Thursday, March 11, 2010

One Drop Rule

While reading Puddin'Head Wilson and Iola Leroy, we have been talking about the one drop rule/law, where if a person had one drop of "negro" blood in them, then they were not considered white and were considered black. I started to think about a few things with this rule. One of them was how many people around us would be affected by the "one drop rule" and be looked down upon back in the day because of our background and how much of our heritage we are currently unaware of and the other was the fact that now-a-days, our society generalizes your ethnicity and does not focus on the specifics.
A lot of times, many people lose track of geneology. Now that specifics in ethnicity is not such a big deal as it used to be, people know the basics of what they are, but they do not know all the specifics. A few years ago I actually found out I have Native American blood in me and nobody would guess that. Society generalizes what I am by my more dominate cultural background or skin tone appears to be. I am white or caucasian. My more dominate background is German, Irish, Italian, and English. Because of this, combined with my appearance, I am considered white. A lot of times in present day, we are acclaimed to be what we appear. If you appear black, or white, or Asian, people assume you to be such. The specifics do not matter any more. In some ways, I find this a good thing. Society does not judge you based on miniscule amounts of an ethnicity in you as they once did in the time of Puddin'head Wilson and Iola Leroy, but in another way, we are overlooking our cultural background by taking off the importance of what we have in us. And even though we do not focus on the specific cultural backgrounds each one of us has, we do generalize our ethnicity into main categories of African-American, Caucasian, Asian, Hawaiin, and others. We are still considered one or another. We are not considered more than one. Your background cannot get recognized fully, just generally, because now that is all that matters.
I find that focus on race has not lessened at all. If you fill out a form, it still asks for your ethnicity, and a lot of times, people will ask what someone is or use the terms white or black to categorize someone, along with prejudices being widely known and believed. We still put a lot of importance on our ethnicity. Overall, discrimination has been extinguished at a lawful level, preventing discrimination in business and such, but socially, society is a long ways behind putting everyone on the same social standards.
Back in my hometown of Sunnyside, Washington, the majority of the city is Hispanic. I have never received more of an eye opener than with my hometown. The majority of a population, whether it is on a national level where it is still whites/Caucasians, or if it is in a small town such as Sunnyside where it is Hispanics, the majority of an ethnicity will look down on the minorities.
Every ethnicity or race is a culprit of this. My sister was put into counseling for being bullied because she was of white skin. Appearance and race still have a lot to do with our social levels and how you are treated by the others in the public. No matter where you go, there is discrimination against all and prejudice against all. Now-a-days though, it is solely based on appearance. Not blood. There is no one drop rule that society stands by present day. Society as a whole, judges on look.
I feel I got a bit off topic with this post, but there are so many angles you can take regarding ethnicity, background, race, culture, et cetera, and I had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. I feel that as a whole, we have improved on discrimination and lowering it publicly. But socially, we have come to judge others by looks and generalities.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Rise of Silas Lapham and Wealth

While reading the Rise of Silas Lapham, the thing that interested me the most was the views on money. When it was inherited, it was considered classy and something to be proud of, but when it was earned and wealth was gained from hard work, it was not seen as something so impressive. Living in today's society, this is very odd. At least for me it was. People now-a-days can start from nothing and become famous movie stars or musicians and it is definitely something to be proud of. Or Bill Gates, how he built his fortune off of pure hard work.
Back in the time that this book took place, working was seen as something that the lower class did. So I suppose that the fact that even though Silas was rich, did not change the fact that working was something that he had in common with the lower class. It almost reminds me of the days when people could tell class by whether or not they were pale or tan. If you were tan, it meant you worked in the fields, and therefore were seen as the lower class. Here, working, period, is considered the thing that makes you lower class or at least not as good as the wealthy who inherited their money.
It also had a lot to do with the name that came with the money. The name of the family a lot of time held the most significance. Money will give a name a good reputation and make it commonly known. It was heritage not only through the money, but the name. Aristocracy was passed down from generation to generation with the money and the name. When some new family came in and started earning their own title, it could probably almost be seen as an insult to the families that had held their high class through the ages.
The reason the views on earned money and inherited money seems so odd present day, is because we are a society, a nation, built off of a chance to make something of yourself. This is looked up to now, because it gives everyone hope to become something better and make a mark in history. Although, if you look at famous people, you can still see how being an heir or an heiress can give you fame and class. Just look at Paris Hilton, the heiress to the Hilton fortune. She did not do anything to become famous. She was just born rich. I guess present day, being rich and/or famous is something looked up to. Whether or not it was inherited or earned.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mount Shasta and Joaquin Murieta

When deciding what to write about for this post, I found I really wanted to talk about the poem that Yellowbird, or John Rollin Ridge, had written about Mt. Shasta in his book Joaquin Murieta. There is much significance surrounding this poem and how it connects to the story of Joaquin Murieta. There is reason to why it was felt fitting to be put alongside the story told of a murderer and a bandit and how it connected to his tragic story.
At first in the poem, Ridge talks about the beauty of the mountain. How it stands everlasting and unmoving. How it survives all tragedies that attack its peak and how it is a wonder that many people admire. It is used to guide travellers, being seen from a great distance. And no matter the lashing of weather and such upon its mass, it stays steadfast. Made by the very hand of God. It is beautiful, eternal, and mighty.
Ridge then talks about how if California were to thrive and become the most it could become and be successful, it needed to make the law more pure, and lift itself such as the mountain was lifted. "That human feeling, human passion, at its base/shall lie subdued... (25)" He is saying here, that if California wanted to be all it could be as a state of America, that it needed to rise above human passions and stereotypes and discriminations. It needed to be unbiased and noble as the mountain itself was. Where it did not look upon any being different than another. That it was beautiful because of this. Eternal, and steadfast and that the state would become the same if they ruled with a law equal to all inhabitants.
The reason that it was fitting to put alongside the story of Joaquin Murieta is because Joaquin was a victim of such "human passion." He was not treated as an equal and was abused and hurt by the loss of his property, the raping of his wife, and the death of his brother. This inequality made the state unpeaceful, unlike the peaks of Mt. Shasta. Because of the discrimination that the law held towards Mexicans and the likes, the community was not tranquil. It was disturbed and was tearing itself apart with all the violence caused by unfair and biased treatment. If the state had laws that made it so every person would be treated as equal, then the state would be of high stature like the mountain. That it would be eternal because it would not tear itself apart with disruptions of the peace and would not destroy itself in the end. That it would also be a guidance to others to follow suit just as the mountain was a guidance to travellers.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

True or False? Coverdale's Deception

While reading the book The Blithedale Romance, one is told the story from the mouth of Mr. Coverdale. The whole story is told from his perception and he comments regularly on many occurrences. He seems quite a fickle character from the beginning to the end, because he changes the way he acts and manipulates characters to find out the happenings going on around him. He seems to take on many different roles throughout the book; from being a poet to a dramatic bedridden sick man. The thing that makes me wonder about the story though, is the fact that he almost seemed to convince and mislead the reader into believing he fancied Zenobia.

Coverdale seemed to have a fascination with Zenobia and her characteristics. He made many comments about her and admires her very being. He and Hollingsworth were both intrigued with Zenobia's personality and charm, as you can say. They both seemed to think of her in a loving matter. The fact that Coverdale made it seem that Zebobia was the one he had feelings for, whereas it was revealed at the end that it was noneother than Priscilla, almost makes me wonder what else he may have kept from the reader.

I am not quite sure what else there is that he could have kept, but it truly does make me wonder. The fact that he did not show nearly as much interest in the innocent, pure character of Priscilla as he did Zenobia and her strong, independent actions and words makes me believe that the whole story may have been exaggerrated or parts may have been ommitted to Coverdale's liking. Coverdale seems to be a character who does not like his views challenged, so if he wanted the reader to take something from the story, he would have made sure that would have happened. Coverdale could have made the narrative what he wanted it to be. Throughout the whole book, the reader is to assume that the tellings of Coverdale are true, and his thoughts that he reveals are true. But after he reveals to us a secret that is somewhat unexpected, how can the rest of the story be automatically taken as fact?