Charlottesville Syllabus: Readings on the History of Hate in America

charlottesville syllabus: history of hate in america
A spectrogram of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA resembles a distorted American flag
Credit: Catherine Halley

It has been a difficult week in American history, and a lot of educators have been wondering how to speak to their students about the white supremacist rally that took place on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the violent aftermath. JSTOR Daily, which offers scholarly context to the news, seems well-positioned to provide help in this regard.

Here, we often find ourselves telling origin stories or pointing out historical precedent to current events. That’s because we believe, we hope, that there are lessons in the past. We trust in the peer-reviewed, fact-based, careful thinking and writing that scholars do to help us understand everything beautiful and ugly about our world.

The essays and articles below, published over the course of JSTOR Daily‘s first three years, demonstrate this. We join in the tradition of N. D. B. Connolly & Keisha N. Blain’s “Trump Syllabus 2.0” in seeking to illuminate the cultural, economic, and political currents that led to the present moment.

As Audre Lorde wrote in 1991: “Racism cuts a wide and corrosive swath across each of our lives.” This small selection of articles reminds us of the complexity of this statement. As always, free access to the underlying scholarship cited in the stories is available to everyone.

The Legacy of Slavery: Institutionalized Racism and American Culture

The History of the KKK in American Politics

So-called white nationalists have long been involved with mainstream American politics. In the 1920s, during what historians call the Ku Klux Klan’s “second wave,” Klan members served in all levels of government.

Ossian Sweet’s Black Life Mattered

One man’s life shines a light on issues still facing black Americans today: not just segregation (prescribed or by default), but also injustice at the hands of those meant to keep the peace.

The Psychological Power of the Confederate Flag

An experiment in political psychology points to just how powerful the Confederate flag continues to be in stirring up racist attitudes among whites.

The Devastation of Black Wall Street

Despite racial discrimination and Jim Crow segregation, the Greenwood district in Oklahoma offered proof that black entrepreneurs were capable of creating vast wealth. For those who supported black subjugation, witnessing blacks thrive and defy the stereotypes of black inferiority was too much.

The Lasting Fallout of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

Decades after the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, health statistics continue to illustrate the lack of trust black Americans have for healthcare professionals.

Why Racism is Bad for Everyone’s Health

Racism has shaped American health care policy since our very first forays into creating a social safety net.

Origins of the Confederate Lost Cause

For some Southerners, the Civil War was a noble “Lost Cause.” This was once the reigning interpretation in the South and long influenced the historiography of the Civil War and its aftermath.

Anti-Semitism

Henry Ford’s Anti-Semitism

The industrial giant distributed anti-Semitic articles throughout the 20s, and later expressed regret for the screeds.

The Deafening (((Echoes))) of Marked Language

Even in ordinary, everyday language use, the very words and expressions we use are already marked for our cultural and social biases.

How Hitler Played the American Press

By regurgitating pieces of “news” planted by Nazi press agents, the American press got duped into acting as a megaphone for Nazism.

How the Word “Shoddy” Became an Anti-Semitic Slur

Gary L. Bunker and John Appel detail how “shoddy” also came to have anti-Semitic connotations during the Civil War.

The Displacement and Genocide of Native American Peoples

The Little Known History of Forced Sterilization Of Native American Women

The Indian Health Service in the 1960s and 1970s is thought to have performed the procedure on one out of every four Native American women at the time, against their knowledge or consent.

Remembering Wounded Knee at Standing Rock

Elizabeth Rich explains the connections between the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, the 1973 protests at the site, and the contemporary protests at Standing Rock.

Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears

The seventh President ushered in an era of more expansive American democracy. In recent years he has become an icon of populism, and a symbol of hands-off federal government that promotes states’ rights. He was also a slave-holder and an “Indian fighter” responsible for the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands in the southeastern United States. More than 4,000 died along their journey west, via the “Trail of Tears.”

The Truth Behind Buffalo Bill’s Scalping Act

Cody’s gruesome act is the first thing that won him widespread fame, and it was so popular that he included a reenactment of it in most of his early Wild West shows.

Fascism and Neo-Nazism

Defining Fascism

What is fascism? You might think you know it when you see it, but a generic definition of this 20th-century-born totalitarianism is actually difficult to pin down.

The Pledge of Allegiance’s Creepy Past

A few decades after the Bellamy Salute made its debut, fascists in Italy and Germany started doing one just like it.

Old English Has a Serious Image Problem

The American neo-Nazi movement that calls itself the “alt-right” is resurrecting medievally tinged celebrations of “European heritage” as part of its racist agenda.

Sophie Scholl and the Legacy of Resistance

How did a young woman named Sophie Scholl become the face of resistance to Nazism?

The Historic Echoes of Trump’s Immigration Ban

Discriminatory citizenship restrictions were abolished in 1965, but a complex quota system remains to this day.

Immigration

The 1917 Immigration Act That Presaged Trump’s Muslim Ban

In 2017, debates over who belongs and does not belong in America, and who is “worthy” of admission, still employ ethnic, racial, and religious terms.

The Making of Asian America

Morrison G. Wong has found that an increased Asian immigration has more of an effect on the state level than on the national level.

When Mexico Was Flooded with American Immigrants

One early complaint of Mexican officials was that many of the settlers came without passports and were from the uneducated classes in the U.S.

Immigration and National Security in George Washington’s Day

Both the British Parliament and the colonies actively tried to attract foreign immigrants to North America.

Migrants, Refugees, and Expats: How Humanity Comes in Waves

How has the word migrant, which once simply referred to a person who moves from one place to another, acquired a negative connotation?

The Italian-American Immigration Experience

Historically, Americans have been opposed to each major wave of immigration while it is happening. Later, though, we look back on the newcomers as having contributed greatly to our nation.

How the Chinese Fought Discrimination in 19th Century Arizona

Anti-Chinese sentiment resulted in discriminatory legislation throughout the American West during the second half of the 19th century.

Lessons from a Japanese Internment Camp

Trump ally Carl Higbie recently cited Japanese internment camps during World War II as a “precedent” for a proposed registry of Muslims in the U.S.

The “Model Minority” Myth and the Hidden Discrimination of Asian Americans

Asian-Americans have long held a complex place within the American racial hierarchy, writes researcher David Quan.

Race in American Education

Can College Cure Racism?

New reading requirements at Harvard have added fuel to an ongoing debate about diversity in curricula. At HBCUs these fights had a different dimension.

Little Rock, Then and Now

Segregation and inequality are still major issues in Little Rock today. Though the laws that held the institution in place have been repealed, corrupt housing policies and the creation of expensive, predominantly white private schools have kept many of those structures in place.

Constructing the White Race

The basis of critical whiteness studies, which began to burst out of the academy in the 1990s, is that all racial categories are historical and political constructions, far from objective, and certainly a long way from the discredited racial science of the 19th century.

Project Implicit Reveals Your Hidden Prejudice

The Implicit Association Test demonstrates that the majority of people are at least a little bit racist. Can anything be done to counter this?

The Rise of the Crowd-Sourced Syllabus

The rise of the crowd-sourced syllabus is an important leap in both disseminating and gathering knowledge and in shaping active learners, no matter their age or location.


Editor’s Note:  Please get in touch with comments.  These articles are just a small selection of the work we publish on JSTOR Daily. Please use the tags on this article to find your way to more useful content, or sign up for our newsletter to get a digest of stories each week.


JSTOR Citations

Showing our True Colors

By: Audre Lorde

Callaloo, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Winter, 1991), pp. 67-71

The Johns Hopkins University Press

Catherine Halley

Catherine Halley is the founding editor of JSTOR Daily.

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