How Can We Ever “Win”?

posted by Sam Richards

These are great questions. Let me be clear about what I was trying to say so as to make sure that you respond to what is cool about the questions — because they’re great questions.

As to the LLBean photos, at issue is that if you’re in the Immersion Stage as a person of color, then those people of color in the LLBean catalog are “questionable” people of color. In other words, you’re going to feel some kind of way about the ways in which they’re blending into the “majority society” (i.e., white society). And you’re going to critique them by saying things like, “They’ve been whitewashed” or “They’re acting white,” etc. In essence, you’re going to laugh at THAT depiction of blackness or brownness. If you don’t think that when viewing these photos, then you’re likely not in the Immersion stage.

As to Jesse Jackson, returning to one’s roots is simply indicative of the “Pseudo Communitarian” stage. If you feel no special pull toward your own roots and instead choose to follow any path that is calling to you, then it’s an indication that perhaps you’ve moved on to the Humanitarian stage.


  • oliviak says:

    In response to the LL.Bean discussion, I feel as though Sam's comment about the black people in the photos acting in comparison to "white people", was one that was questionable. I mean what does he mean that that the black people were "acting white". What does it actually mean to "Act white?" I don't think that the black people were "acting white" I think they were acting more American than anything. I mean that's what they are Americans, as all of the people in the LL.Bean ads. LL.Bean depicts the American lifestyle, not the "white lifestyle" the only people who see the ads or interpret the ads as an issue of race are people who are enveloped in race issues, which kind of explains why Sam brought it up the issue of the black people "acting white". But someone looking from my perspective, just sees another American family. What? black people can't have a dog and play near lakes and wear dockers? Are those just aspects of life that are solely designated to white people? I mean come on, that was kind of silly. I think that for Sam to assume that the black people in the LL.Bean ad were acting out of character and acting white, is only showing his ignorance to black society. I mean if that where we belong and that we have no place in the woods or around lakes, where should we be placed? Would he feel more comfortable, or feel as though the black people would look better in an urban ad, with baggy clothes and guns and on the streets? I think the whole discussion has stereotypical undertones, that made me question Sam as not only a professor and sociologist, but as a person.

    With the discussion Jesse Jackson, I feel that was one of irrelevance. Jesse Jackson is for the "black and brown" people. he speaks up for them and their perils they face everyday. and on the point of him 'returning to his roots" how can return to what he has always been at and been for. He might have branched off to help other causes, but his main focus is on the "black and brown" people in the world. he is for us because we have been the oppressed peoples in American society. I mean he does tend to the aid of other oppressed people but he is most revered and known for coming to the aid and speaking up for the "black and brown" people. I feel Jesse Jackson "returns to his roots" in the words of Sam, because he has been dedicated to helping uplift a people, and black people in particular. There is nothing wrong with that when black people have been down trodden for all of these years.

  • lab5100 says:

    I think Sam already answered these questions pretty well with his little caveat at the beginning of this post. I think the point is that everyone is in different stages, and can be in different stages.
    Jesse Jackson cannot be considered in the humanitarian stage, because he still directs much of his energy specifically to black and brown people. He doesn’t just fight for social justice, he fights for social justice for black and brown people. There is nothing wrong with that, but it places him in the pseudo-communitarian phase rather than the humanitarian.
    When colored people see those images in LL Bean they may think they don’t properly represent their race. But they will also get mad if they are not represented at all. And in that case, should LL Bean start manufacturing clothing that properly represents all people? I would argue no. That is why there are many clothing brands. And some people of color may like LL Bean.
    I think remaining in the immersion stage is harmful to race relations. We can’t fight for racial equity while at the same time remaining in this stage. It would be hypocritical to say you want to be recognized, appreciated, and understood but you don’t want to understand and associate with people who are not like you.
    So to the real question, how can be win? Is humanitarianism the prize? Is that the stage we should all be in? My discussion group this week came to an awesome conclusion about the period conversation that related to race. Basically, we felt that by discussing periods, Sam, intentionally or not, reformed his “teams.” No longer were we the white team, the black team, and the brown team; we were the female team and the male team. In our discussion group, when the conversation arose, it was the women that expressed our opinions, experiences, and feelings about how men should talk about “our” issue. When the men tried to join in, they were attacked. We realized that this is often how the race conversations go, except the females would be the people of color and the males would be the whites. As women, we want the men to understand our issue, feel bad for us, say the right things, do the right things etc. The men try to, but they are attacked for it.
    The women, or people of color, cannot get angry or upset if the other team does not understand, says the wrong thing, etc. We all have to be willing to be patient and talk about it. I think many times men joke that they can never win with women. And quite possibly, the same thing happens with race relations. I think the goal should be humanitarianism. A place where we do not all have to be the same, but we can all be equal and open.

  • jenw11 says:

    I wasn’t offended by the L.L. Bean pictures. I have seen people of all colors dressing in a preppy way. I am very confused by the whole acting white idea. In my weekly group meeting with talked about that a lot. It must be difficult to be in that position. The girls in my discussion group talked about how people would call them “white” in a negative way. They said they felt they must act a certain way around her family a home. Although I can identify censoring myself around my parents, it was an idea I had never considered. The girls mentioned how they sometimes feared going home because if they spoke in a seemingly educated way made them snooty or less a part of their community. I just feel that there are so many lines within each community. It is crazy that people like to abide by certain stereotypes within each race. I feel this lecture opened my eyes to a completely different spectrum of the entire race phenomenon. It seems society tells people they can be whatever the want and achieve whatever they want, at least in America. But, conflicting ideologies present a different idea. It seems that people may be whatever they want within certain defined boxes. You may go to college and receive an education, but you must not become too white or too educated. Isn’t the whole idea of college to be exposed to different cultural idea and different people. More over, isn’t it encouraged to see different areas of the world? To gain a world view? Maybe this is just my idea of college and the education system. I truly do not know. All I know it very much confuses me. It is something I do not know if I will ever understand, but I am glad I am more aware of now. It makes me understand that people are not just up against a struggle against people of different races, but a struggle within their own. White people have the same issues, but it was something I had never considered. I know when I go home I need to talk in a certain way, as not to be offensive. I always considered this a form of respect. Now that I am revaluating this, I feel maybe I have been conditioned to act in a certain way by others that really isn’t me. I suppose it is just a product or growing up and probably of this class, but I really feel I may not be able to have certain conversations or broach certain topics with people from home because they just would not understand where I was coming from. Despite all this, I want to say I enjoyed this class and really feel I am gaining an insight into how complicated race really is.

  • ItsKingCole says:

    For the LL Bean topic, you shouldn't feel offended unless you don't understand anything. Sam initially stated that he cannot teach this course full of 700 people and expect to NOT offend somebody. He put all disclaimers out there beforehand. The LL Bean issue just shed's light on one aspect of a person's culture. Sure the majority of African Americans aren't seen wearing dockers or playing with dogs or display a "bujii" attitude, but you have to realize that SOME do. Its just a generalization of what people do in general. There is not "acting black" or "acting white" because there isn't a ground rule that says so; its all based on opinion.
    I agree with the response above me when Sam mentions Jessie Jackson. There was no point in mentioning a civil activist's name if this issue touches no were NEAR the intensity of what Jessie Jackson used to do as a career. Sam just blurts out random things to get people to wake up in class and actually pay attention. Nobody lingered on the "period" issue because periods have nothing to do with social injustice. Periods are not even on the same level as women's rights, its just a biological process in females. Same thing applies here when he speaks about "acting white or black" its just a stereotype. Humans can do whatever they want or feel.

  • beachbum says:

    For this blog I was a little bit confused by the posted video. I was not quite sure what the student meant when she asked if we can ever “win”. First of all by the girl asking if “we” can win, I am assuming she meant black and brown people since she is that race. By this question, what is she trying to “win”? Win blending into white society? Win individuality? Regardless of what was implied or meant by this question, it is for sure that people will have issues with anything that is the least bit controversial. By using the word “controversial” I am not claiming that black people in the LLBean catalog is controversial, but that some people just look for something to be offended by and jump to accusations and conclusions. Why can’t black people wear LLBean without there being uproar? It is just another stereotype out there. A stereotype that black people dress “ghetto” and not preppy, like in the catalog.

    When Sam first pointed out the catalog, I immediately thought of the 90s sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Carlton’s character. Carlton is a black character that dresses very preppy and not “ghetto” like his cousin Will. He constantly gets made fun of for his choice of clothing. This is because of the stereotype. There is no reason why a race should have a certain way they are supposed to dress. The black models in the catalog should not be considered “questionable” people of color. That is absolutely ridiculous.

    People are commenting negatively on LLBean for having black models in their catalogs since the brand name is traditionally a white magazine and company. If the company did not have black models in the catalog, I am sure that people would be commenting on that fact, claiming that the catalog is being racist for not including black people in the catalog. This might be where the student’s question of a “win” came from. By “win”, it could mean pleasing everybody, which is obviously impossible. There are so many opinions and thoughts out there that somebody will always be offended.

    Personally, I did not think twice when Sam first showed the catalog. I didn’t realize that the black people were “out of character” or “questionably” black for being in there. I am not sure what “stage” that puts me in, but I am sure that there are many people in class that had the same reaction as I did. I can understand why this student was particularly offended by the topic in class. She is a black girl being told how she should not dress. I do not mean that Sam is implying the stereotype, but he also mentioned how he never sees black people wear shorts, another generalization. If Sam mentioned that all white girls crave designer clothing, I would be offended because that is not me at all. You cannot generalize and group a race together as a whole, because everyone is so completely different, regardless of skin color.

  • How can we ever win? This is a very complicated question. First of all I think that we as black people have to determine what “winning” actually means. I’m sure this definition cannot cover everything but I would define winning as black feeling like they are assimilated into society (mainly white society) without losing our customs such as language, clothing, food, etc. I think this is a hard act to juggle because of a lot of reasons.
    First being that society often stereotypes black people into a small box. Black people are expected to wear baggy jeans, hair extensions, and talk slang. So it can be weird for those of us that are black or any other race to look at an L.L. Bean and see black people with sweaters tied around their necks and playing golf because we usually don’t see black people doing this.

  • Secondly we as black people put the stereotype into ourselves. At least once a week I always overhear a conversation about a black person acting white which means a black person being accused by another black person of doing something outside of the cultural norms. Like wearing L.L. Bean or skateboarding. And this kind of thinking makes me angry. Because on one hand I feel like black people don’t want to be stereotyped so they do all of these things to assimilate into white society like the money, living in the suburbs and such. But it is also a taboo subject in the black community of becoming too white. Like pronouncing words completely or dating a white girl. It’s like people get made at the stereotyped but when you don’t fit into the stereotype you are screwed too.

  • jaredletorocks says:

    I think that one day black people will be able to “win”. However, I think that this will take a lot of work from both black people and white America. First of all, black people should feel comfortable in their skin and shouldn’t think about the stereotypes they need to fit into or not fit into. I think that black parents should make an effort to expose their children to aspect outside of the black community like different foods, clothing, and cultures. Then if the kids want to they can engulf black culture to the full but if they want to get involved in another culture it wouldn’t be as weird or new to them because they were exposed to it when they were younger.

  • I also think that the media should do a better coverage of showing black people in different lights. Such as where are all the black skateboarders or hockey players? I know they have to be out there somewhere or if not then I know that there has to be black kids that are interested in playing but they might be too afraid to speak up because it is considered outside of the norm for a black person to play/be interested in such things. I think all in all we need to create a more culture exposing society so that black people don't feel boxed in and so that we don’t box them in ourselves.

  • BThomas8 says:

    This may be negative but I do not think anyone in our lifetime can ever win what this girl is saying. Personally I just do not care. So have I won? People said Sam is past it. So has he won? Even if you think you have one and you are past it, the people around you are not past. The fact that Sam talks and people are offended proves that no one has won. The only way anyone could win is if they could walk in the classroom and could say the LLbean stuff and no one in the classroom would be offended. I do not think someone “winning” is not just about racism. So many people are offended by so many little stupid things that it makes it even harder for anyone to actually “win”. I am a big fan of student “ilovesoc” saying “If it were up to me, I think it would be ideal for everyone to be in the Humanitarian stage. That way people do not see color, they just see people.” Give me a break. Of course that would be ideal but I do not think Sam is challenging us to turn America into Candyland. He wants us to adjust. The fact that some people think like that blows my mind. You can only change yourself and that is where you can decide for yourself whether you won or not. But of course no one wants to admit they lost. No one will admit to be racist and need improvement. So not only are you lying to your friends and society about how you feel, but you are also lying to yourself. That may sound gay (and do not be offended by that) but it is what it is. To get back to the LLBean, why did we only talk about black people dressing like white people. What about all the suburban white kids who dress like black guys? I think more white people try to dress like black people than the other way around. It is stupid things like this I am talking about that people should not get offended by. How about people dress however they want. White people can wear oversized shirts and black people can wear polos and khakis and why not, let Asians wear their hats backwards for all I care. After reading a few more posts, a lot of you need to not take what Sam says so literally. I think most Sam’s jokes goes over some peoples’ heads because you are so worried about every single little thing in class to be a mind blowing experience. Yes Sam wants to “rock” his lecture but do not take everything he says so literally. And when Sam said black people would not be by the lake because they can’t swim

  • nnm5029 says:

    I did not feel the LL Bean photos were meant to offend people or make us think something of what black people should not be. I do agree with what you mean about “winning.” It seems like people of color are always making a sacrifice or some how selling out when they make certain decisions. I feel that some people are never going to make everyone happy and leave people content with what is happening. It may have seemed like the photos were meant to make us laugh, but I feel that they were there to provoke a reaction that would show us where we stand in the spectrum of the Stages.

  • JBR5079 says:

    I also had an issue with the LL Bean catalog. I hardly saw any point to it. I know plenty black people who dress like the black people int he LL Bean catalog. I don't think the way you dress, in any way, determines whether you're "black enough" or "white enough". And also, you have to think of LL Bean from a business stand point. In order to sell to a wider range of races, they needed to be presented in the ads. LL Bean cannot just create a "black person" clothing line, and if they did, what would that consist of? Baggy jeans and oversized tee-shirts for black men? If that's not stereotypical, then I don't know what is. I guess then to clarify my point, I'm saying that not all black people dress in the way that black people are thought to be dressed, and not all white people dress like what's perceived in the LL Bean catalog, and more specifically, certain styles of clothing are not "limited" to certain races, which I believe is apparent.
    Also, when she asks the question whether we could ever win or not, and what the point of the class is, I believe that's what the class actually is. It's meant to ask questions, and if there was an answer to the question, then this class wouldn't exist at all. In my discussion group, we talked about why we bring these topics up in the first place, because the controversy is still going to exist. I believe it's because it's important to talk about the issues and realize they exist, and realize what YOU can do on an individual level to solve the issues, although this may not solve the issue on a universal scale. One to change and acknowledge is one start. And to think about these issues and realize they exist is the first step in solving problems. It's not about winning in society, it's about realizing how you as a person can change. It's about thinking. That's the point of the class.

  • Although I love the flip-cams and the questions we get from them, the one thing that drives me crazy is that, in their rush to get their questions out, people often don't have enough time to explain all their points. I would be really curious to hear just what it was that Sam said about the LL Bean catalog that offended this student.

    The first idea that pops into my mind is that perhaps she didn't understand that Sam was not expressing his own thoughts when he said that the black people in the magazine might be seen as "less black" or "not really black." Sam was using the LL Bean catalog as (a rather humorous) example of what sort of thinking a black or brown person might engage in if they were in the immersion stage. This stage of thinking is characterized by embracing one's own culture to the point of rejecting other cultures, thus, it's logical to conclude that a black or brown person in this stage might be offended if they see LL Bean (a stereotypical staple of white culture) getting black people to wear their product, thus "stripping them of their cultural heritage." People of color who "buy into" white cultural norms might be seen as being less legitimate or less informed by people in the immersion stage.

    I think it's pretty clear Sam was not saying that he thought there was anything wrong with the catalog, I think he was saying that people of color in the immersion stage might. He was trying to use the catalog as a fun example for us, just as he previously used the "black people love us" and "things white people like" websites to show us how white people in the revisioning stage might make fun of other white people who they saw as being less informed.

    As for the question of "winning"–I think it's great that you raised this because I think a lot of people in class have been asking this in different ways. What you have to keep in mind is that this is, at the end of the day, just another class. I know there are a lot of "therapy" components to the class (discussion groups, etc.), but the truth is there's no 'right' path for Sam to point us down. If you take a physics class, you learn the principles of physics. You learn about gravity and friction and acceleration. But no one turns to the professor on the last day of class and says, "Okay, but what do I do with this? How do I 'win' physics?" This class is the same way; we're just learning the principles of race relations. I know it's easy, particularly in a class as riveting and as relevant as this one, to start thinking that there's got to be some key to solving all these issues, and that we can succeed if we all just have someone to tell us what to do.

    That's not to say, of course, that we shouldn't take anything from this class, or that we shouldn't try to take what we learn here back into our everyday lives. Because while there's no way to "win" at physics, if you know the principles and how to apply them, and have some idea of what you want to do with them, you can engineer a great many things.

  • There is no way to win in the current system. I feel like the only way we could ever win is to somehow do what that really awesome kid in class said about the turtles. If we could find a way to "reset" the world and just let everyone start on their own all blended into one color, then, finally, someone can win. By getting everyone back to square one, the playing field will be leveled. Perhaps we need a Noah's Ark style flood to wipe out the world so we can start over and do things the way they always should have been done. So let's create a time capsule full of all the revelations and realizations we've had within the time period of modern history and put it on a boat and flood the freakin' world.

    spf5027 Reply:

    No one will ever return to square one for an even playing field to exist. This idea is simply just a fantasy of yours. You have to come to the realization that your idea will never happen. People are too happy with the way the world exists. People will not give up what they have just because they feel remorseful towards those who don’t have as much as the wealthy do. This is pretty much communism. This is one of the principal forms. I’m sure you would be interested in the redistribution of wealth too? That would destroy peoples lives.

    spf5027 Reply:

    No one will ever return to square one for an even playing field to exist. This idea is simply just a fantasy of yours. You have to come to the realization that your idea will never happen. People are too happy with the way the world exists. People will not give up what they have just because they feel remorseful towards those who don’t have as much as the wealthy do. This is pretty much communism. This is one of the principal forms. I’m sure you would be interested in the redistribution of wealth too? That would destroy peoples lives.

  • magicsadat says:

    This is a very interesting question/comment. I understand why some people take offense in a lot of the things that Sam says or talks about in the class. But in the end, like Sam said, if you still take offense in anything that he says, then that means that you still haven't gone past all the stages. I believe that you "win" when you can listen to stuff, even the most extreme stuff about things, and not be offended by it – I believe that that is what Sam is trying to teach us. He is trying to get us to get past all the stages. I, personally, enjoy his class a lot and take no offense in anything that he says. Sure, his ways can be a little awkward and can catch people off guard sometimes, but I'm very sure that Sam knows exactly what he is talking about. So basically, if you still take offense in anything that he says, then you're definitely not past all the stages yet. I believe that it is absolutely wrong to stereotype people, or a certain race, because everyone is not the same. It's wrong to label people of a certain race with certain things, like their clothing or profession etc. The picture he showed of a black guy wearing a coat and jeans was very interesting, because it brought up a whole lot of different reactions from everyone. I heard a lot of people that the picture was "wrong", because black people don't dress like that – I found those comments to be the most shocking (and funny). This is one more instance where people stereotyped a certain race, or a person of that certain race, because really, anyone can wear anything they want, and I've seen people wear totally opposite type of clothing than what their stereotypes are supposed to wear. Also, as shown on the screen, when you type "beauty" in google, you get a whole lot of pictures of white women, which is again a stereotype, that beauty is associated with white people. But in truth, some of the most beautiful women I've ever seen are women of color. People just have to stop seeing other people as members of a certain race etc, and start seeing each and every person as an individual. And also, people have to start getting over things that others say that offend them, the girl in the video asked us when we win, I believe that we win when we can talk about anything and everything without having to fear the consequences or when we can learn to move on and get past all the stages that Sam talked about.

  • JRBonez says:

    So first off I guess is the LLBean catalog. I guess I’m speaking to those people in the immersion stage or people who find such a sight wrong. By wrong I mean, people starting saying they “sold out” or they went to the white side, or they’re traitors and what not. First of all grow up, they are wearing clothes, like how ignorant can you be for people trying to dress how they see fit. Then at the same time what are we suppose to dress like. Is there some sort of standard for each “race” to follow that they must wear? Last time I checked we could wear whatever we want. So in essence these people or you people must define clothing to define a person or race. If that’s the case would you feel comfortable walking around naked outside so that there is no discrepancy on what is “white” clothing attire? Next is to analyze how such thoughts actually prevent or retard the process of race equality. So people of color want white people to accept them or give them fair advantage. First of all there is no such thing as fair advantage, as we discussed in class, the idea of nepotism. Any who that is besides the fact, so people of color want equality and I’m pretty sure white people do too. Here comes the uproar, how you know white people want equality too, where’s the proof? Hello, why do you think they added people of color into the magazine into the first place? It may not seem like a lot for colored people due to the years of stress people of color have gone through, but keeping that grudge up front causes problems. The fact is that most white people are moving forward equality for the most part. It just can’t be interpreted as helpful for that they are baby steps. So the inclusion of people of color in magazines for predominantly white clothing lines is a small step but it’s a step forward nonetheless. Sometimes pride for who you are gets in the way of seeing the little progress that is being made. I’m definitely not saying pride for who you are is wrong but letting it blind you is what’s wrong. So complaining about magazines such as LLBean only prevents the foot from moving forward for some sort of equality. The thing is to see the progress for what it is. Once you do that then you can make the progress into something more fitting but at the same time you must keep the step that has been made in mind. To criticize that step only halts progress and make white people confused and sacred for even trying to make a step in the first place. Also if you think I’m saying to just accept the step and leave it as is, I’m not saying that. I’m saying to accept the step, analyze it a positive manner, make a comprise, and move forward. If you look closely the word criticize (in a negative way) is not in those steps.

  • As far as the LL Bean catalog I'm used to seeing black models having more and more characteristics or looks that compare to those of white people. This way the quota is met for including black people in the industry while staying close to the ideals and looks of white folks. Most black models today driven from keeping their voluptuous body frames because the "fashion industry" is not fully welcoming to that type of look. Instead they have to walk around skinny or figureless just so they can pose for a ad that is meant to mostly catch the eyes of whites anyways. Looking at the catalog in class confirms my opinion about the marketing of the fashion industry. Those people where characterized to be black on a regular basis, no black family interacts in such manner or even own a pair of dockers. They people in the ad looked mixed not fully black.
    I also was confused about the whole Jesse Jackson piece. Sam commends him for being the only politician white or black to hold a gathering at the Appalachian but then criticizes him for returning back to his "roots". Well Same where do you want him to go? Just because he befriends people of a different race does not mean he has to become them. No matter who he associates himself with, he will always be more connected and comfortable with black people. Thats whats in his blood he cant change that. If a time of segregation was to come , he would be placed with the black people. The won't make him an exception and the blacks sure would not want him for selling out on them. I don't see what is wrong with him going back. Thats like saying I cant keep my friends from back home now that I've branched out to my new friends here at school. Its like out of sight out of mind and that is ridiculous.
    I find myself questioning some Sam's views each day I attend class. It seems like some of his theories contradict or his examples are just confusing. Either way its like all the materials do not come to together to make any sense but I guess that how this whole race situation is seen. I mean who's to say that this what all these things mean. I think people should just live their lives and mind their business. We keep poking ourselves into situations that are not necessary and find more and more confusion. Most people "ooo and ahh" during class but once 5"30 arrives, the go right back to daily way of living life forgetting all that they just heard. The class only opens mind fro that short period of time and once the semester is over, only few will retain and actually apply the mechanisms taught.

  • Lia_1031 says:

    I do not think that you are necessarily in the immersion stage when you look at those photos and say, “they’re not black because black people don’t dress that way.” I think that most people are just responding to the stereotypes that have been put forth, and to what people around them believe about how a black people should act or dress. I know people who do respond that way who are in the immersion stage, but I also know people who are not in the immersion stage who would also respond that way. If everyone around you is telling you one thing you are more likely to began to believe it.

  • I think what the girl meant by how we “win” is at what point is a race relations class no longer needed. I think the answer is when we as a society have eliminated racism in all forms. Furthermore, when people stop stereotyping each other and feel equally comfortable with people of all races.
    On an individual level, I think I’ll have “won” when I don’t stereotype anyone or make assumptions based on skin color. I think if I can appreciate my whiteness and also appreciate other culture then I have won.
    As a society I don’t think we are going to “win” in any of our lifetimes. Racism is simply too deeply rooted to be 100% exterminated. That said, I think we can get pretty close to winning, say 95% of the way there, within the next few generations. I think as more and more people begin to marry outside their race and fewer and fewer people are 100% white or 100% black that will also force us to be less racist.
    As far as the LL Bean catalog, I think people need to chill out about that. Sam was simply showing that some people look down on members of their own race, who in their opinions, don’t act like there race. Examples include black people who get annoyed when other black people “talk white” or white people who hate wiggers. I think when people feel comfortable with their own race, talking about race with others then they too, have won.
    The first step towards winning is education. You have to be aware of the problem to be able to fix it. I think race relations classes should be taught in high school so that everyone can really have their minds opened at early age. I do however, she a problem arising if there aren’t enough crazy teachers like Sam who can actually teach this stuff in an unbiased way.
    Furthermore, we as a society just need to simply talk about race more, like we do in our weekly discussion groups. Personally, I have really enjoyed the experience and know that people can really learn a lot and grow a lot as people by talking about race among a group of people who are very diverse.
    In conclusion, I feel as though racism isn’t going to go away anytime soon. However, we have made some great strides in the past 100 years, heck a black man is President after all. I think we as a society just need to stay committed to equality and judging people by the content of their character. If we do that, the rest will take care of itself.

  • KBlakeney says:

    In our given society I do feel that it is designed so that people of color cannot "win". And what I mean by that is, that no matter how hard we try to blend in the white society we will never become a part of the white society. The is no amount of assimilating or conforming that any minority can do to be "victorious" (not saying that minorities should conform, because I feel that no one should have to conform for any purpose). we as a society have it made up in our heads what are the ideals for a black person, the ideals for a spanish person, the ideals for a white person, etc. that if a certain individual doesn't fit the ideas of his or her race that they a fraudulent in an aspect that they are not being true to "what they are". I also feel that the majority of the ridicule comes from the individuals own race. For instance, the scenario that Sam gave in class was that black people don't where shorts and the black man in the LLBean catalog was wearing shorts exposing his knees. The purpose of Sam showing us this example was to show that the general society of the world would say that the model in the catalog was attempting to be white. I feel that someone's ideals, attire, demeanor, or mannerisms have nothing to do with race. But here is where I agree with society. It is definitely wrong to someone by their attire, but trends show that most stereotypes have much truth behind them. Just how Sam spoke on how he and his wife sat on a park bench for two hours in Washington DC and saw a total of one black person wearing shorts. So in fact a black man wearing shorts above his knees is somewhat part of the abnormal black community. So basically what I am getting at is that the only way to "win" as minorities is to change the stereotypes about minorities, which would require to change some truths. And to add my own opinion I feel that no one should have to change and everyone should be proud of who they are and that they shouldn't have to go through other people tormenting them. As a people we are too judgmental and too hypocritical. Let people be who they want to be. I we were all as worried about ourselves as we are worried about other people we would all probably be better off. I mean it is absolutely ridiculous to say that a person is not being true to themselves because they are wearing a certain attire. As a people we all need to learn how to accept each other for who we are.

  • Lia_1031 says:

    For me I believe I am probably pseudo-communitarian because I can acknowledge that other people have similar problems and I want to help, but at the end of the day I feel that I also need to help people in my ethnic group advance. I sometimes feel like it’s a duty. Why would you want to see someone like you struggle when you know there is something you could do about? Jesse Jackson lived through the civil rights era so I could understand why his primary goal would be to help those in his ethnic group. I want to become a doctor so naturally I would like to help people of all races, but in other aspects of life I really want to help people who belong to my background, to me its just like something I have to do.

  • slv5050 says:

    I’m feeling some sort of way about this too. I feel like the issue is that we see all these wrongs and get an understanding of the fact that what occurs is wrong but then the question is what do we do about it? The problem with asking that is, most simply put, that Sociology is not the study of answers. It is a class to make you question and check your place in society and see if because you are some place it makes you see things different then someone somewhere else. I know the individual in the clip and I understand what she is asking. The question of winning or not is really only an answer you can produce though. The only time that you win in the real world is when you see something as a victory in your own eyes. In Jesse Jackson’s eye he is still fighting for equality and therefore he probably doesn’t see victory yet or a win. I think that the meaning that you should take from the lecture about the different levels is that to be at the most open minded point of view you must not equate color or ethnicity to anything. From this point you should be able to evaluate and see the differences and wrongs, but live without personal critique of others based on color. The most important thing that Jesse Jackson has a flaw with is his own self identification and his inability to look for the betterment of all instead of just his own kind. This is the main flaw with Pseudo Communitarian. The LL Bean catalog was not that far off base because that family may very well have been willing to wear and model those clothes. I think that it is not extreme to see them in the catalog. The idea of a gangster dressed in LL Bean would make it extreme and seem like they were trying to fit them into white ideology but I feel as though people of color would wear those clothes if that’s how they were brought up. Now to retouch on the win, you have to look past this class. The world is set up how it is and this class is only meant to show us what is going on out there and help us to see it more in the future. Some things that we touch on in class really make you question why it happens and what can be done about it like the baby doll video. The only way to figure out what can be done to change it is by exploring yourself and seeing how you can change it. To win in a cultural aspect, like Jesse Jackson being black and coming back to that, is a personal choice. Either you want to help yourself and those like you move up and you become stuck there or you want everyone to be equal and you move to this level and do whatever it takes. Winning is really what you see as a personal victory and when you reach it you will know.

  • Ada5043 says:

    I'm a person of color, and based on my own experiences, I do not see someone in a catalog like LL Bean and automatically assume they are "white washed". For me personally, that's not what I am looking for. And what does it mean to be white washed anyway? I kind of feel that the statement made by Sam in class is boxing people of color into a stereotype of what we assume another person of color should be like. It's hypocritical in that respect. Looking in a catalog, I'm looking to see a person of color period. I don't care how they are dressed, or what catalog they are in; my objective is to find them represented in the catalog at all. My next thought is then how dark or light the individual is.

    I honestly respect and understand a lot of where Sam is coming from, and I give him a lot of credit for being free thinking and being significantly more aware than most individuals, regardless of color; however, I don't believe he knows the mind of a person of color as well as he believes he does. I don't think it's an issue of never really being satisfied. I believe the issue is, due to the history existing between white people and people of color, it is justifiable for people of color to be wary of the motives of white people. In a catalog, are you actually representing a person of color because you want to, or are you placing a very light skinned individual that can almost pass for just white, to fulfill a quota and appease the public?

    I have many friends who are white; however, coming to State College has made me extremely sensitive to the motives of white people who talk to me. Yes, I want to be treated as an equal, and seen as such; yet I know that because of history, it is not easy or maybe even instinctual for white people to see me in the regard. Because of this, when a white person approaches me, my guard comes up because I don't know whether or not I can and should trust them. Why is it that people revert back to hanging with people of their same race? Because the fear of being patronized because of your color does not exist. You no longer have to question their motives regarding race. Plain and simply, they understand. People don't always want to have to explain why they are equal to, or justify their race to a white person. Sometimes, you just want to be comfortable and know that you can be who you are without being judged as a product of your racial group. It's sad, but unfortunately it's the reality forced upon us by our society.

  • dal5110 says:

    There is no single way to win or lose in this hypothetical situation. You have to understand that the reason for the outlandish depictions that Sam creates is to show the levels of both the Black and Brown people and the White people. At different stages, people react to race issues differently, have one perception compared to another and that's what Sam is trying to point out. Understanding these differences is important because that's the first thing that we as a society can do is try to understand everyone else and where conflicts arise from and why there are disagreements. It's not a competition, nobody wins or loses but those with the most knowledge and understanding of the stages of people involving race and ethnicity are certainly at an advantage.

  • yoo5010 says:

    Looking at the pictures from the L.L. Bean magazine, it is almost humorous how they portray both the white and the African American families. They both represent the epitome of the upper-class, preppy families to the extreme. Although these pictures are funny in general, I think that it is absurd to think that it is an insult or absurd for black people to be dressed that way. Frankly, I’m a little pissed off that the same people who are trying to teach equality are telling us that this is ridiculous. There are plenty of middle and upper class black people who look like this. Not all white people look and dress like the white family in the picture, but no one commented on how preppy and ridiculous they look. Are we all supposed to fit a stereotype and that is the only way we are allowed to look? Are black people only allowed to be portrayed in “black” clothing? Most black people don’t look like Lil’ Wayne, but that is a more “accepted” view of black people than the L.L. Bean magazine. We’re trying to teach equality and to overcome stereotypes, but for L.L. Bean, this is their stereotypes! This is what most of their customers look like, so of coarse, that is who they are going to advertise to! There are many middle and upper class black people who look like this! I know some of them! But this is considered “whitewashed”? Am I whitewashed for wearing an L.L. Bean shirt? Black people who wear L.L. Bean aren’t necessarily “whitewashed” or trying to act white, that is just how they are. They are a product of where they live and where they have grown up. I’m Jewish and follow so many of my Jewish and Israeli traditions and customs, but I don’t let it constrict what I wear or what I do or where I shop. If we want equality judging people by what they look like has to stop. It doesn’t matter if they look like the white family in the magazine, the black family, or even Lil’ Wayne, they shouldn’t be judged by what they wear or look like. Not everyone has to be, act, or look a certain way. There are no laws or social norms that state that things have to be that way. And on the same note, people shouldn’t be judged for wearing L.L. Bean whether they are black or white. Of coarse the black family is going to be dressed that way, because that is the target audience they are looking for. It’s not racist on their part. People may think that the preppy L.L. Bean style is funny looking, but they should be ashamed if they judge any person, whether black or white, due to how they look or dress.

  • no_ceilings says:

    I agree with some of the things that she says. The LL Bean pictures were not really funny to me because what like what is he saying? That there can’t be black people out there who dress “white” and go camping or hiking or whatever they are doing? Okay understandable maybe one argument could be that not AS many black people enjoy these activities as much as white people but I do know black people that act “white” and dress “white.” If they are trying to add more diversity to the catalog isn’t that something we should be wanting? I don’t get it.

  • rtesh36 says:

    I completely agree with what Professor Richards has been saying. When Professor Richards brings up examples such as Jesse Jackson, I think he’s goal is to show us that it is that his highest priority is his race and other members of his race. Now personally I do think that sometimes Jackson gets annoying, but when Professor was lecturing and went over to a dominantly white area I saw that he was trying to show that he has realized through his. I do not know if there is definitely a way to determine if you can win or not. Because at the end of the day there will always be people who get offended and are too sensitive to certain things. Professor Richards I think does a good job of trying to stay neutral and making people look at things from a different side of the spectrum. People have to get to the humanitarian stage I think to fully understand the premise of what Professor Richards has been preaching.

    Now the LL Bean catalog in my mind could definitely be perceived as a joke, but I can see through it and say that it was not meant to be a joke. I guess he was trying to demonstrate the immersion stage and just how far people in this stage will go. We did watch the video with the black man wanting to exterminate all whites, and I think that was to illustrate how someone in the immersion stage looks at people of other races. People like this see people of other races as inferior to them, and I think that is garbage. The LL Bean example shows how a person in the immersion stage might react to those that might react to someone of their own race who is not coming up to their own particular standards. LL Bean has been a dominant brand over the years. It is a white dominated brand. I think the key is that they are having people of different races meaning that this line of clothing can and should be worn by people of all races mot just whites. I do not have an issue with that at all. I do not know if the same would be said for a white male modeling for a predominantly black brand such as Roccawear or Enyce to name a few.

    I don’t know the answer to the question of if you can win, but I do think that if you can finally get to the humanitarian stage you would be in good shape. A lot of people get caught up in the lower stages but I think that it is important to balance and try to understand neutral level with all races.

  • mysocname says:

    You can easily ‘win’ in this situation. The solution to the problem is time. As time goes on, and generations have passed, I feel the race issue will become quiet irrelevant. If you look at the improvements we made on the racial issue in the past fifty to forty years, you can see a huge improvement. Now it may be biased of me to predict the total disappearance of racism, due to the fact that we live in a peaceful country, but as society progresses with race so will our kids. People are looking more at the personality of someone then their appearance. Media is a good example of this. When you see famous minorities getting praised and loved for their successful accomplishments by younger kids, you know that those kids will see passed the race issue.
    The race issue, however, will not heal soon. Some people are raised in a racist environment, and are taught that racism is exceptional and right. It’s unavoidable for some but I do believe it will not last. My grandparents have a racial point of view but I’m not racist at all. In fact, they have become more understanding of other races because they have interacted with some of my friends that aren’t the same race. I can’t say that it’s the same way for everyone, but it does show me that people can change their opinions.
    In the video, the girl referred to that you couldn’t get too close to someone because his or her negative racial opinion will come out eventually. I don’t believe this to be true. I think the problem is that it’s hard for different races to get along because of how they were raised in an economic standpoint. Let’s face it, most wealthy people are white (or predominantly one race in other cultures), and the ones that aren’t people that required new money. I say new as in recently received it and am new to the fact that they are in the opposite from where they started.
    I also believe this statement to be false because everyone is different. You can’t stop trying to be friends of different race because of a fear that you have with each other’s ‘true’ feelings coming out. If someone is your friend then they are your friends, you either like someone or you don’t. It’s easy to look past race if you are really fond of someone.
    To conclude, in my opinion the easiest way to stop race is to just stop talking about it. Keep race out of your head and look at everyone as just a person. By doing this, you aren’t reminded of stereotypical features of a race. You look at them for the person that they really are.

  • ryanschil says:

    My classmate makes an interesting point. Why is it that for black people to be considered on par with whites in society, they have to adapt to white culture. It is interesting to not about the LL Bean magazine is that these black models are seemingly assimilating into white culture. Is this really a necessity? One of the biggest arguments that Malcolm X had during his activism was that the only way blacks or African Americans to establish true levels of equality is to fight hard for the culture that makes them unique. Assimilation into the stereotypical “preppy suburban lifestyle” gives all the power back to the white man. Thus, the argument remains: “Can we ever really win?”
    It is no secret that our world is dominated by powerful, white men. Not only that but by white men that are not willing to give up their spot (as Sam so often puts it) on top of the mountain. Though they may outwardly agree with the notion of “equality,” who really wants to give up their power?
    I once took a philosophical-based course on race relations when I was a sophomore. That whole semester, there were two things I learned in that class that have since stayed with me. The first being when I was reading a book about a black man that made a formal presentation for a group of colleagues at the corporation in which he worked. The presentation turned out to be a success. So much so that one of his co-workers leaned over to let him know how well he did by stating “it almost sounded as though you were white!” Is that what it really takes for black people to impress? By sounding white?
    Another point that the book (I wish I could remember the name of it) was the difference between the movements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. While Martin Luther took a peaceful approach to activism, Malcom X was a bit more aggressive in his. The book argued that Malcom X’s approach had the ability to gain more of a following due to the fact that aggression is necessary to obtain any level of change.
    Though I do not condone it, there have been many points in history where violence or aggression has lead to turning points throughout our history. Think about the riots after the acquittal of those two cops for beating Rodney King. Those riots highlighted the tension among different ethnic groups throughout Los Angeles. Once the problem was addressed, it was the beginnings of the overcoming it. Though we still have a long way to go, assimilating into a lifestyle that is not true to oneself is not the best way to get there.