Russell Armfield Unit 2 Assignment

Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project” tells the history of America with an analysis on the role of African Americans in shaping American society throughout. Hannah-Jones gives a look into what the treatment of African Americans throughout history says about America itself and its core and fundamental values. She makes an effort to relate many parts of American History to the struggles and labor of African Americans. Through this she settles on one of her arguments: African Americans have built America. She supports the research and personal experience. However, the bigger argument that this text is known for and that’s caused much controversy over it is it’s supposed take on American history which presents the idea that America was built on racism and that America was a racist society since its conception. Although Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project” is flawed in saying that America is ideally and intentionally meant to be a racist society, it is accurate in showing the struggle of America to keep in touch with their ideals. America is not intentionally meant to be a racist society but throughout history they have struggled to keep up with their goal of equality for all.


Hannah-Jones’ text can say more about America than simply the treatment of African Americans throughout time. It can carry a subtext for anyone who has suffered under America’s lack of faith in their own ideals. The history of slavery is it’s an opening to everything else that comes after in the text about African American history. It is shown to be the root of all oppression and mistreatment. The use of slavery at the very beginning of Americas’ founding is there to prove Hannah-Jones’ point that America was built on racism even if it I do disagree that racism is part of it’s core ideals. African Americans’ in the hands of slavery built the buildings in which the lawmakers made their laws and property that people who were considered Americans owned. African Americans in the hands of slavery had also considerably contributed to the country’s wealth and the economy seemingly relied on it. Even those who disagreed with the act of enslavement or inequality still rested as African Americans unfairly carried a society. It was a cozy America that they grew used to even if they would claim that they wanted to fight it. No matter what they felt was right, it was just a reality to them that that was how society worked and history had supported it for years. This displays Hannah-Jones’ point that racism is in the foundation of America since it was and still is treated as simply a way of life. Hannah-Jones is trying to say that anytime you talk about something important in history there’s an African American working at the bottom even if their attributes are not respected. She’s bringing light to African Americans’ contributions to society that American racism has ignored as it was simply their job and that was simply how things worked.


Coziness with racist ways has made the US struggle in achieving equality that they claim to want. American ideals of freedom and equality exist to oppose racism but it is known that America has proved incapable in putting a stop to racism and because of this incapability, racism will continue to play into society just as it did in the past. Our “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are often used to disprove that America is racist in its fundamental values. This is true since these are America’s ideals and no matter what actually happens or goes on in America, these are the ideals the country stands by or that it’s supposed to stand by. However, even if the documents such as “The Declaration of Independence” can prove that America isn’t a racist society at its core, we can’t prove that lawmakers who published these documents weren’t. From the time when the Declaration was written to now, racism is still happening no matter what the document said. In fact, long after it was written slavery was still in full force, and there were no real efforts to get rid of slavery until years later. While people could be against racism towards African Americans, they were also in a way accepting of this. Even though it could be agreed that racism wasn’t an ideal of America, they were too cozy and their ways to make a real effort to fight racism and inequality. Every time it seems that America wanted to progress further towards its goal of equality, there is always another force that pushes back against it. The force of progressivism that fights against inequality and pushes to deliver the ideals of equality that are in America’s DNA always seem to clash against and fight the backwards coziness in the inequality that’s already been here for years. The more Progressive attempts to deliver American ideas to the fullest always Clash what’s the mark conservative ways of the imperfection in America. It is because of these two extremes that America is stuck in stagnation. Even if it wants to meet its ideals, it stays in stagnation. America constantly forgetting their ideals and goals is what leads people to believe that they are supposed to be racist. 


US history’s failure to address the racism that exists in our society with a clear fix is what leads people to believe there’s another history in which it was supposed to be. Hannah-Jones’ text uses the perspective African Americans in America. Even though freedom was attempted to be delivered through declarations and amendments, African Americans were still slaves. Even though the US has ideals of equality for everyone, African Americans weren’t considered to be everyone. They weren’t citizens so no matter what declarations, amendments, laws or bills said, they didn’t have to be applied to African Americans meaning they don’t exactly have to represent the equality that they were aiming for. It was a fault in America’s history that African Americans were slaves and not citizens because when African Americans actually were given citizen status, they were not allowed the same human rights as their white counterparts. African Americans contributions during slavery are also often ignored in American history because they were non-citizens and It was their job, yet even if it was simply their obligation or labor it does not get rid of the fact that they are an important part of American history. Hannah-Jones bringing light to this is where her argument is valid and makes sense. America is often still misguided in only enforcing its ideals not on all Americans, but people who are interpreted or considered to be Americans based on certain attributes. There are times when America believes that a certain type of person is an American and those who are not aren’t susceptible to all the ideals equality that is given to a citizen. Yet there are more Americans we’re not giving the same equality because they’re not considered to be equal citizens. Sometimes it seems that America picks ways to set back their own ideals of equality. Hannah-Jones speaking about the plight of African Americans can be applied to several contexts. It could go for any type of oppression or inequality that exists in American society. Although many of us like myself believe in the ideals that were written in the laws that make us free and equal, we cannot dispute the fact that America doesn’t do a great job of reaching its goal and continues to be lackluster in that respect.


The people themselves have always had to push to bring America to it’s goal of equality for all. The government is not known to make huge pushes to bring America back to its ideals even if that’s it’s job . Why is real legislation an actual change is only made after the people themselves push for them to be made. Going back to Hannah-Jones’ text, the Civil Rights Movement was a huge example of this. Even though much of America disagreed with the movement , it had to be loud enough for the government to make a change. The people always need to help the government maintain their own goals. There’s always a fight for the people to get what they want because they need to be loud enough for the system to hear them . Only recently has the United States legally allowed things like gay marriage, and and that too was a fight. Gay rights can provide another example of the American government being incapable of maintaining its ideals on its own. That movement was protested by other Americans who were actually fighting to put a limit to equality, that is to put a limit on the ideas that this country was founded on. The American government which heads society and changes in society simply only goes by what the power of the people tell him to do, and only the extremes movements are considered. People have to get knocked down and do stuff that they shouldn’t have to do to get the quality that they deserve and was promised to them by America when it was founded. The idea that the freedom and equality present America’s own laws has to constantly be used to remind America itself of what it is and that it’s all about equality. And although that which is freedom and equality appears to be a main ideal in America there are always other laws to distract and limit the worth of America’s main ideals of equality and freedom. 


The idea of other movements to latch onto for reference and support such as the Civil Rights Movement cause for African Americans, goes back into Hannah-Jones idea that African Americans have built Society in America. She says in the text that “black rights struggles paved the way for every other rights struggle”. The rights of immigrants are a current issue in America and has been for several years. Immigrants who technically are American people and should be promised equality are being underserved by their government as well as other American people. The idea that people who aren’t considered to be American even if they actually are not susceptible to the equality promised to them goes back to African Americans during slavery as described by Hannah-Jones. Even those who worked to build America and keep it alive aren’t respected and the ideals that they want and so deserve aren’t given to them if they aren’t considered citizens by others. America is obviously composed completely of immigrants yet the government which controls America often forgets about this, forgetting its own ideals. The same could be said about women and those who are considered lower-class. They are movements in which people who were very important to America and shaping it’s identity are denied equality until they fight for it and still even when they fight for it, the government doesn’t do it’s job of protecting them which makes them still fight for what they deserve which are the ideals promised to them. The law often looks past in glosses over real issues that affect some American citizens. Even if the law says we’re equal, social acceptance matters as well. People need to work and protest whenever America doesn’t deliver on it’s promises. However these protests are driven by attempts to bring America back to their ideals. The idea of a non-racist America will turn Americans to it’s core structure and will continue to remind America of its ideals. America wasn’t racist in it’s structure that means that there will always be room to argue for equality. People need to use America’s ideals to refute any counter argument against America’s ideals. Even if Society doesn’t know it, these people are pro America’s ideal even if they also know that America doesn’t always do what it can to help them . Hannah-Jones seems to feel that America didn’t help African Americans reach their pro-American ideals which is a take that has value . Equality could only be fought for even if it is promised to everybody by America during it’s founding.


Even though Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project” can be seen as flawed, it raises some good points about America and it’s core values. It shows how racism is built into the history of America and does it well enough to the point where cannot be refuted. It is delivered with the point of view that can tie history and points in the text together. The main source of controversy with the text of course centers around it’s argument that America has a core idea of racism built into it’s society, that no matter what America was founded on racism. This is where I disagree with Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project”. America’s ideals are freedom and equality but they simply fail to meet them. I of course very much agree with Hannah-Jones’ bringing a light to how African-Americans are largely ignored in history. Despite what anyone says, it cannot be denied that Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project” is well researched and insightful and might give some new insight on America’s history and what it’s ideals are. Even if the argument the text is making is flawed, it has a very justified viewpoint that can be supported. I agree with a lot of what the “The 1619 Project” says even if I have my own ideas on what America’s ideals and core values are. Even if America’s core values are pure, it’s history is very racist.