Revisiting America : reading in race, culture and conflict
The issues of gender , racism and cultural discrimination are sensitive and often if not properly handled lead to conflicts. In this book the author examines the struggles the American society has experienced over the ages, and the subsequent conflicts, as regards, gender, race and culture, which as described by scholars, tore and helped patch together the American society . The author, thus portrays, through a chronological style of events, the history of America and the conflicts and struggles experienced and how they were solved, starting from the colonization, the native Indians conflicts and wars with immigrants, the Salem witch trials, slavery, the civil war and present and modern racial, cultural and gender conflicts. All this aspects, have helped shape the ideals that make America what it is today. In disseminating the knowledge, the author uses both primary and secondary data to vehemently express her ideas and the facts as regards this contentious issues.
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American history is one founded on struggle and obstacles that over the ages have come to define the true aspect of American culture .Its the statement of historians that the sensitive issues of race, gender and cultural discrimination in the American history are deep rooted and thus base their origin from the earliest settlers of America. Over the ages America has witnessed great acts of discrimination based on racial and cultural background directed especially to minority and colored groups, represented by the blacks, Native Americans and other groups. In this book the author puts together in a chronological order events that have helped define America and the core values of her foundation .This includes gender, cultural and racial struggles from early 17th century. In essence the book tries to highlight and bring to light ,the concept of discrimination and the thorny issue of race and culture responsible for conflicts in many countries including America.
Summary of the book
In this book Revisiting America: reading in race, culture and conflict Susan wyle brings into light the struggles the American society has faced both in the past and present as regards culture, race, gender and modern contemporary challenges and issues such as immigration. The book can be divided into four parts represented in chapters.
The first chapter titled; Early conflicts on the eastern shore, focuses on the early American issues of gender and cultural conflicts. In this chapter the author ingeniously brings into light the historical underpinning that the issues of race, gender and culture had on the early settlers. According to the author the views held about the Indians were based on the pre-concept ional thoughts of the immigrants especially those from New England, that the native Indians were devilish and evil people. This views became widely acknowledged among the Europeans given the fact that Shake sphere had vehemently ascertained the fact that Indians were uncivilized and evil, an aspect the European believed was commonly held by both Indians and the European Irish. It’s widely acknowledged that shakespheas notions regarding the barbaric nature of Indians ,became entangled in the minds of immigrants who in turn vow to eliminates and entirely destroy the Indians, in that since the aspect of evil was deep rooted in their culture and were uncivilized and barbaric individuals, they didn’t deserve to live. Thus the early colonizers determined to destroy, the native Indian “performed such operations which killed a number of Indians (Wayle, 2003, p24)
Also the author talks about witchcraft which according to scholars enables the writer to bring into light the American past and her process of civilization. Here based on testimonies of the famous Salem witch trials, Wyle describes how discrimination found its root in American society. The author further distinguishes how cultural conflicts between the natives and the new immigrants became widely spread as the immigrants clashed with the natives. The issue of slavery and subsequent American struggle for freedom from colonization is vividly expressed. From this accounts the author is able to bring into light the emancipation of the Americans and the struggles that bore the fruits of democracy that the American society proud’s herself of today. It’s in this chapter that we learn about slavery which scholars have described as representing the darkest era in American history. Its illustrated by the aspect of human degradation defined by the selling and buying of slaves from the marginalized communities.. All this aspect will have great influence in showing the aspect of racial discrimination.
Chapter three titled conflicts on the way west, vividly illustrate through the author’s use of both primary and secondary sources how Americans or individual experienced injustices and to some extend conflicts as they traveled westwards. In this section the author through use of information provided by other scholars gives complete accounts on how gender for instance was used to define and individual. Through this accounts we are able to grasp the fact that conflicts such as social conflict do indeed reflect the issues pertaining humanity development and relationships. Upon describing this accounts the author sought to describe how people were treated, based on their background. It has been the widely held view that women are a weak gender and often marooned and abused by men. This view is widely expressed in this book, however over the ages the situation has greatly improved, in that women have emerged as a dominant group though, still lark behind as men continue to dominate in major aspects of life.
In chapter four the thorny issue of slavery and civil war is brought out. Through her narrative accounts, we are able to understand and comprehend on the slavery issue, which according to sociologist brought mass suffering to the enslaved and the African race at large. The accounts of slaves and the dehumanizing conditions they were made to go through, describes how the issue of racism brought about the civil war that threatened to destroy America.
Also in this chapter the author examines the experiences of different participants of the said war including accounts of freedmen, slaves, women and soldiers who participated in the civil war. Also talked about is politician’s reaction to the war and the effects the war had on American. Of importance here is the issue of gender in which contrary to expectations, the author describes how women dressed like men to fight.
The held view by some Americans that slavery was justified led to separation of America into two, with each opposing the other. Moreover the author through accounts describes how African slaves, were maltreated and subsequently dehumanized by those who held the view that, they were destined to be slaves and thus not humans. This led to war between the northern states and southern states over the issue of slavery. This war according to historians marked the birth of new era in American history. Further, the author cogently illustrates and describes how the politicians helped to shape the course of American history. Of importance, is the speech by the then American president Abraham Lincoln, who during the Gettysburg speech defined the impact of the war on American society.
The last topic is entitled Conflicts in the past and conflicts at present. In this last chapter the author brings out the modern conflict in regards to the issues of race, gender, culture and the ever contentious and sensitive aspect of immigration. Based on modern reading, the author makes us understand about the struggles of the minority groups especially people of color and women. It is the view of scholars that though for a long time people have had stereotypes about others based on race, gender, during the 20th century a number of things happened that have helped America partially destroy the seed of conflict engineered by differences represented by culture, race and gender.
Under this section, the author, describes the challenges and struggle of civil right leaders and how the society at large came to accept not fully and incorporate some of the rights proposed by the said movements. Also immigration aspects of American economy is vividly explained in the sense that according to the author America has always had the policy of attracting the best brains in the world. As regards politicians and people will demonstrated by democracy, Wayle ascertains that the opinion of others greatly influence who is to rule the country. Further the character of an individual defines his or her ability to rule. Its this democracy established by the struggle of our fore fathers that enabled liberty to prevail.. The author here uses the word “polarized America” referring to America distinctive society which is efficiently divided, allowing the society to judge any aspects based on the advantages and disadvantage posed by any issue
The author also connects our modern challenges on historical problems of race and gender. For instance the believe that the colored and blacks are inferior race is held by some though the views held over a century ago have tremendously changed in that the society has metamorphosed over the ages to regard the issue of race as having no place in modern world. However despite these tremendous achievements there are still those opposed to changes. This is demonstrated by the clash of cultures representing the old and modern. Thus the different cultures present in America make it impossible for the citizens to hold similar views as regards issues and aspects that greatly influence, the governing of the said society. This is perfectly illustrated by the race issue in politics.
This book has enabled me think critically as regards the American past events and how this issues of gender, race and culture represented in the book have impact on current events. For instance the journey to civilization has been along one, from permittivity represented by the early native inhabitants, who practiced witchcraft to modern civilization. Thus the knowledge of past events that have shaped American policy has enabled me appreciate the different cultures and differences represented by race and gender.
Also, the book has made me understand, the concept of individual thought, in that each individual is entitled to hold his or her own view, as regards, societal issues, further the diversity of the American society, established in the population makes it extremely hard for consensus in defining the thoughts and ideas that ought to shape the society.
Wyle ,S (2003); Revisiting America: Readings in Race, Culture, and Conflict, Prentice Hall, New Jersey
Kaufman W ,(2006). The Civil War in American Culture, Edinburgh University Press,
This composition reader, roughly organized chronologically, offers contributions on a myriad of racial and cultural struggles in past and present America. Its combination of primary, secondary, and literary sources encourages readers to think critically about the issues which have shaped the world around them, which take root in the early history of the United States, and which continue to be important in society today. The book also offers a glimpse into the power of language—written and spoken—in shaping ideas, attitudes, and politics when conflicts arise. A wide range of readings (by both well- and lesser-known authors), traces the evolution of conflicts in American history from the 17th century on, and compares and contrasts issues involving race, class, and gender over those centuries. An engaging variety of topics includes transcripts from the Salem witch trials, speeches and writings by a number of native Americans, journals from women who dressed as men in the Civil War so they could fight, and presidential speeches dating back to the 18th century. For anyone who wants to listen to the historical voices that have come together to make America the complex and multicultural place that it is today.