American Studies 303::Fall 2010

Wise, Post Racial Politics and Illuminated Individualism.

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Time Wise’s Colorblind presents the doctrine of post-racial liberalism as detrimental to racial progress in modern America.  Post-racial liberalism, according to Wise, is the attitude and belief that race no longer matters in America, that pointing to race as the source of problems affecting minorities is counterproductive and the political policy of treating race as a non issue.  Obama is directly addressed as a post-racialist in his attitude that America is a land where anybody can make it, and in policies that address not race, but inner city jobs, education etc.  Wise also presents solutions to post-racialism; individually, we need to address race when it comes up on peer-to-peer levels and otherwise bring it to the front of our minds, to act on as a bad habbit.  On a larger scale, race, according to Wise, should be a major factor in designing school curriculum and presenting opportunities for minority students, and similar attention should be paid to race in political action.  One solution I found interesting was that Racism should be declared a mental health issue, which resonates in my mind on the same level that domestic violence creates long lasting mental health issues, and by labeling it as such, the Federal Government would be encouraging state and local authorities to create programs to act against race.  By directly addressing race when it comes up on whatever scale, Wise is encouraging us to aknowledge it as a factor in the creation of individuals and group psyche’s.

Written by byazman

November 30th, 2010 at 12:31 pm

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Colorblind

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In Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity author Tim Wise attempts to chart the implications of what he terms post-racial liberalism.  In identifying a political discourse which is only able to address issues pertinent to minorities within a context of urban poverty, equating race with class explicitly, Wise sees a growing incongruence between historical fact and post-racial rhetoric.  The post-racial model identifies structural causes as the root of pervasive inequality, but ignores the social, cultural and historical role of racial privilege in creating those unequal structures within government, employment, health care, food distribution, education and finance.

Written by jasjames

November 30th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

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Tim Wise- Color-Blind Journal Response

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              In Color-Blind, Tim Wise argues that racism is still a problem in America today and that “colorblindness” contributes to the inequalities that blacks still face today. After the civil rights era, many believed that “colorblind” laws would allow blacks to finally overcome discrimination. However, Wise asserts that these laws actually increase the injustice and discrimination of blacks. Wise dicusses how whites should be more aware of the inequalities that blacks still face today, and that this is the best way to make racism less prevalent. I really enjoyed Tim Wise’s perspective on race relations in America. Like many of the other books we’ve discussed in class, Wise writes about the inequalities blacks face in the workforce, education and housing. Unlike the other readings in the past, Wise focuses on present racism in the United States.

Written by ckennedyamst201

November 30th, 2010 at 10:18 am

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Colorblind

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“Colorblind” by Time Wise concentrates on the efforts of America to make society blind to race. The problems of economically disadvantaged African Americans today are largely blamed on economic forces rather than racism. Many whites want to do away with uplifting programs for blacks and instead want to concentrate on “Colorblind” programs. Wise refutes this, and argues for the contrary: race needs to be acknowledged more, not less. It is only by accepting and legitimizing our differences that progress can be made. If America is treated as one homogenized population, then diverse citizens will not be receiving the specialized attention they need. I found Wise’s critiques of Obama to be very interesting. He accuses Obama of “exemplifying class post-racial liberalism” and not doing enough to help African Americans (45). Since Obama is an African American, should more be expected of him in the arena of race relations? What can Obama do to improve conditions for blacks?

Written by annaholman

November 30th, 2010 at 7:32 am

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Journal Entry: Colorblind

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Tim Wise’s book Colorblind discusses how America has moved away from considering the racial factor when creating its policies and how by doing this is not necessarily a good thing. In particular, the author focuses on how the election of President Obama has affected our nation’s ability to openly discuss race and racism. Wise begins his book by explaining why Obama represents the tradition of post-racial liberalism in the terms of public policy and how his election extends the notion of being blind to issues of race. Wise then goes on to explain why this is problematic and how it has been shown in Obama’s presidency by his continuation a race-blind federal policy and his insistence that race has nothing to do with how a person goes about with his or her life. Wise ends his book with explaining some solutions to this dilemma by explaining illuminated individualism, more or less how race continues to matter in America, and how this can be applied to employment, housing, education, and health care.

Wise’s book definitely supports the notion that where a person comes from affects who they are. The author addresses not only how today’s society ignores race, but the consequences society faces today because of that ignorance. His point of America’s avoidance of discussing racism making the country more racist is more than plausible because by doing this, America ignores what makes its citizens unique and their individual needs. A topic to discuss in class is whether or not it is possible at this point for America to approach the topic of race in policy and if by doing this, we can get to the point where racism finally does not exist in America.

Written by heather303

November 29th, 2010 at 11:06 pm

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Come Hell or High Water

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“When the Levees Break”, directed by Spike Lee, is a powerful and probing documentary that chronicles the horrific consequences of Hurricane Katrina. Lee attempts to capture the heartbreak, devastation, and confusion that occurred in the aftermath of the Hurricane. He focuses on the societal breakdown that took place in New Orleans, especially the lack of aid from the federal government and the disregard for human life.
Lee does not directly frame his documentary in a way which race or class are to blame for lack of government intervention, but the issue is brought up several times. Many residents of New Orleans felt that the federal government cared more about democracy in Iraq than the welfare of United States citizens. While Americans were dying at the hands of this brutal storm, government officials felt shopping, speech making, and vacationing were more worthy activities than planning and sending aid. After the storm, the government took five days to respond to the domestic disaster, while they sent relief to Indonesian tsunami victims within two days. To me, it seemed that the United States government was more concerned with a prestigious international image than providing help for their own citizens. The federal government’s indifference and arrogance towards this tragedy was appalling. It is ridiculous to suggest that the government could not get aid to New Orleans; however, they chose to deprive American citizens of their right to life and basic human dignities.

It also was disturbing that the local and state governments treated their own citizens so poorly. Instead of seeking aid, officials were more concerned with looting and interstate transit. When a situation such as this occurs, the main priority should be conserving human life and providing as much comfort and care as possible. Unfortunately, this was not the attitude that any government official conveyed toward the Hurricane victims. The citizens of New Orleans were the only ones who showed immediate and incredible bravery. They reached out to help one another, thus creating a bright spot in the face of horrible tragedy.

Written by annaholman

November 28th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

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Journal Entry: Come Hell or High Water

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Michael Dyson’s Come Hell or High Water tells the story of Hurricane Katrina and how the ultimate victim of the storm was not the city of New Orleans, but the poor black community. Dyson explores all the factors surrounding the storm and the failure of the government to help its own people. The author looks into President Bush’s apparent indifferent reaction, how FEMA prevented help measures from other states, how capitalism took advantage of the poor looking for work by making them work more for less money, and how this disaster could have ultimately been avoided.

Dyson’s argument is overall effective and powerful. His evidence for his arguments are strong and makes you feel embarrassed for the federal government. It is amazing that these people had to suffer when they did not need to and it is also amazing how restrictive the government is when it comes to states helping each other. This event is also a prime example of just how slow the national government is to react to the needs of the people, and the consequences that come without a speedy response.

One point to discuss is whether or not the casualties of Katrina would have been so great if the government was quicker to respond or if FEMA did not prevent other states from helping New Orleans.

Written by heather303

November 23rd, 2010 at 2:17 pm

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Dyson Journal

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In his book, Come Hell or High Water, Michael Eric Dyson takes a look at all the reasons why Hurricane Katrina could have been prevented from being a total disaster. The book tells of a lot of truths that are affecting our country today. There was a long road leading up to this hurricane and there were many things that could have been prevented. So, in that sense, I felt his criticism of President Bush and the government was valid. However, I had a big issue with his conclusion that George Bush, in fact, does not care about black people. I found it to be absurd and unfair. I am not the biggest Bush fan in the world, but I almost wanted to stop reading the book after reading that chapter.

Written by egreissi

November 23rd, 2010 at 12:19 pm

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Dyson

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Come Hell or High Water, like Honey’s book, illustrates a brand of racism that not only denies its own existence, but is in many ways invisible.  Instead, Dyson describes a racial negligence — specifically pointing the finger at George W. Bush’s administration — that denies social welfare, and consequently refuses government aid to the less privileged.  since for the most part, the less privileged entails racial minorities, these policies are racially disenfranchising.  It is not as though Bush set out to leave blacks wading through the toxic sludge of post-Hurricane Katrina without government assistance because he had an agenda against blacks.  The policies, however, which deny social welfare — and consequently, a conscientiousness to less priveledged people — created an atmosphere wherein there was no Government aid in place for such an emergency.  One issue I’d like to discuss in class is the line between responsible economic conservatism and social negligence on the part of the government.  Another thing I think was very interesting and I’d like to flush out some more in discussion is Dyson’s assertion (I think it was early in the book) that Bush and Brown, as southern bred men, were ingrained with a certain racial discourse which left them ill-suited to tend to the needs of black citizens as national leaders.

Written by byazman

November 23rd, 2010 at 11:15 am

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Dyson: Come Hell or High Water

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“Come Hell or High Water” by Michael Eric Dyson narrates the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans area. Specifically, Dyson concentrates on the reaction of the government to the plight of African Americans. I found it very interesting that Dyson not only discussed the hardships of African Americans but also other minorities. Dyson documents the dilemma that illegal immigrants faced in getting government help. By receiving aid they felt that they risked deportation and a future in the United States, even though they were assured they would not be moved (142). Dyson also mentions the troubles of Vietnamese and Native Americans. This variety of minorities definitely brings into question whether the crisis that developed in the aftermath of the storm was directed specifically at minorities or whether it was a class issue. Personally, I would have to say that the issues are inextricably tied. In the aftermath of Katrina, could race and class be separated into individual targets?

Written by annaholman

November 23rd, 2010 at 10:26 am

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