So I quit my job. Yeah, I'm a little short on money now but at least I'm not totally failing all my classes! And, I have more(ish) time to read. It wasn't really a huge deal in all honesty, I knew I was going to quit sooner or later in the school year. I love money (who doesn't?) so it was tough to let go, but the stress was killing me. Now, in addition to the 80 minutes of reading we get in school, I'm reading 30 to 40 minutes outside of school- because, if I'm being real, most of my time is still spent pulling my hair out trying to teach myself Pre-Cal. But, in addition to my extra reading time, I started reading 2 books at the same time! This may not be a big deal to most people, but I have always been the type of person to only read one book at a time. The idea of reading 2+ books simultaneously was frightening to me- I couldn't imagine how people could do it. I can barely finish one book, how the hell am I supposed to finish two? But, I gave it a shot and started Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell along with Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi. So far, it's going really well. Better than I expected actually. I'm around 40 pages in Outliers and 200 pages in Stamped from the Beginning. And, get this, neither of them are fiction books! Outliers is a nonfiction book about success, while Stamped from the Beginning is the historical non-fiction book I chose to read. Because these are non-fiction books, I will admit they're taking me a little longer to read. But, as I'm getting deeper into the books I find myself enjoying them as much, if not more, than fiction books because I feel like I'm actually learning things and expanding my knowledge, which I did feel while reading fiction books, but not as much. Also, another reason these books are taking me a little longer, is something I can thank APUSH and APLANG for. Before when I used to read, I used to to breeze through books. First, obviously, because they weren't as complex, but mostly because I wouldn't stop and really think about what I read. As long as I got the gist of what the author was saying, I would go right along. Now though, I actually stop and write notes all over my book! I have to highlight things or put sticky notes on interesting things I read and it forces me to think deeper about what the authors is actually saying, as opposed to just what's on the surface. It's a good habit I know, but now I can't read as fast and nonchalantly as I used to, which is irritating.
Stamped from the Beginning focuses on the history of racist ideas in America and how they have been instilled in our society. This book argues that instead of the racist and antiracist narratives we've been exposed to, there is actually three sides to the age old debate of racial disparity- segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists. Kendi claims, "A group we can call segregationists has blamed Black people themselves for the racial disparities. A group we can call antiracists has pointed to racial discrimination. A group we can call assimilationists has tried to argue for both, saying that Black people and racial discrimination were to blame for racial disparities. "(Kendi 2) The book explores the narrative of five intellectuals all throuought history, from Thomas Jefferson in the beginnings of America to Angela Davis in modern day. One of the tour guides of this book is William Lloyd Garrison, an activist for emancipation and civil rights. Although, Kendi proves that Garrisons’ intentions weren't rooted in antiracists ideas at all, but instead an assimilationist perspective that is racist in itself, "...Garrison kept arriving in the same racist place as his enslaving enemies--subhuman Black inferiority...[He] enjoyed presenting two types of Black people: degrading or excelling. He hoped the narrative elicited White 'sympathy' and 'untiring' efforts 'to break every yoke'...After all, Garrison had packaged the book in his assimilationist idea of the enslaved or free African as actually subpar, someone 'capable of high attainments as an intellectual and moral being-- needing nothing but a comparatively small amount of cultivation to make him an ornament to society and a blessing to his race." (Kendi 184) Kendi shows the complexity and, honestly, the ridiculousness of Garrisons' point of view. He fought for the civil rights of African Americans, all based on racist ideas. He believed, as well as other assimilationists, that Black people were not already moral and sophisticated characters, and that they needed to assimilate into White culture in order to reach their full potential. He spoke about how the racism they endured transformed them into barbarians, and that they should be accepted into White society in order to be a "blessing to his race, " and saved in some way, which is a hidden racist narrative we can see today in the murder of unarmed black men. Assimlationsis have blamed both the unarmed black men and the officers who killed them. They claim both were irresponsible criminals and, most importantly, still paints Black people in a bad light, all the while trying to cover up their underlying racism by claiming that it was the officers fault too. Whether you support this narrative or not, we can see how it dates back to the times of William Lloyd Garrison and how it was instilled into our society.Kendi presents an interesting point of view- assimilationst.I had always researched the racists and antiracists narratives of society, never realizing that there could be another side to the coin. I had also never considered the intentions of these civil rights activists and how their motives could be rooted in racism. I pulled William Garrisons’ original preface of Fedrick Douglass’ narrative from the internet as a primary source. William Garrison has just met Fedrick Douglass at an anti-slavery convention and although supportive of him, we must question why he supports him and how he is able to promote the rights of Blacks in America.. just maybe he’s doing it by making Whites feel bad for Blacks. This assimilationst way of thinking is toxic because it does still exist in our society and can be just as dangerous as blatant racism.
Gladwell, Malcom. Outliers. Little, Brown and Company, 2011. -MLA
Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped From The Beginning. Nation Books, 2016. - MLA
William Lloyd Garrison, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Accessed 11 Nov 2017. http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/abolitn/abaufda1t.html - Chicago