Progress in the Face of Adversity

Through our readings and discussion of Clay’s Ark (Butler, 1984) and Zone One (Whitehead, 2011) I have noticed a common theme that seems to resonate with the subject matter of our course: the struggle to persevere in the face of adversity. In Clay’s Ark, we saw the internal struggle of infected individuals undergoing the moral dilemma of deciding between succumbing to their disease and infecting others or saving humanity from the same fate. Zone One portrayed a broken civilization, plagued by a zombie apocalypse, striving to rebuild society and restore human civilization. While neither of these stories offered particularly optimistic endings for the fate of humanity, the constant theme of determination to achieve survival and progress through adverse situations are in some ways comparable to the progress made by minority groups, particularly African Americans, against the atrocities and discrimination that have disgraced U.S. history. Although my previous blogs have mainly focused on the horrific abuses of minorities at the hand of privileged white men and women, I thought I would dedicate the subject this post to the headway made by minorities in the face of these circumstances.

An article published by the Pew Research Center contains statistics highlighting progress made by African Americans, as well as modern discrepancies continuing to persist between racial and ethnic groups. (Link) One incidence of progress discussed is the narrowing of the black-white high school completion gap. According to the study, which examined the percentage of adults aged 25 and older in the U.S. with a high school diploma, the 51% of the white population held a high school diploma in 1964, compared to 27% of African Americans. The gap has greatly narrowed between then and 2015, as the article reports that 93% of whites held a high school diploma at this time, versus 88% of the African American community. The same article discusses headway made within the U.S. political system itself, citing the fact that Congress now has a higher percentage of African Americans currently serving terms than ever before, with 47 in the House of Representatives and 3 in the Senate. The Pew Research Center also states that unlike the narrowing education gap, large gaps still persist today between whites and African Americans based on wealth and level of income. They also concede that only about one third of African Americans believe race relations are good in the U.S. today. These certainly indicate that progress is still to be made.

While Clay’s Ark and Zone One don’t necessarily serve as direct metaphors for a struggling minority group in the United States, it did offer similarities in the sense that a group of people battled for the ability to survive and thrive through tremendous difficulties. I believe the resilience seen among minority communities throughout these hardships and their success in today’s society is admirable to the highest degree.

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