RESPONSES

4 RESPONSES OF 200 WORDS EACH DUE IN 12 HOURS

(I AM A BLACK WOMAN – KEEP THAT IN MIND WHEN RESPONDING)

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Guided Response: The goal of this discussion forum is to have a single conversation about the topic, not a series of 30 separate conversations. This means that every post should be in response to another post. In other words, not every student will directly answer the question in the original discussion prompt. Most students will address issues raised by other students. Only start a new thread if you want to address a whole different theme within the topic. And only post after first carefully reading what others have written. Do not repeat what your classmates have already said, and do not ignore them if they ask you questions. Try to keep the conversation moving forward.

The purpose of the conversation is to help each other reach a better understanding of the issues. To that end, you should respectfully critique your classmates’ reasoning. Identify and challenge their assumptions, question their reasoning, and push them to be the next level. Push yourself, too. You may not understand the material at the beginning of the week, and that is okay. But you should use the discussion to help you understand the material by the end of the week. Do not be afraid to ask questions in the discussion! Take charge of your learning.

JOCELYN’S POST:

Hi all,

To begin I would like to say my initial reaction to this post was one of discontent. As a black woman, who is very passionate about African-American works of literature and art, I am well-versed in Douglass’s work. In my opinion he is an excellent orator and author, able to relay the intensities of his experience to those who may not be empathetic. My discontent however, stems from the necessity to look to the past, slavery to be exact, in order to decipher the current socio-political climate. I for one do not wish to have conversations about slavery. There have been centuries of mistreatment to black people that surpass slavery. Noted in the medical video by Vox, there are clearly signs of institutionalized racism in ALL aspects of our society. We do not have to go back to see the abuse. It is in our faces and has been this whole time. I do think that the slave narrative is one that is important, but there are so many African-American philosophists, artists, authors, etc. I would like to see more representation.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51394.Bone_Black (Links to an external site.)

Attached above, is a memoir written by bell hooks (the lower case lettering is purposeful). She is an amazing writer, one which I have had the fortune of meeting. She writes of her experiences as a black woman growing up in a world that has hated her. There are many others that I would like to explore and would implore my peers to do the same. If you guys know of any more essays, memoirs, autobios, etc. written from black people please share. It is so important that our voices are heard, not only as a collective fighting for humanity, but as individuals. The “black narrative” is NOT homogeneous. We all have separate stories, and the binding continuity is oppression (unfortunately). I have so many emotions and thoughts on the topic I could write incessantly. I hope that my point of inclusion has been brought forth with some clarity. Thanks.

JOHNNY’S POST:

Will this ever end? Why? Why not?

As disheartened as I am right now, sitting here watching the current events unfold, I cannot honestly say that I think this will ever end. Would I like it to? Without a doubt. However, knowing what I know about the history of man, I can’t see an end to this kind of behavior. It seems like every continent has had its try at slavery of some sort. The Greeks, back in the day would take slaves for use in the Colosseum. Egyptians were also notorious for using slaves to build their large monuments. And of course, America, which could arguably be said to be built upon the backs of Africans who were often ripped from their homes and shipped across the ocean. The way I see it, when there is a stronger force that comes upon a weaker one, either by might or by technology, the stronger tends to take control of the weaker. I believe this boils down to, why do something when you can have someone else do it for you. As I was told in technical school, “People are like electrons, they take the path of least resistance”.

When it comes to treating others unjustly, I also do not think this will ever change. For reasons that I do not know, some people grow up thinking they deserve more or know better then others. Then, there are those that just have no compassion for other human beings. In the case of George Floyd, from what was shown, it would seem that the cop was severely lacking in compassion. As sad as this situation is though I do see something good coming from it. Already, a few police precincts have started reviewing their body cam footage more thoroughly and taking action against those that use excessive force. I would hope that more and more police stations around the States, or even worldwide, would start utilizing these and the footage is actually reviewed. Its time to find out who the bad cops are and get rid of them. Its time to start holding people accountable for their actions, or inaction’s.

Lastly, I am in no way attempting to make fun of the situation when I say this. I would like to see the world evolve socially into something similar to what we see in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. I would love to have total equality across the board, between all races, sexes, creeds, religions, etc. I should think that would be our goal as a society, if there was one. Lastly, I would like to end on a quote from a movie. In The Green Mile (2000), John Coffey said “Mostly, I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head, all the time… Can you understand?” This quote still affects me still today, because of how accurate it is.

DEREK’S POST:

What can we learn from the stories of slaves like Frederick Douglass? Why do people refuse to believe that history should be forgotten when it comes to race in America?

Slavery has existed in many cultures, dating back to early human civilizations. According to Wikipedia, “In the early Americas, slavery in Mexico can be traced back to the Aztecs. The Inca of the Andes, the Tupinamba of Brazil, the Creek of Georgia, and the Comanche of Texas, also owned slaves” (Slavery, n.d). In England, “nearly 10% of the English population were slaves, according to the Domesday Book of 1086, completed by order of King William Conqueror” (Slavery, n.d.).

Quite honestly, my only knowledge about slavery (up until the reading by Frederick Douglass) has been from history books. I learned much more in the passage by Frederick Douglass (I read past the first six chapters because it was so interesting). I read about Frederick Douglass’s life in Wikipedia. I had no idea that he was the first African American to be nominated for Vice President, although he did not approve of it. I had heard of Frederick Douglass but had never read any of his books. He was an amazing man. One of the passages that stuck out to me in the reading was regarding Mrs. Auld teaching him to read. Mr. Auld told her that “it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read” (Douglass, 1845, p. 33). It was believed that if you taught slaves to read that they would become “unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy” (Douglass, 1845, p. 33). I understand the reasoning behind keeping the slaves uneducated. Education is a powerful thing. With knowledge comes new ideas, and that would be disastrous for the slave owners. In medieval times, peasants weren’t taught to read because then they would be able to read the Bible for themselves and form thoughts of their own regarding the teachings of the Bible. Learning how to read did make Douglass unhappy because he knew that there was another world where life was different, especially when he was sent back to the plantation and had to be a plantation worker. He longed for death because he had seen a different side of life.

I don’t think we should forget any history. With remembering of past events, we may be able to keep from repeating past mistakes. Three major historical events resound with me. The first is the atrocities visited upon the Native Americans. The second is slavery, and the third is the Holocaust. I know that we are still dealing with the effects of slavery and the aftermath. Although no one alive today was ever a slave or owned a slave, it is a part of our history that we should never forget.

I grew up in a small Indiana town, and there were only a handful of African Americans in the schools I attended. There is no way I can even come close to knowing what it’s like to grow up as an African American. Sometimes I feel that my opinions on the matter will sound ignorant. We all know that Black Lives Matter. A lot of people, myself included, will say All Lives Matter. I was watching Fox News last night, and Tucker Carlson showed a video,https://youtu.be/1qwif8PF1EI, (Links to an external site.)and at 05:34, you see a woman approached by a man who says he works for Black Lives Matter and that his CEO wants him to bring her to her knees because she has white privilege. So a white person getting on their knees shows solidarity for the situation. She then proceeds to get on her knees. Then he asks her to apologize for her white privilege. She looks like she’s a little taken aback and doesn’t instantly apologize. But she finally finds some words to say to him and apologizes for her white privilege. I had heard the words white privilege but never knew what they meant so I had to find out what it means exactly. I found an article written by Cory Collins for Tolerance magazine, which describes white privilege. In discussing Peggy McIntosh’s essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” Collins writes about “the interpretations of McIntosh’s version of white privilege” by saying “Those interpretations overshadow the origins of white privilege, as well as its present-day ability to influence systemic decisions. They overshadow the fact that white privilege is both a legacy and a cause of racism” (Collins, 2018, para. 3). I have been educated on what white privilege means. We, as Americans, regardless of race, need to come together and accept each other for what we are. We are all Americans regardless of where our roots come from.

Collins, C. (2018). What is white privilege, really? Tolerance. Issue 60. Retrieved from https://tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2018/ (Links to an external site.)what-is-white-privilege-really

Douglass, F. 1818-1895. (2003). Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. Retrieved from https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass/douglass.html (Links to an external site.)

Slavery. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/slavery

BRETT’S POST:

What is the connection between the history of the treatment of Black people in the United States and what we see occurring in our society today?

A major connection we see in history of treatment of black people that still disgustingly resides today is the lack of justice when crimes against black people are committed by white people. “Colonel Lloyd’s slaves were in the habit of spending a part of their nights and Sundays in fishing for oysters, and in this way made up the deficiency of their scanty allowance. An old man belonging to Colonel Lloyd, while thus engaged, happened to get beyond the limits of Colonel Lloyd’s, and on the premises of Mr. Beal Bondly. At this trespass, Mr. Bondly took offence, and with his musket came down to the shore, and blew its deadly contents into the poor old man. Mr. Bondly came over to see Colonel Lloyd the next day, whether to pay him for his property, or to justify himself in what he had done, I know not. At any rate, this whole fiendish transaction was soon hushed up. There was very little said about it at all, and nothing done. It was a common saying, even among little white boys, that it was worth a half-cent to kill a “nigger,” and a half-cent to bury one”(Frederick Douglass pg. 25-26). This excerpt deeply explains that murdering any “colored” person resulted in little or no consequences at all. Douglas tells many stories of slaves being killed, and explains that it happens so often that it had become a common saying. Today, although we as a society have drawn closer to equality, there are still many instances where people, mostly law enforcement officers and other occupations who appear to be “above the law”, evade justice when murdering a black person. This is not only from the recent tragic death of George Floyd, but this is an unacceptable pattern that has haunted all minorities for the past several decades. However, I believe the true American people can unite against this problem, and destroy this connection to our past once and for all.

THIS IS THE ORIGINAL DISCUSSION QUESTION SO YOU CAN KNOW WHAT THEY WERE REPLYING TO:

DISCUSSION QUESTION:

This week would have normally focused on Plato and the Socratic dialogues.However, due to the current climate in the United States, we will be shifting to literature and resources that relate to slavery and the history of the African-American experience in the United States.

Please read the first 6 chapters of Frederick Douglass’s autobiography. Link to full text: https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass/douglass.html (Links to an external site.)

Make sure you start with chapter one. You don’t have to read the preface (with the roman numerals).

We are shifting to a week on philosophy. Philosophy is the love of wisdom and focuses on reasoning and argumentation. It is the foundation of clear thinking and knowledge of the good life. And understanding life means understanding history.

The current protests, anger, violence, and calls to action are grounded in a long history of injustice that has degraded, violated, and demoralized Black humans in this country. This is not a problem that began a week ago with the murder of George Floyd. This problem reaches back to the very foundations of our society, well before the country even existed as the United States.

Below are two videos that link to the reading for the week and discuss only two of the horrors of slavery.

This week we will discuss the human experiences of racism and hatred, as these appear to be almost universally grounded in humans. Here are some questions to guide the discussion.

What is the connection between the history of the treatment of Black people in the United States and what we see occurring in our society today?

What ought we do as a society to address racism in our culture and create more justice and equality of opportunity?

What can we learn from the stories of slaves like Frederick Douglass? Why do people refuse to believe that history should be forgotten when it comes to race in America?

Will this ever end? Why? Why not?

Required Resources

Readings

Plato. (n.d.). Selections from The Phaedo (Links to an external site.) (H. Tredennick, Trans.). Retrieved from http://www2.hawaii.edu/~freeman/courses/phil100/06. Phaedo.pdf

· This dialogue represents the execution of the philosopher Socrates. In it Plato (the author) uses the character of Socrates to explore the possibility of the afterlife, as well as the nature of philosophy, and the meaning of life and death. This may be the most difficult reading in the course. It will definitely stretch you and help build your thinking muscles. Accessibility Statement does not exist. Privacy Policy does not exist.

Plato. (n.d.). Apology (Links to an external site.) (B. Jowett, Trans.). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20171219202911/http://socrates.clarke.edu/aplg0100.htm

· The Apology is Plato’s fictional account of Socrates’s defense speech during his trial for “corrupting the youth.” The word “apology” means defense. The dialogue is not just Socrates’s defense of himself, it is also Plato’s defense of Socrates (since it was written after his death, as an attempt to rehabilitate Socrates’s reputation), and Plato’s defense of philosophy itself. Plato wants to convince you that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (Apology 38a). Accessibility Statement does not exist. Privacy Policy does not exist.

Multimedia

Horowitz, Damon. (2011). Philosophy in prison (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/damon_horowitz_philosophy_in_prison

· Horowitz teaches philosophy to inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California. In his TED Talk, he illustrates how philosophy can be relevant to the everyday lives of all people, even those serving life in prison. He also perfectly captures the essence of Socratic philosophy. Transcript available. Accessibility Statement does not exist. Privacy Policy (Links to an external site.)

Puschak. E. [Nerdwriter1]. (2015). Understanding art: The death of Socrates (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKhfFBbVtFg

· This video discusses the 1787 painting “The Death of Socrates,” by French artist Jacques-Louis David, which depicts one of the scenes from Plato’s Phaedo in this week’s required reading. Seeing the way David illustrates Plato’s philosophical ideas in his painting will help students understand Phaedo better while also learning a bit about 18th Century art. Accessibility Statement (Links to an external site.) Privacy Policy (Links to an external site.)

Žižek, Slavoj. (n.d.) The purpose of philosophy is to ask the right questions (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://bigthink.com/videos/the-purpose-of-philosophy-is-to-ask-the-right-questions

· Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek is perhaps the most famous philosopher alive today. He is one of the few contemporary philosophers to practice the sort of “public philosophy” Socrates believed in. Instead of hiding away in his university, Žižek writes and speaks for a general audience. In this short video clip, Žižek argues that we can’t solve a problem unless we learn to ask the right questions about it, and philosophy helps us learn to ask the right questions. Transcript available. Accessibility Statement does not exist. Privacy Policy (Links to an external site.)

Recommended Resources

Multimedia

Taylor, A. [Director] (2008) Examined life – Cornel West (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfD3X3f5C_w

· These are all the scenes with Cornel West from Examined Life, a full-length documentary featuring interviews with contemporary philosophers. In part, West discusses Plato’s Apology and Phaedo from this week’s Required Reading.

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