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2020
Friday, April 24th

Islamophobia and the Muslim Other

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Alexandria von Eberstein

Faculty Mentor: Ginger Williams, Ph.D.

I chose to discuss attitudes toward Muslims in the United States since September 11, 2001. There are currently 3.45 million Muslims living in the United States, of which about 75% were born Muslim, and they typically face discrimination every day. The discrimination ranges, but it exists on the most extreme and the mildest levels. The FBI reported in 2017 that, of those 3.45 million Muslims in the United States, nearly 20% suffered from a religious hate crime. That is 690,000 Muslims suffering a hate crime that only occurred due to their religion and was bad enough to report to the police. To understand this phenomenon, I researched with a specific question in mind: How have attitudes toward Muslims changed in the United States since September 11, 2001, and what can we do to end discrimination against them? To do this, I used sources from historians, geographers, and sociologists. Historians helped me understand how public policies and historic relations between the U.S. and the Middle East have affected Americans’ perceptions of Muslims. Geographers helped me see where the discrimination occurs the most, and why. Sociologists helped me recognize how factors like education and mass communications affect Americans’ perceptions of Muslims. Attitudes toward Muslims have negatively changed in the United States since September 11, 2001, with increased discrimination against the Muslim population, and we can end this discrimination through more well-rounded education and protective public policy, achieved through a nation-wide social movement.

The 1871 Ku Klux Klan Trials: A Legacy of Injustice

Tiffany Owens, Winthrop University
Zaria Mcbride, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: O. Jennifer Dixon-McKnight, Ph.D.

In 1871, Columbia, South Carolina, became the arena for one of the largest trials in American history. Over 200 members of the Ku Klux Klan were brought to the courts on charges of inciting violence against African Americans. These various acts of violence were a form of resisting African Americans being free and having rights during the Reconstruction Era. White supremacist groups influenced every institution in America, from politics to education. These trials set a precedent for how African Americans would be tried in the American criminal justice system over time, and how the system has been used to keep African Americans oppressed and white Americans superior. We contend that, due to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan, Reconstruction was a failure, which resulted in the continuous failure of the American government in its duty to protect African Americans per the 14th amendment.

The Changing Face of Racism in America

Caleb Clayton, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Virginia Williams, Ph.D.

As we trudge deeper into the 21st century, racism in the United States continues to present continuous problems to our society. While the biological conception of race and genetic differences between people with lighter or darker pigmentation is a made-up fallacy, we have nurtured a social hierarchy aligning with it, creating very real consequences. Since the 19th century, people with white skin have dominated across the political and economic spectrum in the United States. Moving through time, as certain political schemes and institutions have fallen, we have somehow continued to experience this privilege of having white skin. Racism is important today in that our nation continues to present people of color with various disadvantages, even though they don’t necessarily appear how they did 250 years ago. In addressing the topic of racism in America, this research will revolve around answering this question: How has the face of racism in America changed from the late 19th century to our current society? In order to address this question, history and geography will be essential disciplines in finding results. History will allow the research to draw upon the past, examining efforts put into place to oppress minorities that have real, consequential results in our society today, along with following the evolution of our racism as a nation. Geography will allow the research to provide a spatial awareness and identity for how these people have been oppressed over time. Both are key disciplines in understanding that racism has slowly changed in our country from a mostly individually oppressive system to a system that presents an unconsciously entrenched face of racism over the past 250 years.

The Female Slave Experience

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Christopher Adams, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Leslie Bickford, Ph.D.

In this paper, I evaluate slavery from the perspective of female slaves to show how their experience may have been more difficult than that of male slaves. Although most slave narratives have come from the male slave’s point of view or from a male author, there may be evidence that the female point of view may be of more importance. To argue this, I use Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Clotel by William Wells Brown to show that the slave experience for females was more difficult than the slave experience for males due to the way that they were oppressed. I believe the authors of these two works illustrate this oppression from a fictional and autobiographical view to show how being sexually harassed can affect an individual’s psyche, where the fascination with the female slave body comes from, along with how female slaves had to deal with the consequences of resentment from their masters’ wives or mistresses. Working from the research of Katie Frye, Seda Peksen, and Ann Taves, I also delve into the psychology in terms of why female slaves had certain feelings and why the mistresses of slave owners had such animosity against female slaves. This evaluation will help scholars and students alike understand that female slaves endured things that male slaves could not even comprehend happening to them.

The Rise in Hostility toward Mexican Immigrants

Taylor Jordan, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Ginger Williams, Ph.D.

Within the last two decades, Mexican immigration has become a popular political topic within the United States. This new spotlight on Mexican immigration makes this topic critically important to discuss and eventually solve. In the last twenty years, U.S. citizens have blamed Mexican immigrants for bringing drugs or other contraband into the United States, while other Americans have praised the newly available labor force. Citizens throughout the United States are torn on their opinions on immigrants, especially recent Mexican immigrants. These opinions have become louder and more hostile than friendly within the last four years as our current President, Donald Trump, has encouraged hostility. The research question at hand is: In what ways has the growing United States hostility toward Mexican immigrants affected immigrant opportunities in the United States since 2000? To solve this question, the two disciplines of history and political science need to be used. This paper will argue that Mexican immigrants should have the right to education beyond K-12 education; citizenship requirements and applications should be reevaluated so that all immigrants have an equal opportunity to be eligible; border control should have a better system that keeps this branch accountable to stop the rise of violence, family separation, and sexual assault at the border; the U.S. should reevaluate state and national laws and policies that target specific groups of people; and the U.S. should reevaluate the perception media and government officials put out against Mexican immigrants to amend the racial tensions it causes.