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I think that this girl's first point is very important, especially as America progresses towards equality. As we have learned all semester, there is not total equality in our contemporary society. And as we do move towards and equal society, it is important to remember that Americans did steal Native American land. I think that one day, ideally, all of the people in America will be inherently equal. That is not to say that prejudice and discrimination will not exist, but hopefully it will be at low level. All people, including Native Americans, should have equal rights in America. This question is very interesting and thought-provoking.
flippyfloppies Reply:February 27th, 2010 at 4:23 am
I just had an interesting flashback – the other day my roommate and I were discussing equality in America, and she had a pretty interesting point. She said that she thinks eventually, and I don't know how many years this would take – there will be an equal society in America. Judging by the statistics seen in class, the rich just stay rich and the poor just stay poor, so I don't know if this is a good guess or not. But I think America is making the slow, gradual trudge towards equality. Hopefully we will reach this point in society someday. I guess I can dream, right?
I understand her point of view very well because like her I’m in the same situation. I don’t really know how I feel either because yes I feel guilty but what can I do about it? I came to this country when I was nine not knowing what this life would be like and to find out that my family has bought stolen land from people that are amongst the poorest today. I acknowledge this and am very aware that this is wrong and that we have to give back to these people that didn’t deserve that. I does make me take action but I would like for others as well to think what they can give back.
I just think it is very interesting. You brought up a very good point about the complacency of so many Americans who feel it is not their place to say something. I have always been a rather non-confrontational person, however; it would be very hard for me to see an injustice and not be able to say something. Although in some instances I may be too timid to speak up, I feel very passionately about certain things and seeing the video in class I do not think I would be able to not say anything at all.
What I found particularly interesting about your comment was the fact that you said that you feel that as Americans, many people feel that complacency as if it is a common American think to not step in. I think it is very interesting because although that may be true of many individual Americans, it is certainly not the “American way.” As a country, America likes to think of itself as a “peace-maker.” When we see injustices (for the most part,) American feels it has an “obligation” to step in. (although it could be argued that America has its own ulterior motives for doing so) I just find this interesting because one would assume that Americans on an individual level would also feel this way because it should have been imbedded into our culture to believe that it is our obligation to stand up for the injustices we see in the world. Unfortunately, this is not the case, which leads me to believe even more than America has ulterior motives in all of their “efforts” to help the world.
I think it is important for individuals to step up and speak out and try to help out our fellow Americans. If it hadn’t been for people standing up for each other in our past we may not have been able to come as far as we have in terms of civil rights. There will always be those people who like to “butt out.” But as Sam said, I think it is important that we look at the “glass half full” and recognize that there are a select few who will get involved and it is those few that help us make so much progress.
Even in America’s past, we have had many instances in which injustice, racism, and other forms of hatred have taken place and it only takes those special few to help put a stop to it. What terrifies me is when nobody speaks out because of fear. When thinking about incidents such as the Holocaust, the reason it was able to go on as long as it did and to the extent that it did was because nobody spoke out against it, or if they did they would be killed as well. I just think it is important for a few people to be bigger than the rest and do what it takes to rid the world of such horrific conditions.
jholzberg8 Reply:March 7th, 2010 at 1:23 am
I think you bring up a few very good points. While throughout history there have always been the token few people who stand up for others and serve as the catalysts for social change and civil rights progress, for the majority of people it is easier to sit back and “stay out” while the government chooses what we can get out of helping in specific situations. I think unfortunately that while the United States government tries to act as the facilitator of world peace and international “peace-maker,” it usually seems that there are ulterior motives for the U.S. wanting to get involved. As the above blogger pointed out, it is only because of the few people who have ever stood up for others that change has been able to occur. However, standing up for what you believe in isn’t for the weak of heart. When focusing on the civil rights movement in America, those who stood up for what they believed in often ended up getting beaten or jailed for staging sit-ins, voicing their opinions, or other forms of social deviance.
When it comes to the Native Americans in the United States, I think one of the biggest parts of their struggle of inequality is that fact that they don’t have much of a voice to represent them to a large audience. Minus “ambassadors” who have spent any amount of time on a reservation or around Native Americans, few Americans have actually heard the Native American perspective. Unless a Native American writes a book or speaks with government officials, their voice is not heard by the general population outside of the reservation. For those Americans who would be inclined to stand up for the injustices done to Native Americans, I think that many people would not even know where to begin. Therefore the indifference that is portrayed by some Americans is really just the simple fact that they have no idea what they could do to make a change.
This blogger mentioned how the Holocaust was a situation where more could’ve been done and sooner, but too many people kept their mouths shut and stood by while atrocities were committed. This scenario can be looked at in two ways. While it is true that this horrible genocide could’ve been ended much sooner had the world not turned the other cheek (as a whole anyway), you can also look at the people who DID stand up to help others. Take into consideration the non-Jewish people who took in and hid Jews in order to potentially save their lives. This is the example of the rare, but existent people who will risk their own safety or well-being in order to stand up for what they believe in and help others.
I agree that this is a very difficult position to be in. When it comes to the struggles and hardships that the Native American’s have gone through, it is really shocking that these issues are being ignored. This is an important part of American history and should be discussed and taught in schools. Even though genocide of Native Americans may not be the image that the United States wants to portray, I feel like we should still talk about it. I think there are important lesions to be learned, and we could better ourselves as a country. Just think of the impact the United States could have on other countries where issues like this are still going on, if we were more sensitive to it. I think discussing the issues and learning from our past could greatly improve the lives of the Native American people in the United States today. As one of the most impoverished groups of people in the United States, these people need the rest of the countries support. Because of all the political issues Native Americans are facing, there are many health consequences as a result. Alcohol abuse, obesity, and depression are just some of the dramatic health issues that are an unfortunate part of Native American civilizations. The only way to improve this is to, again, learn about the issues, and set up policies to help those who need it. I feel it is only just to give additional support those who need our help.
In terms of fitting into the “white-American” culture, I have a difficult time deciding what is best to do in this situation. I understand that it is important to do what is necessary to have the best life possible, and conforming is something that we all have to do in some way or another to get what we want. However, another part of me says that nobody should have to change any part of him or herself to be accepted. I feel like there are a lot of issues that can arise from trying to be someone were not, and accepting who we are can lead to self-confidence. So in conclusion I feel that there needs to be a fine balance. We need to make sure we do not lose who we are in an attempt to better our lives. This can also be applied to deciding how to react to the situations with the Native American population—it is a balance. We should do what we can to make the present and future better, to possibly make amends for what has been done in the past. We cannot forget about the past, and we cannot ignore the past, but we should make sure we are taking care of the Native American populations now, and address the issues that they are facing to make their lives better.
It's a fact that not enough people know that the land we live on every single day is land that was stolen, literally taken away, from Native Americans many years ago. Although many educated individuals are aware of this tragedy, many people have absolutely no idea of the genocide that we as Americans took place in many generations ago. Although we all have learned a lot more about it through sociology class, we all are stuck debating whether or not there is anything that we can do to make it better. I mean obviously there's no going back now–it's not like we can all just pack up and move to Europe out of respect for the Native Americans who once owned this land. But continuing to ignore that it happened is just outrageous. We need to accept the fact that it happened, and quit pretending like it's not our fault. Although it is not directly our fault as twenty-something year old college students, it was our fault as Americans, so acknowledging the fact that we did wrong many years ago is just about all we can do at this point to recognize the tragedy that once occurred on this land.
I think the goals should ultimately be equality for everyone– I understand the struggles black people have had with white people in this nation historically–and I understand that its the first set of people one thinks of when even beginning to think about race relations but I think thats exactly WHY we need to take courses in topics such as these to realize the struggles and racist tendencies that infiltrate America's schools, towns, and cities. Its not just about black and white. Although solving that problem would get us closer to the ultimate goal: equality for all.
I can see how she can feel this way, but I feel like black people and Native Americans' fight for equality is completely different. Native Americans had their land invaded and taken over, and black people were involuntarily brought here. Both people have been looked down upon throughout history, but at least now black people are being acknowledged and things are in the process of being equalized with whites. Native Americans are barely even thought about in the race discussion. Both should have gone through a lot and should be treated equally, but I don't feel like one group should feel bad for getting some things changed and fixed first. White America just recognized and chose to work with black people first.
We shouldn't feel obligated or bound by some invisible rule that tells us we can only choose one team to play on. If you're black, why would you only play on the black team? Why not the all encompassing minority team that includes blacks, Native Americans, hispanics, Asians, women and LGBTs among many many others?
First and foremost I do not believe we should feel bad in the sense that we take on the responsibility of our forefathers. However, we need to take to heart that many of our Native American friends are hurting (as well as others). For now, while in school you need to utilize the opportunities that have been given to you to their fullest extent. While doing so, respect all nationalities and all cultures. Once you have graduated and obtained your highly successful job, remember those in need of our help. What it all comes down to is that we make choices. You can choose to support the cause financially. You can choose to raise support for this cause through awareness. You can choose to use your knowledge to help others. You can volunteer your time. Of course, some may choose not to help at all. There are many ways to help once you are in a position to do so and when you are not in a position to do so, you do what you can do. Become the best person you can be morally, spiritually and try to put racial discrimination where it belongs … in the garbage can! Speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. This is how we honor memories of those who have suffered by, living our lives in the light of the atrocities that have occurred.
This goes for all people no mater where you are from, what color your skin is, or what your heritage is. We all need to learn a little respect for all cultures. Until we learn to respect all living creatures (something our Native American friends can give us lessons on) we will have discrimination of some kind. Hopefully, as the numbers of people are educated on such issues increase, discrimination will decrease. In time, with every passing generation this notion of supremacy will disappear? Or will it ever disappear?
Think about the number of people, for example, that are in our class. 300+? They have now been exposed to some of these issues and have a better grasp on reality. We will all go on, hopefully, in to our successful careers and settle down with children of our own. What will you teach them? Will you raise the next generation to be more compassionate to the issues of discrimination? My guess is that we all will. How many others has Sam taught? How many other schools offer courses similar to this? I believe there are many. Those MANY will raise a better generation of people, because that is what responsible parents do. I know my parents wanted life to be better for me than it was for them. They made sacrifices in order to give me better opportunities they did not have.
I may be confused but it seemed in class that this was a nation wide issue. Between the Native Americans and other landowners in the United States. Not Native Americans, white people and black people. I think what this girl meant to say is that she is in a dilemma deciding whether or not to side with Native Americans or white people because she is African American. As we learned in class African American meaning that she can trace her ancestry to slavery. Which would mean her ancestors were brought to the United States of American by force and they would not have lived on Native American land by choice. I think this is an understandable conflict for an African American person to be in, but I also think it may be a more complicated situation than she makes it seem. The people that have moved onto red land are not just white people. Though it is a predominately white population in the United States. Brown people that live in the United States most likely came here by free will, so this is something else that this woman could think about in settling her dilemma. I am not really sure what a good solution would be to settle this problem between Americans and Native Americans. I don’t think that there will ever be a complete solution because this pain runs so deep and the devastation so drastic. But like Sam said in class, the direction that we need to go in is to first recognize the damage that has been done. With Obama as president I feel like he could be the man that finally throws this issue into the spotlight and keep it there. He also has many other things to worry about like the war and the economy. But I think it is huge to take care of these people who we have taken their land from them. As a child I always wanted to learn more about Native Americans and their culture and I still love everything I have learned. It really makes me sad to see the videos that Sam has showed in race relations class. Showing what the United States of America has pushed these impressive people in to. As awful as sports teams named after Native Americans are in mocking their sacred traditions. I think that they are so cool as sports team names there cultures are much more detailed then the secular cultures that we live in today. But back to the woman from class, I think that it is great she is taking initiave to try to solve these problems, as many of us should do. I think I need to get involved especially because of my interest in Native American culture.
I understand where this girl is coming from, it's hard to assume responsibility for something that was so long ago that you weren't involved in. But I think that if eventually white and black and all different colors of people are going to be on the same level we need to all understand our pasts and differences. Yes, the genocide against native americans was an awful thing but none of our generation was involved in it. So I think what the woman in the video is asking is how we can assume responsibility and move past it even though we aren't directly connected to the genocide against native americans.
I, as a white person, find myself to be totally not biased when it comes to race. I have many friends of many different races and I don't think that I discriminate against any other types of people. But I know and I recognize that my ancestors may have been slave owners. My ancestors might have been the ones that drove the native americans out of their land. Does that mean that I should assume responsibility? I wasn't around then, and if I had been, I doubt that I would have been a part of the genocide. I think that we, as a people, need to acknowledge that the genocide happened. That's the biggest problem with native americans trying to incorporate themselves into society today. I'll admit that before this sociology class I had no idea about the extent of this genocide. I may have even been in denial. Growing up I was taught that Chris Columbus discovered the new world and learned to work WITH the "indians" that were there. Although I knew that wasn't the whole story, it seemed like the American education system was trying to ignore the genocide of native americans and pretend like it never happened, even though Sam has repeatedly mentioned that it was the most extensive genocide in history. It seems like all of America is trying to ignore it.
If we are all ever going to move on and make living better for native americans who are still living in tribes, we need to acknowledge this tragedy. We need to know that it happened, and make programs or take governmental strides to make sure that living conditions become safer and better for native americans all over the united states. The videos in this class really made me emotional and were almost even hard to watch. Their lives are so much worse than anyone I know, and the extent of their poverty is unbelievable.
Coming back to the main point, and to the girl in this video's question, I think that although black people who have descended from slaves may have not been directly involved in the genocide (just as I wasn't), we all need to work together to bring attention to this problem and move past it.
After watching this video, I can understand this student’s point of view. I agree with her in the fact that if black people are trying to work up to this given ideal white standard, what happens to the native Americans that have struggled with how much they have done. I mean, I think this issue is an issue within itself. No matter how hard a racial group tries to lead themselves in a white predominant society, there will always be the constant need for other groups that have struggled to work up to that standard. I think that’s just how society is, and that its growth should talk within itself.
That’s definitely a very difficult circumstance to be in. I feel as though all non-whites probably have a similar issue. Should we be trying to become equal with the white person, and all the while still allow the native American to stay at the bottom, what do we do to help ourselves without stepping on the hardships and almost aggravating the situation with native Americans? I think maybe in some ways it’s in all of us to help all non-whites rise to equality not just ourselves. We do have the power to do so, there are so many things we could be doing for native Americans and other groups like them. It’s just, are we willing to do these things?
I completely agree that it seems as though you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. When does the guilt stop? Can it stop? Are you a bad person if you don't feel guilty for something that happened so long ago? Obviously not enough people feel any way about it considering that the Native Americans are the poorest, with the highest alcoholism and suicide rate. It is such a shame for these people. But feeling bad can't do anything unless some type of action arises. That action needs to be a movement across the nation, to at least bring about awareness.
Well, I can't tell you how you should feel about it. But I can tell you how I feel. First of all, equality will never exist. I don't understand why people think that would be the ideal world. I don't even understand why people strive to be equal in the United States of America. We live in a capitalist society! The whole principle is that someone will be on the top and someone will always be on the bottom. Being African-American (according to Sam's definition) myself, I belong in a race that is technically on the bottom. And I've seen first hand how disadvantaged many black /African-American communities are. But it's not as though I'm living a life trying to "catch up to the white man" and be "equal" with him. Actually, that thought kind of cracks me up, because that kind of lifestyle is meaningless. But this is more than a black and white issue. You focused on the fact that you didn't want to step on the memory, struggle, and trials of the American Indians. I think that acknowledging the history, the facts, the reality of what has happened in America is the first step to reconciling this problem. Second, is realizing that the people who are on top are not necessarily deserving of the place and status that they have. Like Sam illustrated, it was a matter of who got on top of the mountain first and then they change the the rules to the game so that no one else can get on top. But by some chance somethings causes the stability of the person (people) on top of the mountain to shift, then there is a new reality. That is the third thing I think many people should realize is that at any time the people one top can be on the bottom and the people on the bottom can come to the top. All things can change. For me that offers hope that maybe the American Indian people may not always be the most disadvantaged race of people in the United States.Still, I hold out hope that maybe one day anyone who is not as privileged as the white man in America would not want to enter into the rat race for scrounging up stolen jewels. A friend of mine gave an analogy of a robber and stolen jewels to try and conceptualize the idea of people separating and owning stolen red land. Although the jewels still have value, the way that the jewels were obtained should cause a person with a heart to devalue and maybe even rebel against the improper way that the jewels were taken. Now ideally, I'd like to think that the jewels would be returned but that's not the society that we live in either.
I don't see the use of feeling bad or guilty for something that was done generations ago. Of course it was wrong and very inhumane but the fact that many people know about America's injustice to Native Americans and are not doing anything about it is what gets me.
When I first came to this country I did not know that I stood on stole grounds and the people who first owned it were the ones least thought of. I remember being told that Columbus "found" this country by my 3rd grade teacher. As an immigrant and a young person, I believed her and since it was written in the textbooks, I thought it was the truth. I am sure my teacher knew that a small detail was missing; that Columbus and his crew stripped this land from Native Americans and deemed it as theirs when in all actuality, it isn’t. But we were not told that. We were being taught to live this lie that America has been trying to live for so long. This lie that is has been trying to hide from society but it still lingers. These lies that make everyone question the legitimacy of America's foundation. Even to this day, children are being taught that Columbus found this land and spend a whole week to prepare this great holiday, "Columbus Day" by writing book reports, coloring cut-outs of Columbus and giving praise to the man like he did something great! Schools neglect to teach about Native Americans, period. I never knew that there were over a 100 plus tribes living in restricted areas until this year. And that to me is a shame. Before this I only knew about 3, Cherokee, Sequoia, and Apache.
Why isn't there material about Native American in our history books? And why are these people being confined to live in reservations. Are they not humans to live with the rest of civilization for them to be hidden as if they were people who carried diseases? I think the shame America has and not wanting to admit its wrong doing is what the problem is. Because we all know what happen back than but yet nothing is being done to change this factor. Sure missionaries, and some organizations go to reservations to provide some type of aid for these people but that shouldn't be the case. They deserve as much freedom to live anywhere they want rather than in reservation camps. My family migrated here from another country and has chances of bettering our lives than the ORIGINAL people of this land. That is unjust! Utterly evilness but as much as we talk about it and debate about the unfairness, Nothing gets done to take these people out of bondage. They are still trapped in their camps as if they are being alienated. So much for equality!
As far as African Americans feelings towards their mistreatment; If Native Americans, the ones who actually belong here, are not being treated equally, what makes You think you deserve it or will get it? This world will never accomplish equality. There will always be discrimination. If it is not racial, it turn to economical, it not that weight, than gender, that height and so on. I believe the pursuit of happiness thought of in the constitution was gibberish. Another way to make people think their hard work and struggle is getting them somewhere until they realize they accumulate more problems. That’s life and we all got to live it one way or the other.
At this point in the present history, it does not really matter how a person, white or black will feel about the Native American situation. There needs to be a change though. It is just not right the way they were treated. This is their land, the land that you, me and everyone else is living on belongs to the Native Americans. Feeling good or bad about them is a moot point. The thing is, you have to feel guilty about their situation. Even if you are an immigrant that recently came here and live here, chances are, you are better off than most of the Native Americans. What needs to happen is that there should be a Native tax that needs to occur. A percentage of the property tax should go towards the Native Americans, because chances are, if you own property, it was wrongfully taken away from the Native Americans.
watching this video I see and sort of understand how she feels but as a white person I kind of do not. How can someone say she wants equality when she herself will not let up on the feelings of animosity and a history of not being equal? Gaining equality for one racial group will help another’s gain the confidence, footing, and the push for equality as well. We should all be equal and it is nice to think that we are but we need to quit the bullshit because if we were then this class would not be taught at a university and the world would not be dealing with this issue.
Also, I understand not wanting to forget and no one is asking her too but you have to be willing to except what has happened and move on so a generation can become one. If everyone lives in the mistakes or the history of our ancestors then we cannot move on. It is that simple. I understand that because I am Jewish and both of my grandparent were in and survived the holocaust. MY grandmother 7 brothers and sister were murdered, her parents, her relatives, her husband- all murdered she was the only survivor of her family. She made it through Auschwitz, which in it self is remarkable but she was alone in the world. As a Jew I feel as though I am a minority- no one sees it like that but I do. I feel as though my people have been persecuted, murdered, enslaved, marched to their death. They were persecuted for being Jewish, if that is not similar then I do not know what is. I can never forget what has happened to my grandparents and their families the pain and suffering they went through because if I did their memory would be inferior and be forgotten but I must except that I need to move past the mistakes of Nazi Germany and the people that would not help "my people." and I have some of my best friends are German and their great grandparent and grandparents may have been tied to Nazi Germany but if I did not then I would not know some of the greatest people in my life. And I would be closed minded to the world and not see the big picture. If I did not there would still be "me" and "you", "them" and "us." I think the girl in the video not forgetting but choosing to take a step towards "us" "our" "we" etc.
I really do not understand how she would be stepping on the memory of the Native Americans if she tries achieving the goal of equality between whites and blacks because it is all a step in the direction where society needs to go. If we start by getting blacks and whites equal then we can work on getting Native Americans and other races equal. I never really understood the struggle of inequalities before this class. I mean I did but not fully.
I’m having a hard time understanding the second part of her question, I understand that she wants to strive for equality between her race and others but how to Native Americans come into play?
I am sure the experiences of the non-white community are much different than my own, but I think we can all agree that equality is a struggle we all participate in and strive for. There are many types of struggle and racial struggle is probably one of the hardest to overcome right behind economic. I could understand if the second half of her question was that she felt guilty that current Native Americans have not been brought up with her on the equality scale, but it seems like she is saying that she is guilty for their past struggle (during colonization). And that somehow her striving for equality is stepping on the memory those Native Americans that lost their land and lives to colonial warfare.
I have been reading a lot of the comments to this question and most people are stuck on the idea that the land was stolen from people that we can touch and make amends to today in our time. Which seems very strange, I can understand wanting to institute programs to get the children of Native Americans out of poverty. Going to a reservation casino instead of a private casino to support Native Americans, to impact the lives of those currently living; but not putting more burden on an already difficult race relations issue such as equality. It sounds like people are taking too much burden for things that happened in this country before many of them even immigrated here.
I think that people who think like this girl and who are “confused” about how to feel about wanting share an alliance with white people, but they can’t just forget about the past is ridiculous. It’s not like white people are thinking to themselves, “Maybe I shouldn’t be nice to black people because my ancestors used to have slaves and I would be disrespecting them.” So why do people of color feel the need to be stuck in history and not make an effort to see how far white people have come since slavery? I do not think it is fair that people of color hold a grudge against white people for what has happened in history. It is not like we can go back in time and change what happened. We have abolished slavery, we have made a person of color our president, what more can we do to prove to people of color that we are more than accepting and treat them with respect for who they are. If people don’t move on and think the same way as this girl does, then we will always be stuck in the same place and nothing will be able to change because of the way people remember how whites USED to be.