English 255

A qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

Charles w. Chesnutt. The Marrow of Tradition

The Marrow of Tradition explores many of the racial problems that plagued the southern states. The relationship between Major Careret’s family and Mammy Jane seems genuinely prejudice free to a certain degree. I can see the trust that they have built over the years, as Mammy Jane has taken care of his wife’s family for generations. However Major Careret believes that Mammy Jane is the only honest colored person in the world. He would not even let another colored person enter into his home as a visitor. He says to Mammy Jane, “If all the colored people were like you and Jerry, Jane…there would never be any trouble” (71). This shows the ranks in which he places colored people. Still, I wonder if deep within his soul he truly feels this way or does he acts that way to maintain his status and duty of being a white man in the segregated south. Dr. Price calls it “A sacred principle, lying at the very root of our social order, involving the purity and prestige of our race” (89). This is the reason why he lied to Dr. Miller about the surgery already being performed on Dodie. It is amazing that he thinks highly of Dr. Miller. He thinks Dr. Miller is a sad case of “social misfit, an odd quantity, educated out of his own class” (91). Dr. Miller could be of equal status to the white man if only he was not colored.

The idea of race has never been only about the external physical differences that serve as markers of race. In fact, the physical differences among people have no social meaning except the meanings that powerful groups attach to physical differences. Over time, behavior and external physical differences were fused in the public mind even though racial myths have no biological basis and no relation to group abilities or behavior. Race was to magnify the differences among people by a rigid status hierarchy headed by socially exclusive descendants who claimed the superiority of Europeans and the inferiority of all others.¹


¹The information in this paragraph comes from my Urban Studies Professor Martin Eisenberg at Queens College.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman gives the reader a glimpse of the chaos that resides inside the world of a mentally sick woman. This woman is the narrator. Her husband John is hopeful that whisking her away to a Colonial mansion will help her get better. He understands that she is sick but does not understand that she suffers. Why would she suffer if he continuously provides the best of everything for her well being? He stereotypes her as a feminine body, which is weak and needs to be taken care of. Writing seems to be her only friend and outlet. On paper she share express her feelings, concerns, fears and her small window of bizarre happiness. She hides her writing from John and his sister. The yellow wallpaper seems strange at first. She mentions how ugly it looks as it makes her feel uncomfortable. Eventually, something about that wallpaper draws her interest to the point where she becomes obsessed and possessive of it. She thinks of it all day. Why is she so possessive of the wallpaper? Maybe it is all that she has to call her own. She fears loosing another thing in her life. She wants to follow the patterns, solve it and find the end of it. It soon becomes an affair of urgency and she wants no one else to even look at it. She eventually sees the figure of a woman trapped in the vines of the design.  The narrator believes that creeping is the only way out of the wallpaper. She seems happy that she has crept her way out of the paper and helping that woman get out of the wallpaper becomes a priority.

As the reader you cannot help but feel sorry for the narrator and even for John too. He clearly loves and wants her to get better. He provides her with medicine and speaks to her in such a calm and loving way. She seems fragile to him. He does not want her writing because it seems to prevent her mind from resting. Maybe she needs to get out of that room. She should get away from that wallpaper. It was mentioned in class, that the cure is actually the disease. Should she let the disease run its course? Maybe her continued writing or documenting her mental state will make her sane again.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. Walt Whitman

The poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman, allows the reader to somehow connect in one way or another, to the experiences of life that he describes. The poem begins with the poet’s ride home from work, on the ferry boat. There he observes the crowd and links the crowd to the present, the past and the future. It seems like time passes by, yet it also stands still. The crowd becomes general. He takes note of sights, sounds, feelings and even behaviors. Who is Whitman addressing when he continually repeats the word “you?” Could he be referring to the reader, the crowd or even the individuals within the crowd? The poem draws attention to things that we take for granted such as time and space. Does time and space really matter in life? We should stop to smell the roses. We should stop to recognize others as they may stop to recognize us. Are we much of an individual in a crowd as we are in our home? Whitman tells us that something happens to individuality when placed in a crowd. Maybe individuality does not exist when placed in a crowd. Are we the crowd? Are we different? He infers that we are each other. I am you and you are me. A reverse or exchange of body exists in this poem. I look at you and evaluate you, while you do the same to me. The “you” draws people closer yet it also pushes them out. The crowd contains individuals with different purpose and meaning yet these individuals become one as they move together on the ferry from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Active communication and recognition of people, makes Whitman connect and observe more and more to the life that we live.

My thoughts on English 255 Latin Literature

I will always remember this class every time I write a paper because I can truly say that i have mastered the pie paragraph. I am also conscious of every “to be” verb that I write. At the beginning of the class I thought this class would be so demanding. Keeping a blog seemed like a lot of work as I have never kept one before. I loved it and my friends love it too. In fact, I am very proud of my blog work. I look at it and I am shocked at all the writing done over the semester. Professor Alvarez, you made the class fun. You kind of took the burden out of writing a paper. Thank you for the feed backs, suggestions, and “Job well dones” on the blog works. It is good to know that Purdue OWL is just a click away. I can’t say that I have enjoyed carrying the heavy anthology but that book is definitely a keeper.

Mmm, Lengua. Great as tacos.

Mexican Stereotype

“Mexicans are lazy” is a well known stereotype. This study conducted by the organizational for economic and co-operation and development, proved that stereotype inaccurate. Mexicans are infact the hardest working nation in the world.

Unlearn Racism

Future researches can investigate unlearning racism by understanding identity. The researcher should focus on understanding what makes individuals identify with one group, and the similarities and differences between there group and that of other groups. I believe that when we human, learn the true reason why we identify with one group and differentiate with another, we will learn to understand our true being and our true potential, the American Dream.

Racial Identity

Racial identity has a significant role in limiting Mexicans from attaining the American Dream, because racism plays on the concept of the domination of one racial group and oppression of another. Oppression refers to the stem of identity rather than language, country of origin, or culture. One identifies with one racial group and differentiates itself from another, not because of appearance or culture but because of the social perceptions and injustices that we impose on ourselves and each other. I see this as the oppressing group perceiving the oppressed group as weaker or easier to manipulate. Therefore Mexicans, the oppressed group, can rise above the perception and live above stereotypes and attain the American dream.


The So-Called American Dream

Raymund A. Paredes explains In Mexican American Authors and the American Dream, that the American Dream no longer appeals to the Mexican Immigrants, who have experienced the difficulties of attaining it. Paredes writes:

The so-called American Dream of affluence, respectability, and happiness has held little attraction, seeming at turns an essentially harmless illusion and a cruel and insidious hoax. […] A myth that regards success as lying within everyone’s reach and that deems those who fail to achieve it as themselves somehow culpable. (71)

Paredes mockingly describes the American Dream with the phrase “so-called.” With this he implies that the dream does not live up to its name and boasted meaning. The Mexican Immigrant have experienced the discrimination and vice of The United States. Through this experience, they lost the confidence in the American Dream and it no longer appeals to them. They realized that the American Dream exhibits a false impression and concluded that The United States does not live up to its proclaimed life of “affluence, respectability, and happiness.”  Paredes compares the American Dream to a and malicious prank. Imagine migrating to a country that promises the world of opportunities to improve the welfare of your family’s life and that country repeatedly through various means prevents you from accessing those opportunities. The American Dream does not place the opportunities within the arms length of everyone. For these Mexicans living in New York City, the hidden opportunities create a realization that the American Dream symbolizes a “myth.” It represents a bad dream. One might place blame these Mexican immigrants for not trying hard enough to conquer the American Dream. In their defense, they are dominated by the powerful, the privileged and the wealthy groups. Identified as the inferior
group and overwhelmed with steady contact of discrimination, their efforts to achieve the American Dream produce fruitless result. Discrimination against the Mexican immigrants prevents them from achieving the American Dream. With that said, the American Dream remains an illusion or just a dream.

“Race” Defined.

In ““Race” and the Construction of Human Identity,” Audrey Smedley explains,

“Today scholars are beginning to realize that “race” is nothing more and nothing less than a social invention. It has nothing to do with the intrinsic, or potential, qualities of the physically differing populations, but much to do with the allocation of power, privilege and wealth among them” (698-699).

According to the American Anthropological Association, the term “race” refers to a society-constructed set of ideas and practices that evolved as an approach and reason for dividing, ranking and controlling enslaved and colonized people. This ideology developed first in the Western Hemisphere in the 17th and 18th centuries and then spread all over the world. The fundamental reason for establishing a rigid racial hierarchy was to justify using non-European groups, slave labor and cheap labor. Race is a body of prejudgments that consists of myths about the abilities and behaviors of people that are said to be determined by a fictional biology. The idea of race has never been only about the external physical differences that serve as markers of race. In fact, the physical differences among people have no social meaning except the meanings that powerful groups attach to physical differences. Over time, behavior and external physical differences were fused in the public mind even though racial myths have no biological basis and no relation to group abilities or behavior. Race was to magnify the differences among people by a rigid status hierarchy headed by socially exclusive descendants who claimed the superiority of Europeans and the inferiority of all others.¹  The physical difference and what someone looks like is no longer the only essential quality to define the term “race.” Smedley tells us that we should take into consideration the influence that the powerful, the privileged and the wealthy groups have on society.  I can safely say that wealthy people and those born into families with political and influential status have a better chance in achieving the American Dream. A cultural domination and reproduction of social inequality contribute to the reasons why many Mexicans living in New York City find it difficult to achieve the American Dream.

The American Dream” defined.

Brian Starks describes the American Dream in The New Economy and the American Dream: Examining the Effect of Work Conditions on Beliefs about Economic Opportunitysaying, “The American Dream has always been closely connected to the notion of access to conomic opportunity” (206). Starks relates the success of someone achieving the American Dream to having an advantageous source that generates income. He also mentions that the dream resonate differently with individuals. Some might also include in the dream “the ability to own a home, raise a family, send one’s children to college, and support oneself in old age” (206). Ultimately, those who have connections to the powerful, the privileged and the wealthy have a greater chance at attaining the American Dream.

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