Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I am partnering up with Elliott for the crimes and gangs subj anyone is welcome to join

Answer to #6

In the nevel, all the characters face obstacles. But I want to focus the quagmire that Macon Dead Jr.'s family faced. As Sitkoff mentions in the book that wealthy black people couldn't mingle with the whites due to their color of skin and also their self-esteem prevented them from interacting with the black lower community.
Macon's family enjoyed their advatage of wealth; they owned their own house, had a car, and even the job of Ruth's father and Macon's position being landlord intimidated the fellow black communiy. But the problem was that even though they had higher living standard than most of black people, their skin color was black so didn't really have advantage. Although Ruth's father was a well known doctor, Ruth could only, out of her 3 labors, deliver Milkman in the very own hostipal that her father worked in. Milkman, with guitar, was stopped and was caught while running away with green sack they stole from Pilate just because their skin color was black. Only when Macon payed money, Milkman was released. Also by the clothes and the way they acted, we can know that they tried to look like white but it was impossible to overcome their skin color.
When Magdalane called Lena wanted to have relationship with Henry Porter, Macon's self-esteem of being higher class than Porter prevented him from letting Lena have the relationship. Also in early stage Milkman couldn't mingle with the lower black community, until Guitar helped him out.
Even though only few whites appear in this novel whole concept of segregation is rooted in the background of the novel.

Answer to Question 1

Whites do not play a very direct role in Song of Solomon. I would say that the point of white influence is not shown through characters or specific encounters. White influence is throughout the book in the way that the black community acts. For instance, it is white influence that drives Guitar to kill white people. There are not specific white people that are characters in the novel that kill blacks. The narrator simply tells the reader that it has been done. Another example of white influence is Macon Dead's obsession for power and money. As Macon acquires more wealth he seperates himself from his black neighbors. It seems to me that he is trying to be more and more like the stereotypical white man.

Answer to Question 3

I don’t think we can make any generalization about the role of females in the novel because we had two contrasting females, Ruth and Pilate. While Ruth is a weak young woman (not to mention that some of her actions are a little difficult to understand), Pilate represents a different side of the African American females. She is a strong single woman and her strength is shown in the beginning of the novel when she attacks Reba’s boyfriend. Her strength is also shown throughout her life such as raising Reba by herself, overcoming her physical differences, and so forth. I also think that it is a little hard to make generalization about the males in the novel because we also had contrasting male characters as well: Milkman, Macon Dead and Guitar. On one hand, we had Guitar who felt the need to take revenge for any injustice that happened to African Americans. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, we had Macon Dead that was acting like a Caucasian and being unfair to his own people. Somewhere in the middle was Milkman who didn’t feel the need to act and didn’t realize his own identity till the very end. I feel like Sitkoff concentrated more on the roles of African American males than the females and it is certainly because the activist was generally males. However, we did have characters like Rosa Parks that stood up for the African American rights and in some ways, I feel like Rosa Parks shares some similarities with Pilate. Overall, I think the novel showed different sides of both the female and male African Americans which make it hard to make any generalization. I also feel like Sitkoff concentrated a little more on the role of males and the females were more shown as the supporting characters.

Suffering in Song of Solomon

Although the characters in Song of Solomon don’t seem to suffer directly from others’ racist actions, the entire black community suffers as a result of the white’s ignorance. Since the black characters are not given the same rights or opportunities as the whites, they are forced to live lives of poverty in separated, predominantly black sections of town. Some of the black community in the novel is defeated as a result of their continual suffering and act as though they are not able to change their rights, while characters, like Guitar and his fellow Seven Days members, are mobilized as a result of their suffering. They feel as though the suffering and lack of rights have gone on long enough, and if they are not able to change rights then at least they are able to counteract and balance the suffering.

How would you characterize the role of whites in the novel?

The main cause of suffering in the novel is racism. Racism segregates not only the blacks from the whites, but also individual blacks from their society. The novel, by only introducing one white character throughout the story represents how extremely blacks are alienated from whites. The book even shows the alienating effect segregation has in the black community itself. Guitar is an example of an individual who alienates himself from his own society. He adopts radical views resulting from his hatred for whites and the actions they take. Guitar seems to follow a similar path to Malcom X, who takes a radical position against all whites as a whole, disregarding whether they are innocent or guilty of racism. Although Guitar has no previous experience of direct racism against him as Malcom X did, he still represents Malcom X in the story, a radical direct-actionist. They both believe that to win the struggle, direct measures must be taken against all whites, and blacks must join together against white America.
Sitkoff suggests that both white and black Northerners were more willing to accept African Americans with "white" mannerisms in speech, attire, and behavior. White and black Southerners generally shared the dislike for African Americans who possessed this "white" behavior. The white Southerners preferred the black man who obediently surrendered his bus seat and did not question white supremacy. Black southerners also disapproved, and felt that the blacks with "white" mannerisms lacked pride.
In "Song of Solomon", Milkman's travels from his hometown in Michigan, the "industrialized North", to the place of his family roots, Pennsylvania and Virginia. While he is treated with respect by the natives of his hometown, Milkman finds that the inhabitants of the rural South are less courteous. Milkman's demeanor is unique from other black characters in the novel, and perhaps this is the reason for the variations of approval in his travels. Milkman serves as a substitute for the novel's absence of white characters. Although he is physically a black man, Milkman dresses, talks, and behaves like a white man. His fellow black Michigan town members treat him with respect, as a white man would have been treated. His white mannerisms are approved of by the Northerners. As Milkman travels south, he begins to experience a change in the way he is treated. The black townspeople in the South do not respect Milkman's fancy clothes and speech; instead, they take offense to his "white" mannerisms.

Answer to Question #7

Throughout the entire Sitkoff novel there are many events in which blacks struggle to fight for equality and are continually shut down by white Americans. For example, when they (African Americans) were allowed to go to the same school for the first time with whites, many whites were not willing to accept this and freely expressed it through horrific actions. They threw rocks of all sorts and verbally attacked them by name calling. I think that here instead of discouraging them to give up and accept that they would never be treated equal, they continued in their struggle to fight for their rights.

Answer to question 1

In the novel we meet the white priest who encounters Ruth through a friend at church. Immediatley he reacts descriminant towards her until the white woman introduces Ruth as a close friend of hers. After she is introduced the priest has a complete change in attitude towards the black woman, and accepts her because he is told to do so. In the novel we dont many whites because the book is based on the struggle between blacks with blacks, whereas we usaually read about the troubles between white and black.

responding to dr. noff-
Monday night we had a debate about whether Malcolm X or MLK was right. It was interesting to be in the Malcolm X group, because we had Brendan who didnt want to argue him what so ever because he thought he was wrong, and then we had Hannah who is all for peace, but yet was able to come up with valid arguments defending X. Our group as a whole came up with the point that X never advocated vi0lence upon whites, but he gave the activists a purpose in their beliefs.

Answer to Question Seven

in answer to question seven about the presence of Universality in Song of Solomon compared to King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail" I felt that Song of Solomon is about emancipation on several levels: personal, racial, and universal. Milkman experiences emancipation from the ignorant and destructive way he lives his life, and he observes the coming of age of a generation of African-American activists. Although the story told in the book is specific to the African-American experience the message is one for all humanity: Everyone is looking for freedom, they just take different paths. This message is universal, but the way that Milkman gets freedom, through his roots and racial-history, is specific to African-American emancipation.

Abraham - Morrison Response

7. In King's "Letter From Birmingham City Jail" King insists that injustice anywhere is the business of all Americans: i.e., the plight of African Americans is in some sense universal. Is there a similar sense of universality in Morrison's novel--in other words, is this novel just about blacks, or about human beings generally?

[The plight of African Americans is unique and unlike any other struggle in history. However, it can be applied as universal, in that it represents a struggle that many groups have had since the beginning of time all across the world. For thousands of years races of people have been oppressed and discriminated against. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Spanish conquistadors succeeded in eliminating nearly all native residents (the Aztecs and Incas) of Central and South America. In the 19th century, while the United States was beginning to occupy the western half of the nation, the government pushed many Native Americans off of their own land and onto reservations. The Dawes Act in 1887 gave land to individual Native Americans rather than to the tribe as a whole, upending one of their key cultural values. During World War II, Adolf Hitler adopted what he called the "final solution," a plan to narrow down the world into one "master race," which included the extermination of millions of Jews, gypsies, and people who were mentally handicapped. However, the struggle that blacks went through (and still go through) in America is unlike any other struggle of any other people in history. Until the elimination of slavery in 1863, nearly all of the southern economy was based on the enslavement of an "inferior" race. The White Southern slave-owners depended on slaves for their economic prosperity. The conquistadors killed the Aztecs and Incas for the "three G's" (gold, God, and glory) and land for the Spanish empire; the United States put Native Americans on reservations not because they depended on them, but because US citizens wanted their land; Adolf Hitler killed millions of innocent people not because they made the German economy boom, but because he simply believed they did not have a warrant to live. The African American struggle, while it can be applied as universal, goes much deeper than any other struggle.] Aside from all of that, Song of Solomon represents an odyssey of change, something experienced by many people, not just African Americans. Milkman starts his journey looking for gold, but ends up looking for his family history, something much more valuable than his initial desire. He starts his journey as someone with material values much like his fathers and a cold heart. However, by the end of the novel, Milkman changes into a caring human being after reflection and deeper investigation of his roots. Milkman's odyssey not only represents how personal change is possible, but also how there is great variety within every race. Like an innumerable amount of novels, Song of Solomon displays how a cold-hearted soul can change into a kind, compassionate person. But it also shows how every culture and race has its own differences. Not all blacks agreed on every subject during the civil rights movement (as our passionate debate showed on Monday), nor does any race or culture have the exact same values on every subject. The diversity of the African Americans in Song of Solomon shows how stereotypes of cultures can be easily proved wrong. There is a large amount of disagreement between people throughout the novel. Guitar, on one side, advocates killing innocent whites while Pilate, on the other side, is a figure of peace and love who would probably never advocate killing anybody. Macon Jr., a man who only seems to care about wealth, is disliked by much of the community. In any society there is disagreement. Upon examination, disagreement is the tell tale sign of being human. While it can lead to bigger problems, disagreement shows how every society is human. Song of Solomon is not a novel about African Americans, it is a novel with African Americans as its subject and universally applicable themes.



Sitkoff paints a pretty gloomy picture of the status of African Americans in 1990, 25 years after the major gains of the Civil Rights Movement. While there were surely distinct gains during that period, there were also some ominous signs of stagnation and even of decline. In every region, at every educational level, and in every occupation, African-Americans had a lower median income than did whites; “a third of African-Americans, and half of all black children, [were] living below the poverty level;” (p. 226); over half of African American families were headed by a single female; African-Americans had a higher rate of infant mortality than some third world countries, and almost half the prison population in the U.S. was African-American. (Sitkoff, p. 227). Even a cursory glance at the 2000 census reveals even further decline

Throughout the past week and a half we have been looking at policies and actions that have wrought significant change. Your assignment is to take what you have learned through our study and apply it to one of the problems faced by African-Americans today. Begin by re-reading Sitkoff, pp. 224-228) and look for an issue that seems to you especially pressing. Then do some research to discover the current issue you've identified, and what steps are being taken to address it. Then, working singly or in groups, come up with a plan for change. You may draw on any of the strategies we’ve encountered in our reading; you may work inside or outside government; you may surely invent your own strategies. Your goal is to write a Manifesto for Change. It will contain a statement of the problem; your goalA; a carefully constructed strategy for accomplishing it; and an underlying argument for why you think your strategy will work.

You should come to class on Thursday ready to present your Manifesto (in preliminary form) to our group. The culminating exercise for this Seminar will be a written Manifesto due on Tuesday, 3/27.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

In the novel we meet only one white who is only briefly mentioned. This novel is purely based upon a certain African-American and his travels. I believe that the lack of whites represents the seperate life and/0r nation that Malcolm X suggests. As our Monday class shifted more towards a defence of Malcolm's ideas, the connection between the novel and actual life(as also depcited in Sitkoff) seemed evident. The racist and active views that Guitar depicts, when in fact he would go as far as murder of the white race, of whites symbolizes the more radical side of Malcolm's solition. However, Milkman seems to be confused with the events involving race around him and doesn't take action against whites like Guitar; therefore he represents the lighter views of Malcolm or even in ways King's anti-violence.


Immediately after reading this question I think of Guitar and his organization. For every black man, woman, or child killed, man of the black citizens suffer great loses of people near and dear to them. This suffering motivates Guitar and company to take action and energize an equal and opposite act of revenge. Guitar believes so much in this organization that he supports Milkman's journey to find the missing gold and to contribute some to his funds for purchasing a bomb. Whether everyone agrees with Guitars tactics is one thing, but the fact that he is out there fighting against the suffering the black people are feeling is what's important.
Hello All,

After having been away a few days, I checked the blog this afternoon, hoping to learn something more specific about what transpired in class yesterday--but I found very little to help me. Could some (all?) of you please write some impressions about class on Monday evening? What were topics of discussion? What were your "takes" on these topics? What's up for Wednesday? How is the process going? Please shed some light on these issues for me!


Dr. No

Emancipation of the Psyche

I think the idea of the "emancipation of the black psyche" is brilliant, and i immediatly associated it with Milkman in Song of Solomon. MLK effectively emancipated the black psyche by showing the community that it could be done, that things could happen. Milkman for the first time in his life becomes emancipated when he travels South and when everything that he has brought with him becomes useless: money, suitcase, clothes, etc.. Because of this, he learns (in the woods, specifically) who he really is and what he wants. He emerges from the swamp of self-pity he had been living in and actually becomes someone. It seems that he has woken up from a thirty some odd year slumber. He separates himself from his father's greediness and realizes what he did to Hagar, who loved him selflessly. He changes and becomes emancipated because, like the black community behind MLK, he finally has something to do, something to fight for. He wants to find his background. Without the restraints of his home and family, he becomes independent and finds his self. With the leadership of Dr. King, the black community realizes that they can finally and actively face the monster that is segregation, and because they have something to go after, become emancipated. This emancipation comes about by someone leading the way; many people pointed Milkman South, and many people including MLK led the black people. However as soon as the way is shown, the people go on their own. They have become emancipated, the biggest step, and now have all the strength, knowledge, and capacity to do with it what they will.

Felix Also Enjoys Sitkoff

Morrison Questions for Wednesday's Seminar

Here are some questions about Song of Solomon and Sitkoff. Some of these issues we've addressed in our discussions. We'd like you to choose one and write a thoughtful response here on the blog.

1. How many white characters do we meet in the novel? How would you characterize the role of whites in the novel (direct/indirect, positive/negative/neutral, etc.)? How does this role of the whites reflect the issues addressed in Sitkoff?

2. Sitkoff cites MLK's role in emancipating the psyche of blacks (we discussed this idea last week). Is there any reflection of this experience in the novel? Where does it appear? How does it come about?

3. Can we make any generalizations about the male and female characters in the novel? Where/how does Sitkoff's study address gender roles among African Americans?

4. As Sitkoff's book makes clear, rhetoric--the ability to move through words--played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. What do you notice about the language (diction) of the novel? Does it affect or in any way reflect the characters' struggles?

5. Sitkoff's study draws attention to the different strategies adopted by civil rights activists, generally divided along the lines of gradualism and radical change. Where in the novel do we see different responses to the plight of blacks and the potential for change?

6. One of the striking things that Sitkoff's book makes clear is the astonishing capacity for suffering among civil rights activists (think of those photos we saw), as well as the general suffering among blacks in America. What kind of suffering do we encounter in the novel? Where does it defeat, where energize or mobilize the characters?

7. In King's "Letter From Birmingham City Jail" King insists that injustice anywhere is the business of all Americans: i.e., the plight of African Americans is in some sense universal. Is there a similar sense of universality in Morrison's novel--in other words, is this novel just about blacks, or about human beings generally?

8. The setting of the novel shifts between the industrialized north and the rural south. How does Milkman's experience differ in those two settings? How did these settings figure in the Civil Rights Movement, as outlined by Sitkoff?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Challenge

On September 25, 1957, the "Little Rock Nine" entered Central High under the protection of federal troops. We tend to think of the challenge for these students as ending when they were allowed to enter the building; however, more realistically it is safe to say that there challenge was just beginning. Many of these students faced being harassed in the hallways and bathrooms and countless other forms of discrimination and intimidation. I sometimes wonder how difficult it must have been for students who were sympathetic to these new students and desired to help them out or just welcome them to their new school. This is a challenge that each of you should think about. Would you have risked your own physical well being in an attempt to challenge the prevailing ideas of the authority figures in your community, including your teachers, religious authorities, and even your parents? Here is an example of a student who did just that. On September 19 Jane Emery, co-editor of the Central High School's student newspaper, The Tiger, wrote a letter to her fellow students entitled "Can We Meet the Challenge?"

You are being watched! Today the world is watching you, the students of Central High. They want to know what your reactions, behavior impulses will be concerning a matter now before us. After all, as we see it, it settles now to a matter of interpretation of law and order.

Will you be stubborn, obstinate, or refuse to listen to both sides of the question? Will your knowledge of science help you determine your action or will you let customs, superstition, or tradition determine the decision for you?

This is the chance that the youth of America has been waiting for. Through an open mind, broad outlook, wise thinking, and a careful choice you can prove that America's youth has not "gone to the dogs" that their moral, spiritual, and educational standards are not being lowered. This is the opportunity for you as citizens of Arkansas and students of Little Rock Central High to show the world that Arkansas is a progressive thriving state of wide-awake alert people. It is a state that is rapidly growing and improving its social, health, and educational facilities. That it is a
state with friendly, happy, and conscientious citizens who love and cherish their freedom.

It has been said that life is just a chain of problems. If this is true, then this experience in making up your own mind and determining right from wrong will be of great value to you in life.

This challenge is yours, as future adults of America, to prove your maturity, intelligence, and ability to make decisions by how you react, behave, and conduct yourself in this controversial question. What is your answer to this challenge?


What issues must your generation address? To what extent are you even informed about issues that potentially could affect you and those around you? What are you willing to do to help address those issues and what are you willing to personally sacrifice to achieve those goals? What do you see when you look at those images of students your own age jeering, spitting and physically harming other students, whether it is at Central High or at a lunch-counter where students are attempting to order a burger? There is no civil rights movement without people your own age willing to act.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Born Racist?

One of the questions that came up on our first evening has stuck with me, namely whether children are born racist, this explaining the behavior of people such as Bull Connor. I believe that our consensus was that they are not born racist, with which I agree. However, I do not believe that we are born kind, compassionate, or generous, that these are learned values. And aren't these values the backbone of racism? When a protestor is being slammed against a wall with the water from a fire hose, that is not simply racism; it is a lack of compassion for another being. Bull Connor et al. are not simplt racists--they are people without compassion for others. And as such they were born that way and society/family did not teach them otherwise. The reason that this conversation stuck with me is that I felt we reached a consensus that we are born kind towards others, and I do not think that is the case. We have to learn these values.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Something that I found interesting about both Song of Solomon and Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail was the concept of racial memory. Both mention the idea of the importance of ancestry, something that I do not understand. Perhaps it is because I am not close with my extended family but I think that the concept of racial memory is a part of the African American experience which is distinctly different then the experience of Caucasians. Because racial memory is so important I don't think you can expect African Americans to easily forget the cruelty of centuries ago.
In the pictures we looked at during the seminar, I couldn't help but notice a recurring lack of response. For the most part, blacks being bitten by dogs, hazed at lunch counters, and humiliated, kept their reactions impassive. In replacement of violence, these void responses seem to have created the foundation of the entire civil rights movement. This absence of reaction is also found in Song of Solomon. When Hagar is attempting to kill Milkman, it was his lack of opposition that kept her frozen. It is interesting how the less complicated actions or lack thereof create the biggest affect. I don't know if this post has to do with anything really, it was just a thought i had.

prejudice: the case of huck finn

Dr. Noffsinger has posted some interesting thoughts as a follow-up to our discussion last night about the nature of justice. Let me suggest again that I don't think we are going to have much success in looking for the foundations of justice or morality; even if we discovered an answer it is not obvious that it would necessarily help us in analyzing whether any given ruling or action was just or unjust/moral or immoral. Perhaps there is a way out if we consider the situation of Huck Finn.

The scene takes place on the raft as Huck is assisting his friend Jim in gaining his freedom. As the scene progresses Jim praises his friend for his help in achieving this goal. Huck's reaction, of course, is a feeling of failure as if he is doing something wrong. After all, Huck grew up in the antebellum south where he learned how to maneuver and understand a society built on white racial supremacy. Everything from the laws to the institution of slavery to the way people behave around one another was premised on race. From Huck's point of view his friends praise was not a reason to feel pride or the emotional satisfaction involved in helping Jim, but the realization that he was breaking the law. This sounds strange to us but only because we live at a time when our feelings of sympathy and empathy correspond with our beliefs about justice. In short, there is not conflict.

This is not the case for Huck, but we must ask whether there could have been a way out for Huck given that by the end of the novel he gives up any sense of morality and becomes a pragmatist. Perhaps the understanding that our moral frameworks must on occasion be brought into question can help us here. We should be willing to accept that our moral views may on occasion need to be tweaked or revised given that our society continually evolves and new information becomes available in reference to difficult moral problems such as abortion or animal rights and so on. I am not implying a position of subjectivism where morality simply becomes a matter of the individual just that we need to question.

Now how do we do this? One possibility is that our natural abilities to empathize or sympathize offer each of us a way to step back and imagine ourselves in the position of the "other." Huck clearly has this ability, but he is unable to take the next step which would be to use his natural other-regarding feelings for Jim as a check on his more formal ideas of morality and justice.

We need not necessarily have to figure out the foundations of morality and justice in order to ask the more immediate question of how we go about thinking through the way we learn and revise our ideas in these two areas.
Throughout class, while looking at horrid pictures of sit-ins and while reading Sitkoff, I am constantly shaking my head, thinking, "I can't believe this ever happened." But it didn't even cross my mind that this is still going on in the world today. The violent, inhumane actions taking place in Darfur at this very moment parallel the inhumaneness shown 50 years ago, in a world that some think, is so far ahead of what we have been in the past. Individuals (including myself), countries, and the world as a whole have been slow to act against what is wrong, apathetic in their ways.


I'm still struggling with the issue of where prejudice comes from. Last night we seemed to be of two minds. 1) If one is raised to be racist (by parents and other social influences), then that seems to explain racial attitudes--and since we don't choose our parents, we tend to grow up with values that have been "implanted" (whatever that means) in us. So racists can't really help being racist . . . can they? (That would seem to be the logical extension of that argument.) On the other hand, 2) at some point most of us develop a sense that treating others as inferior to ourselves is simply not right. Where does this sense of "not right" come from--is it King's "higher law" (the "law above law")? An internalized sense of the Golden Rule? Jack Rossi alluded to Huck Finn last night, and I also feel this is exactly Huck's dilemma. He's able to overcome the distorted voices of his moral education--how??

What's most disturbing to me about images of black children picking a white doll as the "good" doll is that this raises the question of where those internalized notions of "goodness" and "badness" have come from? How old were those children--4 or 5? Have they already absorbed, perhaps at an unconscious level, images from the media?

Dr. No

Frontline Video

Mrs. O'neil asked that I post the link to the Frontline (brown eyes vs blue eyes) videos. The first two videos are days one and two of the experiment and the third video is of the students who took part in it and their reaction 14 years later.
The children in the video we watched who chose a white doll as "good" over a black doll proved that judgment and acceptance within humans relies heavily on appearances. The theme of alienation versus acceptance based on appearance alone comes up repeatedly in "Song of Solomon". Milkman is told that he was a disappointment to some members of his family because of his darker skin, while his sisters are loved for their fairer complexions. Pilate is seen as "evil" and outcast by the community because of her unusual appearance and lack of a navel. Like the children in the video, the characters in "Song of Solomon" show a tendency to favor and accept those who they consider to have normal or superior appearances; in the case of the children in the video and characters in "Song of Solomon", a Caucasian appearance is the preferable criteria.

Not Doctor Street

"Would always be known as Mains Avenue and not Doctor Street."

This sentence is fascinating to me because of the unclarity of the last three words. Is Morrison saying that it isn't Doctor Street, or also Not Doctor Street? You can read it both ways. Since the "not" isn't capitalized, it would seem like the first choice. But if read aloud, it sounds like the second choice. Unclarity almost always has a purpose in literature, and I wonder what it means in this case.

last night

Hey!! I thought last night went really well, brought up some interesting points. I liked the quote about the emancipation of the black psyche, which got me thinking to Song of Solomon. Milkman becomes "emancipated" in a way when he finally does something by himself- he looks for his family in the South, by himself, and finally is alone and independent. He becomes emancipated because he has something to do. Maybe it's the same thing, that with the non-violent protests (sit-ins and such) that the black psyche became emancipated because they, like Milkman, finally had something to do. They had something that was working that they were able to participate in. Connection?? Thoughts, anybody

Song of Solomon

I am eager to talk about what the characters in Song of Solomon represent, because even though the story is about the black community during the civil rights movement, it certainly is a parable to America as a whole during that time period. Maybe we could tie our discussions tonight about this and it would be beneficial.
In response to my previous post regarding the brown eyes vs. blue eyes video, I have found the videos online and then another video with all of the students who took part in the class division and their reactions 14 years later.


I was thinking maybe we could watch that video that I brought up in last night's class about blue eyes vs brown eyes? I thought it was really interesting in 7th grade, and even now i feel it quite relevant.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The comments about Song of Solomon towards the end of the discussion tonight struck me by surprise (in a good way). I hadn't really thought of what I had pictured the characters appearance as, but the comments of pictures of whites instead of blacks made me think. The video we saw also made me think similar thoughts or the origin of race separation. If racisim is something we're taught and not born with, as we seemed to agree upon tonight, then how important is it for government to intervene the "wrongs" that are being taught to children of the 1960's all the way to the present? Just a thought that we sort of began to touch on tonight.

Today's seminar

Hi everyone,
I'm Max. Seminar so far has taught me lots of things. From the readings I learned deeply about the civil rights movement that had taken place in America, but from discusssion that we had on Monday and Wednesday, I was able to get more profound thoughts on the issue. Views and points that everyone had helped me to view the event with more dimensions.

In the book "Song of Solomon," there wasn't direct white oppression in the events but from the mentality that the main characters have showed how significantly white oppression was pressing blacks down. I looking forward to great discussion tomorrow.

I've only been in America for a year, so I'm still struggling with my English. So if the things that I say are not clear or doesn't make sense, please tell me. It'll help me a lot to learn more by everyone helping me out. Thank you.


2nd meeting

"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory will swell when again touched as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature." - Abraham Lincoln
okay so this quote isnt completley random, after discussing King's act of "non-violence" i thought about this quote by good ole Abe, and the brilliance of non-violence is the realization that we must live with one another peacefully and not through hatred.

Wens. Night's Class

Hi! This is my first time "blogging" and it took me forever to figure it out even after Mr. Levin's step by step. Anyhow, I thought that tonight's discussion went really well, especially having the visual aid to help set in the brutality of Birmingham's events (as well as others). I look forward to tomorrow night!

Also - thanks for the cookies Caitlin!
Apologies for the lateness of this blog. I had technical difficulties (actually technical stupidities, but thanks to Kevin for straightening me out!). I must admit to some apprehension going into Monday's session, mainly because I was unsure what dynamic would develop, but I was pleased to see the energy and enthusiasm in the room. I think we could perhaps work a bit more on listening skills--at times there seemed to be more interest in making a statement than in processing what others were saying. I'm looking forward to tonight's session, in part because I'm struck again by the power of MLK's "Letter from BJ," one of the crucial documents of the 20th century.

I shall write more substantively next time. Again, thanks to all for your good will and active participation.

Dr. No
I felt that Monday night's seminar went very well, especially as the first session. The discussion flowed easily, and everyone had something different, but equally interesting to say. If we can have a more narrow discussion focus in Wednesday's class, I feel that we can go even deeper into the subjects.
I was pleased with a number of things with Monday's seminar, not least among them the frankness of the exchanges. The discussion of the case study really brought out the complexity of affirmative action: on the one hand, the strong case to be made, on social grounds, for a more inclusive access to opportunities; on the other, the apparent contradiction in gaining that universal access through exclusive (even race-based) programs. That issue reflects something that I've noticed reading Sitkoff regarding the difficulty in deciding how justice is achieved. Government and court decisions alone couldn't manage it, but without them, the activism of the civil rights workers would have failed. I hope as we move through the two weeks we can get a clear sense of those two roles. Where does the energy for change come from? How does it maintain its focus? What can government do to help (or hinder) it? Anyway, I'm looking forward to the discussions of the two books, as well as the other readings we'll be doing.

I'm also curious what the students thought of the faculty participation: too much? too little? too directive? not enough?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Test of racism
You might find it interesting to take one of the tests at this site. It contains a series of tests of implicit preference -- religion, race, age, gender, etc. Each one only takes a few minutes. Have no idea how valid the data are, but they're interesting.

Follow up to last night's case study
Cut and paste this link for a follow up to last night's discussion of the minority journalism program. Should provide further insight -- and a picture!

Monday, March 12, 2007


In class we debated shortly the difference between discrimination against women and racism against ethnic minority groups. I said that these two discriminations are very similar. To clarify my point, in the sense of civil rights in America, women and blacks have followed a similar path, in which they both have worked for years for their freedoms, suffrage, respect, and to strive to bring a more equal meaning to the phrase "all men are created equal." Although in different forms, we see racism and sexism still today, in the workplace (the glass ceiling), in our media, etc. In that way, I believe the two issues are one in the same.
I also thought tonight's class went well. It often seemed like we veered away from the questions that were asked by some of the teachers, but I think we were always discussing and debating over very revalent and important issues concerning race, civil rights and change. See you all on Wednesday!
I thought tonight went well, and am looking forward to the next session. We got lost in the debate but it was in a good way and seemed to be a good start to this seminar.

Loving v. Virginia Panel Discussion

Did you know that until 1967 interracial marriage was illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia? To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that overturned the prohibition (ironically named Loving v. Virginia), the University of Virginia is hosting a panel discussion of the case. It will be held in the Kaleidoscope Lounge in Newcomb Hall from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 15th and is open to the public.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Happy spring break everybody!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


sweetness, this works!! testing....

New Format

I thought this might be a better format given that some of our posts might be extensive. This gives us more room to write. Does it meet with the everyone's approval?

A Curious Sitkoff Reference

On the first page of The Struggle For Black Equality the author states the following:

Nourished by anger, revolutins are born of hope. They are the offspring of belief and bitterness, of faith in the attainment of one's goals and indignation at the limited rate and extent of change. Rarely in history are the two stirrings confluent in a sufficient force to generate an effective, radical social movement. They would be so in African America in the
. (emphasis mine)
I find the reference to "African America" to be quite interesting and I am wondering what the author's intention is here. Sitkoff could have referred to the black Americans within the South during the 1960's or to the United States more generally. The latter would set up the civil rights movement as a struggle that ultimately shaped its national identity. The reference to Africa seems to imply a distinct community along political, legal, and cultural lines. Perhaps the author is implying an "otherness" when referencing black Americans. My concern, however, is that this oversimplifies the complex relations that existed between black and white Americans. Sitkoff clearly demonstrates that Jim Crow laws resulted in the disfranchisement of the largest percentages of black Americans from participating in the political process, but the political and legal consequences do not necessarily imply (if I am interpreting him properly) an "African America." Black and white still understood themselves in relationship to one another; the relationship is symbiotic. I say this in full acknowledgment of Marcus Garvey's agenda and later Malcolm X's call for black Americans to rediscover their African roots.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Ballin mr. levin!



Digging Up The Past

The FBI is currently investigating over 100 cases involving murders committed during the Civil Rights Era. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez seems committed to prosecuting as many of these cases as possible even though many may be far beyond the boundaries of what the federal government can legally prosecute. He had this to say:
Much time has passed on these crimes. The wounds they left are deep, and still many of them have not healed. But we are committed to re-examining these cases and doing all we can to bring justice to the criminals who may have avoided punishment for so long.
In contrast to Gonzalez's strong tone of reconciliation and belief that justice can still be served Horace Harned, 86, a former Mississippi legislator and member of the segregationist Sovereignty Commission, said: "I think we shouldn't dig up too much of these things."

One of the high-profile cases being investigated involves Maceo Snipes, a black WWII veteran who was shot by four white men after he voted for the first time in 1946. There is no evidence that an investigation was ever opened by the state of Georgia.

Monday, February 26, 2007

oh and also, mr. levin is totally a closet basketball player, nice work tonight! And thanks again for helping us out
this blogging thing is new to me but pretty interesting.... testing
Test run two . . . Is anyone out there? Perhaps eventually we can use this site for "real" communications!

John N
Once again, a test run. I'm going to read Kevin's other e-mails and try to access the other (new?) site.

John N

Virginia Apologizes for Slavery

See the article from the Atlanta Constitution. Excerpt:

"Resolved by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, that the General Assembly hereby acknowledge with profound regret the involuntary servitude of Africans and the exploitation of Native Americans and call for reconciliation among all Virginians," states the resolution.

"The moral standards of liberty and equality have been transgressed during much of Virginia's and America's history," the resolution states. It labels slavery "the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals in our nation's history."

In an extraordinary public confessional debated for weeks, the resolution concedes that "the most abject apology for past wrongs cannot right them; yet the spirit of true repentance on behalf of a government, and, through it, a people, can promote reconciliation and healing." The bill's chief patron in the House, Delegate A. Donald McEachin, 45, is the great-grandson of a North Carolina slave who moved to Virginia after the Civil War.

McEachin, who is studying theology, said his personal history and spiritual journey merged with Virginia's as he took his seat in the legislative body descended from the assembly that began passing slave laws shortly after the first Africans arrived near Jamestown in chains in 1619.

"Words matter, and expressions of regret and apology matter and are important for the healing process," he said in a telephone interview shortly after the House approved the resolution in the former Confederate capital.

McEachin, a Democrat, said his office has been contacted by aides from legislatures in Mississippi, Maryland and Missouri — states with difficult slave histories of their own — and the National Conference of State Legislatures, all expressing interest in passing similar resolutions.

"It's my hope that what we have done here in Virginia will continue elsewhere — if not through the [U.S.] Congress, then through the states," said McEachin.

This is my test post.

Welcome to Students and Faculty

Congratulations on successfully registering for this group blog. Feel free to play around with this by posting random messages and commenting on one another's posts. Let me know if there any major problems. You can upload images with the square blue icon to the right of the toolbar and adding hyperlinks can be done by highlighting the text in question and hitting the green icon on the toolbar.

I am the only one designated as administrator which means you are pretty much limited to positng and commenting.

Have fun

Where is Felix the Metaphor?

Put Felix back up. He's the perfect symbol for this convdersation.


This is a test post for the seminar.