For this unit two paper, I will be analyzing and comparing and contrasting Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli and The Racial Segregation of American Cities Was Anything But Accidental by Katie Nodjimbadem. The similarity points I find in both sources were the degradation and separation that white Americans fought so hard for regarding other races born of a foreign or domestic country. Both texts are based on factual information and examples from historical context. Luiselli uses her experience from volunteering as an interpreter and even her personal experiences; on the other hand, Nodjimbadem uses policies, acts, and the overall treatment of African Americans to show the lengths white Americans have gone to as far as keeping certain and/or specific races separated from them. Our country has a haunting foundation of slavery and oppression dating back to 1493. Christopher Columbus needed money to pay for his New World expeditions, so he shipped Indians to Spain where there already existed slave markets dealing in the buying and selling of Africans (Gilder Lehrman Institute, 2009). Then again, slavery with African Americans beginning in 1619 with the arrival of 20 plus to the British Colony in Jamestown, Virginia, that unofficially ended more than two centuries later in 1865. This information is included and presented to show that we have a history of degradation of other races as stated before. If they were not providing a service, i.e free work at the beck and call and supervision of someone deemed superior, then they were considered useless. It, in a sense, became a societal norm which is why it was and still is carried through generations in personal, political, religious, and economical aspects. As far as the separation side, the building and implementation of the wall on the US-Mexico is a big symbol of support for separation. Yes, the wall itself is an idea to get used to, but it is also the lengths people are going to and the measures being taken. People take this idea to heart and feel joy in knowing a wall will separate them from people they so wrongfully hate and despise of. This wall along with a questionnaire that determines the fate of millions of immigrants, or intentionally denying a housing application or job to someone because of the color of their skin or ethnic background all lead back to separation. Even 30 years after the end of slavery, separate but equal was happening all across America and deemed constitutional (Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896). One thing history does is repeats itself, so the neighborhoods and small areas of a state or city“set” for a specific race (i.e Chinatown or El Barrio) or the enslavement, slaughter, or mistreatment of ethnic group and races continually happens just with a different group on the next wave of racism.
Summary/Background: Source One
Tell Me How It Ends can be classified as a primary source, written by Valeria Luiselli who has lived through the experiences talked about throughout the book. It was published in Minneapolis sometime in April of 2017 by Coffee House Press. Valeria Luiselli is a Mexican author who even herself had to deal with being an immigrant. The intended audience of this, in my opinion, is America. It would be a shame to put a cap on just it being for the younger generation or the older generation. I feel as if everyone in America needs to read content of this nature to see that people struggle and endure traumatic experiences just for a slice of the life we live and they more times than not, will not get. I feel that the background, being her seeking citizenship status, adds some personal touch and a sense of relation to the people she has encountered. The main goal, I feel, of Luselli’s book was to shed light on the reality immigrants face when seeking a home, refuge, or happiness here in America. This absurd image and description of the American dream has consumed the minds of people wanting out of their everyday horrors or wanting to find and live a life of happiness like a sea of thick cobwebs you cannot shake. No, they are not welcomed. No, they are not granted citizenship at the price of a small fee and pass of an interview administered by a USCIS officer. No they do not live life here comfortably. And no, they are not treated with basic human decency. Instead, they are murdered, raped, beaten, denied medical treatment, barely fed, deprived of water, and detained in and cramped in a “icebox,” as referenced by Luiselli. These people are willing to do anything for a chance at changing their lives only to possibly be assaulted or denied citizenship. Hindering these immigrants plays into and highlights the plaguing desire of separation whether it be permanently or temporarily.
One strength of this paper would be the status she had, an interpreter for kids coming here seeking entry for a better life. Her position as an interpreter, who essentially sets the precedent for how these court cases could possibly go, versus just another American citizen guides this book and sets the route for how this book will go. She has an insight on what really goes on when refugees come to America, unlike you and I. We merely read books and news headlines, getting barely a glimpse of all that they endure or the process for them to be here and have their voices heard if they make it past the border. Another strength was her and her family waiting for their green cards themselves. Personal experiences have an untouchable power. Her along with the people she spoke to, were being profiled, mistreated, and judged. In a car ride with her husband and step-children, suspicion arose among authoritative officials because of their national origin. So, hearing first hand from her the experiences she went through, adds on to the reality of immigration, the laws on it, and the stigma against it. She helped to shed light on what happens when people seek entry into the U.S. and even provides a little knowledge and truth behind our many misconceptions.
Summary/Background: Source Two
The Racial Segregation of American Cities Was Anything But Accidental was written by Katie Nodjimbadem and can be classified as a secondary source. Using historical policies and records and articles from the past, she compiled it to be used in her book. The book was published by Smithsonian in 2017. Katie Nodjimbadem is the former staff reporter for Smithsonian magazine born in El Paso, Texas. I feel that her background as an African American writer helps her to convey the message of the book in a clear and concise way. When you speak on or write about your history and the history of your ancestors, you have no choice but to get it right. It is the least you could for them, yourself, and whoever sets eyes or opens their ears to just listen. The intended audience would be anyone interested in learning about the history of the land. The title of the book itself tells the content of the story and provides support for one of the points in my paper all in one. In one particular answer Nodjimbadem gives, she states that the FHA had evidence that if African Americans moved into white neighborhoods, the property value had actually risen. This was the complete opposite of the justification that segregation was necessary because African Americans caused a decline in property values. The FHA completely ignored their findings, and segregation obviously still stood. This played in the favor of the Roosevelt Administration in the sense that they needed justification for the New Deal policies. Another argument brought up, according to Nodjimbadem, was that the government subsidized mass production builders to create suburbs on the condition that they only be sold to white people. The FHA even went as far as prohibiting resale to African Americans. It was proven that many African Americans could actually afford to live in white suburbs, but situations such as reverse-redlining withheld African Americans from such opportunities. Reverse-redlining can be defined as the targeting of banks and mortgage of minority communities for exploitative loans, called subprime loans. These kinds of loans were intended for African-American and Latino homeowners to refinance their homes at a low-interest which would explode into an alarming high rate once they were subjected to and locked into their mortgage. As a result, there were higher numbers of foreclosures in these neighborhoods than white neighborhoods. So this further supports the argument of separation and degradation of other races. People who had the power to do so, intentionally ruined the finances of African-Americans and Latinos to either to keep them out of white, suburban neighborhoods or simply because they wanted to.. Also, African-Americans were denied the opportunity to be sold certain property on the basis of their skin color. I mean, looking back, the FHA inexplicitly held the key. The key of changing the way America was thinking at the time. What people thought they know, was completely wrong. African-Americans were not causing a decline in property value, but in fact, more times than not- the opposite. Yet, they chose to ignore these findings for their own selfish reasons. To touch on the degradation point, many all-black suburbs, became overcrowded and became slums causing a decline in property value. Here, you have African-Americans who are denied certain housing, prohibited from living on certain blocks that were majority white, and intentionally setback financially. So what do they do? They are forced to live somewhere purposely neglected and abused because white people cannot stand to live beside them.
I feel a weakness of this source would be the focus on the African-American race. Yes, she mentions Latinos being impacted by the reverse-redlining but that is the only time she references to another race. A wider look or insight on more races would strengthen her argument in her book and really unveil the truth about America in this time period. Aside from this, I do really love that she came with nothing but facts. She did not answer with her generic opinion or something we pretty much all think about the situations in the past, she came with hard facts. Opinions are great, they add personal touch, but they are just that, opinions. No truth, nothing to prove true, nothing to look up, just your word. So, it really started off with a strong foundation pertaining to the FHA, Roosevelt Administration, Housing Act of 1949, Buchanan v. Warley, the Great Depression, and so on. When people read something with more facts than opinions, I feel like they have no choice but to finally accept that “this is how my country is and this is how it wanted to be.”
Conclusion (Source One and Source Two)
In conclusion, both sources do have notable differences, but also significant similarities. The notable differences include but are not limited to: source one is primary, whereas source two is secondary; the ethnic background of the authors; the scope of race and America they explore; and the aspect of race and America they talk about. Referencing to the scope of the relationship between race and America, Luiselli focuses on immigration on a national level; on the other hand, Nodjimbadem focuses cities in America and even mention a particular city, Richmond, Virginia and even Virginia as a whole. As far as the aspect of race and America, Luiselli touches on the topic of immigrants and Nodjimbadem speaks on American citizens. Nonetheless, both pieces of work were very important and offered some interesting points and had important similarities. They both touched on the overpowering presence of racism here in America directed towards anyone who was not a white American. This is the foundation for what they wrote about to tell a story and show the bigger picture of America in the past and even now, in the present. Another similarity would be that the things talked about actually happened, whether it be to them or people they have come across or read about. They did not just write about some fantasy or how they imagined life was, they both wrote about things that either already happened or was currently taking place. I feel that these were two great sources to be compared because one source centered on the way of life during the 20th century and a little into the 21st century while the other focuses on our more present immigration situation.
Luiselli, V. (2017). Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press.
Nodjimbadem, K. (2017). The Racial Segregation of American Cities Was Anything But Accidental. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian.
Buchanan v. Warley. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1900-1940/245us60