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CAS SO 207 (15)

Notes on Pages 93-95 and 113-118.docx

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Boston University
CAS SO 207
Ruha Benjamin

RACE AND ETHNICITY NOTES Diversity and Society Textbook Pages 93-95; 113-118; 228-246 02/16/14 Pages 93-95 The Evolution of Dominant-Minority Relations in the US • UseAfricanAmericans as the prime case study, also consider NativeAmericans and MexicanAmericans • Anote on the Morality and History of Minority Relations inAmerica: Guilt, Blame, Understanding, and Communication o People often react to inequality on a personal level and get defensive, claiming they can’t be blamed for their ancestor’s actions and deny the idea that we are in our positions in society because of our history  Jason’s solution that Caucasians should just “move back to Europe” instead because of Danny mentioning that we have stolen a lot of Native American land. o Use this story to caution against denial and distance from the facts of history o Successful domination and exploitation of these groups was made easier by the cooperation of members of the victimized groups (it’s not entirely white European’s fault) o Avoid a good guy/bad guy approach to this subject matter Pages 113-118 The Creation of Minority Status forAmerican Indians and MexicanAmericans • American Indians o Europeans began to penetrate areas of NorthAmerica, foundAmerican Indian societies, and devastated them all. Contact began in the East, established a pattern of conflict and defeat forAmerican Indians until late 1800s. Expansion of white society into West allowed settlers to fulfill economic dreams o There are actually no such thing as theAmerican Indian but hundreds of different tribes with different cultures (be sensitive to the diversity here) o ManyAmerican Indian tribes no longer exist or are vastly diminished in size. In 1607, about 10 million or moreAmerican Indians living in US but by 1890, there were <250,000 (mass genocide). Nearly 300-year-long “contact situation” o Most of this caused by European diseases brought over by colonists and by destruction of food supplies ofAmerican Indians.  Buffalo were slaughtered, garden plots taken over • American Indians and the Noel and Blauner Hypothesis o Noel Hypothesis tells usAmerican Indians were not enslaved during he colonial era because competition with whites centered on land, not labor, and the Indian nations were often successful in resisting domination (temporarily). o Attempts were made to control persistent warfare before independence from Great Britain, treaties were made to treat tribes as a nation-state and colonists could not simply expropriate tribal lands.  This policy was often ignored by was continued by the newborn federal gov’t after American Revolution  Sovereignty established a unique relationship between federal gov’t and American Indians—breaking of these treaties gives American Indians legal claims against federal gov’t that are also unique o East of Mississippi River, period of open conflict was brought to a close by Indian Removal act of 1830, dictating tribes a policy of forced emigration—requires all tribes in East to move to lands west of Mississippi.  This is whyAmerican Indians today life in western two-thirds of the nation o In West, competition for land and rising aggression repeated itself—wars fought, buffalo killed, territory expropriated, etc. By 1890, greater power and resources of white society had defeated the Indian nations.  Warrior chiefs dead or imprisoned, mostAmerican Indians living on reservations controlled by gov’t.  1890 marked a low-point inAmerican Indian history—great demoralization and sadness, adapting to reservation life and subordination to federal gov’t  American Indians faced high levels of prejudice, racism, and discrimination  According to Blauner, the negative consequences of colonized minority group status will persist long after the contact situation has been resolved • Gender Relations o SomeAmerican Indian societies had high stratification levels while some valued autonomy and dignity of the individual, including women and children o Most societies were generally patriarchal and followed strict gender-based division of labor, but not necessarily meaning women were subordinate  Women held positions of great responsibility and controlled wealth  Iroquois (large and powerful federation of tribes in Northeast), women controlled land and harvest, arranged marriages, supervised children, and were responsible for appointment of tribal leaders and decisions about peace and war  Some women were highly respected warriors and chiefs o Gender relations affected during prolonged contact period  Sometimes relative status and power of women rose • Ex: Navajo tribe, women usually were responsible for livestock and when Spanish introduced sheep and goats, importance of this sector increased  Sometimes women were affected adversely • Women of tribes of Great Plains, responsible for gardening and men responsible for hunting and when horses were introduced, men became more powerful and men were dominant • Cherokee tribes changed from passing land down generations to women to passing it down to men (in favor of European pattern of male ownership) to avoid relocation • Summary o End of contact period left tribes impoverished, powerless, and subordinate to white society by federal gov’t. o Race contributed to this outward stratification and the dominance contributed to internal gender stratification • Comparative Focus: Hawaii o In 1788, white Europeans first made contact with indigenous people of Hawaii o Contact was not immediately followed by conquest and colonization; early relations were organized around trade not competition o Hawaiian society was large and highly developed, had sufficient military strength to protect itself (2 of 3 conditions stated in Noel hypothesis for emergence of dominant-minority situation were not present in early days) o Contact brought smallpox and other diseases to native Hawaiians who had no immunity (death rates rise, populations vastly decreased) o White Europeans gradually turned land to commercial agriculture and established large sugar plantations (an enterprise that’s extremely labor intensive and often associated with slavery)  Not enough Hawaiians to fill demand—recruited abroad fromAsia and South America o White plantation owners began to dominate the island economy and political structure, but no segregation laws enacted (JapaneseAmericans were also powerful in politics)  Rates of intermarriage among various groups were very high, reflecting openness to intimacy across group lines o There is continuing ethnic and racial stratification despite lack of blatant/oppressive domination, such as Native Hawaiians today retaining minority status o Native Hawaiians have higher education and income levels compared to black Americans and American Indians (consistent with Noel and Blauner hypotheses: they were not subjected to harsh conditions that the other two groups were)  But Native Hawaiians are still poorest of various ethnic and racial groups on the island Pages 228-246 American Indians: From Conquest to Tribal Survival in a Postindustrial Society • Introduction discusses meaning of names to a person and what the names represent (Christian names, Indian name, and “my crime’s being an Indian, what’s yours?”)— Leonard Peltier from Prison Writings (been in federal prison since 1977 for murdering two federal agents during a shootout on Sioux reservation) • American Indians were less affected by forces of social and political evolution but rather government maintenance (more ignored in headlines, except for mascots for sports teams) • Last decade has improved since they gained more autonomy, addressed problems in education, joblessness, health, etc. • Size of the Group o This is subject to the consensus (people used to be able to only identify with one race)—5 million people who claimed to be in part but only half of them claimed onlyAmerican Indian ancestry (1% of total population of US) o Lost 75% or more of population during contact period, recent population increase has perhaps restored this loss by now o More recent growth is result of changing definitions of race in larger society and greater willingness of people to claim Indian ancestry (underscores how socially- determined race really is) • American Indian Cultures o Differences in American Indians and WASP culture has hindered communication o Most NativeAmerican tribes relied on hunting and gathering, which is important because [Lenski says] societies are profoundly shaped by their subsistence technology o Live on thin edge of hunger and stress sharing and cooperation/cohesion and solidarity o Ideas about relationship between human beings and natural world is what sets them apart from Western Culture: live in harmony with natural world (not “improve it”) and not value humans more important than any other form of life of Earth itself—act as if the Earth is their mother (would not destroy it) o Concept of private property/ownership was not prominent inAmerican Indians like it was WASP (i.e. land ownership)—did not think of land as something to trade/buy/sell/etc. o American Indian culture was more group-oriented rather than individual-oriented  “Students go hungry rather than ask their parents for lunch money, for in asking they would be putting their needs in front of the group’s needs” o American Indian tribes organized around egalitarian values that stressed dignity and worth of every man, woman, and child (women controlled land). o Differences in values betweenA.I and WASP culture, compounded by power differentials that emerged, placedA.I. at disadvantage.A.I. lack of experience with dealing with contracts made it difficult for them to defend resources Relations with the Federal Government after the 1890s • American Indians had very few resources left by this time, lived in western two-thirds, split apart by cultural and linguistic differences, and could not participate politically as most were not US citizens • Economically,A.I. among most impoverished groups in US (resources had been destroyed)—dependent on federal gov’t for food, shelter, clothing, etc. • Reservations were in remote areas, far from industrialization/modernization—alsoA.I. had few of these skills to work there (like knowledge of English, familiarity with Western culture) • Prejudice and intolerance, abided by policies designed to maintain powerlessness and poverty or forcing them toAmericanize • Reservation Life o Paternalism and the Bureau of Indian Affairs  Reservations run by agency of federal gov’t (U.S. Bureau of IndianAffairs (BIA)—controlled all aspect of day life, like budget, justice system, and schools, BIAeven determined tribal membership  Traditional leadership/political institutions-no regard for input from members of reservation; even controlled communication to world outside reservation o CoerciveAcculturation: The DawesAct and Boarding Schools  ForcedAmericanization: languages and religions were forbidden, institutions circumvented and undermined  Centerpiece of US Indian policy was Dawes AllotmentAct of 1887, a deeply flawed attempt to impose white definitions of land ownership and to transformAmerican Indians into ind
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