Select and answer one of the following questions:
The film shows how government policies have created unfair advantages for whites in the past, resulting in a substantial wealth gap between whites and nonwhites. What examples of disparity exist in your community today? Will the wealth gap go away if we ignore race?
In the early part of this century, Asian immigrants were not eligible for citizenship, no matter how long they lived in the U.S. What is the legacy of those laws in terms of how Asian Americans are viewed today? What role does race play in current U.S. policy on immigration and granting of citizenship? How is our idea of citizenship still tied to race?
Commenting on the idea that the U.S. is a melting pot, sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva says, “That melting pot never included people of color. Blacks, Chinese, Puerto Ricans, etc. could not melt into the pot.” Think about the phrase “melting pot”—what does it imply? If this does not appropriately describe the U.S., what phrase would aptly describe the relationship between its various peoples?
Central to the concept of the American Dream is the notion that anyone who works hard enough will be rewarded—that anyone can “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” How has this been made more difficult for people not defined as white? What is the long-term impact of that denial? What difference does access to financial resources make in terms of your life opportunities?
Cartoonist Bill Griffith comments on the all-white suburb where he grew up: “It certainly doesn’t promote a feeling of a wider world to live in a place where there are only people who look like you.” Do you agree? What does your neighborhood, workplace or school look like? Should geographical integration be a goal of public policy? Why or why not?
Psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum summarizes the impact of institutionalized racial policies like FHA loan practices: “To the child of that parent, it looks like, ‘My father worked hard, bought a house, passed his wealth on to me, made it possible for me to go to school….How come your father didn’t do that?’” How would you answer the child of that privileged parent? How would you explain the situation to the child of the parent who was disadvantaged by government policies?
Supreme Court Justice Henry Blackmun said, “To get beyond racism we must first take account of race. There is no other way.” Do you agree? Contrast Blackmun’s statement with people who strive to be “colorblind” and judge people by the “content of their character rather than the color of their skin.” Who benefits if we adopt a colorblind approach to society? How is colorblindness different from equality?
Given that race isn’t biological, should we get rid of racial categories? Why might racial classifications still be useful? If we stop tracking racial information, how will we tell if disparities still exist?
How would you respond to Beverly Daniel Tatum’s closing questions in the film:
What can I influence?
How am I making this a more equitable environment?
Who is included in this picture and who isn’t; who has had opportunities in my environment and who hasn’t?
What can I do about that?

 

Sample solution

Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell. 

In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings (Cheney, 2016). The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.

God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader (Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.

Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.

To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.

 

References

Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them. Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed, 267.

Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro. Cultural and Religious Studies4(8), 487.

Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27. Italica, 285-297.