Black People and American Dominant Culture

10 October 2016

A sign is anything that could be used to stand for something else. The two parts are a recognizable signifier (form that the sign takes) with a signified (the concept that it represents) 2. According to Howard Zinn, whose voices are the ones often neglected by/ left out of history? * The voices left out are done by those who are not popular, the common man. 3. Zinn discussed the language used in the Declaration of Independence, and that used in the United States Constitution to describe the rights to which everyone is entitled.

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How do they differ and what greater conflict does this discrepancy represent? * ‘Our people are basically decent and caring, and our highest ideals are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which says all of us have an equal right to “life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ”’ * The America that we “know is a country that had slavery and still has racism, had a president who was seen as a hero who loved war and 4. Describe Ronald Takaki calls the “Master Narrative” of American history.

What two assumptions does this version of American history rely upon, and what problems does this pose for the study of America’s history and contemporary understandings of who/what is American? * Master narrative: the “power and popular but inaccurate story” declaring that “our country was settled by European immigrants, and Americans are white. ” * A filter through which we learn history * Leaves out all the other cultures that live in America 5. How does James Hoopes define oral history vs. oral tradition? Does American dominant culture have a strong oral tradition? Why/why not? Oral history: documents collected by tape recorder. Used by social scientists in “participant observation” studies * Oral tradition: Usual name for verbal stories passed on from one generation to the next 6. What are the strengths/advantages of oral history as a methodology? What are the limitation/weaknesses of oral history? How can these limitations/weaknesses be supported? * Strengths: it can find the point of view of the people who originally had no voice before. It can be used to find more details that may otherwise prove what is traditionally taught as wrong or different.

Can be used to make documentation stronger * Weaknesses: Memory is fallible, needs documentation to provide validity, people may lie, bias, only living people, reluctance 7. What group of people was the subject of study in Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold? Why do the authors argue it was important to study these women? Were they part of a political movement? In what way(s) did they contribute to social change in the U. S.? * Subject of study: Working class lesbians from the mid-1930’s to the early 1960’s in Buffalo, New York * The focus revealed the centrality of butch-fem roles Women’s openness about their lesbianism was crucial not only to the communities they helped form in their own time but to all lesbian communities which they have provided a model for that have emerged since. * They even go so far as to posit that these older lesbians and their lives constitute a prepolitical stage of the 1970’s gay rights movement. 8. What kinds of challenges did the women in Storming Caesars Palace face growing up in the South? What was the name of the organization that they created and ran together? What kinds of services were they able to make available to residents on the west side of Las Vegas?

The women faced racism, discrimination, lack of jobs, welfare, income, fathers leaving, marriages failing. Women saw marrying early as a way to get out of this but turned out to be wrong. The organization that they created was called Operation Life which created community programs that included a medical center, library, senior citizen housing and daycare. 9. What stereotypes are often associated with those who collect welfare? When welfare was created, who did it primarily benefit? Who was excluded from receiving benefits? Stereotypes are often associated with poor people, have kids only for more welfare, lazy, can’t find work, too lazy to find work. Cheating the system, getting paid too much. “driving Cadillacs”, too many kids * Black women were denied birth control, doctors encouraged black women to have sex at a young age * When it was created it primarily benefited the white community (white widows and orphans) *social security and unemployment: excluded domestic work and agricultural) * Blacks were denied welfare (Domestic work and agricultural work) most black women ended up doing those jobs.

According to the film Crips and Bloods: Made in America, how have Black men typically been characterized in American dominant culture? How is this reflected by the proportion of Black men in America who end up jailed/imprisoned during their lifetimes? How did those we heard from in the film characterize the penitentiary system and law enforcement efforts to wage a “war on drugs/crime? ” * Black men are typically characterized in American dominant culture as having a tendency to do crime and that the life they live is the life they chose and want. 1 in 4 black men are incarcerated in their lifetimes in the area. However this isn’t the life that they chose for themselves. The life that the white people, law enforcement has placed upon them forced them into the life that they were trying to avoid. * They said that the “war on drugs/crime” ended up being a war on black people 11. According to the film, what factors contributed to these rise of urban street gangs in Los Angeles? What kinds of opportunities were not available to young people in these neighborhoods?

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