Black Boy Analytical Text-Based Essay on the End of Racism through “Black Boy” by Richard Wright Around 2000 B.C., Egyptians enslaved Jews in bondage like caged animals because they were targeted as a lesser race and thus chosen for labor. Just 1500 years later, the Jews themselves were the culprits of racism labeling the very association with Samaritans as a deep sin. In 1861 1865, the United States divided brother against brother in one of its bloodiest battles of all time over black slavery. Racism survives not simply as an intangible historic fable but as a real modern problem, also. In current civilization Arab Palestinians war with Israelis to find a homeland; the Ku Klux Klan draws its biggest membership influx in over 20 years; and in the U.S.
where freedom reigns, Americans have never to date voted a person into the president’s office who was not a white male. Denny’s restaurants, Texaco gas stations, and Avis car rental are a few of the number of national companies accused of extolling racism in this “apartheid America.” Although less subtle in the lives of Americans then, racism also thrived in the souls of people living during the 1920’s. Even though the war on slavery was over in the battle fields, white racists were blood thirsty lions at heart, as was demonstrated in the book Black Boy. The setting of Black Boy is in the deep south of Jackson, Mississippi where whites attempted to tame into submission blacks by hard discipline. Such was the case for Richard in Black Boy, his autobiography. It seemed that the more Richard gained success, the more he was hurt.
In Black Boy, Richard is abused by whites because he reminds the whites of their lack of identity and failure to meet society’s expectations. Their lives became bland and their world became, “bleak and undeniable.” (193) The largeness, the coldness, and squalor of the world to the white racists then and now are mountains of pain that the racists can not scale. Like a motherless child, they feel lost and not cared for by a world with all of those conditions. They lose their individuality and then their self esteem. Those whites took the hate and despair that they received, and punished blacks, a weaker race, with harsh discipline. When Reynolds and Pease ganged up on Richard, Richard did, “feel no hate for the men who had driven [him] from the job. They were not individual men, but part of a huge implacable, elemental design.” (229) By teaming up on blacks like Pease and Reynolds did to Richard, whites are able to unite and find power in numbers, and in turn satisfy their human need for pride.
Richard was commanded to distinguish the separation Hand does lead to the separation of the races, and coupled with the ego that the white man at the optical company demonstrated about one’s race results in racism. The cycle of racism ends in the action of transferring that pain against those who had identities. This was true for Richard’s Uncle Hoskins as he, “had been killed by whites who had long coveted his flourishing liquor business.”(63) The whites began to hate the blacks, thus delivering the same hate to the blacks that they themselves felt they received from society. This end hate regenerates the system by leaving the blacks with no identities, and so they started, “transferring their hatred of themselves to others with a black skin and fighting.” (298) Identity plays a part in racism, but the deterioration of identity has its roots in external strain including that of society. Richard saw the breakdown of character by pressures in Don, a worker at the optical company whose, “position was not much better than offhand, bantering way.” (289) Therefore the whites’ identity crisis as a result of the perceived great expectations and the individual’s weakness combine to further ware away the individual to racism. At early childhood, Richard remained blocked from the molding of society, and so did not elicit a distinction between blacks and whites.
Richard described them as, “merely people like other people.” (27) At childhood, Richard found the truth all peoples seemed somewhat equal. Whites were humbled by the revelation that they were just normal, not the heroes of their dreams. Whites domination over blacks was apparent in Richard’s life as he described the horrendous beating of a black woman who did not pay her bills, and his later match with a car of white boys. The white boys demonstrated their superiority, even telling Richard in a cocky manner, “You’re a lucky bastard, ’cause if you’d said that to some other white man, you might’ve been a dead nigger now.” (214) Their personal value dropped when they found that they weren’t necessarily the absolute best at everything, since black Richard could succeed also, and so they wanted to regain their prestige or respect for themselves that they had. Their most readily available grounds for success was their racial domination over others.
Therefore, they must have actively participated in racism as a need to show that they are better than others. This quality projects into the boys’ throwing the bottle at Richard. The shear fact that others might rival whites’ power depressed them. Richard’s principal, may be considered black or white, but it makes little difference as he was obviously molded by white values. The principal goes as far as to threaten not to allow Richard to graduate if he does not conform to the principal’s views, forcing upon Richard this aggrandizement. Even though the knowledge remained concealed, the whites were confronted with the truth that they were just humans+and the whole stature that they have built around their beings. Because others matched up to whites, it forced them to no longer totally ignore the unconscious acknowledgment of equality. Thus racists tried to defeat others as Richard’s principal did to fulfill the expectations of excellence, and to dismiss the hurting truth of their mediocrity.
Each assemblage tried targeting one another in this social hierarchy. But particularly aimed at were those who rose victorious and defied statistics or standards thus being reminders of others’ failure; people who were similar to Richard’s characteristics. Whites hated him because he undermined their self esteem as someone could be better than they were, and in particular a black. Whites hated him because he even proved that they were not perfect racists, and that their racism was not foolproof. He was able to rise against submission, white power, and white pride. He saw through the white lies, and the truth that he unveiled stands out as the champion that dismantles the system.
Then, is society racist? Society consists of its individuals, and so the people within it can determine the answer to that question. But, society does represent the individual. Society tries to create an identity for itself, much like the common man. A society needs the pride that the individual needs. In order to accumulate that pride, societies often have to be exclusive.
Then, the question emerges on how humans can change society. This is not the first nor the last time the question will arise, although there is a general solution reiterated in the echoes of history and in the cries of the world’s posterity. Great teachers from Jesus to Confucius have preached the golden rule, the principle of loving thy neighbor as thyself, and it being more blessed to give than to receive. While sounding “high” and idealistic, these two principles have many everyday applications. An obvious way to join the fight+Victory World Organization, or Youth Against Racism in Europe. Many of these groups are involved simply in education in the hope that by educating the public on the true differences of race, comfort between the races may be accomplished thus ending racism. In simply helping out a neighbor with his groceries, cleaning up a park, or donating time at a local charity, racism dies. By feeling self imposed humility, the person gets a sense of gratification in his life.
He now knows that he has a good reason to keep going. Eventually the person will also receive that same love from others. Therefore, a new source for positive gratification and love is created, making racism obsolete. These principles have not been fully successful as people are naturally more willing to be lethargic than active, more likely to be followers than leaders, usually submit rather than stand up for themselves. They need courage.
The courage must come from the love within, it must be true courage. For some, it doesn’t come naturally, but with one strong foot forward, and a heart for others, racism can be defeated and the world can live in peace and equality.