Monthly Archives: April 2014

Race- Blog 2

What is race? Aside from all the possible definitions anyone can come up with what it comes down to race is our physical differences. Race refers to a person’s physical appearance, such as skin, hair texture, eye color, bone/jaw structure, etc. Race divides people from one another solely based on your physical characteristics. Racial prejudice remains a problem throughout the world today and will always be a problem. Du Bois believed whites see themselves a certain way, as superior to others. This all stems back to the slavery days and race was something created by our own society. The whites were the slave owners and the slaves were those of color. Whites are imprisoned in their own minds and self-conception of the world. Du Bois uses the concept “whiteness” as a social construct, developed in the time of slavery. It all stems down to the white culture dominating the blacks by exploiting them, raping and murdering them in order to gain their riches. As a result the wealth and power gained gave whites a sense of superiority among all and this continues today.

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Blog # 13: “The Souls of Black Folk” & “The Soul of White Folk” (Du Bois)

While reading the souls of black folk I notice that the experience of black people in the 20th century American Scoiety is due to chains of slavery. I mentioned chains because of the racial boundaries that was created due to the color of the skin. In additon I believe that black folk by Du Bois is important because he mentioned the color line (as mentioned the boundaries of “white and color”), double consciousness (“the sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by this tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity” (Edles & Appelrougth
,351)), and viel (an invisible but noticeable aspect of life that if one has skills such as craftsman, if he is black he is a poor craftsman because he loves in a condition of poverty).
Furthermore Du Bois brings into the table that even though he did all his research he cannot deny that these African-Americans are actually cannot move up easily at the moment (maybe a few if they have the resource to) because poverty is what these people are trying to surpass and do well. However these thoughts and ideals are something great to over pass the trials and the pain these people have to undergone to but the society of white put them there. In the white folk reading it mentioned that African Americans coming back from the first war were treat was second class citizen. In additon between 1910s-1920s the “new negro” started to show their educational side. However this was something dangerous for the black community because the NAACP nearly doubled and helped anyone who needed help. Unfortunately with the new group with literacy and militancy and due to that change.
Du Bois mentioned that the white privileges are invisible to white but for blacks is showable and it constructs the double consciousness and the racial aspect of it too. In additon the funny part is that how can the white people kill their own American people (the blacks for being more educated and wanted to have the same rights because they are also Americans and serve the war) and say what happen in Getmany and to the Jews was immoral and disgusting. The saddest thing is that lunging and rape is what the white people think would make the African American back to their place is not a good thing. I notice that the old thoughts of pre-salvery and after the civil war created this hysteria of fear that blacks are going to control America. I think the fear that you cannot allow someone out of their cage is dangerous and the unknown of that action can cause different reaction from people (and the masses would be corrupt in some ways and uncontrollable to the point things would go wrong).

Blog Post #4: Simmel: City Dwellers, Socialbility, and Fashion

Georg Simmel studied the differences in the mental life between city dwellers and people in rural areas. He noted that in cities people had more freedom to express individuality but at the same time more challenged to find out their true selves among the metropolitan life. Simmel observed that in rural areas people formed impressions of people gradually, whereas in the city impressions were made with a single glance. Simmel contributed the harsh and sometimes rude demeanor of city dwellers as a blasé attitude. This attitude is more of a defense mechanism rather than an intentional rude attitude. He explained that the metropolitan life is constantly throwing stimuli at its inhabitants and can be too overwhelming to take in. Therefore people learn to block out things, which may come across as rude or unfriendly to outsiders. Simmel also developed theories on fashion and sociability in relation to cities. Simmel’s work is especially interesting to me because I grew up in the south and attended my first year of college in a small rural town. I know firsthand the observations and differences that Simmel proposes in his work and can confirm them to be very true. Growing up in Kentucky, I felt the pressure to conform to certain fashion trends and fit in with whatever was “mainstream” at the time. One of the biggest appeals to me about living in NYC is that here you are encouraged to find your own identity whereas in the south you are forced to conform to one group or style. Fashion develops in cities for that very reason. The city intensifies a multiplicity of social relations and at such a fast pace. The vast diversity in a city breeds the innovation and recycling of the past as Simmel would say. Another area Georg Simmel studied was sociability which he defines as the play-form of association driven by amicability, breeding cordiality and attractiveness of all kinds. In other words, sociability is interaction with others simply for the pleasure of interacting itself. There are no ulterior or underlying motives in the connection. From my own observation, pure sociability happens a lot less in cities than in rural areas. It seems that people in cities are used to everyone having some sort of hidden selfish motive so they are much more guarded and defensive in their sociability. This guarded attitude could contribute to the blasé attitude. The lack of pure sociability may also be because the fast pace of the city doesn’t allot much time for it, whereas the slower pace of rural life does. Simmel’s ideas about the mental life of city and rural people are very relatable and interesting to me.

Post #4 Racism

Came across this video on “Up worthy” and found it very interesting.  It pretty much sums up today’s class discussion about race.  It is so amazing to realize that even among minorities, we have internalized racism and to certain extend, some of us are racist and don’t even realize it.   We assume certain ethnic groups belong in certain fields and some of us even look down on people of our own race and even nationality for having a darker complexion.

Take a look at the video, not only will you enjoy it and perhaps laugh a little, but it will also make you think about the way we have internalized racism.

Post #4 : Simmel and Fashion

History repeats itself and so will fashion. I think of fashion as a continuous cycle that runs through new ideas and reverses to old ones. Like Simmel explains fashion has a transitory pattern. It begins with its acceptance with the people, then it spreads, once it begins to spread widely people start to deviate from it, and then  a new change in fashion begins.  Simmel says they develop in cities first because they strengthen social relations.

I believe fashion allows people to be social. It’s a way to be connected through out all classes. Even if finances are clearly not equal, people are aware of the styles and trends that are out from upper classes.  I feel that humans naturally want to be part of a group and fashion lets you socialize in that way. People feel its important to be part of its cycle.  It lets you express yourself personally while your still connected to others who share your same style. It strengthens relations and brings forth comfort when others follow your style or you are a part of a group that share the same fashion.

Blogpost #3 Simmel & Fashion

When most people think of fashion they don’t directly associate it with sociology because they are merely trends that fade in and out of our lives and in history. Even though Simmel though of fashion as relevant in social life. Many years ago, his idea that it plays as a role of conformity and well as distinction is in my opinion more prevalent today than ever before. Simmel first goes onto explain fashion in terms of conformity, or as I like it call it, “a way in”. Simmel also explained fashion in terms of distinction or when you don’t want to fit in but stand out in the crowd so all eyes are on you. This concept reminded me of a popular tv show called Gossip Girl, where there was a catholic school in the upper east side occupied with mostly rich preppy kids and they all had to wear uniforms. Seeing as though, they had no choice but to conform, a number of the kids made themselves distinct in little but obvious ways through fashion. For instance, one student would wear her uniform with a expensive chanel bag while another student would tie her tie differently, another student may wear high bright colored stockings, and of course expensive jewelery and shoes, hair and makeup were essentials. In this show, these little things associate themselves with their class. In the clip that I atttatched, you can see a clear distinction from the rich girls of the upper east side the middle class boy from Brooklyn.

Whereas, in the video we watched in class some of the fashion trends that people participate in, such as couples wearing matching underwear is a way for them to get closer and developer a deeper relationship. So ultimately, fashion has become such a major part of our daily life whether it be getting people together or creating disparities, that it makes you wonder if the world would be a better place if this idea of fashion didn’t exist.

Blog # 12 “The Philadelphia Negro (1899)” W.E.B. Du Bois

From my point of view understanding racism is one of the simple yet hardest concept or reality to accept because it depends on the generation that we live in. For example the generation that we live in do not like to see racism out in the open because it deem to be something that is brought back from the dark parts of American History or shows that some people are ignorant and do not consider that what they are doing is against the ideals that everyone is equal and it does not matter of race, skin color, language, or just where you come from. I know personally is that my parents feel that anyone who are dark skin are black, delinquents, and should stay away from. I remember one of my classmates in middle school was walking by a public school near my home and they said hello me and my sister but my parents said who are they (and both of the boys are dark skin but one is from Ghana, looks like a dark Indian and the other is an African-American descent) however my parents told me and my sister to stay away from them because they are black and these people are bad people to mingle to be friends with and that this world (American society) you cannot have real friends because they will turn their back on you for only one reason, because you are different from them.  However, I did not understand it but I did not consider what they said but I felt weird if I didn’t obey them (like I would get into trouble with them if I do not consider their feelings but I felt that I should choose who would be my friends and judge them through their actions not by the way they look like).

The study of the Philadelphia Negro is to tell or show the “geographical distribution of this race, their occupations and daily life, their homes, their organizations, and relation to their million white fellow-citizens” (Edles & Appelrouth, 340). He states that this study started in first of August until the thirty-first of December of the following year (1896-1897). He canvass door to door surveys of the Seventh Ward in Philadelphia (this area has about or over 10,000 African Americans and he distributed or carried out about 5,000 surveys).

“All this is true – all these problems are there and of threatening intricacy; unfortunately, however, the interest of the ordinary man of affairs is apt to stop here. Crime, poverty and idleness affect his interests unfavorably and he would have them stopped; he looks upon these slums and slum characters as unpleasant things which should in some way be removed for the best interests of all. The social students agrees with him so far, but must point out that the removal of the unpleasant features from our complicated modern life is a delicate operation requiring knowledge and skill; that a slum is not a simple fact, it is a symptom, and that to know the removal causes of the Negro slums of Philadelphia requires a study that takes one far beyond the slum districts” (Ibid, 341).

I have decided to use this quote from the book because it not only caught my attention but the way Du Bois mentioned that crime, poverty, and the idleness affects the interests of the people in a bad way and would have these interests stopped. In addition Du Bois mentioned that “he looks upon these slums” and the people in them as something that is not good to look into. After all these unpleasant people that is part of the slums would be removed and to get rid of people from the slums you must start by getting an education and different set of skills. Un addition within the slums there are different set of people with different occupations such as; laborers, servants, porters, waiters, caterers, clerks, teachers, professional men, and small merchants, etc. This indicates African-Americans that are living in the slums have varied jobs while paying high rents and trying to pursue a better set of jobs for the future of their family and themselves.  

 

However, even if people states that the African-Americans are will off, in reality they are not given the same opportunity as the Irish and the Italian men (as we see in history the African-American population has been underprivileged since early history of American History. The saddest thing is that the perception that the African-American people is/was looked down due to the old ways of thinking and because they ‘look different’ from their white counterpart. Neither the less, the African-Americans, some, are trying to cross over the glass wall or ceiling that the White American gave already set them from the beginning to not achieve the American dream as the other groups who came in American with little money to achieve the American Dream).

 

Du Bois mentioned that every time throughout his study the prejudice against Negro keeps popping up and everyone knows that it exist. in addition of having the prejudice visible this created the widespread feeling that the African-Americans hate themselves and their blood and keeps them away from having a good job (better pay jobs than underpay jobs).  Also because of all the prejudice is the chief or main reason of the African-Americans condition and the saddest thing is that the White community regards white prejudice more. This reason is because you cannot mingle or do anything with someone who looks different from you because you want to keep your bloodline clean and to not have the social norms altered by allowing someone different from you to even step in. I think this idea is what many different groups underwent not only the African-American, Jewish, and Hispanics. I think that certain community the people there afraid of changes and which to keep the place of their home like the old ways.

 

Du Bois mentioned how the African-American as of getting work, as keeping work, as entering new lines of work, as to his expenditure, as to his children, as to social intercourse, and the result of them all is to the different conditions and treatment, not only people would feel, but the results is discouragement, bitterness, over-sensitiveness. As to the ‘negro problem’ he mentioned that there are two answers which are how the ignorance, poverty, crime, and the dislike of stranger is an old question issue and the not having proof about these questions because it is important to have the evidence of these targeted questions so there is some type of light can shine to the issue.  In addition to what Du Bois mentioned that the Negro is here to stay and that they should make more of himself is important because they need to raise themselves and put all their efforts to the standards of modern civilization (society) and not stoop to the low aspects of what society thinks you should be doing and strive over that invisible line that you are able to be like them by working hard. 

Reference

Edles, Laura and Appelrouth, Scott. 2010. Sociological Theory in the Classical Era: text and readings 2nd edition. Pine Forge Press Sage Publications