Charlottesville 2017- Madeline MacArthur

White supremacy in Charlottesville has its roots in the 1920s, which is when the statue of Robert E. Lee was erected. The KKK was especially strong in the area at that time. Racism was rampant and black people and culture were seen as the enemy and antithesis to America. Later, in 2016, a 9th grader named Zyhana started a petition to have the Robert E. Lee statue removed, as well as the Stonewall Jackson statue. These statues served as a painful reminder of the horrible treatment of African Americans throughout history, and they honored figures who were instrumental in troubling causes. After it was announced that the statues would be removed, August of 2017 saw a rise of white supremacy terrorists in Charlottesville. When white supremacists starting rioting against the removal of the statues, counter protestors showed up, and counter protestor Heather Heyer was run down by a car and killed. Many locals tried to make a bigger effort to honor African Americans and they put up portraits around the city that were commissioned by African Americans, and people to this day are still trying to give them a bigger voice and tell their story. Antisemitism was also a big part of the racist rallying cries in Charlottesville. On August 17th, 2017, Nazi protestors surrounded Charlottesville’s synagogue on Shabbat and yelled antisemitic statements and sang racist minstrel songs during the service. These events have led the community of Charlottesville and especially UVA students to reflect on what responsibility they have and how they can combat the “Unite the Right” movement. UVA and the area around it has seen much gentrification, which took away homes from many underprivileged people.

How May I Help You?- Madeline MacArthur

How May I Help You was a very interesting read! In this book, Deepak Singh shares his story of adjusting to living in America after growing up in India. He was raised in India by parents who were fairly well off, and they always emphasized the importance of a good education. Deepak got an MBA, and then he met Holly, a grad student from America. After spending some time together in India, they got married and Deepak moved to America to join his new wife. Deepak found it difficult to adjust to living in America. In the beginning, he and his wife lived with several roommates and Deepak found it difficult to fit in. Holly acted more American than she had acted which he found a little off-putting, and she was always spending time with her friends. Deepak had trouble spending time with her friends because the social rules were different than what he was used to and they would often talk about sexual topics in mixed company, which was something considered inappropriate in India. This caused him to feel isolated. Deepak started a job at Electronics Hut, because he could do nothing with his MBA in America. He had trouble initiating customer interactions, especially because he did not know much about the electronics there, and he gravitated towards people who were also from India. He was often chastised and embarrassed by his manager and coworkers, and he came close to being fired. However, he got better with connecting with people and eventually became the store’s top salesman. Deepak also became friends with the people he worked with and they helped him learn a lot about America, especially the dynamics of race and sexuality, which were at first confusing for him. Despite these improvements though, Deepak often felt ashamed of his job, especially considering the fact that many of Holly’s friends were married to men with much better jobs, and he began to see how systemic racism and economic disparities in America often set immigrants up for failure. After a couple years Deepak and Holly were able to visit his parents in India, which gave Deepak the chance to reflect on his experiences and the cultural differences. Upon his return to America, Deepak was able to train to be a manager at Electronics Hut.

Public In Name Only- Madeline MacArthur

I found “Public In Name Only” to be an extremely fascinating read! It talks about the struggle that the African Americans of Alexandria went through to gain access to the public library, which was built in 1937. This is something that I had never heard of before until reading this book! The black residents of Alexandria were upset because they were paying for public resources such as the library through their taxes, but they were not kept from accessing the goods that they were paying for. They were consistently denied access to library cards. In 1939, a local African American attorney named Samuel Tucker responded to the injustice by organizing a peaceful and respectable sit-in at the library. Many people were arrested at the sit-ins, but there was finally a trial where it was decided that black people could not be denied library cards under specific circumstances. The board members of the library decided to build a library specifically for black people, which was much smaller and had less resources than the main library that white people used. While this was a significant motion, it did not really advance integration. However, it is an important case because it set a precedent for civil rights struggles in the future. Alexandria’s public library was not fully integrated until 1962.

Chesapeake Requiem- Madeline MacArthur

I found the Chesapeake Requiem reading to be extremely fascinating! It talks about the people who live on Tangier Island in Virginia. The reading starts by recounting the experience of Carol Moore, who was exploring the ruins of Canaan off of Tangier Island in a boat and accidentally stumbled upon a cemetery that had been submerged under water. The author then talks about how throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, many people settled on small islands near to where Tangier Island is, such as Sharps Island and Holland Island. Thriving towns were built on these islands, but eventually more and more people began to move to mainland and now those islands are all underwater. Tangier Island is still standing, but it is slowly disappearing and threatening the lives of people who have been living there for generations. Crabbing something that many people on Tangier Island such as Ooker Eskridge do for a living, and when crabbing they often encounter tree stumps far offshore, which indicates that forests used to be there. There used to be sandbars stretching way out that were used for crabbing, but now they are mostly submerged. Tangier Island native Ooker Eskridge believes that the slow submersion of Tangier Island is not at all the doing of man, but the author attributes it heavily to erosion. The author believes that politicians simply refer to this as “sea level rise” because it sounds like something that no one can do anything about. Tangier Island is predicted to be uninhabitable in 50 years. Tangier Island is very remote, with no internet access, no doctors and emergency rooms, and only one restaurant and grocery. However, it is a crucial community because they are known for their blue crabs. Blue crabs are often served as a specialty in restaurants all over the mainland. However, the grasses that these crabs live in are being threatened by the climate change and they are slowly diminishing. This is very problematic for the people on Tangier Island who rely on this to make a living. Tangier Island has already shrunk two-thirds since 1850, and the residents are predicted to be among the first climate change refugees. The government is refusing to help the people on Tangier Island because they claim that nothing can be done to help the rising sea levels.

Virginia Climate Fever Summary- Madeline MacArthur

I found this article about global warming and climate change to be incredibly interesting! The article talks about the rising CO2 rates in Virginia and in the country as a whole, which leads to greenhouse gases being trapped in the atmosphere and causes the rise of the earth’s temperature. I definitely agree with the author’s statement that climate change is something that is often politicized and that people will often use instances of cold weather to try and disprove it. This is something that I have observed many times! On the other hand, instances of hot weather cannot be used to prove global warming. Instead, scientists must look at trends over time, and trends indicate that Virginia has been getting consistently hotter every year. Rainfall has been increasing as well. By 2100, it is predicted to be as hot as north Florida, which is a problem because much of Virginia does not have the advantage of coastal breezes to help regulate the temperature and weather. In addition to this, global warming is causing acidity to vastly increase in the Chesapeake Bay. The increase in acidity can lead to a rise in calcium carbonate, which can disintegrate the shells and skeletal structures of underwater organisms. When organisms die in the water, it leads to the release of even more CO2 into the air and the toxic cycle keeps going. This same process is also happening in the Atlantic Ocean along the Virginia coastline, which is decreasing the population of coral and fish. This is an especially big problem because Virginia is the third-largest marine producer in the U.S. Global warming is also affecting forest. Mount Rogers has the last living ecosystem of conifer trees in Virginia, and it slowly dying out, as are the other species living in this area. Scientists believe that there is not much they can do to stop the decline of this ecosystem. Animals in Virginia are constantly having to migrate because of the destruction and climate change caused by humans, and their options for suitable habitats are greatly decreasing. Conservationists in Virginia are constantly working on finding solutions to help slow and stop global warming. Virginia has something called an exemplary tax incentive program which promotes the conservation of land. If not enough is done in Virginia to stop climate change, it will have extremely detrimental effects.

The Virginia Way summary- Madeline MacArthur

I thought The Virginia Way was a super interesting article to read. It starts out telling the story of Theresa “Red” Terry, a 61-year-old grandmother, who stayed perched on a platform in a tree for 35 days to protest the Mountain Valley Pipeline going through her property. This shocked me because before this I did not know that companies could just build things through people’s private property. Her family’s farm had been in her family since before the Revolutionary War, and trees that were centuries old were being cut down for this pipeline. She and her daughter were nearly arrested for trespassing on their own property, and for a while Terry was denied food and water while she was protesting. Terry’s protest gained national media attention and brought to attention the corruption of Dominion, a government electric company held within a private natural gas corporation. The article mentioned that Dominion is essentially a monopoly and controls two-thirds of the power in Virginia, which I found really crazy. Dominion was also allowed to use their money to buy political influence, which only added to their power. Because of their financial investments and the power that Dominion held, at first there were very few politicians who would speak out against them. However, their price hikes and disregard for environmental regulations started to draw criticism from more and more people and politicians, led by Josh Stanfield. In 2018, the House of Delegates stood up to Dominion’s greed and voted against the bill to raise their electricity rates even further, which was unusual because Dominion had always gotten everything they wanted. In addition to this, politicians who supported Dominion have started being voted out of office. Dominion still holds a lot of power in Virginia though, so this is an ongoing debate. I found it interesting to see the different reasons that both Democrats and Republicans have for opposing Dominion.