The impact of our race and ethnicity on our identity - Essay Example

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The presence of Asian immigrants in the United States seemed to both affirm the law of surplus labor and dispute the narrative of Western civilization's unstoppable stride. Not only did the "strangers from a different shore" (Takaki 1989) counter the inevitable fulfillment of Manifest Destiny; they also threatened to adulterate the national fantasy of Anglo-Saxon purity, thus inviting the institutional "exercise [of I the tyranny of a free people …
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The impact of our race and ethnicity on our identity
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Download file to see previous pages As Peter Schuck and Rogers Smith argue, American citizenship has never been exclusively "consensual." There has always been an interpretive imbalance between John Locke's "individualistic liberalism," which has been the attributed conceptual cornerstone of the American Revolution, and the less-acknowledged influence of "Atlantic republicanism" that underlies that of an American empire.
Zora Neale Hurston developed into an avid reader and an attentive listener, a fan of myth, legend, and local lore. In Eatonville, where everyone is some shade of black, Zora is no different from anyone else. The white people she meets in Eatonville differ from her only insofar as they do not live there. As Barbara Johnson points out, the Zora of Eatonville disappears in Jacksonville and becomes a colored girl. "The acquisition of color is a loss of identity," Johnson writes. Moreover, color seems not to be "fixed" but a "function of motion" from Eatonville to Jacksonville. Although Johnson is writing primarily about How It Feels to Be Colored Me, published in 1928, her comments are equally valid for Dust Tracks, since Hurston reuses, revising only slightly, many of the same passages from her earlier work. Hurston's sense of separation from her warm and safe familial life and her subsequent departure from Eatonville to Jacksonville begin a lifetime of wandering from and returning to her roots.
Although Zora returns to Eatonville after her father's second marriage, she is never able to return to her mother's home; it has become simply a house. Zora's knock-down, drag-out fight with her stepmother, whom she never forgives for usurping her mother's place, emphasizes Hurston's displacement from her home and family. In one sense, however, her alienation precipitates her journey from Eatonville to Washington, D.C., and later to New York City to gain education and a better life. This journey echoes that of many Negroes who moved from the black belt of the South to the North. Hurston's journey repeats in a way the migration by slaves to gain life and freedom, followed by subsequent migrations made by Blacks to find work in northern factories and to improve life for themselves and their children. The plot development of Hurston's autobiography, then, owes much to a black tradition, going back to slave narratives and to early black autobiographies.
The toll of substance use and abuse among black males, noted by social scientists since the earliest decades of this century, continues to waylay many men's struggle to effectively parent. Over a decade ago, Robert Staples explained that among black people, abuse of both drugs and alcohol are a product of an exploitative economy that offers minimum wages, little employment, and a lack of educational opportunities. Since then, the economy has become more distressing for working-class and poor black Americans, and these men's accounts seem to confirm Staples' analysis. For many black men, he argued, substance use and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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