Posts Tagged ‘america’

Henry and Anna Richardson were famously known for being a pair of successful and well established Quaker abolitionists, who dedicated most of their lives freeing slaves who had been held captive by their masters oversees in America. The couple originated from Newcastle Upon Tyne, and a significant relationship can be found in the form of America and Tyneside in the case of the north-east Quaker’s, especially due to the number of slaves Henry and Anna assisted in helping. The stand out former slave they have been involved with is Frederick Douglass, who wrote the ground-breaking book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, who the Richardson’s met when Douglass embarked on his tour after rising to fame, which included a stop in Newcastle, another connection which can be made between Tyneside and America. One historical building in Newcastle that relates to both the Richardson’s and Douglass is a house in Summerhill Grove, where the former slave stayed with Henry and Anna for a while. This significant moment in transnational history is being memorialized, with the house ‘set to have a blue plaque whose unveiling will coincide with the 50-year anniversary of Martin Luther King receiving his doctorate in the city.’[1] The plaque will be open to the public later this year. Newcastle city council have also expressed their admiration for Douglass. ‘Frederick was one of the most historically significant African-American figures of the 19th Century and a leading anti-slavery and early civil rights campaigner’.[2] The council’s words of praise make the inhabitants of Newcastle feel privileged to have an American cultural icon like Douglass inhabit the city and take in the culture at that time. Henry and Anna’s historical achievements has made the people of Tyneside proud, and it’s brought an influx of positive Americanization to the city, with people being made more aware of the impressive cultural connection Tyneside has with America.

[1] Barbara Hodgson, “Former slave ‘freed’ by Newcastle couple is to be honored in Martin Luther King anniversary year”, The Chronicle, 5th November 2016,


[Accessed 15th February 2017]


[2] Hodgson, “Former slave ‘freed’ by Newcastle couple is to be honoured in Martin Luther King anniversary year”

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Love them or hate them, reality TV shows are now a huge part of modern popular culture. The UK has embraced this form of mindless reality television within the past several years. The US gave us Laguna Beach, The Hills and The Simple Life, and so I guess we have them to thank for shows like The Real Housewives of Cheshire, The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea – cheers, America! Although Britain is fairly late to the game in this brand of TV, we could certainly give the States a run for their money if the goal is to satisfy guilty pleasures.
MTV’s Jersey Shore first came to our screens in 2009 and ran until December 2012. The show is a quintessential example of American ‘reality’ television: it follows the highly dramatised lives of eight twentysomethings sharing a house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Just two years later in 2011, we were treated to our very own British spin-off in the form of MTV’s Geordie Shore. Essentially the only differences between the two is the location and the accent. The rest is pretty much the same – even down to the false tan. To someone who has never seen either shows, I’d encourage you to imagine a soap opera where all of the characters are intoxicated. Ask anyone on Tyneside about the show, and I’d say that the majority will roll their eyes. Although I myself am not from Newcastle (Sunderland native here), I can guarantee that watching Geordie Shore will not give you an accurate picture of the average Newcastle local, just as I imagine that watching Jersey Shore will give you a very skewed depiction of a true Jerseyite.

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1886, in the New York Harbor, workers are building the Statue of Liberty. At about 800 miles away, another great American symbol was about to be born…

The pharmacist John Pemberton, an ex civil war officer was wounded during the war and like many other he became addicted to the morphine used to relieve pain. His curiosity to find an alternative led him to experimenting with coca and formulate by trial and error the well known beverage “Coca-Cola”. (more…)

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This photo was taken after Ali had fought in his first professional fight in 1960. After this fight, he returned home with this pink Cadillac to give to his mother. This is only fitting as his mother was one of his biggest supporters in his boxing career ever since Ali happened to meet his trainer after his bicycle was stolen. In 1960, the world still did not know much about Ali, as this was still 9 years before his famous draft dodge. Public opinion was relatively neutral.

This image was recently released, and shows Ali in a different light then how America in years after this photo was taken saw him. This shows him as a loving, respectful son who, after finally has money, buy his mother a brand new car, not an anti-american who refuses to serve and protect his country. This photo also allows us to see him at what he really is: a person. A person who is undeniably one of the greatest boxers of all time, but a person nonetheless. America has a way of creating a false person out of its icons. We fail to keep a person’s flaws in view unless they better the tale. Although Ali is only known for his wins and controversies, he, like the average American, loves his mom and wanted to buy her a car.

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The creation of the peanut butter and jelly can be traced to the early 1900s in America when its recipe was published in a cooking school magazine. It started out as a snack or meal for wealthier people as the cost of peanut butter was high, but eventually, as the price dropped, became widespread, with children becoming the highest demographic. PB&J sandwiches are still incredibly popular with children; it’s a semi-healthy meal that’s easy to eat (no utensils required), and due to its lasting freshness can make a great lunch option. A study in 2002 showed that an average American will eat over 1500 pb&j’s before graduating high school. source

Whether you’re for or against crust on your pb&j, a consensus can be reached on the nostalgic effects a pb&j holds. One look or taste of the sandwich can transport the person back to a simpler, better time. As a person grows older, the consumption of these sandwiches decline as more complex or more expensive meals become available; however, college kids who need a fast and cheap meal increases this consumption for a time. This overall declining trend is due to most seeing a pb&j sandwich as childish. Although it reminds them of a better time, they are “too old” to eat the meal. This contradiction of wanting to relive the past but also putting the past behind to enjoy the modernity and complexity of today is easily illustrated through a pb&j sandwich and readily seen as a theme in America.

This contraction can also be seen in the many ways people have changed or “improved” the simple sandwich. Through grilling it, using french toast instead of white bread.  to deep frying the sandwich, steps are taken to make this sandwich “better” by making it more complicated. Although we value the pb&j sandwich for its effortlessness, we actively search for ways to destroy that simplicity. America is known for its progressiveness in infrastructures and a wide variety of other ways, but we still think of days long ago as better due to its straightforwardness. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich, to me, is one of the most iconic American foods. An unpopular meal in the rest of the world, but an embodiment of American ideals and contradictions.

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America recreates a great deal of food from other countries and transforms it into something unique. Oftentimes these Americanized foods barely resemble their predecessors, and instead have taken on a form that reflects the United States itself. Pizza is a prime example. The original pizza came from Italy, but it has become a common American food. Pizza embodies the values and contradictions of America through its accessibility and its various forms.

In his book The Hamburger, Josh Ozersky stresses the importance of the public place in establishing a popular food into an icon. Ozersky notes that the prominence of the hamburger is at least in part due to its standardization and commercialization in American culture. The same argument can be made about pizza. The frequency of pizza chains as well as local restaurants adds to the influence the food has within the country. The food’s easy access also means that more people will consume it, which will cause it to rise in importance. Another factor that plays into pizza’s role in public space is that it is something that is almost always purchased outside of the home. While one can make one’s own pizza, most people choose to order it or dine out, or at the very least purchase a frozen pizza. In fact, pizza has become a common meal for when families do not want to or have the time to cook that night. In this sense, pizza reflects a sort of “luxury”, a break from a normal routine. The ability to have a pizza delivered is in a way a luxury, although it is not typically referred to as such. Not only does one not have to cook, but one does not even need to leave the house to get food. Pizza’s role in the public space and its prominence as a food not generally made in the household helps it to reach its icon status.

Pizza became an icon due also to its various forms that reflect contradictions in America. The food item addresses the tension between individuality and community. It is common for people to grab a quick slice of pizza during the day by themselves for an easy lunch. However, it is just as common to find a family ordering a pizza together on a weekend night. The pizza also deals with the contradiction between authenticity and conformity. Just as the hamburger was commercialized by various fast food restaurants, pizza was also turned into a corporate business through various chains such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s. However, there are also countless local pizza shops in every city and town. These local restaurants give off the authentic feeling that is so integral to American identity. The fact that one can personalize their own pizza is another way the food represents this authenticity. Even in chain restaurants, people can order pizzas with various toppings and crusts. In this sense, pizza has avoided some of the backlash against places like McDonald’s for their mass-produced food.

Pizza has become a powerful American icon. The importance of the food in the public place, as well as its diversity and ability to serve the needs of individuals, families, lower classes, higher classes, etc. has established it as iconic. The ability of pizza to be mass-produced in the Capitalist society while also retaining choices and originality makes the food unique in its ability to balance the tension between authenticity and conformity. Pizza captures and reflects many American ideals.

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Barbie’s Changes

This image compares the original Barbie first produced in 1959 to a more recent model of Barbie from 2009. In these 50 years, it is clear that Barbie has undergone some significant changes. Barbie is wearing fewer clothes and has an entirely different body shape. Dolls are meant to represent the ideal body and body standards and this image illustrates that those standards are not set in stone in the US. Barbie is sold worldwide and shows other countries what the ideal American woman looks like.  These dolls also give us a snapshot of America’s past to understand how those standards impacted everyday life and business. It shows us what fashion or cosmetics sold as well as how to wear those clothes and makeup. It’s only fitting that as America changes, Barbie does too. Just as Barbie is innovative and always progressing, so is America.

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