So, we're covering the always-popular topic of slavery in the U.S., and the TA mentioned branding.
The subject of the print Branding Slaves, shown above, was rare in that it portrayed an atrocity. Abolition, in 1845, was still a controversial topic in America. This print, however, was popular because it side-stepped the moral issues and showed the system at its most brutal, and was therefore condemnable by all. Note some of the details in the print: Detail of the print showing groups of slaves in coffles and a slave being taken from a friend. the fear and horror on the face of the African prisoner, contrasted with the bored expressions of the slavers; the bullwhip lying on the ground behind the right-hand slaver; the pistol stuck into the sash of the man with the branding iron; the smoke from the branding iron as it sears the African man's flesh; groups of slaves in coffles, in the left background; and near that a slave being torn from the grasp of a friend or family member. These are all images designed to arouse disgust and revulsion against the most violent aspects of slavery. Not addressed, however, are the moral issues which were central to the actual debates over the institution at the time.
The official class dumbass whiteboy -- Hanne, Nina, Neo, Garrity and anyone else who attended a Midwestern university would recognize the type immediately by the baseball cap, frat t-/sweatshirt and constant sneer -- says that he heard some black fraternities brand members.
The room went quiet and still.
And then the TA asked, "Ok, does anyone want to explain to Brad why he's going to get his ass kicked after class?"
Someone put in, "Because there's a difference between a voluntary act and an involuntary one?"
Another person suggested, "Because brands aren't required of members?"
"Because he's a dumbass whiteboy?" someone chimed in.
"Hawkins, you're not helping," sighed the TA.
Another time me, Kat McNiece and Jonny Jackson (if I remember right) were walking across Wright Street, and saw a new or not very used car with a bow on top sitting outside a sorority house, with a cheerful-looking whitegirl -- Brad's girlfriend/prom date/ acquaintance rape prey, probably -- and her adoring parents standing nearby.
We looked at each other and waited for someone to point out that violence is not the answer.
I had to serve as the voice of reason. Any situation where I'm the voice of reason is utterly, hopelessly fucked.
In retrospect, knowing the bitch probably grew up to be a warblogger, my objections at the time were foolish. Should'a stomped the lot 'em into the ground.
I'm having a good day, can you tell?