Essay #3 Options Due July 17
Option One. Refute, support, or complicate Asma’s assertion that green guilt is not only a relative to religious guilt but speaks to our drive to sacrifice self-indulgence for the drive of altruistic self-preservation and social reciprocity. See Elizabeth Anderson’s online essay “If God Is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?”
Option Two. Develop a thesis that supports, refutes, or complicates the assertion Debra J. Dickerson, who wrote the “The Great White Way,” would find Michael Eric Dyson's essay "Understanding Black Patriotism" a complement to Dickerson's ideas about race, power, and hierarchy.
Option Three. Support, refute, or complicate Debra J. Dickerson's argument that race in America is more of a social fantasy than a reflection of objective reality.
Option Four. Show how the Jordan Peele movie Get Out builds on Debra J. Dickerson's argument that race in America is a cruel invention designed to create a hierarchy of power, one that can be seen in all its horror in post-Obama America. For sources, see NYT review , The Guardian review, and the Variety review.
Lexicon for Understanding Themes in Get Out:
Point 1: Appropriation: White people stealing from black culture: language, music, dance, style, art, etc.
Point 2: Fetishize or fetishization: White people wishfully thinking that black people are a super physical race in order that white people can justify their exploitation of black people evidenced by slavery, Jim Crow, and what Michelle Alexander and others call the New Jim Crow.
Point 3: Condescension or patronization: White liberals who think they are "enlightened" when in fact they treat black people the way a smug adult addresses a child.
Point 4: Whiteness as a mythical religion or the apotheosis (highest point of development) of self and American white people's religion of entitlement.
Point 5: Whiteness Love Affair with American Origin Myth of Innocence: The idea that whiteness, as a state of being offering Disneyland-like innocence, purity and entitlement, created the greatest country on Earth based on honor and virtue as a smokescreen from the evil, greed, and avarice that created slavery, racism, and Jim Crow.
Point 6: This romanticization of whiteness can be seen in the 5 remaining states (as of writing) that still wave the Confederate Flag over government buildings, erect statues of racist Confederate generals, name streets after racist Confederate generals, and conduct Confederate Army re-enactments in which people dress up in Confederate uniforms and re-live the days when Whiteness as Religion ruled the country without being contested by effete academic intellectuals and other unpatriotic Americans.
Option Five. Develop a thesis that analyzes the human inclination for staying within the tribe of sameness as explained in David Brooks’ “People Like Us” (very popular with students).
Option Six. Support, refute, or complicate Nicholas Kristof’s assertion that slashing food stamps is morally indefensible.
Option Seven. Addressing at least one essay we've covered in class (“The Wages of Sin” and “Eat Cake, Subtract Self-Esteem), support, refute, or complicate the argument that overeating, anorexia, and other eating disorders are not the result of a disease but are habits of individual circumstance and economics.
Option Eight. Support, refute, or complicate the argument that feminist-political explanations for anorexia, as evident in Caroline Knapp's essay, are a ruse that hide the disease's real causes.
Option Nine. In the context of “Our Baby, Her Womb,” support, defend, or complicate the argument that surrogate motherhood is a moral abomination.
Option Ten. In the context of “Unspeakable Conversations,” defend, refute, or complicate Peter Singer’s position that there are moral grounds for infanticide or “mercy killings.”
“The Great White Way” by Debra J. Dickerson
One. In the first paragraph, Dickerson writes that the president will struggle to explain what race is to space aliens. She suggests that no one knows what race is, yet it is the “central drama” of America.
Why is race, which is such a vague and confusing term, our nation’s obsession?
No one knows what race is because the whole notion of race is fake.
In fact, the whole the notion of race in America is the first "fake news."
People are freaking out today about all the fake news going around, but African-Americans have been the victims of fake news since America's beginnings when lies were told about the identity, history, and purpose of black Americans.
3 Groups of Americans and Only One Can Identify Fake News for What It Really Is
Hobbits: who wish to stay uninformed and ignorant. They conform to whatever "norms" and practices there are. Their goal in life is to not rock the boat.
Hooligans: Believe and spread fake news and try to shape policy based on fake news. The white supremacists were the first to spread the fake news of race in order to justify their ownership of slaves.
Vulcans: rational, educated people who develop informed opinions, consider opponents' views, and see world events in the context of history. Sadly, Vulcans are becoming a smaller part of the population.
Back in the days of slavery, the voices of Vulcans were eclipsed by the voices of Hooligans, a group of white supremacists who delivered the first fake news.
Two Types of White Supremacists
There are two types of white supremacists, the psychotics, the ones who really believe in it; they are 7 on the Evil Scale because they're dumb enough to believe in this fake news.
Then there are sociopathic white supremacists who invented the fake news of race all the while knowing that the news was fake. They invented race because it was a money-making opportunity. Their motive was purely money-driven whereas the white psychotics' fake news belief was religious and ideology-driven. The sociopaths, who were willing to exact cruelty on black people knowing full well that race was complete BS, score a 10 on the Evil Scale.
If there is a hell with lower and lower compartments, then the white sociopathic racists will go in the worst chamber.
Why Race is Fake News: No Science
There is no scientific or biological view of race. There is however a social construction of race based on arbitrary forces so that the definition of race is always changing.
We read in Dickerson's essay: When white Americans wanted to exploit Italians, Italians were "black"; when white Americans needed Italians' votes to fuel their agendas, they granted Italians "white" status. Race is a canard subject to change in the service of the kleptocracy, a rule of governance that steals from its people.
This history of white America is a history of kleptocracy against black Americans. This painful truth is underscored in the magisterial essay "The Case for Reparations" by Ta-Nehisi Coates in which Coates covers every thing you can imagine that has been stolen from black America: identity, body, mind, soul, art, property, to name some.
Motive for Inventing Race: Kleptocracy
What remains is that race has always been defined in service of the kleptocracy, in which the powerful, who define their power based on racial identity, steal from the exploited, also based on racial identity.
Race is defined in the service of power.
Because people of color have traditionally been excluded from the American Dream and there is a history of genocide, slavery, and Jim Crow (segregation and racism), human rights violations that were rooted in the idea of race.
The violations were so egregious and heinous that the only way white people could rationalize these acts and appease their conscience was to construct a devilish idea of racial entitlements for whites and racial exploitation for blacks.
Conclusion: Race is "fake news."
To reiterate, African-Americans were the first victims of "fake news."
The Origin of Fake News: White Supremacy:
White Supremacy is a false religion designed to justify and rationalize the evils of slavery and Jim Crow. The results of White Supremacy are exploitation of black people and a mass psychosis of those white people who drank the White Supremacy Kool-Aid.
Genocide, slavery, and Jim Crow were justified by white people who, intoxicated by the doctrine of White Supremacy, felt entitled to treat others in the horrid manner of racism and all its resulting evils.
In our contemporary society, we enslave migrant workers in tents up and down the agricultural worksites of California and elsewhere.
In the United States, we imprison black and brown men for the same crimes as whites at a ratio of 10:1 even as the prison system has become a multi-billion-dollar industry that has created millions of jobs.
We have strict laws for drug offenses, but not alcohol in light of this fact: 80% of all drunk driving arrests happen to white men. In a white-ruled kleptocracy, this makes sense.
Ideas of Race Today
So race, even in its vague definition, is still a hot-button issue and points to a crisis of injustice and moral bankruptcy.
Race is not a physical reality, but it is an obsession because it's part of White Supremacy's obsession with the IDEA of race, and as Debra Dickerson shows in her essay, the IDEA of race is a psychosis of never-ending, arbitrary racial definitions that keep changing to conform to the needs of those in power.
Two. What does Dickerson mean when she writes that “race is an arbitrary system for establishing hierarchy and privilege”?
Ultimate Hypocrisy of White Europeans Who Came to America
The creators of White Supremacy, who escaped the tyranny of European kings knew the value of freedom. They talked about freedom. They preached about freedom. They sang songs about freedom. They wrote poems about freedom.
My God, those white Europeans loved their freedom.
But put on your brakes, ladies and gentleman. They didn't like freedom as much as they claimed apparently because they sure didn't give a damn about freedom for black people.
Or put it this way: They loved money more than freedom and they only valued freedom for themselves, not others.
White profiteering sociopaths who were envious of the profits slave traders were making in Britain, Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere, wanted a piece of the action.
How Could The White Sociopaths Play the White Christian Farmers?
The white sociopaths whose only religion was money knew the white Christian peasants and farmers were too religious and too caught up in the command "Love thy neighbor as thyself" to embrace slavery, so the white sociopath conmen insidiously put White Supremacy, the belief that God and Jesus are white and that the world was made for white people, into the white peasants' Bibles and soon enough the peasants and farmers drank enough of this White Supremacy or "evil Kool-Aid," as I'm fond of calling it, and they were on board with the white conmen.
White Inventors of Race Were Conmen and Sociopaths
Here's an important point: The white conmen were too clever to be fooled by race. They knew that race doesn't exist, that race is a canard and they used race as a canard to fool the white peasants.
The white peasants actually believed in the Kool-Aid the conmen gave them.
The psychotic peasants would still go to Hell because there's no excuse for their "complicit ignorance," as I like to call it, but they're not as diabolical as the white sociopaths who invented White Supremacy for their own profit.
Review of White Supremacy
White Supremacy is an evil religion, a hybrid of Christianity and white superiority narratives, which states whites were put on Earth lord over everyone else in any manner they saw fit.
The false religion was the first fake news.
In the United States, there was no such thing as "race" until slavery came along.
Before the fake news of White Supremacy, people in America did not have a consciousness of race or skin color. Race and skin color were inventions, or if you will, an elaborate fiction or fairy tale designed to justify genocide, slavery, and Jim Crow.
White farmers and slave owners drank the Kool-Aid and saw themselves as “good Christians” even as they exacted cruelty upon people of color. They were able to use White Supremacy (“I’m just doing what the good Lord ordained me to do.”) to assuage their conscience and perform heinous acts, which constituted the most depraved human rights violations.
Three. What attitudes did white Americans feel toward European immigrants from Ireland to Greece?
They were looked upon as subhumans that would takeover America as “mongrel hordes” unless the white Americans started breeding more.
There was a racial hierarchy with Anglo Europeans at the top, Italians, Slavs, Greeks, and Irish at the middle, and brown and black people relegated to the bottom.
Hostility was so bad against non-Anglo Europeans that 11 Italians were lynched in Louisiana in 1891.
The Anglo whites wanted to assimilate the southern Europeans into more jobs and get their votes, so they “promoted Southern Europeans to whiteness,” whiteness being equivalent to the gold card of freedom, respect, and privilege.
This privilege gave “fascist-leaning Italians” full respect while patriotic Japanese were put into internment camps.
One of the horrid things about southern Italians becoming full white Americans was in sharing white Americans’ hate and disdain for people of color. For example, we read that Italian Americans took delight in beating up black people.
This was their sick rite of passage into “being fully white.”
Four. How was FDR’s New Deal and Truman’s Fair Deal a sort of affirmative action for whites only?
The states could decide who got the New Deal money and it always went to poor whites, never to blacks. White liberals in the north allowed southern states to do with the New Deal as they liked, state by state. There was no federal enforcement so that all people benefited.
During the Depression, relief only went to poor whites. Poor blacks received nothing.
Blacks were not eligible for Social Security until the 1950s.
These injustices, which happened 70 years ago, give weight to the argument for affirmative action, Dickerson argues.
We did have affirmative action for the poor, Dickerson reminds us, but 70 years ago, it was only the white poor who received it.
Fake News and the movie Get Out.
Chris, the black protagonist, attends a white family's party and he is subject to a hailstorm of fake news about his identity, origins, and purpose.
Sample Thesis and Outline Comparing "The Great White Way" to the Jordan Peele movie Get Out.
Jordan Peele's movie Get Out cogently helps us understand Debra J. Dickerson's connection in "The Great White Way" between race as a fantasy and white privilege as a kleptocracy. Through the lens of Peele's film, this connection is evidenced in four major ways including __________________, _________________, ________________, and _____________________.
Paragraphs 1 and 2: Explain the connection between race as a fantasy and how this racial fantasy fuels white privilege and its aim to conduct a kleptocracy in which black Americans are its victims. (Two 150-word paragraphs for 300 words)
Paragraph 3: Argue that Get Out builds on Debra Dickerson's idea as it pertains to the racist fantasy of the black male, in which the black male is perceived as "superior physical specimen" on one hand and servile dolt on the other, the subtle racist jabs or condescending microaggressions that reinforce this racist notion of the black male, the self-destruction that afflicts blacks who try to assimilate in white society, even liberal white society, the denial of racism that whites enjoy boasting about in a post-Obama America, and how white America's racist ideas lay the groundwork for justifying the kleptocracy of black America: the systematic state-sponsored stealing of every ounce of body, mind, and soul from black culture. (150 words for 450 subtotal)
Paragraphs 4-8 (five paragraphs at 150 words each would give us 750 words for a subtotal of 1,200 words)
Conclusion: Show the broader ramifications for a movie about the kleptocracy and its relevance in a post-Obama America (200 word paragraph for 1,400 total).
You can consult the following movie reviews for your Works Cited:
NYT review , The Guardian review, and the Variety review. For an even more in-depth essay about the kleptocracy against black America, you might consult Ta-Nehisi Coates' essay "The Case for Reparations."
“Understanding Black Patriotism” by Michael Eric Dyson
One. What is the difference between black patriotism and “lapel-pin nationalism”?
The history of black people is the history of struggle, to fight against slavery, Jim Crow, unfair incarceration laws, unequal income distribution, to name some, and this struggle for a better country through the struggle is far more in-depth and arduous than people spewing easy slogans and clichés.
The history of black America is to fight the fake news and replace it with real news because the truth shall set you free.
If one is angry toward one’s country, its lies and morally wrong practices, then one has hope for change. True abandonment of one’s country is not expressed anger or outrage but apathy, and the percentage of people of all colors who stay at home on election days speaks to apathy.
In contrast, there is “My country, right or wrong,” which is a dogmatic credo of the ignorant peasant who subscribes, not to patriotism, but to jingoism, the act of cheerleading or being a fanboy for one’s country without doing the research or hard work concerning the relevant issues.
A jingoist is a Kool-Aid drinker or fanboy who blindly embraces all things that pertain to one’s country.
A true patriot, according to Dyson, is a critical thinker who wants an accurate diagnosis of America's ills in order to make a better America.
Two. What examples does Dyson provide regarding hypocrisy of patriotism?
Dyson points at the five deferments of Dick Cheney, hawkish on terrorism, who may have been hawkish when he was calling the shots, but when it came to him fighting he stayed home from the war five times. He really used those deferments but was eager to make others fight his war.
In contrast, African American critic of American racism Jeremiah Wright surrendered his student deferment and volunteered to join the Marines.
Subordination and Coordination (Complex and Compound Sentences)
A complex sentence has two clauses. One clause is dependent or subordinate; the other clause is independent, that is to say, the independent clause is the complete sentence.
While I was tanning in Hermosa Beach, I noticed the clouds were playing hide and seek.
Because I have a tendency to eat entire pizzas, inhaling them within seconds, I must avoid that fattening food.
Whenever I’m driving my car and I see people texting while driving, I stop my car on the side of the road.
I have to workout every day because I am addicted to exercise-induced dopamine.
I feel overcome with a combination of romantic melancholy and giddy excitement whenever there is a thunderstorm.
We use subordination to show cause and effect. To create subordinate clauses, we must use a subordinate conjunction:
The essential ingredient in a complex sentence is the subordinate conjunction:
I workout too much. I have tenderness in my elbow.
Because I workout too much, I suffer tenderness in my elbow.
My elbow hurts. I’m working out.
Even though my elbow hurts, I’m working out.
We use coordination to show equal rank of ideas. To combine sentences with coordination we use FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
The calculus class has been cancelled. We will have to do something else.
The calculus class has been cancelled, so we will have to do something else.
I want more pecan pie. They only have apple pie.
I want more pecan pie, but they only have apple pie.
Using FANBOYS creates compound sentences
Angelo loves to buy a new radio every week, but his wife doesn’t like it.
You have high cholesterol, so you have to take statins.
I am tempted to eat all the rocky road ice cream, yet I will force myself to nibble on carrots and celery.
I want to go to the Middle Eastern restaurant today, and I want to see a movie afterwards.
I really like the comfort of elastic-waist pants, but wearing them makes me feel like an old man.
Both subordination and coordination combine sentences into smoother, clearer sentences.
The following four sentences are made smoother and clearer with the help of subordination:
McMahon felt gluttonous. He inhaled five pizzas. He felt his waist press against his denim waistband in a cruel, unforgiving fashion. He felt an acute ache in his stomach.
Because McMahon felt gluttonous, he inhaled five pizzas upon which he felt his waist press against his denim waistband resulting in an acute stomachache.
Joe ate too much heavily salted popcorn. The saltiness made him thirsty. He consumed several gallons of water before bedtime. He was up going to the bathroom all night. He got a bad night’s sleep. He performed terribly during his job interview.
Due to his foolish consumption of salted popcorn, Joe was so thirsty he drank several gallons of water before bedtime, which caused him to go to the bathroom all night, interfering with his night’s sleep and causing him to do terribly on his job interview.
Bob dropped his peanut butter sandwich in the tiger’s enclosure. He leaned over the fence to reach for his sandwich. He fell over the fence. A tiger approached Bob. The zookeeper ran between the stupid zoo customer and the wild beast. The zookeeper tore his rotator cuff.
After Bob dropped his peanut butter sandwich in the tiger’s enclosure, he leaned over the fence to recover his sandwich and fell into the enclosure during which time he was approached by a hungry tiger, forcing the nearby zookeeper to run between Bob and wild beast. During the struggle, the zookeeper tore his rotator cuff.
Don’t Do Subordination Overkill
After Bob dropped his peanut butter sandwich in the tiger’s enclosure, he leaned over the fence to recover his sandwich and fell into the enclosure during which time he was approached by a hungry tiger forcing the nearby zookeeper to run between Bob and the wild beast in such a manner that the zookeeper tore his rotator cuff, which resulted in a prolonged disability leave and the loss of his job, a crisis that compelled the zookeeper to file a lawsuit against Bob for financial damages.