THE SIXTH DAY

That Sunday they set ablaze the remnants of our camps, and loaded us up back into containers. All night the cries of women and children sounded, and the stench of bodily odors permeated the air. It was a cool night, and yet the sweat and tears that created a thing film of tackiness clung to our bodies. Still, it was a sort of reprieve; the two newborns that had been captured along with their mothers in the invasion did not shriek as hard as they did during the day. In the morning, however, the heat of the New Mexican sun exercised its ruthlessness. To make matters worse, the containers they held us in, fitted only with a single slit stretching horizontally along the container was our only window into the outside world when we traveled, as well as our only air source to cool us down. Packed with fifty to sixty per container in a container no bigger than school bus meant that we were already susceptible to overheating. The cruel sun only made things more unbearable. As I watched our camp become a fiery speck along the line of the desert, I thought of how on Sundays my mother and father would dress up a little tidier than usual, and ask me to wear a button up and some jeans. I’d come down the stairs, tired from being out with friends the night before and my mother would reprimand me for not combing my hair back. My father would grumble about something and we’d all hop in the car for church. I remembered how the preacher admonished about longing for sin after we’d come to God, and how Lot, stalwart and obedient, left his burning city behind with the faith God would lead him and his family towards something greater. But Lot’s wife, wistful and nostalgic, looked back at the burning city for one last final goodbye and was turned to a pillar of salt. Then the preacher would say something about the lustful nature of sin, and how we must stay faithful to God. My mother would amen, folding her hands and closing her eyes tightly as if she closed them tight enough God would see her faithfulness. I went along staring at that burning speck that was Los Lunas, leaving farther my own city, and waiting for the moment I too would turn into a pillar of salt. That night, they unloaded us again, one-by-one, into an open dirt clearing. A man behind me pushed through the line and sprinted out into the clearing. The day had exhausted him however, and he didn’t make it 200 feet before one of our captors seized him up and impaled him with its long, razor sharp arm. Our captors clicked in amusement and approval and continued the process of examining us one-by-one before pushing us towards the clearing to wait. Our captors were thick as the trees: it seemed as though they stood like monsters from a fairy tale book, and yet here they were, as palpable as the situation we were currently in.

Invaders. Invaders who had, up until a week prior had not even been within our line of sight. Invaders who had been lurking in the immensity of the black, waiting for the moment to strike us. I recalled the night they came: how my mother clutched her cross pendant and prayed zealously under her breath. How four days later she was still chanting prayers, hoping the words would ward them off, even as one pierced his arm through her breast. I gazed around at my fellow captives, wondering who amongst the bunch was still a fervent Christian soul. The emptiness in their eyes, the same emptiness that was mirrored in my own, revealed the truth.

 

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I choose to write my parody of Mary Rowlandson’s The History of the Captivity. I thought it might be interesting to do a parody written in sci-fi to highlight the foreign nature of Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Since the Indians are a group of people that she has never experienced before, and their ways are foreign to her, I thought the way to best replicate this was to have my narrator also be seized by captors he was completely unfamiliar with as well. The concept for the most part is identical: both narrators are captured and use religion to navigate that captivity, and the continuum that the plot follows is admittedly the same. However, the details within the narrative are different. For example, it’s alien not Indians that attack; it’s a hot morning, not a cold one; my narrator is a boy, Rowlandson is a woman; my narrator is a Christian who has given up on God, Rowlandson is fervently Christian. These differences I believe, while subtle, change the tone of the story significantly. The sixth remove of Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, re-imagined through my creative project, ceases to be a story of hope and instead becomes a story of despair. I think this creative project aided me in significantly re-imagining the same experiences Rowlandson might have had but in the modern world. By creating a world that parodied that of Rowlandson’s by bringing it into 2017, where the threat of invasion is plausible of occurring, I was able to recreate some of the same feelings, while also manipulating my audience through a religious lens, as Rowlandson did. Overall, I believe that I learned a great deal about parodying others’ works. In addition to that, I got to exercise my creative gears, which we often don’t get to do in English class!

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

From Captivity to Wanting to Fit In

On the third of February 2017, I experienced for the first time, what they call here First Friday. Apparently, it’s a night rich with culture and arts and great people to share these things with. To my luck, I live above my friend’s shop that is within the blocks that get closed down for First Fridays. This meant that I could watch from my window before I decided to go downstairs to enjoy it.

There was a group of people that had hula-hoops, sticks, and chains that were on fire. But these people were dancing with fire, they were really connected to this fire. My roommate told me they call it the dance of hell—and reasonably so! Though the others didn’t seem to enjoy it as much. They probably didn’t appreciate the danger of it since it was filled with people of all ages.

I decided that it was safe to go outside after a while that I saw everyone getting along well. As I walked out, there was a couple guys in hoodies that were spray painting on plywood. They had very minimal lighting on their pieces but even then they had an audience.

“We should ask them if they know anything about the people that have been spray painting our shop!” my roommate exclaimed as she started walking in their direction. I had forgotten about the shop getting marked up but we were both pretty upset because, why us? My roommate first talked about their art. They seemed like pretty interesting and harmless young men.

“Why would I know about who is tagging up your spot?” one of them responded once my roommate finally asked him, “I know as much as you do, and I don’t even know where your shop is,” he said with frustration. My roommate pointed out where the shop was, which was just a  couple meters away from us.

“Oh,” he said as his shoulders dropped. “I don’t know who did it, but I do know that they probably did it because they’re upset—that used to be soul food place where the cook was like everybody’s grandma—matter fact we’re all pretty upset that it was replaced with yall’s vegan shit—like who the fuck is vegan?” He made a face of disgust while he shrugged again with his hands out. I was offended by his tone and tired of that damn question. Since I wasn’t part of this conversation, I decided to step away while my roommate responded to him, in a calm but argumentative tone—which we knew where it was headed.

As I was walking towards the shop, kids were running around with swords that lit up in multiple colors. They got closer to me and I jumped away but I stepped on a beer bottle and ended up on my ass. The kids stopped, and laughed, as did some people around them. I couldn’t understand why they were being so rude and disrespectful. They laughed hard as if they were really enjoying themselves over my misery.

My roommate realized I had fallen and went to help me up. Without a word, we both just rushed to the shop to get away from them. We slammed our door hard as we closed it and everyone went silent.

 

 

 

Notes from the Author:

This piece is supposed to be a remake of Mary Rowlandson’s History of Captivity that addressed the gentrification going on in Oakland at the moment. The shop replacement is the stealing of lands in this piece and their oblivion to their mistakes—well that’s pretty self-explanatory. I was sure to have them describe different races differently too, like the fire hula-hoopers are white, while the artists are of some other race, either Latino or Black, whichever you imagined first. Mary calls the natives savages pretty often, but in today’s society, microagression is the way we do things. The need to mention the hoodie, the expectation that they’d know who tagged their place and lastly and completely ignoring the fact that the artists had told them they took away a very loved place are reflections of their prejudice towards POC.

The shop getting tagged was supposed to resemble Rowlandson’s attack at the beginning of her story. Though hers was gruesome, I was not about to make Oaklander’s kill white people for the sake of my story—there’s enough news out there talking about the violence in Oakland. However, having your business tagged, is still pretty frustrating and disrespectful to some.

The falling at the end is supposed to reflect Mary’s incident falling off the horse and getting laughed at. She felt insulted by their laughter, becoming a real victim of their doings. As the character in this story is also feeling personally attacked by their laughter—but everyone laughs at people falling unless they’re seriously injured because of the fall, which wasn’t the case in either of these stories (yes, Rowlandson was already hurt, but she wasn’t hurt because of the fall, so it’s still cool to laugh).

All in all, I wanted to bring attention the gentrification that is going on in Oakland because it’s frustrating to see the new comers give us funny looks in our own home.

 

-Luz Palacios

Breaking the “Locke:” A New Criticism Approach

“So that all men may be held back from invading the rights of others and from harming one another, and so that the law of nature that aims at the peace and preservation of all mankind may be obeyed, the enforcement of that law of nature (in the state of nature) is in every man’s hands, so that everyone has a right to punish law-breakers as severely as is needed to hinder the violation of the law. For the law of nature, like every law concerning men in this world, would be futile if no-one had power to enforce it and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders.  And in the state of nature if anyone may punish someone for something bad that he has done, then everyone may do so.” (Locke, 4)

John Locke – The Second Treatise Chapter Two: The State of Nature

 

In response to some very heated discussions this week, I would like to take a close reading (or New Criticism) approach and look at the text itself. For this blog post, I suggest we take a minute to do some close reading, and application of the above statement of John Locke’s to Mary Rowlandson’s narrative. To begin with, it is important to note that in this segment Locke refers only to men. While now we may take men in the universal to mean people (in which the other gender is implied) in this instance Locke is not talking mankind, but specifically the male sex. It is important to note this because Mary Rowlandson is (of course) a woman. Therefore, it already makes it difficult to apply Locke’s ideology to her situation as his philosophy was in all honesty, not intended for her.

If I may be so bold as to paraphrase Locke, his first sentence more or less implies: in order to avoid chaos and anarchy, there must be checks and balances. It is man’s “right” to “punish law-breakers.” That’s all fine and dandy, but what version of society are we talking about here? For instance, in Rowlandson’s account she certainly doesn’t think of her captors as having the “right” to “punish law-breakers.” Rowlandson doesn’t see herself, or her family as a “law-breaker” and yet, from a native perspective, they are.

Moving on, Locke goes on to explain that someone has to “enforce” these laws or else the innocent would perish. However, this begs the question who has the right to enforce? If people of different beliefs both think they are right and fighting for the preservation of innocence, then are they both right of enforcing laws? Are they both right in punishing “law-breakers?” Are they right for inspiring the “state of war?” Who truly causes the “state of war?”

Furthermore, this section closes with Locke stating, “And in the state of nature if anyone may punish someone for something bad that he has done, then everyone may do so.” This further complicates matters because this gives everyone the right to regulate each other. As shown above, this obviously causes problems in regards to perspective, inherent rights, and whether or not there is a universal truth. And if so, whose is it?

  • Elle Lammouchi

She Said, I Said, They Said, We Said

It is a sad truth that our nation was primarily built on mass killings of indigenous people, but unfortunately it is a part of our dark history. There is no way to justify someone’s death, even if they are the worst of the worst. Killing another person isn’t okay. As Mary Rowlandson shares her experiences with us in her narrative. I can’t help but think about reader response. How as readers will we respond, how should we respond, or do we respond?  As a reader I have seen how horrible Rowlandson describes her children’s sufferings, as an aunt i can sympathize on the poor innocent life. As expert readers we are taught to look at all the fine details of writing, to try and connect certain pieces together. What we have connected, as previously stated in class is Rowlandson’s life was most likely a typical say at home mother, who was obedient to her husband. We cannot automatically assume Mary was a cold heartless woman, but have we thought about maybe her writings being monitored by her husband? Did she write it to only trigger a certain audience? or was it truly her feelings? We don’t know, and I am not trying to justify her wicked words, just trying to see a different perspective.

In the end we put the blame on “she said, I said, they said, and we said”. All these different perspectives are trying to justify the death, but in the end we need to learn to acknowledge all the death that has happened throughout our history. The Indians, people of color, the racial segregation and tension. What is constantly possessing people to think it is okay to just go and murder, I don’t think we will ever be able to fully answer this question, but in the end we may only receive more questions than answers.

-Viviana Ojeda

It’s complicated, but it’s really not

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative complicates the history of intolerance and genocide because of her status as a female and mother within the state. Just by living in the society that she does, and believing its ideologies, Mary enters a state of nature. To some degree, she is not a victim because she chose to be apart of her society and accept its rules, whether they are sexist or racist. Even though women did not have much autonomy, it was a price she seemed willing to pay to be considered a reputable woman. Throughout her narrative Mary chooses to follow the racist narrative set in place by refusing to view the Indians as anything other than black “barbarous creatures”. The little moral agency that Mary has, she throws it away for what she was taught to believe. This blurs the history because Mary is just a production of her society who refuses to question the world that is set before her. Mary Rowlandson, and other women like her in her time live on the border of the state of nature and the state of war. One thing that we can see from Mary Rowlandson’s narrative is how women throughout history have compromised their agency in order to live “comfortably” in their society by following its rules. They become victims of retaliations and used as a reason to justify vengeance. People read Mary’s narrative and think, “wow, those Indians sure are as savage as they said they would be”. Her narrative becomes representative of white women being victims of conquests and why it was “necessary” to conquer Native Americans. It perpetuates the narrative that white women need protection from men of color that continuously is used to this day.

-Nancy Sanchez

Rowlandson’s Presentation of the Natives

Of interest in the text is the idea that Rowlandson’s presentation of the natives was awful and racist. While this is quite true, and the words “savage” and “barbarian” are thrown around quite a bit, it seems apparent that the work, over time, attempts to cast the natives in a progressively better light while the narrator herself continues to actively actively attempt to be racist.

By page 50, the natives are making her pancakes, allowing her some of their personal meat, and many other things that one would not expect to be done towards prisoners of war. On page 57, she calls her master “friend” and a few pages later even forgets that she is in captivity, and must remind her self that she is in the presence of “barbarians.”

It seems to be that one of the subtexts of the story is a woman’s struggle to maintain her racism. In fact, by the end of the piece, she is thankful for the ordeals that she has gone through. She has learned to “stand still and see the salvation of the lord.”

-Ross Koppel

Do Two Wrongs Make a Right? or Does One Wrong Just Stay as that?

Do two wrongs make a right? More importantly why do so many people not consider the treatment of Mary Rowlandson and her family’s misfortunes to be as unfortunate as the inhumane treatment towards the Natives? Often referred to as “The American Genocide/Holocaust”. Perhaps it is due to the innocence of the Natives whose land was savagely conquered, yes the Natives were savagely conquered and NOT “the Natives were savagely”. After the discussion in class I could not help but compare this situation to another situation in which the question of right or wrong, and sympathy for some human beings came into question it has caused an immense controversy and has led to various articles and documentaries. In 2003 when the US and Iraq war began both members of the United States Army and the CIA tortured and violated the right of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison located in Iraq. The prisoners where physically and mentally harmed and then photographed for the sick entertainment of guards. If this were US prisoners would there have been more media attention? Hence the Standford experiment that was conducted in the US it is extremely popular but the study did not include actual prisoners nor guards.

Why is it that the Bush administration decided to pass these treatments as “isolated cases” and why is that since they are not US citizens they are not protected by the same law that apply to US citizens. It does not make sence that some US citizens can be protected but at the same time are capable of committing those same crimes against those who are not protected. Some of the people who took part in such abuse only spent a short time in prison or where not charged at all. This significantly applies to Mary Rowland’s narrative because the unjustified treatment of the Natives will not ever be forgotten no matter what the US does to “mend” the situation. In a more recent stand on this topic rapper Jay-Z’s “No Church in the Wild” includes the lyrics “Lies on the lips of priests, Thanksgiving disguised as a feast” which is exactly what is still remembered every day on Thanksgiving day. The mentioning of religion in those lyrics also applies to Mary’s religious beliefs, what would God think about the what Natives were treated? In the article, “Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Thanksgiving”  by Robert Jensen, Jensen makes an interesting comparison that asks what the difference would be if the Germans decided to have a holiday after the holocaust, would it still be celebrated today? This question is significant because there have been several comparisons to these two genocides in class. After all there were hundreds of Natives who were murdered.

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative confirms the history of intolerance and genocide.Yes Mary Rowlandson does “change her opinion”  (and I put this is quotation marks we we cannot truly be sure if she did change her mind) about the Natives but that does not alter the fact  that she thought of them as savages when the Natives has to endure the same treatment and were considered inferior. In the First remove where she is first taken captive her thoughts are “Now away we must go with those barbarous creatures” she does not address them as creatures but animals. As John Locke stated in The Second Treatise on Government “we have the same abilities, and share in one common nature, so there can’t be any rank-ordering that would authorize some of us to destroy others, as if we were made to be used by one another” and “So that all men may be held back from invading the rights of others and from harming one another”(4).Although Locke was referring to white men as the subject of this piece, if applied today it would certainly apple to everyone. Taking these statements into consideration according to the Natives should not have been harmed the question that many have is if Mary Rowlandson  is also a victim of the same aggressions or if she deserves sympathy.

It is extremely important that these narratives are read because we need to realize that this inhumane treatment has happened in US history and is not often given the importance it deserves. On a final thought, there is currently a lot of controversy with immigration and deportation. Many believe immigrants workers are not needed in the United States or that all illegal immigrants are here to cause harm. The is no easy way to citizenship, immigrants have tried to obtain citizenship but it is almost impossible. Immigrants are needed. Have we already forgotten about the Bracero Program ? (1940’s-1960’s) when  Mexican immigrants were hired to work for the US during workers shortages during World War II .Braceros worked for extremely low wages  often 12hrs per day, were often not allowed to have brakes and were forced to remove all their clothing and were then sprayed with a dangerous pesticide (DDT that is now banned in the US). They were deducted ten percent of every paycheck  by the US a ten percent they had to fight to obtain back which they did not receive entirely.  Where is the rest of their hard earned money why did the U.S supposedly pay the entire amount to Mexico and after that they were not held accountable? This inhumane treatment to minorities and people of different ethnicities and religion has always occurred and it is important to be aware of it. History repeats itself.

Jensen, Robert. “Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Thanksgiving.” Alternate.org. Alternet, 21 Nov. 2007. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

-Luz Zepeda

Mary Rowlandson: a hollywood superstar

The reason that the recurring theme of our literature thus far has been of “mass killing, pillaging, and conquest of indigenous peoples,” is because this is the history of our nation. Albeit, not the one the education system wants us to know, but our history nonetheless. Surely, it causes some to react—the way literature does—as it creates this uncomfortable verbal battlefield with justifications for genocides and heavy worded disagreements against it. However, this is essential for educating one another; I look at Mary Rowlandson’s didactic narrative as a way to educate those unable to sympathize for the indigenous people (choosing to ignore the clearly overarching racist tones).

Perhaps through Mary’s narration of her captivity, the people unable to relate to the mass murdering of the indigenous populace, can finally accept the disgusting truth (or sentiment at least) of this nation’s past. By writing about her captivity, she gives insight to the horrors and savagery of the events occurring in a genocide. It’s through her that the caucasian (with eurocentric tendencies) can relate to; one person, that is, that they can envision through the first-person narrative, the true terror of an invasion. One person’s viewpoint (first-person) vs. a mass populace viewpoint (those wiped out due to colonialism: voiceless). Sounding familiar? Mary serves as the “pleasant familiar face” in this text, in the same way that Hollywood uses a white familiar, friendly face. The message is being conveyed still, that genocide is bad, but how would an elitist, white-european feel when watching a screen above them filled with indigenous people? Nothing appeals to them, at least in the simplest sense of familiarity.

 

–Just an empty thought on how Mary’s narrative compares to cinema, I’ll return to it on Friday–

 

Daniel Lizaola Loepz

A Woman’s Place: Mind Over Mindset

The bad thing about an ideal “City Upon the Hill” is its lack of security, a city designed to be seen by all, praised by all, influencing all, and targeted by all who disagree with the city’s supposed shining status. A city upon a hill is an easy target for anyone who finds that weak spot. For the narrative of Mary Rowlandson, the weak spot is the children who are brought into a war where they only suffered. Remove the kids from this tale, speak only of the men who came on to a land they were not welcome to, and suddenly this city upon the hill is no longer meant to stand.

Speak of women and though some argue that a woman’s power was not much in this time period, it never means that they are mindless. Certainly they were raised into this mindset, but Thomas brought an important person in his blog post, Anne Hutchinson, someone who came before Mary Rowlandson and dared to question what was fed to her. Tried, banished, and later killed in a Native American raid, Hutchinson’s story raises questions for the women, like Mary Rowlandson, who came after her. Did Hutchinson’s story cause fear among women who questioned their life? Did this possibly cause them to avoid speaking out? I honestly don’t know, but with this I would argue it provides little excuse for women to be excused in this circumstance.

-Elizabeth Dominguez

Flipping the Script: The Tragedy of Mary Rowlandson

In the blog, “A City upon Intolerance and Genocide,” we are reminded that this “shining” city ideal was not used in the way it often is today. John Winthrop’s idea of this utopian city was a fanatical religious one, and certainly did not embody the tolerance that we try to foster in our society today. This attitude was not his alone, and can be seen throughout history. Historically, it is hard to look back at our history without cringing, the Europeans that came over here claimed this land as theirs with an attitude of ownership and superiority that is shameful. Who cares if people already lived here, besides they are just savages anyway (this was a common imperialist/colonial idea). Calling someone a savage, reducing them to an animal or a devil, certainly makes it easier for people to kill them (easier on the asshats doing the killing I mean). It is a tactic used in war times, dehumanizing the enemy. This European colonial/ imperialistic attitude caused so much pain, sorrow, and death. It is almost impossible to look at an account from this time, that is made by a European, without a bias. When I was reading Mary Rowlandson’s personal account, I admit that I had a flippant thought in the beginning that went a long the lines of: that what you get for being rapers and pillagers.

Yet, I think we need to step back a minute in order to understand and appreciate this tragic tale. First off, let’s talk about Locke. In writing about equality Lock states that, “no-one has more power or authority than anyone else; because it is simply obvious that creatures of the same species and status, all born to all the same advantages of nature and to use the same abilities, should also be equal,” (3). It is all well and good for Locke to write “creatures” as if he is applying this to all humans (and further more all the creatures of the earth), but he also speaks of status, and “born to all the same advantages” so let us be clear when John Locke says “creatures” he really means white (well off) men. Woman who are obviously not of equal advantage or (considered at that time) equal abilities, don’t really fit the bill, and Native Americans (or other native species) also are not avowed of this “equality” which Locke speaks so eloquently about. We need to remember that as a woman Mary probably had little or no say as to where/how they lived, and while we only have her account of her ideal I highly doubt she was out there killing Native Americans. I am not saying that her ideals are ok because that is how everyone thought… I am saying we should pity her position, she was living in a hostile land with her children. Life in that time was dangerous, if your crops failed- you died. If your water source got contaminated- you died. Sicknesses that are now treated with no respect killed entire settlements. Hell, if you stubbed your toe and it got infected- you died.

I know, right now you’re probably wondering what the hell my point is and thinking I am a little to sympathetic to this European interloper. But I feel like there is some judgement going on here that is maybe a little unfair (I am not saying it is not justified or that it was ok what some Europeans did, but to put a whole cultures genocide on one individual leaves us in a negative place). Let us for a minute step outside of race and the terrible history that still hangs over us today. Let’s flip the script. Imagine a woman, who is minding her own business, when suddenly her home is under attack People are getting murdered and there is fire everywhere. She watches her sister murdered and her nephew (and various other family members and friends). In the attack she is wounded, along with her six year old child, two of her other children are alive but she is separated from them. Her child dies, and she receives no pity, no comfort. Her children are suffering and they are close by, but she cannot help them much or even see them very much. She demonizes her captives, partially because this is how her people see them, and partially because of the way she is being treated. She is abused, starved and lost among a people she does not understand. She turns to her religion because she has nothing else to turn too, some of her captors don’t like this because they do not understand her religion. I know what you’re thinking… yea yea yea we know what happened to Mary we all read the racist, religious story. But hold that woman in your mind think about her suffering and how you would feel if you were in her situation. Don’t think of her as Mary, instead consider how you would feel if her name was Maralah, and if she were a Native American being held by Europeans.

-Katie Oswald