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Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States Essay

There are two types of people in this story. They are the conquerors and the conquered. The communities that Zinn talks about in the story are the Native Americans and the English settlers that came to America. Out of those communities the conquerors were the English settlers and the conquered were the Native Americans. These two communities had similar and different views on topics. One thing that the two viewed differently was how they viewed the land. The Native Americans believed that the land did not belong to one single person, rather they believed that the land belonged to a whole tribe. The English settlers did not feel the same way.

The settlers believed that each individual person had the opportunity to own his own land and that he may do whatever he wants to with it. Another difference the two communities had was their views on religion. The Native Americans did not believe in religion. They believed that there was a type of spiritual force that controlled the land. The English settlers did believe in religion. They worshipped gods and executed religious practices. The two groups did have some similarities though. One similarity was language. The two groups both used language to communicate with one another. Another similarity the two had was a law system. They both had punishments set up for the level of crime that someone within their community committed. Those are some similarities and differences between the two communities.

“Chapters 2 and 3”

Racism is not natural. Zinn expresses this in the story. There are two things that factor into racism not being natural. Those two things are historical forces and human decisions. Historical forces are certain ideas or movements become irresistible forces that will have their way. One example of this is plantations not having enough people to work on them. The plantation owners had Caucasian slaves but they were few and far to come by. They considered using Native Americans as slaves but they were hard to capture and the owners knew that they would rebel. They eventually turned their attention to the very populous African American group. They went out and captured many African Americans and brought them into slavery.

Human decision is a purposeful selection from a set of alternatives. An example of human decision is how they treated the slaves. The owners treated the African American slaves way worse than they treated the Caucasian slaves. They made the penalty for crimes committed by African American slaves far worse than those for a white man that had committed the same crime. The owners also felt that the slaves may rebel. If the plantation was attack the black slaves were not given weapons to defend themselves. This was to prevent them from every feeling in power and to prevent rebellions.

These two things both factor into racism, but the main one that creates racism is human decision. Racism is not something that is guaranteed to happen. It was not set in stone that one race would hate another. It takes people to create this feeling. People themselves create this feeling and that is why it is human decision.


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