The Pocahontas Exception

The Pocahontas exception was established in response to the white law-makers wives who claim their ancestry can be traced back to Pocahontas and John Rolfe. However, these are the wives of the same lawmakers who passed the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which established that if you have one drop of non-white blood, you are not white. This was the first act of legislation in America that codified white-ness, and the white lawmakers managed to inadvertently disenfranchise themselves. Maillard discusses these exceptions made for Native American blood in antimiscegenation laws in Virginia. These laws effectively caused the erasure of the Native American tribes in Virginia. All of the various loopholes when it comes to who is codified as what race, Maillard argues, “underscor[es] the argument of race as a social construct” (353). The Pocahontas exception is one of these loopholes. In addition to this, the antimiscegenation laws contribute to the eugenics movement that was prevalent in Virginia during the 1920s.

NOVA and Immigration

This week we were asked to read three articles about immigration in Northern Virginia.

“Identity and Assimilation Among Young Ethiopian Immigrants in Metropolitan Washington”

Ethiopians have been immigrating into the United States in increasing numbers since the 1980s. In the article by Elizabeth Chacko, she examines the role of race and ethnicity in young Ethiopian immigrants. Chacko specifically examines how young immigrants “adopt different subject identities” based on where they are and depending on what benefits what they need most to support their sense of self. She highlights the importance that self-determination plays in the way that young Ethiopian immigrants develop and express their sense of identity. However, there are other extremely important factors that play into the identity that young Ethiopian immigrants adopt (socioeconomic status, community norms, religious institutions). The Ethiopian immigrants that Chacko studied expressed their self-identity in many different ways depending on the setting. However, the common themes of the factors that aided in the molding of these identities are “ethnic ties, racial hierarchy, and the dominant American culture.” Many young immigrants tend to feel torn between wanting to hold onto their ethnic identity while also wanting to fit into American society.

“Hybrid Sensibilities: Highly Skilled Asian Indians Negotiating Identity in Private and Public Spaces of Washington, DC”

This article, also written by Chacko, discusses the hardships that many first-generation immigrants from India have faced in assimilating into American culture. Many of the first-generation immigrants were of a higher socioeconomic status and expected to be able to transition into American society with relative ease. However, upon arriving in the United States, they were met with the complete opposite. First-generation Indian immigrants are often subjected to microaggressions and made to feel as if they are unworthy of participating in mainstream American culture in public spaces. The first-generation Indian immigrants believed that they would have been embraced by white, native-born Americans. However, that exact group subjected the Indian immigrants to marginalization and othering that was not anticipated.

“Feminised Financial Flows: How Gender Affects Remittances in Honduran-US Transnational Families”

In Allison Petrozziello’s article, she focuses on Honduran immigrants in Alexandria and the remittances that are transferred to their families back in Honduras. In addition to this, Petrozziello explores how these remittances impact other issues when dealing with immigration. Remittances are often perceived as a solution to poverty in Honduras. Petrozziello argues that remittances are not this desired solution. Instead, they place an undue burden on the family members that have immigrated and make it extremely difficult for those who have immigrated to obtain legal residency and well-paid employment, amongst others. Much of this burden tends to be placed on the women who immigrate into the United States. This has led the UN-INSTRAW to offer recommendations to form a better way of understanding immigration from a rights-based and gender perspective. These suggestions hope to prompt others to view immigration and migration from a similar standpoint with the end goal being to support families and make transnationalism a choice.

New Immigrants

This week we were assigned to read three articles discussing the recent wave of immigration into Virginia.

“The Latinization of the Central Shenandoah Valley”

In Laura Zarrugh’s article, she discusses how the once rural area of the Shenandoah Valley is now becoming a popular place for immigrants to settle once they come into the United States. Zarrugh focuses on the huge increase of the Latinx population in Harrisonburg, Virginia over the course of ten years (1990-2000). Within those ten years, the Latino population, which consisted of 14 different Latin American countries, increased by 400% in Harrisonburg. The diversity and culture shock that this once white, rural area experienced when the Latinx population moved into Harrisonburg is an area of study that Zarrugh seeks to expand with her article. In addition to this, Zarrugh highlights the importance of looking at the push and pull factors that contributed to the mass migration of Latinx people to Harrisonburg. One of these factors was the fact that there was an already existing population in the area. Moving forward in the article, Zarrugh speaks to the importance of acknowledging the diversity of nationalities that exist amongst the Latinx populations. One way to do this is to recognize that there is equal amounts of diversity within the larger Latinx communities. In turn, Zarrugh argues that this diversity should be taken into consideration when dealing with policymaking.

“Perfectly American: Constructing the Refugee Experience”

David Haines and Karen Rosenblum conducted a study to discuss the growing immigrant population in American while also discussing the typical refugee experience. In the past 60 years, the U.S. has accepted two million refugees into the country. However, the response to the entrance of the refugees has been extremely mixed. This mixed response, however, is only present when the cultural and social and practices do not explicitly align with those in American society. Haines and Rosenblum explore this particular concept through the lens of refugee treatment in Richmond, Virginia. Refugees in Richmond have only begun resettling in Richmond within the last thirty years, a majority of the refugee population being Asian, which has resulted in an extreme shift in cultural diversity in the area. Haines and Rosenblum look at the media in Richmond between the years of 1975- 1999 to gain an accurate understanding of the populous perception of the refugees resettling in the area. Much of the media portrayed Richmond as an area of salvation for the refugees and in this portrayal, the refugee narrative was no longer able to be an individualistic experience. Instead, the media began to gather these narratives to create one universal narrative for the whole of the refugee experience.

“Defining Immigrant Newcomers in New Destinations: Symbolic Boundaries in Williamsburg, Virginia”

Deenesh Sohoni and Jennifer Bickham Mendez documented the media representation of the new wave of immigration into Williamsburg, Virginia, specifically Williamsburg being portrayed as the “new immigrant destination.” Once again, this is largely examined through the lens of the media and public perception. The conversation that Sohoni and Mendez are seeking to have through this article is one that determines how different people who interact with the media establish boundaries. Previously, it was believed that there was a set of national and international discourses. However, Sohoni and Mendez have identified that the discourse actually lies in the idea of the in-group versus out-group or others. This is based in the examination of articles in the Virginia Gazette where contributors drew boundaries separating the various nationalities (immigrant versus American).

Housing Accessibility

This week we looked at three different articles that explored the issue of housing accessibility in Northern Virginia.

“African American Housing Crisis in Alexandria”

In this article, Moon explores the housing crisis that many African Americans faced in Alexandria between 1930-1960. Moon lays the groundwork of the housing crisis that African Americans faced by explaining the suburban construction boom that took place post-WWII. In addition to this, Alexandria was traditionally a predominantly Black neighborhood. This led local leaders to be concerned that white middle-class families wouldn’t move to Alexandria. These factors all culminated in the enforcement of segregated housing. Legislative action was taken to enforce this segregation by allowing for some homes and neighborhoods to be reserved for white families only. It is important to note that there was active resistance from the African American families in the area that would eventually lead to governmental changes.

“Eminent Domain Destroys a Community”

In this article, Perry discusses the ways in which Eminent Domain has impacted African American communities through the lens of the development of the Pentagon in East Arlington. Eminent Domain has been granted under the Fifth Amendment in the Constitution which gives the government the ability to obtain private property so long as just compensation is provided. However, Perry argues, that when the land was taken by the government to build the Pentagon was not actually just compensation. The community that once thrived in this area was lost and still is mourned. A central argument in this article is that while compensation was given to the residents for their land, there was no compensation given for the loss of community. This is especially important to acknowledge given that the taking of their property happened at the height of segregation. The community in East Arlington were dependent on each other because they were largely ostricized by the outside, white communities.

“Land Development and Racism in Fairfax County”

In this article, it explores the ways in which racism has impacted the development on Fairfax County. One of the arguments made is that Fairfax County is clearly racist in their development of the land because of the simple fact that no Black people are in positions of power for the land development process within the county. Another argument that is made is that by increasing the cost of housing in the area it isolates Black residents from being able to access jobs which in turn in creases pollution because they will then have to rely on the road system instead of using means of public transportation. The development of the suburban community inherently favors white, upper-class families while largely ignoring Black and low-income families. Little effort has been made to remedy these issues because there is little representation for Black and lower-class families on the Board of Supervisors. The article argues that citizen preassure is needed in order for change to happen in these areas because of the lack of representation within the positions of power in Fairfax County.

Southern Stalemate

In Christopher Bonastia’s Southern Stalemate, he explores the events that unfolded in Prince Edward County in 1959 following the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate public schools. Prince Edward County decided that closing all public schools was infinitely more favorable than the desegregation of the schools. This left many Black children in the county without education for five years. Prince Edward County served as a battleground amongst white southerners and Black Americans. Both sides of the fight were equally committed to their cause, which would lead one to believe that the tension in Prince Edward County would have a lasting impact on the discussion of the Civil Rights Movement. However, Bonastia makes the argument that there is a serious lack of study from scholars on the events that unfolded in Prince Edward County. The protests on both sides of the fight are often lost amongst larger and more commonly studied aspects of the Civil Rights Movement. Bonastia also notes that there were calls for equitable facilities from Black high schoolers in the county in 1951, years before the Civil Rights Movement reached its apex and the Brown v. Board of Education decision that would alter the Prince Edward County for years to come.

Climate Fever

In Climate Fever Steve Nash conducts a review and analysis of the climate change that Virginia has been gradually experiencing. Nash notes that climate change in Virginia was exacerbated in the 1970s. This climate change, in Virginia, has resulted in serious warming of the weather. Virginia has been experiencing winters where there are several days that reach the upper 70s. Nash makes the distinction that the occasional warm day in the winter is completely normal; however, the fact that there have been several days and weeks throughout the past several decades where the temperature reached the 70s is worthy of noting. Nash is able to compare records that Thomas Jefferson kept of the weather in Virginia during his lifetime to those kept by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) of more recent weather and climate changes in Virginia. While comparing these two records, Nash is able to clearly draw the conclusion that Virginia’s weather, even if it followed typical changes/ patterns, it has still been drastically altered by the larger populous.

Chesapeake Requiem and The Canal Path

Chesapeake Requiem, written by Earl Swift is a careful study of the disappearing island of Tangier off the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Within the section assigned, he begins the story of Tangier by exploring the history of the surrounding islands that also disappeared due to climate change and erosion. He uses this as a foundation to explain the attitudes that exist towards the rapid change of environment that the citizens of Tangier hold. Many of the people who live on the island are disappointed in the United States government for not funding projects that would create infrastructure that has the potential to save the island. While the federal government has no problem ignoring their growing cries for aid to save their home, the government continues to place regulations on the crabbing industry. Crabbing is the main industry in Tangier and how many of the men on the island support themselves and their families. Many residents voice their frustrations with the increasing regulation on crabbing by stating that the government is more concerned with saving wildlife than saving the people on the island. Swift brings the people back into the narrative of the slowly disappearing island. He shares the daily lives of those on the island as well as the strong community that exists.

The Canal Path:
I was unable to attend the kayaking trip and was assigned to walk the Heritage and Canal path trial with some friends who had never been. While walking the 3.5-mile path, there were several observations that I noticed. Firstly, I was finally able to look at the Indian Punch Bowl. I explained to my friends that it is suspected that the Punch Bowl was used to mix poisons for arrows by the Tribes that lived in the area during the time. As we got a clearer view of the river, we saw so many people fishing, kayaking, and tubing. The fishermen were extremely respectful of the area and made sure to take their used fishing wire and hooks with them. I remember Dr. Moon saying in class that there is a strong encouragement to practice leave no trace while at the river. It was refreshing to see that being followed. Further down the path as we neared the canal, there was a lot of algae growth. It made me wonder if one of the bubblers/water agitators is broken. As we continued to walk, we noticed that the vegetation along the canal seemed to be untrimmed, which made us wonder if it was a part of a no-mow zone, like the ones we have on campus. Being able to walk the canal path was a wonderful reason to get off campus and connect with the Fredericksburg area that I don’t always make the time to do. My friends and I have decided that we are going to try to walk the path at least once a week. It was a much-needed time to think about something other than school and work.

Friends and I at the Canal
Friends and I at the Canal
Picture of the Rappahannock Canal Sign
Friends and I at the river