This past week I read the book Zone One by Colson Whitehead. In this blog I will address the theme of death and the racial bias that Colson Whitehead shows the reader they could have had when they read the book. Throughout the book Whitehead explores how the survivors of this plague view death and their belief that they controlled their own future. The characters saw this plague as a chance for them to escape having to relive the mistakes they have made in their life in what would be the afterlife. “The death of the afterlife was not without its perks, however, sparing Mark Spitz the prospect of an eternity reliving his mistakes and seeing their effects ripple, however briefly and uselessly, through history” (282). This shows how characters such as Mark Spitz saw the plague, that caused humans to become stragglers or skels, as way for humans to avoid having to die and relive their mistakes for eternity in the afterlife. Also, since the plague happened, Mark shows us how the characters view their future as something that they can control now. “The future was in the clay in their hand” (81). Whitehead showed us how death became an important factor in the lives of the characters and how it helped them continue to survive and believe they were in more control of their future rather than causing them worry as it can in the lives of individuals in our society today. Also, Whitehead showed us how the average reader can have racial bias without even realizing it. Near the end of the book, Whitehead informs the reader that Mark Spitz, the main character, is an African American male. Based on our class discussion and my own personal experience reading this book, it exposed a racial bias in a lot of my classmates and myself because we assumed that Mark Sptiz was white male. I thought it was very interesting how Whitehead can make the reader step back and re-evaluate themselves and examine why they may have a racial bias. On the website, https://theundefeated.com/features/black-americans-overwhelmingly-say-unconscious-bias-is-a-major-barrier-in-their-lives/ , it says that people can have racial bias and “they might not realize they’re giving more attention to one person than the other, because they’re more accepting of who they are or naturally gravitate to that person”. Also, on the website https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2019/10/uncovering-unconscious-racial-bias-lecture-examines-stereotypes-and-their-impacts , it says “research has shown that biases buried beneath our awareness can powerfully shape how we see”. This made me really think about how when I was reading this book I could have thought Mark Spitz was a white man because I could be more accepting of who I am personally and may gravitate towards that without even realizing or being aware of it. Do you think you could have an unconscious racial bias that changes the way you see things without even realizing it?
Source for Image: https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/beyond-colorblindness-addressing-racial-trauma-and-racial-bi/
This past week I read the book American War by Omar El Akkad. In this blog I will address the theme of violence throughout the novel, how humans can be blinded by the need for revenge, and how we see the ways these ideas are played out in our country today. In this book we see Sarat from a young age let her anger towards the Blues begin to consume her. It began with her dad dying in the Blue country and then progressed when Gaines recruited her and then her mother was killed along with her brother becoming seriously injured from the attack on Camp Patience. After the attack on Camp Patience we see Sarat finally blinded by the revenge she wants to let out on the Blues when she tells Gaines “I want to kill them” (209). The craving for violence against the Blue country leads to Sarat killing the Blues top General and eventually releasing the Quick and beginning the Reunification Plague which would lead to over 100 million American lives lost. These themes of violence and revenge can be seen in our society through various actions taken in our country recently. A recent act of violence in response to frustration and the need for revenge was the attack on our American Capital on January 6th. Found on this website, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2021/politics/trump-insurrection-capitol/ , this attack and riot took place because former President Trump told his loyalists that “we’re going to have to fight much harder” in retaliation for the election he felt was stolen from him and his followers. This reminded me of Gaines and how he influenced Sarat to feel anger and want vengeance against her enemies. We saw that these riots and storming of the capital took place because former President Trump convinced his followers that they had all been wronged and cheated out of a victory by their enemies. The need for revenge and the violence that follows shows how terror can take place and how people can lose their lives because of it. Another example I have seen of these ideas being played out in our society actually occurred a couple days ago during the Atlanta Attacks against Asian Americans. Found on this website, https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2021-03-18/asian-americans-grieve-organize-in-wake-of-atlanta-attacks , these attacks were caused by a white gunman influenced by a “year of pandemic-fueled racist attacks on Asian Americans”. We see how close to a year of the COVID-19 virus being referred to as the “Chinese Virus” and other racial terms by some of our country’s leaders to describe it has caused a negative and hateful attitude towards Asian Americans. This attack in Atlanta led to eight people losing their lives with most of them being Asian women. In this example we see how the violence committed has been caused by the need for revenge by the white gunman for this virus that they have been lead to believe has been caused by Asians. This terrible event was caused by intolerable hate because the gunman was blinded by their need for revenge against Asians. This also reminds me of Sarat where she is so blinded by her hate for the Blues that even when she gets out of prison and the war is over, her first initial instinct when she sees a Blue soldier at the market is to kill them without hesitation. Do you think there is any way that our country can stop or decrease the amount of violence caused by the desire for revenge that is blinding various radical individuals?
Source for Image: https://www.rollcall.com/2021/01/15/interior-watchdog-to-examine-jan-6-capitol-riot-events-before/