November 5, 2008

Ractial Wealth Gap

The readings in “Color of Wealth- Forged in Blood� were remarkably informative. The section on the racial wealth gap was saying that African Americans were 13% of the population, but only owned 3% of the assets in America! That certainly tells you something about the disadvantages that are present in society relating to the distribution of resources. It goes on to say that in 1989, whites had a median net worth of $97,800, compared to $5,300 for blacks! Levels for both have increased over time but there is still a huge gap, and now it is even bigger than in earlier years. African American’s average wealth is one-sixth of white’s average.
African Americans are less likely to own stock and have the resources to invest and “get ahead�. Half of whites have a family that can help them buy a home, while only 20% of black families have this privilege. As I read more of these statistics a steady pattern emerged. There is so many disadvantages that blacks must overcome just to stay at the point they’re at. To actually catch up to whites or surpass them is near impossible the way our society is set up.
There is so much of a gap between the whites and minority groups for there to even be a chance for them to get to the same level, in general. There has been racism and the economic exploitation that occurred during slavery did not help either. Whites made money off of the cheap/free labor, while blacks got nothing in return for their work. This did not set them up for success as one can imagine.
The part that bothers me is the people that say America is a great place of opportunity and everyone has the opportunity to excel and follow their dreams. The whole saying of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps�…I love one of the quotes from one of the videos we watched in class. The woman says…�what if you don’t have bootstraps?� The advantaged people in our nation thing everything is fine and they are oblivious to the under privileged and the suffering that is going on in the richest nation in the world! There is no reason this should be happening in America. Our fellow citizens should not be suffering, while others have numerous houses! Tell me how great of a nation is that? Some are homeless while others can’t keep track of the number of houses they own?!? Seriously?!
-Rachel Ward

Continuing Selfishness of Human Nature

Is mankind innately selfish and violent as a whole without society's laws and contracts?

Looking back at the history of civilization, we have seen the vast majority of peoples behaving violently for the preservation of their health, and that of their family, but, more importantly, for the preservation of their control over X. From the family, to the village: these groups of various families are dependent on one-another, and so we see eventual clashing of villages. From villages to cities, cities to government, and government to, well, fall of government. At all stages of these developments all over the world and through thousands of years, desire motivates action, but the devastating results of conflict increased exponentially as the form of civilization evolved through Politics. At all levels, the actions were declaring war, genocide, massacres, assassinations, rape, and keeping money away from helping the health of the people. Has this blatant history REALLY not convinced everyone of mankind’s selfish nature? We ARE a type of animal. With nothing but our naked bodies on us and without Law and Politics, bad things have usually occurred- and by ‘bad’ I do mean ‘immoral’. Even when these Political and Law systems are in place, most have lead to the same. These politics evolved from the need of mankind to preserve itself from itself. And so: violence and body counts grew larger throughout history as larger and larger societies conflicted. Adding Law to the equation only strengthened a society's ability to immorally rip diversity to shreds by recognizing the differences around it as a threat, and persecuting these differences because of fear of change. As our institutions raise us to pull out chairs, save children from buses, and just ‘be good’, we aim to achieve a moral greatness, and become a ‘good’ person. We have come a long way in our ability to raise tolerance in these people, but it is not human nature to act as such, nor is the nature of politics. On all levels from self to Government, it is all about a desire for the control of X (the different sex, skin color, religion, class). I believe that it is very ignorant to look at the developments of humanity in the past and present, and determine that mankind is not naturally selfish and violent regarding what they do not understand. There is no humanly peace, only rare peace amidst diverse groupings amidst the Earth’s 7 billion people… and they will probably be killed sooner or later. It is human and political nature supported by history: from Crete, to Rome, to Napoleon, to Bush. I see the means for change, and the possibility, but the dominant parties of this world (and, more importantly, the world of the past 6000 years) are doing their best to ignore the possibility that the future’s outlook on the nature of humanity can dominantly support equality on all fronts. There can be no true equality without the majority of a populous being equal, nonviolent, and moral. Based on the facts of intolerance in nearly all aspects of civilization formation in history, is this achievable? As President-Elect Obama stated last night, his changes may not come overnight, in a year, nor through a single term. And so, we look ahead to the following decades before minority groups become the majority. By considering the overwhelming history of immorality and bigotry as a depiction of selfish, bangwagon jumping human nature, it is hard to declare that racism will deter when this day comes. With vast populations of different cultural groups, there may be more hate and discrimination to build on between them. Everybody is looking to get theirs. African-americans and Latinos have the forefront of white america's attention, but what happens when others need national support. While supporting the lives of some, those of others will be left out to dry, and I fear that the good will of Obama may be no match for the possibilities that selfishness will bring between differences in race, and sexuality in 2025. Changes are coming from all directions -both moral and intolerantly immoral.
-Marco Vincent

November 7, 2008


For this week readings we had to read an article about Native Americans “land rich and dirt poor�. This article baffles me and makes me very upset. After we take the land from Native Americans we then give them land and wealth that we govern, but its not like they control there assets, the federal government does. The federal government controls everything the Native American do on there land, be it gas prices or when and how the land is lease, everything is “held in trust� by the government, and is said that everything is in there best interest. The way the United States has treated Native Americans is really upsetting. Starting with the Allotment Act and then the boarding schools, all attempts to assimilate the native people, if anything they deserve to truly live in sovereignty and I believe leave in complete control of there own assets and wealth.

November 8, 2008

Land Rich, Dirt poor: Challenges to Asset building in Native America. reading ect.

The reading brought up a lot of points and examples for how the instituted laws in America have prevented the nation of Native Americans from being able to build wealth in their communities. I found it interesting how the Native Americans are the single largest landowners in America, but that the people have no control over how it is invested and distributed. The American federal government manages the wealth of Native American lands. This is a conflict of interest because it is similar to say your own investments made with your money, but that you have no choice in the matter of how, with whom, or where money is invested. As an investor you would receive returns on your profits but those profit may not be as high as if you had control in the way your money was invested. The big questions that arise from this are “is it really your land if you have no control over how it is used/invested?� as well as “what makes a tribe a tribe, who decides, and what is their best interest?�
The fact that Indians are the single largest landowners in America doesn’t really mean that they are able to control the land as far as economically. The discussion in class that we had Tuesday the 4th, Brewer explained that the treaties are only in existence as long as America does not necessarily need the land Indians inhabit. The Indians would eventually be forced to renegotiate any treaties should the government want to. This also relates to the treaty making after 1812 where tribes were forced to sign treaties. In later years when tribes would try to get their lands back, only to awarded small fractions of their value. “In February 2000, a federal jury awarded the Cayuga $36.9 million, despite the appraised value of $660 million. In October 2001, a judge ordered the state of New York to pay Cayuga an additional $211 million� (40). The idea that the American federal government has the “best interest� in mind for the Native people is really counteracted in its’ actions. The case here demonstrated that the government is not interested in giving full value to the people for what they lost, even in more recent occurrences. This type of attitude where the government is using the Indian lands for a cheap way to undercut economics severely affects the Indian peoples. The returns on the lands are artificially low and thus substandard to quality they could have received if they had control over their investments. The other interesting fact to note is that the federal government defines what a tribe is. The federal government has control over the economics and with the legal power to decide who gets a share in the capital; it can exclude groups of people from receiving money or land.
The government outside of the Indian Nation has thus decided what is fair and has also defined in legal terms what qualifies as a tribe. The author wants to convey the idea of how the conflicting ideas between America and Indians about how space is shared collide to oppress the development of wealth for Native Americans. The most notable of this conflict was with the allotment act. This act was an attempt by the government to split up the lands of the Native people to conform to individual ownership as opposed to a community-based ownership. This attempt to break down the people into separate landowners would fractionalize heirships in the future and further prevent the building of assets wealth because how it disrupted the Native landownership patterns (50).
In conclusion the federal government has repeatedly misused and misallocated the Native American lands and investments suffered. The control that the federal government over Native land is certainly far overstepping the bounds of one sovereign nation into another because it diminishes the sovereignty of the Natives. They may “own� the land, but only for as long as it suits the American government. In this way we see the Native Americans suffer because they must bend to the economic will of America.

November 10, 2008

wealth distribution in america

The readings assigned for this week explained the unequal distribution of wealth between whites, blacks, and Native Americans. United States governmental policies negatively impacted African Americans and Native Americans and benefit the whites. After reading about these policies and regulations created by the US government it makes me understand more of the specifics of what these people went through and the disadvantages they had in society, and also why these people struggle to obtain the same economic advantages as whites. White American colonists basically took control and advantage of these people, their labor and resources not only to wreak them for their own benefit but exploit them to others in society. One of the reasons why Indians are so disadvantaged is due to the fact that most of their resources were stripped from them by the government. The government created these federal policies for their own interests and benefitted from them. Indians were robbed of their land and the federal government over seen and regulated what they did on their land. They were robbed of their culture and ways of living, forced to assimilate to the white man’s society. African Americans were forced into slavery, became emancipated, but without the same liberties and freedoms their white counterparts had. Segregated institutions and unequal opportunities made it hard for blacks to achieve success. There so many ways that African Americans were prevented to achieving success and opportunities. Federal and state policies hindered success and when they did work in their favor resistive whites “white supremacist� tried scaring blacks out of communities. I strongly sympathize for both of these groups. It angers me for what the colonists and earlier citizens did. These people deserve so much more for their struggles.Racism today still exists, but during these times they were blossoming into full effect. It is great to see how far we have come in society. We have the first African American president. What was most interesting about Obama’s acceptance speech was that he told the American people about a black woman voting at the age of 106. She has seen and experienced over a century of American society and the slow changes; the growth and maturity that our country has achieved over the years to being a diverse country for all people of different races. It is important to learn and hear about the historical events of society so we don’t take advantage of what our ancestors went through and made society what it is today.
-Paul Heesch

November 25, 2008

language and (dis)ability

I had some issues with Project South’s stated intentions to be committed to inclusivity of all identities and attentive to multiple forms of oppression, but uses language that I felt reinforces ableism. One of Project South’s stated guidelines is “Oppression exists by not in our space: the existence of oppression (racism, classism, sexism, homophobia/heterosexism, etc.) is not debatable. Oppressive behavior will not be tolerated.� (23). However, the toolkit uncritically relies heavily on language that is connected to normative ways of sensing/knowing. Particularly, I found problematic the phrases “step up, step back�, “visionary/vision� and “we see� and other such language that relates to seeing, visualizing, stepping and experiencing the world through senses that not everyone uses. This critique stated, I appreciate the general intent of the organization’s mission.

Here are just a few examples I found in the text:

In popular education definitions (20):

Inclusive: “We see ourselves in relation to all people, including those of different ethnic groups and nationalities, social classes, ages, genders, sexualities, and abilities.�

Visionary: We are hopeful, creating an optimistic vision of the community and global society we want for ourselves and our families.

In “Building Blocks for Our Movement�:

“Three essential building blocks for our economic and social justice movement are critical consciousness, vision, and strategy—CVS. [. . .] Vision is the big and bold picture we create of the world we want for our families, our communities and our plant. Strategy is the plan we collectively make to change the world in which we live into world we envision (12).

Project South is certainly not alone in social justice organizing that are purportedly committed to dismantling all forms of hierarchy and oppression and yet reinforce subjugation of people with (dis)abilities through the use of problematic or uncritical appropriation of language. Project South is certainly not “the worst� offender of this kind of misappropriation of sensory/ableist language, but it really offends me that the organization states outright that it intends to be inclusive of people of all abilities and yet disregards their epistemology through their use of visionary and “stepping� language. It is not my intent to disregard the really important work Project South is doing, but rather, to make a point about language and inclusivity as it relates to ordering structures and social change. What do you think and feel about this critique? Do you feel like Project South is using language in this way? Can you think of other organizations that do similar things? Is that sort of hypocrisy between stated intentions and language reality something to be tolerated?

December 18, 2008

Life and Debt in Jamaica

For me, the most shocking thing about this video were the working conditions of the Jamaicans. The video depictd many Jamaicans working in unsanitary environments, under extremely low wages, with no compensation for overtime, and enforcement of child labor. I believe the above conditions constitute an institution known as sweatshops. It's just not right for their to be conditions like this anywhere in the world, and we need to do something about it. The more I think about how we can get rid of these injustices, the more I think about polices of today's world, polices and orgainzations such as IMF, world bank, and neoliberalism. I believe these institutions and polices are the main reasons why these injustices exist today.

First of all, neoliberalism gives to much power to corporations by making them private institutions. By making things private, you have no oversight of the practices that are being conducted. Private corporations are allowed use whatever antics they want as long as they are generating a profit. In the case of Jamaica, corporate companies such as DOVe, are allowed to exploit Jamaican workers for there banana products. The Jamaicans are forced to comply because they are under binding contracts with organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank.

INstitutions such as IMF and the World Bank feed onto the ideas of neoliberalism. They force developing countries like Jamaica to follow these new policies of free-trade, deregulation, and privatization. Otherwise, if the countries don't comply to these rules, they don't receive the loans from IMF and the World Bank. Originally the IMF and the World Bank were set up as instititions that could help developing countries by providing loans that would help the developing countries generate economic growth. Now, they force these countries into a system where they become subordinate to private corporations such as DOve.

For these reasons workers have to endure horrible working conditons because they have no power over these private institiutions. Under the policies of the IMF and the World Bank, they need the foreign investment to generate growth in their country. Developing countries like Jamaica are forced to comply with the new polices of neoliberalism and lose their independence of their own products. To get rid of these injustices, we need to reform these organziations and move away from the polices of neoliberalism.