New South, A Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

I’ve been hearing the opinion bounce around that the South still exists simply because Southerners consistently claim there is one. And we make a point of reiterating the differences all. the. time.

I think our readings have exhibited that region clearly does still matter. Our government/business people make it so. The kind of industries we court, the kind of economy we promote, the jobs that are available to us…these are very different from what the North is doing. Our readings for this week talked about the ongoing relationship between the South and auto companies or other large factories. These companies leave permanent marks on the Southern landscape. They continues to influence our future in a sort of self fulfilling prophecy of creating the workforce around the factory to suit its own needs. Furthermore, when we look at a political affiliations map, there is no denying the difference in political opinion by region. This, to me, clearly points to a difference between the two regions.

The South we imagined in the first week was a conglomeration of vague stereotypes and attempts at defining ideologies. I believe we have progressed to a more clearly demarcated identity of the South. I think the South is different because Southerners tease out that identity at every chance. The history the South shares continues to influence us all. Our courtship of factories, our response to political matters, our mode of economy, and our food (FOOD!) clearly define the region in a way that transcends thoughts about racism (though racism is clearly an issue the South deals with more than the North) or stereotypes.

Lastly, region does appear to matter in the sense that the rest of the world perceives there to be a specific South. So, once again, the South is the South because Southerners and everyone else makes there be a South. There’s a common will among us to maintain an identity separate from that North.

In Segregation, Robert Penn Warren describes various encounters with Southerners during his travels in the area. He meets specifically with quite a few segregationist group leaders/members. He describes the fear, the anger, the resentment these white Southerners feel toward blacks. Often “pridefulness” is supplied as the reason for segregation- a fear of mongrelization (mixing of the races, so to speak), preserving the moral superiority of the white race from the polluting effects of the black race. Sometimes we encounter a more nuanced approach, like the story of one woman school teacher who works for a school for black kids. She observes the absolute poverty of many of her students. She did not wonder that white parents didn’t want their children exposed to that. Also, a black college student cited that white people desired to preserve the economic high ground.

I’m interested in the “pridefulness” approach. I believe there is a fundamental hatred and a fundamental pride in whiteness (purity). But I’m wondering why resentment isn’t talked about more often. I mean, obviously there were a lot of reasons the Civil War was fought. During the Civil War, freedom for slaves was never considered to be the sole issue. But slavery was the issue that prevented Europe from becoming involved. It divided the South. It added a heavy element of moral questioning. The War and slavery even threw Christianity into question. Maybe the type of “pridefulness” has to do with a fear of mongrelization and moral purity but also pride in ones home. Freedom to slaves meant the North won. Freedom to slaves meant the South just got sucker punched. Even if racist white Southerners had always regarded black people as equals, they wouldn’t have poured government money into black establishments. If anyone forces you to do something you don’t want to even if you agree with the action itself- you half ass it don’t you? Perhaps some of that hatred and resentment got redirected and embedded into the black community.

I believe that racist white Southerners did not like to speak to Warren for many of the above issues. I believe the lack of willingness to voice opinions openly hindered the Civil Rights movement.

 

The Confederacy lost Cause they just did.

The fights in the Civil War exacted massive damages on the Southern psyche and landscape.

Why they fought is still somewhat unclear to me, and it appears the South was unsure as well. Robert E Lee’s understanding illustrates this point- he argued with pro-slavery President Andrew Jackson that the South should preemptively abolish slavery. Emancipating slaves would only help the Confederate Cause- it would divide/confuse the Northern causes, gain European support, loosen up a large portion of able bodied men to strengthen the Confederate’s beleaguered ranks, and reduce responsibilities at home for soldiers. And, frankly, it would happen anyway if the North won, so why not get a head start? Andrew Jackson staunchly disagreed. But notice that Lee did not think he was fighting for or against slavery. He was fighting for the Confederacy. He expected his men to fight even if the issue of slavery was already settled. The South decidedly fought against the North not emancipation. We see this same frame of thought bounced around throughout our readings- slavery was not necessarily the primary issue, and neither were states rights as the politicians would have the two contending sides believe.

There was a strong element of religion that tied in to the war which I hoped Gallagher would explore further. He did, however, take the time to make it clear that the South clearly believed they were acting in Gods favor. As they lost battle after gruesome battle, they began to question their standing in God’s eyes.

Women in Georgia began to question the already shaky theological reasonings underpinning slavery. In fact everyone but the South essentially agreed that slavery was immoral- who can stand the subject of so much criticism and not question the institution, however strongly they might believe in it? But questioning or not, this is slave society we’re talking about. The abrupt abolishment of slavery would cause a world of chaos (and it did). So even the less sure knew they must fight for slavery because it ultimately meant fighting for their selves and their way of life.

As you can see, the Southern psyche suffered traumatic blows. However, the South knew they had to fight, so in true American fashion, they fought because that’s what they were doing.

They fought through the extraordinarily high casualty rates. Their homes went to ruins. Their families went hungry. They fought against class strife among their own ranks, ineffective leadership, sometimes deserting only to return again. They saw their main cities razed to the ground (yeah thanks Sherman. Yah jerk.). They faced overwhelming odds- the North outclassed them in nearly every respect: more arms, more money to fund the war with, more population, more available fighters, more factories, more railroads…yet the Southerners plodded on along, rallied by the symbol of Robert E Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia hoping for a miracle.

They lost for all these reasons. But I do not believe they were doomed from the start. They could have won. For any reasons above. Given a little more infrastructure, maybe change a few events here and there…we could have seen a very different outcome for the war.

Civil War- futility, identity, and class issues

The Civil War was as much about identity and cultural differences as it was for economic mobility, slavery/morality, and politics.Often, the Southern fighters of the Civil War are portrayed as gallant men fighting to the death in a war they know to be futile. They stood up for what they believed in. I think, if we have learned anything from Johnson in Soul by Soul, its that the South depended on their slaves for everything from social mobility to the food on their table. Ownership of a slave or slaves directly correlated to a family’s stance in society. This being the case, the threat of having something so intrinsic to one’s culture forcibly removed seems a war worth fighting. For everyone but the slaves, that is. Curiously enough, many free black men and slaves also fought in this war- a topic I can’t wait to discuss! I believe this act truly speaks to a deeper underlying issue which slavery is only a large facet of. For this reason, I am pleased with Gallagher’s approach to the Civil War- it seems every history channel documentary I’ve watched and every teacher of the subject have highlighted the overwhelming Northern forces that crumbled the South in no time. Gallagher opens a few new avenue of inquiry. Though it became clear that the Southerners would lose, many Southerners fought on. Gallagher asks: why did so many fight for so long? Also, did inner strife in the South seal their own fate? Many historians agreed that the Southerners essentially had a civil war within the Civil War. Southerners who were more concerned with social standing often pushed legislation in  a manner that alienated the yeomanry. The South fell because it fought for its own society. That society, when realized to a certain extent, collapsed under its own weight. Other factors such as supply lines, military strength, etc obviously contributed. But how do we view the war from these other perspectives? And what do they say about the way society deals with its current issues?

Johnson/ Harriet Jacobs

Previously, I have considered the nature of a slaves understanding of his/her identity as both property and as an oppressed human being. I have never truly considered the intersection of these, and certainly not the intertwining nature or the two. The chattel principle is a hugely interesting concept most acutely represented in the Harriet Jacob piece in Oxford Book of The American South. Harriet was a slave born into the service of Mr. Flint. Harriet was often approached aggressively by Mr. Flint. Harriet did all she could to avoid his advances. Had Mr. Flint not been so afraid of Harriet’s grandmother and under the constant vigilance of his wife, he would have taken what he wanted. Johnson talks about two items that I find acutely relevant to Harriet’s experiences. Harriet writes: “The crisis of my fate now came so near that I was desperate. I shuddered to think of being the mother of children that should be owned by my old tyrant. I knew that as soon as a new fancy took him, his victims were sold far off to get rid of them; especially if they had children” (62). Here, it is obvious that we are seeing the essence of the chattel principle. She is approached sexually, she has little protection to defend herself from his advances, and she must fear being sold away from her family should she anger him too much.
Johnson also talks about paternalism, of which Mr. Flints behavior appears to be a part of. He uses threat as control. He uses the institution of his slave’s family and community “that usually insulated from racism as an instrument of coercion”. I believe he mentions a great line as well that mentions using his slave’s humanity though he must also actively deny their humanity in order to rationalize owning them. I can’t say I’ve ever actually contemplated the complexities of the cognitive dissonance within a slaveholder. A slaveholder depends on his slaves for his own social standing, the realization of his dreams, his acceptance in his own society. Yet, as Mr. Flint demonstrates, he recognizes the humanity of his own slaves. So much that he desires Harriet sexually. Her willingness seems to have something to do with his choice to have sex with her- though it doesn’t appear so on the surface, I believe who would have raped her had her feelings not meant something to him. Furthermore, when she revealed her feelings for another man, Mr. Flint became enraged. He was jealous of this other man. So how does a slaveholder actively deny humanity yet use it as coercion?

The Final Critique

They look amazing. These are just a smattering of the most finished ones.

   I’m missing Cecilia’s whose perhaps is the most finish but I didn’t have a picture of hers. Many people had only their nose        and cheeks done.

I think everyone was so tired we didn’t want to talk about our work much.

Everyone had pretty similar problems. Skin tones, detail, contrast, frustration. Lack of anything to say.

 

 

We did do some talking about what needed to be done on our individual works.

 

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of work to do. Yes, the features are essentially on the page but everything needs so much work. The bridge of my nose is way bigger and blockier, my chin is wider, my face on the whole is more angular, those just aren’t my lips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charcoal/Eraser Drawing pt. 2

Today was about learning from others. Solange taught me skin tone- she utilizes her toilet paper for buffering. Adia taught me lines- she smooshes her eraser into a thin line and lightly picks up charcoal dust. Nell Ruby taught me sharp lines- she tears a piece of paper off and uses it to block the paper from the eraser. Erin A taught me features- she is doing an amazing job defining her freckles by dabbing dust with her fingertips.

  

 

The hardest thing is by far, skin tone. Getting even shades in comparison to the other shades and translating non grey-scale shades to a shade of grey is the most difficult- think about it. How do you translate your pink lips to a shade of grey, and when you decide on the right shade, how do you compare that to somewhere else on your face? Smoothing out inadvertent striations is problem to solve number two. Buffering with toilet paper helps but it seems that there’s really only so much you can do after a point.

Oh, an,d )ui

]8u..)  <– my new kitty’s contribution to this blog

I’m having some difficulty with my eyes. And my cheeks. Oh and my lips. And maybe my lips. Creating 3-d has been an issue. I worked the longest on portraying the actual roundness of my eyes- that has been particularly difficult. Even though I added a little shade in the corners and shaded the under area of the eyes, they still look flat. There’s no evidence of an orb. I’m pretty happy with the pupil though. And I believe I did well with the eyelashes. We were warned about that aspect in particular- we shouldn’t think that all of our eyelashes are visible. They often merge with the eyelid- on my actual eye, only three or four dark eyelashes are actually visible. There’s some light whisping toward my inner eye that I will have to resolve but I’m happy until the next time.

But how to make my eye an orb…I did a little bit of work with the eye lids, making more of a definitive line seems to be working though you can’t quite see that in the picture.

More to come later.