Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Post #5: For Tuesday, October 26th

For Tuesday, October 26th, write a post that responds to one of the following topics. Be sure your post is at least 300 words. Use specific examples and direct citations from the readings to support your ideas.

1) As we've been studying the Civil Rights movement, we saw how civil disobedience, lawsuits and legislation (the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965) helped overturn some of the key injustices of the Jim Crow south, such as segregated businesses and literacy tests. In James Baldwin's essay "Fifth Avenue, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem," and the first chapter of Malcolm X's autobiography we see powerful descriptions of the different (but related) injustices that African-Americans faced in the north. What techniques do we see African-Americans using in these texts to resist injustice or to gain power? Do you think the techniques used in the south would be effective in the north? What other techniques do you think might have been or might be effective and why?

2) Art, music and other forms of cultural expression are often especially useful in changing people's consciousness about their own lives. In the first chapter of Malcolm X's autobiography, he discusses internalized racism: the way that African Americans have absorbed the ideology of white supremacy. Describe how this issue comes up in Malcolm's early life, how he analyzes these early expereinces, and the shift in consciousness you think he wants to create in readers. If you wish, you can also discuss other examples of how oppressed groups have internalized the messages of a dominant society, drawing on other texts and your own knowledge and experiences.


  1. Internalized racism is an important issue in U.S.A that black people have been forced to perpetuate and agree to their own perpetuate.It prevents black people to push things forward,make them feel that they are not intellegent and powerful naturally. So Malcolm X was a kid at that era.His dad, I guess thought the same thing, was married to a ligther skin woman. Malcolm said that his siblings that were ligther than him was his dad preference.On a personal level it has been a major ingredient in the distressful and unworkable situation for Malcolm X, since he gave up the school even though he was very clever and courageous. By just thinking that black people can not be a good a lawyer.However he has been delibeted from this powerful imagination when he had been converted to islam. Internalized racism has been a problem that no one has been able to solve and over which many have desperatly accepted. Some patterns of internalized racism have become so familiar that we, ourselves, accept them as part of our "black culture." We attribute them to "the way we are." Racism is a form of oppression that has been systematically initiated, encouraged, and powerfully enforced by the distress patterns of individual members of the majority culture and their institutions. Black people have been the victims, the primary victims in the country, of every form of abuse, invalidation, oppression, and exploitation.
    This mistreatment has installed heavy distress patterns upon them as a people and as individuals. They are in no way to blame for the initiation and installation of these patterns. It is clear that historically they have been denied the conditions necessary (for example, the safety) to discharge this distress. It is also evident that from the days of slavery to the present, they have not been in any position to re-enact these patterns upon our oppressors, except the case of President Obama, even though, some people thing it is because his mum was white, but still he is dark skin, his wife and his children.
    The result has been that these distress patterns, created by oppression and racism from the outside, have been played out in the only two places it has seemed "safe" to do so. First, upon members of our own group - particularly upon those over whom they have some degree of power or control, our children. Second, upon ourselves through all manner of self-invalidation, self-doubt, isolation, fear, feelings of powerlessness, and despair.

  2. Very interesting post - I especially like your point about children in the last paragraph - it makes me think of the old saying that men who are abused on the job hit their wives, who hit their children, who kick the dog.

    I'm curious but a little confused about your argument about Obama - are you saying his election shows internalized racism doesn't exist in the same way, or that it does?

  3. No, I'm saying that it still exist but the nomination of Obama has made people a little bit proud.

  4. Ok - that makes sense. We'll talk about the relationship between cultural identity and more "practical" politics today - so it's an interesting question in terms of what Obama's election represents in each realm.