Mary and the R word

This is an interesting set of blog posts. I have definitely enjoyed reading through how inflamed everyone is over how bad it is to change your mind about racism as was apparently the case or that it is somehow latent or that the natives did not deserve what happened to then and so on. People have seemed to forget that these event happened like two centuries ago! Mary is long dead. Bickering over latent racism is just an exercise in futility, in a sense you are preaching to the choir. Pretty much nobody in our sheltered class will disagree with you on most of your points, so the purpose of this blog post will be to attempt to find coherency in this mess. Let’s examine the post “captivity narrative”. The author explains over and over how he (or she, I don’t remember) feels about the white imperialism latent in the story. How he considers Mary’s differences from a four thousand year old quote from Moses to be considerable and areligious (or religious, depending on your perspective I suppose).

– Joshua Jolly


3 thoughts on “Mary and the R word

  1. I believe it is indeed important to keep in mind there are things beyond the racism and injustice within the text. Whilst highlighting it as an issue is certainly not bad, I agree with your statement in the sense that it ultimately seems like many are just repeating the ever so obvious “racism is bad”. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad however, but I do believe there is more to this text and the historical context than to just slap the “racist” label and move on. However, I think a part of that however, is at the fault of Rowlandson herself, whose writing essentially buried crucial literary points under the themes that the class has been enraged from.

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  2. So here’s the thing about your post: yes, all this racism happened 200+ years ago. But we are still, to a catastrophic degree, dealing with the racist ideologies and stereotypes Mary Rowlandson and her ilk espoused all through colonialism. History has consequences. World Wars I and II had lasting consequences of international relations. The Triangle Trade had an indelible effect on the face and history of America for hundreds of years, to the very minute in which I type this sentence. History means things, and just because racism is old doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Also, to call the class “sheltered” is a fairly ad hominem way to express your argument, and really undermines it. We as a class are, I’d like to think, quite the opposite of sheltered. As college students, we’re exposed to a myriad of different ideologies and opinions. Just because we happen to be of similar mindsets (i.e, ancient racism is just as bad as modern racism because it was the foundation of modern racism) doesn’t mean… well, anything. Yes, in a sense we could be considered to be “preaching to the choir,” but we are mostly all considered different points about this argument and coming at it from our own perspectives and histories. Words like “bickering” and “inflamed” invalidate and trivialize the seriousness of this argument, which isn’t just a petty squabble over whether this ancient white woman was racist (hint: she was). It invites a closer look at how literature at large played into racism, and how her literature in particular played into the popularization of Indigenous Americans as savages and drunkards and people who needed to be taught and taken out of power–a series of stereotypes and condescensions that still hound Native Americans across our country to this very day.
    And, also… what exactly do you consider to be the point we’re missing? I would genuinely like to know, because I bet you we’re not.


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  3. Let’s consider what racism really is for a moment before anyone considers that what happened in Rowlandson’s narrative just “happened over two centuries ago.”

    Racism has existed through he entire course of humanity. Getting over something that happens centuries ago is impossible in almost every sense because of the fact that events carry over through time — hence why history is never forgotten. Nothing justifies genocide, nor does anything justify the prejudice of an entire race for the superiority of one other. Rowlandson’s narrative provides a a barbarous perspective of the Native Americans with no justification of how they actually acted, but only providing the sense through scripture.

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