WGS Exam 1 Study Guide
WGS Exam 1 Study Guide WGS 325
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This 10 page Study Guide was uploaded by Grace Johnston on Friday September 30, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to WGS 325 at Miami University taught by Dr. Maria Moreno in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Women's Gender Studies in Women's Gender Studies at Miami University.
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Date Created: 09/30/16
Grace Johnston WGS 325, Section A Professor Maria Mariano September 28, 2016 Question 4: Comparing the American Civil Rights Movement to The Zapatista Throughout the ages, racial struggles and civil rights movements have been a large part of history, in all walks of life. In North America and Latin America, both countries have had very similar cases in their struggle to redefine the basis of rights that every human should be given at birth. Both parties have struggled for the right to own property and the desire for equality, and have struggled because of their racial differences. From 1954 to 1968, America was in a time of civil turmoil that is now labeled the Civil Rights Movement. During this period, African Americans, Native Americans and Latino peoples fought for their basic human rights, as well as for a voice in the government that ruled their everyday lives. Before the movement, the intense racial discrimination shown to these oppressed caused common acts of injustice. These common injustices included the inability to own property in predominately white locales, restricted and labeled facilities based on skin color and the negation of education. Although there were many Supreme Court cases throughout the movement that are similar to the indigenous movement, the Shelley v. Kraemer case of 1948 best relates to the indigenous movement in Latin America because of the fight to obtain property. In this case, the state of Missouri prohibited the Shelley family from fully purchasing a home in a predominately white neighborhood. The state was able to push this act of discrimination because of a “restrictive covenant” placed on the house in 1911: a document stating that people of the Negro or Mongolian race were able to purchase the property, but ineligible to own the property. These types of covenants were common in heavily populated white locales, and no one challenged them because of their typicality. When Shelley brought the case to the state of Missouri, it was ruled in favor of Kraemer because the covenant was a matter of the soul property owner, not the State. Shelley then appealed the case and bought it to the Supreme Court, which was then ruled in favor of Shelley. This landmark case was then used to clarify that the the racially restrictive covenants do not impede on the 14th amendment as long as the covenant party does not seek judicial action, and keep the discrimination within their contracts. After researching more into the Civil Rights case, it was clear that both movements have very few differences. When comparing the case to the indigenous movement, it was established that proprietorship was a large issue on both sides, and how the lack of property ownership leads to losing a voice in the government. Although the Zapatista and indigenous people were fighting specifically for land that was historically taken from them, and the Shelley case was fighting for property that they wished to purchase and own, it was clear that both were discriminated against in the pursuit of land ownership. This points to another issue within both movements; the inability to participate in government. Participation has been halted by the controversy in land ownership, recognition of citizenship, and even deliberate manipulation. In most parts of the world, especially in Latin America, land is power. “For indigenous, peasant, and rural peoples, land and territory are more than work and food. They are also culture, community, history, ancestors, future dreams, life and mother.” (Klein, 78) Land gives one the ability to farm, hire laborers and eventually participate in the economy. When one does not have this land, it is impossible to participate, and leads to the voice of the poorer majority not being heard. In America, it works somewhat similarly. If you do not have a valid home address, you are unable to apply for a job. If you don’t have a job, you do not pay taxes, which is ultimately the main principle of participation in the American government. On top of that, the American government had a ‘trickle down effect’ with their policies to support inequality. The disfavored races did not even have access to the firstclass education the favored races were receiving. Without basic education, discriminated citizens were unable to pass required voter’s tests and their opinion was lost. In Latin America, indigenous people who live in autonomous, self governing regions do not have the opportunity to vote in the ‘official’ government because they do not consider themselves as participants of the country’s government. Without representation for the poor majority, outrage ensues and movements against the government like the Zapatista and Civil Rights occur. Although the movements are extremely similar to each other, there are dramatic differences between each case. For decades, indigenous people in Latin America have been fighting for autonomy, but it certainly is not the only demand they’ve put their lives on the line for. Indigenous people were denied adequate healthcare, social acceptance and a voice in their government. For example, the Zapatista fought for health care because too many people were dying from curable diseases. “When I was a child, I saw my younger sister die in my mother’s arms while she cried for her baby daughter. All the suffering I had seen made me very angry, because so many poor people die, but people who have money don’t die from curable diseases.” (Klein, 15) They were initially not given basic rights and resources because of their indignity; people who are defined by the color of their skin, the land that they sow, and the work they perform. This is similar to the North American Civil Rights Movement, seeing as the African American, Latino and Indian peoples were all defined by the same categories and were denied the same rights but it also had its differences. One of the biggest contrasts between the two movements was that the colored American minorities were solely fighting for equality between all races, and the Zapatista movement was more focused on indigenous women’s rights. For example, while the Civil Rights Movement was pushing for integration policies, the Latin American Movement was pushing the Women’s Revolutionary Laws. (Not at the same point in time) Another difference between the movements is how each movement received backfire and violence from different groups. The Civil Rights Movement participants clashed with other citizens in the country and the Zapatista Movement clashed with the government. For example, the KKK was a white supremacy club formed and run by American civilians that openly fought against the movement. The KKK would use obscene tactics such as lynching and maiming to scare the colored minorities into silence. In Mexico, the government would send masses of troops to Zapatista villages to scare the participants into submission, and even massacred a church full of women and children on December 24, 1997. In conclusion, the Civil Rights Movement and the Zapatista Movement are very similar to each other. The Kraemer v. Shelley case is a perfect example of racial discrimination in America, and relates closely to the Zapatistas fight for property ownership. In the governmental level, both groups were discriminated against in economic and political participation with the use of discriminatory tactics. The movements differ from each other by the demands they fought for, and the groups that attempted to shock them into surrender. Question 7: Presenting Zapatista Ideas to Another Organization The Zapatista is a strongwilled, leftist organization that is aimed towards gaining autonomy, education, adequate healthcare, fair pay for labor, and equal representation in government. This group has successfully defined themselves as a group, properly organized and thrived, used violent tactics only when needed to attain their demands, and gained support all while sustaining their values for twenty strong years. The group has been extremely successful, but they have also had their fair share of challenges and downfalls. Some of the challenges the group had to face were intense: fighting violent military forces, overcoming setinstone gender roles, and sustaining peace treaties with the government. The downfalls of the Zapatista were tough, but they were not difficult enough to break the organization down. One of the biggest downfalls was how the Zapatista poorly equipped their participants, and how that became a large issue when the Mexican military came into play. After the seizing of San Cristóbal de las Casas on January 1, 1994, women like political organizer Comandanta Ramona and participant Major Ana Maria turned the Zapatista movement from an underground organization to an active organization. Their strong will and confident decisions not only motivated other women want to participate in the movement, but also inspired others to follow in their footsteps. “When one woman participates, other women feel encouraged to participate as well.” (Klein, 162) By strategically seizing six communities in Mexico and using somewhat violent tactics, the Zapatista were able to gain control and power without a cataclysmic aftermath like war. This is an example showing that it is best to use nonviolent, strategic tactics until lives are in the balance, in order to gain the upper hand against the government. Without violence in the beginning of the movement, the chance of losing participants and receiving an even more violent backfire from the government almost dwindles down to zero.“…we started to organize legally, without arms or anything, peacefully, and they went and took a farm, an abandoned farm.” (Ana Maria Interview, page 2) This quote by Major Ana Maria shows that even when they took over the land, they did not use any weaponry. Since this instance in the pre 1994 time marker, the Zapatista have continued to not use violent force, and most of the land has been untouched by the government. Major Ana Maria also explains that she believes that making war will not fulfill their demands, but if it is to come to the death of the Zapatista people, she will not be afraid to use force. “Even if we do not kill, if there is no war, it is as if there is, because day by day our people are dying.” (Ana Maria Interview, page 8) One of the biggest challenges of the movement was redefining gender roles so the women could join, stay informed, and remain active participants. Traditionally, women took care of the children, performed domestic tasks and worked in the fields while the men worked farther away from home. In order to become a successful movement, both genders need to be present and willing to bend social norms. For example, when the women would all organize within their caracoles to listen to what the community leaders learned at seminars, the men would need to care for the children and do the domestic work before the day was over. This was proven as a challenge within the movement because not all men were willing to do “women’s work.” This also lead to some women no longer participating because their husbands, who were sometimes more like finca masters, did not allow them to leave the house. Because of the Zapatista men who were willing to fulfill the woman’s role, women like Isabel were able to rise to new ranks in the insurgent army, and lead their group to victory. (Klein, 49) Another challenge the movement had to face was fighting violent acts carried out by the government, and deciding the next step after these acts. Most of these acts carried out by the government were acts to displace and break up the Zapatista communities. For example, on January 7, 1994 hundreds of Mexican soldiers flooded Morelia, captured 35 men and assassinated them in attempt to scare the Zapatista participants into submission. “(The Mexican soldiers) kept us locked in our houses and threatened us with their guns.” (Klein, 100) Another attempt to disperse the people occurred in December of 1994, when Mexican soldiers ransacked the homes of a few Zapatista communities while the citizens fled to the mountains for refuge. As depicted from one of the survivors, “So much suffering, my goodness! I spent a month up there in the hills, with the trees and the little animals that cry and cry.” (Klein, 134) Although this fear tactic was brutal, the Mexican government was unsuccessful in detaining the Zapatista leadership. This act actually stoked the embers of the Zapatista, and only caused them to grow stronger. This proves that it is key to remain civil and intact after attacks, because dispersing would weaken the organization which is the goal of the enemy. Although the Zapatista were notorious for rising up from the ashes, there were a few setbacks and downfalls in the pursuit for their demands. The first and most important downfall of the Zapatista was their inability to protect their people. When the Mexican soldiers began to invade, men were being assassinated and women being raped and beaten. Even after the people drove out the soldiers, they would always return because they knew their lives were not in any immediate danger. “We showed up with sticks and we pushed the soldiers and shouted at them ‘soldiers, get out!’” (Klein, 119) All the women of the community could do was threaten with sticks and shout, which was never enough to permanently drive away the soldiers. It was also during this time when the soldiers raped and abused many of the community’s women. Because of this example, it has been realized that armed force is needed only when the enemy becomes suffocatingly oppressive. Using this tactic might create dangerous tension between the parties, but it will keep the people protected and the enemy at bay. Overall, the Zapatista is a very strong organization that is a key model to learn from. If their strategic tactic of nonviolence before casualties is used, war can be easily prevented and the organization can have time to build in number. Their challenges of changing gender roles and remaining civil after attacks from the enemy prove that there will always be struggle in an uprising, and reveals that it is imperative to remain as one. Their downfall of not properly arming their participants shows that although violence is not the answer, it is important to be coequal in force with the enemy.
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