BLACK BOY AS A CATALYST TO END RACISM; A STUDY OF RICHARD WRIGHT’S BLACK BOY
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Racism in literary studies is defined by Wikipedia as the belief the of genetic factors which constitute race, are the primary determinants of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produces an inherent superiority of a particular race. Racism effects are called racial discrimination. Although the term racism usually denotes race based on prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination or oppression. Racism is also defined simply as a reflection of the economic system and its cultural, ethnic and political ways. The concept of racism is derived from the word race and it is believed that one racial or ethnic group is inferior to another and the unequal treatment is therefore justified (Wikipedia, 2008).
The generalized application of “tribal” in reference to Africans- as well as failure to acknowledge the religious, cultural and societal diversity of African people- is a decidedly racist dynamic. It is part of the process whereby EuroAmericans justify, or avoid confronting their oppression of third world peoples. Africa has been particularly insulted by this dynamic, as witness to the pervasive “darkest Africa” image. This image, widespread in Western culture, evokes and Africa covered jungles and inhabited by “uncivilized,” “cannibalistic,” “pagan, “savage” peoples. This “darkest Africa” image avoids the geographical reality. Less than 20% of the African continent is wooded, for example. The image also ignores the history of African cultures and civilizations. Ample evidence suggests this distortion of reality was developed as a convenient rationale, for the European and American slave trade and western colonialism (Leonard, James, Tenney, Thomas, Davis & Thadious, 1992)
A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” (Malcolm X) The African- American race as people have faced many challenges and has been through many struggles and oppressions. These events in history have fostered a sense of pride and for some hate in later generations. The pride that African- Americans have is usually referred to as Black Supremacy, Black Pride, and Black Power. The ideas of these prides are for black people as whole to have strong sense of who they are as a people, self-worth, self-determination, and equality. Every race should have these feelings, but some people take this to heart and find it offence because there are extremist groups who take these to beliefs above and beyond. Black Supremacy is not racism unless the Black race starts degrading other races and forming extremist groups to eliminate other based on the beliefs of pride (Smith, 1984).
Nobody denies that in the past and present there has been racial acts against the African- American race. When the Africans first arrived here from Africa as slaves, they were not treated equal or considered humans, and were called heathens because they did not worship the God of Christianity (“Racism Timeline”). Most people would find it very hypocritical that the first European settlers of America came over for freedom of religion and to escape hate of the other religions, but were so quick to hate someone they have never seen before that didn’t share the same beliefs as them. Slavery separated families, degraded black people until they felt like animals, and placed value as property on another human being. Slave owners used this hierarchy to justify slavery and support that Africans were biologically inferior; Caucasians (whites) Ethiopians (Africans) Mongolians (Railton, 1987).