slavey in the US is that the majority's argument is often "my grandparents or great grandparents came over from ____ country and they were able to do well, so Black Americans should be able to do the same." I think that argument is intellectually dishonest and ignores the psychological scars that the Black community still bears to this day from the brutality suffered by slaves hundreds of years ago.

pearl,
I definitely agree.  I also find it disturbing when someone makes the statement like "my grandparents or great grandparents came over from ____ country, they didn't oppress anyone."  In benefitting from the legacy of discrimination in this country, they became party to the oppression.  Here we are not talking about of collective guilt, but collective responsability.  These are the same people who will wave the American flag and sing the anthem.  In choosing to become a part of this society they must accept the legacy, both positive and negative, of what belonging to a collective American imaginary means.

elegantpearl01

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #66 on: June 25, 2005, 12:30:11 PM »
E, that's on point there..totally co-signing that.

J D

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #67 on: June 25, 2005, 12:53:21 PM »
Side note: we basically had the same emphasis of study that's sorta cool..

My problem with ignoring the brutual nature of slavey in the US is that the majority's argument is often "my grandparents or great grandparents came over from ____ country and they were able to do well, so Black Americans should be able to do the same." I think that argument is intellectually dishonest and ignores the psychological scars that the Black community still bears to this day from the brutality suffered by slaves hundreds of years ago.

I'm not advocating ignoring the brutality of slavery, either.  I just think we should shy away from "purely" normative terms and queaions of comparative "evil," because these terms aren't exactly conducive to precision  (how do you tell which was the greater or greatest "evil" or "horror" anyway?).  There will always be a fair degree of normativity in our thoughts and in our ideas.  If someone were to just recite the cold, hard facts of slave life in, say, South Carolina in the early republic and before, just the empirical evidence would speak for itself; anyone with two neurons to rub together would be able to tell how awful it was.  Normativity will still come into play when dealing with the empirical evidence, and we can certainly compare who had more economic agency, more legal rights and remedies, more mobility (social and otherwise), who was more helped or harmed by certain actions.  But the way I see it, we're mostly in the business of reconstructing and interpretinf the past; pronouncing moral judgment on it should always come second or third if it comes into play at all.  The article from the DOL you cited seemed to close to something the History Channel would do for my personal comfort level.  But, I don't know, maybe that's because I'm just quirky.  ;)

Regarding the argument you've heard from many second- and third generation White Americans:  I am a third-generation white American.  I don't think that's any excuse to shut my eyes to the social problems that still plahue our country, which constitutes the heritage of the "color line" as DuBois called it.  The way I see it, even white immigrants benefited, at least indirectly, from slavery.  There was an argument made in British history a while back (very controversial at the time) that basically, but for Britain's participation in the slave trade there would have been no industrial revolution.  Basically the slave trade provided Britons with the capital needed to support industrialization.  I think a similar argument can be made in the US, from the demand side.  The slave-based economy of the South (in cotton, most significantly) provided the impetus for the establishment of insdustrial textile plants in the North.  The North benefited indirectly, because they took the raw agricultural product from the south and turned it into manufactured product in their factories, which then entered interstate (and international) commerce.  Slavery contributed to the economic growth of the entire country, which allowed for the creation of all those jobs that immigrants in the nineteenth (and later, twentieth) century came oer to fill.  I know the argument isn't especially refined, and is a little shaky, but I have a pretty good feeling that there is more than a little evidence to support the spillover economic benefits of slavery which establish this country's economic foundations, and allowed everyone else (including immigrants) to prosper.  But I should probably do more research and see if anyone has come up with a better version of this, first.
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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #68 on: June 25, 2005, 01:04:02 PM »
Side note: we basically had the same emphasis of study that's sorta cool..

My problem with ignoring the brutual nature of slavey in the US is that the majority's argument is often "my grandparents or great grandparents came over from ____ country and they were able to do well, so Black Americans should be able to do the same." I think that argument is intellectually dishonest and ignores the psychological scars that the Black community still bears to this day from the brutality suffered by slaves hundreds of years ago.

I'm not advocating ignoring the brutality of slavery, either.  I just think we should shy away from "purely" normative terms and queaions of comparative "evil," because these terms aren't exactly conducive to precision  (how do you tell which was the greater or greatest "evil" or "horror" anyway?).  There will always be a fair degree of normativity in our thoughts and in our ideas.  If someone were to just recite the cold, hard facts of slave life in, say, South Carolina in the early republic and before, just the empirical evidence would speak for itself; anyone with two neurons to rub together would be able to tell how awful it was.  Normativity will still come into play when dealing with the empirical evidence, and we can certainly compare who had more economic agency, more legal rights and remedies, more mobility (social and otherwise), who was more helped or harmed by certain actions.  But the way I see it, we're mostly in the business of reconstructing and interpretinf the past; pronouncing moral judgment on it should always come second or third if it comes into play at all.  The article from the DOL you cited seemed to close to something the History Channel would do for my personal comfort level.  But, I don't know, maybe that's because I'm just quirky.  ;)

Regarding the argument you've heard from many second- and third generation White Americans:  I am a third-generation white American.  I don't think that's any excuse to shut my eyes to the social problems that still plahue our country, which constitutes the heritage of the "color line" as DuBois called it.  The way I see it, even white immigrants benefited, at least indirectly, from slavery.  There was an argument made in British history a while back (very controversial at the time) that basically, but for Britain's participation in the slave trade there would have been no industrial revolution.  Basically the slave trade provided Britons with the capital needed to support industrialization.  I think a similar argument can be made in the US, from the demand side.  The slave-based economy of the South (in cotton, most significantly) provided the impetus for the establishment of insdustrial textile plants in the North.  The North benefited indirectly, because they took the raw agricultural product from the south and turned it into manufactured product in their factories, which then entered interstate (and international) commerce.  Slavery contributed to the economic growth of the entire country, which allowed for the creation of all those jobs that immigrants in the nineteenth (and later, twentieth) century came oer to fill.  I know the argument isn't especially refined, and is a little shaky, but I have a pretty good feeling that there is more than a little evidence to support the spillover economic benefits of slavery which establish this country's economic foundations, and allowed everyone else (including immigrants) to prosper.  But I should probably do more research and see if anyone has come up with a better version of this, first.

JD good points and we are in agreement for the second paragraph.  I would like to come back to the question of normative analysis that you mentioned in your first paragraph.  I agree with you that there will always be a fair degree of normativity in our thoughts, but I don't think trying to purge those ideas is the role of the historian or social scientist.  In fact I would argue on the contrary that such normative aspects are the foundation of such scholarship, that the personal vision colors the perspective to an extent that it becomes the heart of the discipline.  Empirical evidence certainly lends the process more scientifically credible, but in choosing which statics have value we are inherently making normative judgments.

HBCU.EDU

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Re: The White Guilt Thread
« Reply #69 on: June 25, 2005, 01:14:01 PM »
Is vintage HBCU back???

God I hope so.


vintage HBCU has returned.  I will replace “Keep a smile in your heart” with “get me a soda”. I am back by popular demand. no more  flowers. I hated being gay. It did't feel good :o. I'm an a-hole again! I'm happy about that. Get me a soda Mobell you yale monkey face! >:(