Dr. Weaver's comments are highlighted in red.

Student: Molly Ramsey Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 16:03
Journal Entry: These videos we have been watching in class have opened my eyes to many ideologies on race. I never heard of race as only a social construct or nonbiological until my sophomore year in college. (That’s scary!)  Growing up in rural South Carolina, that's not the way of thinking. There are plenty of farms and plantations that still use ancestors of their ancestors slaves as workers on the farms. If I were to go back and say that there is no biological difference between a white person and a black person, I probably would be stared at for the rest of my life. But why isn't this discussed more? Why do people first learn this when they are in college? I think that aludes to how our society still views racism. We have admitted that slavery was wrong and teach students that a society should not do that but still allows for everyone to think that we are all biologically diverse as a species. Could this mean that we still believe in the infiority of other races or "white privilege"? (It is exactly the maintenance of white privilege that keeps this thinking in place.)  I think it could. I am a social work minor and just before our class today, my social work class was discussing the "All men are created equal" line in the Declaration of Independence and discussed is it really true. And we can still honestly say that it is not true at all, even today. It probably will never be because we have a cultural way of thinking of infiority. Although it is not something that is constantly at the front of minds. We don't go around thinking "oh I am better than them" or whatever the case may be. But infiority is a cultural building block in the American cultural that can be leaked all the way back to when the Pilgrims first landed and treated Native Americans. (The real basis is the racialization of slavery and the acceptance that blacks are a biologically inferior group, so that, as James Horton said in the video, “If America had just looked the world in the eye and said, ‘We hold these people in slavery cause we need their labor, and we’ve got the power to do it.’ Now that would have been much better because then when the power was gone, when slavery was over, it’s over. But what we said was, ‘There is something about these people.’ By doing that it means, that when slavery is over, that rationalization for slavery remains.”)  They thought they were better and forced Native Americans to assimilate to "white culture". Unfortunately, I don't believe we as a society will ever live up to Jefferson's words of all men are created equal, neither did he, so maybe we shouldn't feel bad. But we should not allow for people to go through life with the idea that racism or race is okay because it is justified by science, but instead that we have created it and made it a staple in our society and culture.

Student: Morgan Ashton Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 16:04
Journal Entry: Last week’s lecture on the history of the concept of race really stood out to me.  I thought it was interesting that at first people didn’t classify and discriminate others on the basis of their appearance.  The ancient Egyptians didn’t make racial distinctions; they divided people based on their nationality or religion.  Even Aristotle and other medieval travelers mostly saw variation as caused by the environment.  Christians, Hebrews, and the Greeks frequently allowed others to overcome inferiority by converting to the dominant group.  It wasn’t up until the 15th century that people began to think of humans in several varieties and ultimately races.  This surprised me because I had just assumed that humans had always been classified on the basis of race and those of different races had always been treated differently and inferior.  It also surprised me that the first form of racism actually occurred in the 15th century when anyone with any Jewish ancestry in the past five generations was subject to inferiority.  This made me wonder what it was about the Jews that the superiors had the need to discriminate against them? (It’s the same kind of nonsense that we see from the right wing Christians in this country today—they didn’t have the same beliefs.)  Also when we were discussing the different historian classifiers, I agreed the most with Blumenbach because he believed in the monogenesis way of thinking and that we look different today due to degeneration, not that we were born from different species and have different biological makeups. (And to be fair, degeneration was viewed a lot like we view the process of adaptation by natural selection today.)
The video we watched in class also really interested me and surprised me.  In history classes growing up you never really heard about how awful Americans were to the Indians and those of other races. It surprised me that Jackson was in complete support of the Indian removal act because he believed they didn’t have the intelligence and moral habits of the superior white race and that they should therefore disappear.  Americans used science and skull size to justify their actions but I didn’t think their actions matched up with how little and unreliable their knowledge of this science was.  I was also shocked in the video when the World Fairs were discussed. I had no idea there were human zoos that put on display “savages” aka humans of another race. I also thought it was interesting that the Philippian people were seen as inferior and that in the images of the fair they were portrayed as looking African.  I think that showed the little knowledge and interest the white race had over people who just happened to look different than them.  They grouped everyone who wasn’t white together and made them one big inferior group.

Student: Catie Schrader Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 16:48
Journal Entry: I think one of the ideas which has intrigued me the most so far is polygenism vs. monogenism. The idea that scientists had to classify Africans and Native Americans as coming from an entirely different lineage is interesting at the same time that it justified slavery and eventually helped establish racism in America. (It’s even scarier if you know that as late as 1948 the case was still being made for Polygenism.  “In 1948, Harvard University Press published Human Ancestry: From a Genetical Point of View, by R. Ruggles Gates. The book was a mix of eugenic and polygenic thinking, and Gates was an advocate of the position that races did not exist because the so-called races of man were actually different species, among which a hierarchy of abilities existed.” Yudell, Michael (2014). Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century (Kindle Locations 2854-2856). Columbia University Press. Kindle Edition.  In 1962, Carleton Coon argued that the races of man were descended from different local races of Homo erectus, with significant biological differences.)
I also think the transformation from works like Buffon and Blumenbach to those of Nott and Agassiz is interesting. Before, while 'race' wasn't used in the sense we are used to today, the descriptors and qualities of the different races were noted, and often the white European came out on top. As time progressed, it seems that science structured itself to continue perpetuating this belief, to the point that Nott and Agassiz were making some truly outrageous claims based solely on racial beliefs and pseudo science. Although the perpetuation of racism for economic or political reasons is not a new concept to me, I was unaware the depths to which racism reached.
I think a large part of this lack of knowledge is due to the way these lessons are taught today. Whether it's the World Fair exhibits like the human zoo, or the white man's burden and portrayal of the Portugese, none of these topics are covered in high school classes.Bind1020101220581.jpg
In my world history class, we were shown the painting American Progress by John Gast. This painting is usually used to emphasize the concept of manifest destiny. When we were shown this painting, the teacher asked us to point out what we noticed. Eventually, people noted things like: light vs. dark, indians vs. settlers, technology vs. wildlife, etc. Some people even noted the civilization vs. savagery motif, yet we didn't go into why the class held these perceptions or whether or not these perceptions were correct. What we never talked about was the very clear racial distinctions between the fleeing group and the advancing group. We never talked about why Lady Destiny was a blond, white woman. We never talked about why the painting leaves you with a sense of triumph for the white man, when in reality the white man is perpetuating the destruction of peoples, cultures, and lands that did not belong to them. I think this example, even though simple, shows a huge gap in what children are being taught now and how the perpetuation of racism still exists. It was already practically institutionalized by the time Nott and Agassiz were writing, so by now its an incredibly powerful institution and I think it will be much harder to erase those beliefs than many people want to see.

Student: Ciara Younger Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 19:16
Journal Entry: Today's video was very intriguing to me. I was fascinated by the Worlds' Fair part. I am from St. Louis and we often hear about the 1904 World's Fair and we often times celebrate that it was held in St. Louis. However, the minor detail of the "human zoo" has always been left out of all of our celebrations. I had no idea that any of that was involved in the fair. I knew about the houses being replicated after houses in other countries and have often toured many of the houses. I did not know that Phillipinos and other cultures were put on display. That is actually very upsetting. I cannot wrap my head around humans doing those types of things to other humans. I often times wish I could get in their minds and hear everything the Englishman were thinking. I do understand that if I saw someone for the first time ever seen, I would think something was strange but I also feel like I would not go about discovering what is different about Africans from Englishman like Morton or Bernier did. (Remember that it was Jefferson who asked science to answer the question of why the African is inferior.) But it also all ties into imperialism. During the time of world travel and exploration the Englishman thought they had a given right to "civilize" those that were on as advanced as them. However, there are so many things that the Englishmen could have learned from other cultures instead of imprinting the English culture on them. (There is a lot to blame the English for, but don’t forget that they ended slavery before we did and they did it much more peacefully.  Racism has reached it apex only in American culture.  Nicholas Kristof, 9/14/2014: The net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household, according to 2011 census data. The gap has worsened in the last decade, and the United States now has a greater wealth gap by race than South Africa did during apartheid. (Whites in America on average own almost 18 times as much as blacks; in South Africa in 1970, the ratio was about 15 times.)) Morton's research was the most intriguing just because it was so out there. How does one even think that just because someones' brain is smaller than another's that the smaller brain is less able. The bigger brain is not smarter because it is bigger and I think that piece of research cracked me up the most.

Student: Emma Farrow Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 19:24
Journal Entry: One theme that has stood out to me the most while watching the videos in class and doing the readings is societies obsession with categorizing and labeling groups of people.  I remember learning in my psychology class that categorizing is an innate function of the mind as a part of human cognition but what interests me is the environmental and social aspects that determine our minds categories and their contents. Although Francois Bernier’s book Travels in the Mogul Empire published in 1670 is considered to be one of the first times humans were grouped into categories based on geography or physical characteristics, we can find evidence of grouping of people based on nationality or religion in ancient Egyptian society and in the bible.  What is fascinating and simultaneously confusing is not necessarily the act of categorizing but rather trying to understand the reasoning behind why each category is formed.  I feel like it is almost as if humans have an innate sense to rank cultures or people in order to determine who is worthy of their time or respect and to determine who is “right and wrong.” The problem with this sense of sorting to simplify interactions is that these categories are all subjective.  In American history the minority or inferior group seems to change with each generation. We have used this innate need to label as a way to justify racism and hatred.  Whether it’s against Blacks, (Irish), Jews, Asians, or Mexicans, we have established this cultural norm in society that everyone fits into one category and they shouldn’t intertwine. This theme of categorization first started to stand out to me when I was reading of the many ways scientists and anthropologists like Bernier, Linnaeus, and Buffon, tried to rationalize and explain the concept of race.  What I found particularly interesting is that just within this academic community there were so many different ways to try and explain one single concept.  Even from the first activity we did in class when we looked at the different categories of race identifications each category was confusing to understand.  Ultimately I wish I could say there was a solution to the issues that come with labeling and grouping people or that it should be stopped altogether but it is also hard to ignore the fact that categorizing people or objects into groups is also a form of stability and unavoidable. (It’s also necessary to maintain these social groupings in order to try to undo the damage that has been done over the centuries of personal and institutional racism in the U.S. [see my comment on Ciara’s post about wealth inequality].)

Student: Alexis Pierce Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 20:01
Journal Entry: Before these videos and readings, I had no idea that science (or rather, pseudo-science) played a role in perpetuating racism. In fact, I had never truly taken the time to consider why racism existed in the first place. It was just one of those things—the sky is blue, the grass is green, and some people dislike others based solely on the color of their skin (or so I thought). (That’s part of white privilege in this country—you never have to think about race or racism unless you want to.  For non-white Americans, race is something you have to think about everyday—there is no choice involved.) But these past lectures have shed light on many facts about racism, and the one I found most interesting was the role pseudo-science played in the institution. Nott and Agassiz made so many outrageous claims based on racial beliefs and passed them off as fact. There was no backlash from their “data”; people just ran with what Nott and Agassiz were saying because it gave them peace of mind. As in, there was nothing wrong in feeling superior and there was nothing wrong with the mistreatment of these “lesser” races. In the video we watched today, a young black man said that people don’t just look at the color of your skin; they look at the color of your skin and then they immediately begin assigning characteristics to you based on what you look like. I found this interesting in relation to the Cherokee Indians. White people claimed that the Cherokee could be reformed into civilized people. When the Cherokee did assimilate and conform to European standards, it still wasn’t good enough. They were still forced to leave their homes because people believed that the Cherokee would always be “savage” at heart. Whites were able to identify these “savage at heart” people based on how they looked. Which got me thinking: in America, it doesn’t matter how well educated you are or how much money you make if you are a minority—white people will just assume you are a certain way based on your appearance and stereotypes.

Student: Tae Sims Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 20:40
Journal Entry: From the start of this class, the one thing that I knew most definitely was the fact that race is a social construct, but from watching videos and going through the assigned readings, I see how readily this “socially constructed” concept has permeated society in general. What strikes me the most is the impact that nineteenth century American scientists had on the idea of race, because I always had the notion that it was the European scientists that spearheaded any and all research and development of racial science. I understand that Americans of course worked heavily in eugenics, but when I heard that scientists such as Nott, Morton, and Agassiz are the ones that a lot of more modern pseudoscientists (I will refer to them as ‘pseudo’ as long as they continue report incorrect data on a completely fabricated topic) have based their work on, I was completely astonished. I was always taught (incorrectly of course), that it was the European elite that American drew their racist thoughts on, instead of the American elite doing the same research and making the same claims, but even more malicious in order to preserve the social order they saw fit in the United States. I was also entirely surprised to hear that Nazi Germany based some of their reasons for the birthing plans (involuntary sterilization) during World War II on birthing plans in the US in the nineteenth twentieth centuries. All in all, this class just adds on to everything I know from experience and inference, but I’m dumbfounded about the fact that this isn’t taught to children around the world. It does not change the past if it’s hidden, so what’s the point? I just want it to taught in the schools, or at least taught to adults so that they may inform their own children in due time.

Student: Edward Woodall Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 20:50
Journal Entry: So, these are some pretty good comments. I will try to ensure that mine measures up. We’ll see. I suppose I’d like to start with the removal of the Cherokee from their ancestral lands. As a history major focusing on the American South and someone from the home state of Andrew Jackson, it hits a little close to home. It clearly seems an issue of the triumph of Mammon over the forces of decency, respect, and rule of law. I don’t know what else to say. The issue is closely related to the transition seen in American race relations at the time -  the ideological change from ethnocentrism to actual racism. Seen first in the changing justification for slavery from pagan religion to some sort of innate condition of black skin and African descent. This occurred because in time many African slaves (who were becoming increasingly common in the Virginia colony) converted to Christianity. Their labor was still needed, of course, and their owners needed to sleep at night. So this justification was invented. Despite their modernization, sedentarization, Christianization, and obvious high culture, the Cherokee eventually fell victim to this mode of thinking. Makes my blood boil.
On another note, I would like to discuss in class how one should judge both the scientists who produced influential studies, essays, speeches etc establishing innate race differences as science and those who followed their lead or respected their expertise. I’m not making any statements, just asking the question. I think it’s worth discussing for sure. (I’ll be happy to participate in this discussion.)

Student: Sophie Hoppock Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 21:11
Journal Entry: My hometown did not officially integrate its prom until 1994; I was one years old and growing up in a town reluctant to change that its pursuit of perceived equality was tense. The reading for this week focused on the development of equality between the United States and what I found most interesting was the chapter on the phenomenon of colorblindness. My hometown was a huge supporter of colorblindness in all things, though this attitude did not extend behind closed doors, and there was a tension that permeated my school growing up. We were different and we knew were different, but we weren’t allowed to say it; therefore, there was a lack of communication and a break-down of relationships. We self-segregated and so I find it hard to believe that any professional can believe that ignoring the cultural differences will erase hundreds of years of mistreatment. I think that the only way we can achieve harmony is to call a spade a spade and to consciously attempt to bridge the cultural gaps between us. We have to actually look at each other and know that our similarities ultimately outweigh our differences and that we each have something beneficial to provide. We have to stop squashing our heritages and start celebrating that we as humans are diverse, even in our similarity. (Since we have a several centuries long tradition of institutional racism in this country that has produced a greater wealth differential currently than the black-white wealth differential at the peak of apartheid in South Africa, we have to do more than acknowledge that difference—we have to actively work to end institutional and structural racism.  The problem is that politically we appear to be doing exactly the opposite.)

Student: Eileen Pigott Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 21:36
Journal Entry: Our discussions in class have been really interesting to me. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I really understood that race was just a social construct. It was in my 11th grade AP US History class that my teacher asked us to explain the racial differences between African Americans and White Americans. I am a little ashamed that it took me until I was 16 years old to learn that there is not a biological, genetic difference. Social media has really helped open my mind as well to the everyday racism that exists in this country (Tumblr may have a lot of problems when it comes to “educating” but it has opened my eyes more about racism and sexism). I never really processed that racism is intimately entwined with the history of the United States. My friends and I make casual comments about middle aged white men “ruining everything,” but after viewing the videos in class and learning about the deliberate “scientific” conclusions reached by scientists of the past those casual comments hold way more truth than I originally thought. The extent to which people used pseudoscience to attain their own ends boggles my mind. (I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but you do realize that this is not something just of the past.  As recently as last summer a well-respected science journalist published a book claiming to document the genetic character of the races and how that is associated with economic and political development across the globe!  When you think of pseudoscientific racism, do not think in the past tense.)
I also appreciate how the videos don’t try to sanitize American history. It’s not a pretty history, especially since most of it can be summed up by “I want that. It’s mine now,” followed by genocide or war. I’m interested to know what you think about some states electing to stop offering AP US History because it teaches history in an “un-American light.” (It shows two things; one, how current racist ignorance is in this country and two, how screwed up our public school system is because of ignorant local school boards.  As Mark Twain said, “God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.”)

Student: Leyla Pirnie Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 21:49
Journal Entry: What has intrigued me most about this class thus far was the video we watched in class today. The part about the Cherokees especially piqued my interest. The civilization process that these people went through is crazy to think about in our modern society, however prevalent racism still may be. Hunters and gatherers became farmers, over 90% of their land was given to the government, children had to be taught in the classic English style, and their whole lives changed and existed around what people believed was "the right and just thing to do". (And then we herded them into concentration camps on land that we thought would never be worth anything.) The quote by Andrew Jackson that stated, "They have neither the intelligence... They must yield to the force of circumstance" remained with me through the duration of the class. I also found that the World's Fair and human zoo was interesting to learn about - but, I'm also disgusted that our country fails to recognize these acts and educate people about the cruel things that happened. (Here’s a map of the fair—in the right mid-ground is the huge Philippine exhibit: http://www.usd116.org/profdev/ahtc/lessons/goerssfel10/lessons/lesson1/1904WorldsFairMap.jpg)

Student: Jeremiah Parker Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 22:58
Journal Entry: White and western Exceptionalism has not been a uniquely American idea.  In my Islam in modernity class we have been reading passages from Edward Said book Orientalism.  This book discusses that the western views i.e. (U.S. and Western Europe) on the rest of the world have been skewed over time.  That the Arab and Far East Asia worlds have been negatively impacted due to improper depiction of their culture through western eyes. This idea that the West is right and anywhere that is not a part of the “civilized” world doesn’t know better and is required for us to fix them is not inherently new.  This has been seen over centuries throughout the world in another reading in that class we discussed how this idea of European exceptionalism came about, with the advancement of the first industrial revolution and the renaissance firmly putting Europe ahead of the rest of the world, leading to an idea that the orient and other parts of the world lacked the proper knowledge and were therefore inferior to Europe. (To make your case even stronger, I’d point out that the concept of race was introduced to China, Japan, and Korea by Europeans only a couple of hundred years ago!)
Now push forward to the birth of the United States of America there was once again this idea that the white Christian was a superior being due to their religious and technologic advances.  I believe that this type of racism and idea of superiority can be traced back to medieval Europe and was brought across the ocean when settlers came to the United States. (The thing is it manifests differently in colonies of different European powers, and the race thing is most egregious in former British colonies.) White exceptionalism is not a new idea but something that has been passed along through generations.

Student: Jen Krueger Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 23:11
Journal Entry: The start of this class has really opened my eyes to race in the U.S and the history of racism.  I have realized how many things were left out of our history classes and how we as Americans pretend certain events didn’t happen.  I have also realized from the activity we did in class, trying to identify and categorize people into races based on looks, is impossible. The history of race and how it developed has been very new information for me.  It seems that in Biblical and ancient times people were divided based on nationality or religion, they were not divided racially.  Then this changed in the 15th century when Jewish people were restricted to do certain things.  When we talked about this I was completely shocked that they could consider a person Jewish if one of the ancestors (5 generations) was Jewish.  This did show that racism at this point in time was not based on physical characteristics. Then by the late 18th century race turns into inheritable characteristics. Apparently the colonial domination and enslavement of non-European populations lead to the development of racist ideology.  The non-European populations looked different and they may not have been as developed economically, which the Europeans interpreted as inferior groups of people. (Like Edward pointed out, it has a lot to do with economic self-interest of wealthy whites.) The Europeans categorized and divided people based on physical characteristics, which starts modern racism.

Student: Skylar Chans Time: Tuesday September 1st 2015 23:15
Journal Entry: So far in this class, my eyes have been opened to things I never knew about the history of the United States as well as the world. While I have always learned about the racial divides that have plagued our country’s history, it wasn’t until today’s video in class that I truly witnessed the devastating tensions that our country has faced since its colonization. The video in class today put so many things into perspective; the videos, reenactments, and photographs really portrayed what life was like in America during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries for African-Americans as well as American Indians and Filipinos. It was astonishing to see the seemingly power-hungry White Americans attempt to display their feelings of dominance through their treatment of those of other races. Seeing and hearing quotes from white leaders in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, belittling those from other races and treating them as less than human was incredibly eye-opening for me. Two presidents of our country, one a founding father, making statements and decisions that embarrass our country today, was something I never knew occurred. (Lincoln, the great emancipator, did not believe in the equality of aptitudes between blacks and whites.) Between Thomas Jefferson’s treatment of African- Americans and slaves, as well as Andrew Jackson’s decision to ultimately force the Trail of Tears to occur, I was astonished to see all of the decisions and words utilized by our country’s leaders during these times while watching the video today. It really shocked me to see how much was not taught in the classroom growing up. While I had a general knowledge and understanding of the treatment of individuals and groups from various races, I was never aware of quite the extent that our leaders and government often took this treatment to. The World’s Fair was also shocking for me to learn about; I had never heard of anyone being put on display “like a zoo,” let alone Native American or Filipino individuals. To me, watching them being put out for entertainment was plain cruel to watch. There were several points during the movie where I cringed with anger because of the way that white Americans treated those of other races. Although I was raised in the south, I have always been “colorblind.” (I hope you understand the negative connotations of that term now that you have read the Haney Lopez section in Ch. 6 of Goodman et al.) The concept of race has always confused me; because I don’t really see why it should affect our relationships and the way we treat others. We are all created equal, and it pains me to know that for a long time, our nation’s most prominent leaders couldn’t even see this. (Our current leaders and those vying for office next year also fail to see it.  We are a land of unequal opportunity.  Because of institutional and structural racism, we have created a society where the wealth inequality between blacks and whites is greater here today than it was at the height of apartheid in South Africa.  And don’t even get me started on our “justice” system and incarceration rates!)

Student: Amanda Peters Time: Wednesday September 2nd 2015 00:13
Journal Entry: I am finding it compelling that race is not a biological observation, but a social construction. I first learned that race was a social construction last semester in one of my geography classes, but not much else was said about it. I was blown away when we were watching the first video in class and the students DNA were all almost similar to each other, despite their skin tones. People have closer DNA with one another than chimps and fruit flies do! I don’t agree with racial segregation in any form or think that any “race” is superior but I always thought that there were biological factors that separated people from each other. For example, I always thought that black people did typically have larger muscles for athletics. I now know better and feel like I could make strong arguments in controversial racial discussions. Race is literally not real and I think that its great I have science now to back me on that statement. (By the end of the course you should be able to do a good job destroying the biological notions, but I also hope you’ll have a good grasp on why colorblindness is not the answer to our racial problems.)