annonAround 2000 B.C., Egyptians enslaved Jews inbondage like caged animals because they were targeted as a lesser race andthus chosen for labor. Just 1500 years later, the Jews themselves were theculprits of racism labeling the very association with Samaritans as a deepsin. In 18611865, the United States divided brother against brother inone of its bloodiest battles of all time over black slavery. Racismsurvives not simply as an intangible historic fable but as a real modernproblem, also. In current civilization Arab Palestinians war with Israelisto find a homeland; the Ku Klux Klan draws its biggest membership influxin over 20 years; and in the U.S.
where freedom reigns, Americans havenever to date voted a person into the president’s office who was not awhite male. Denny’s restaurants, Texaco gas stations, and Avis car rentalare a few of the number of national companies accused of extolling racismin this “apartheid America.” Although less subtle in the lives ofAmericans then, racism also thrived in the souls of people living duringthe 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 inthe book Black Boy. The setting of Black Boy is in the deepsouth of Jackson, Mississippi where whites attempted to tame intosubmission blacks by hard discipline. Such was the case for Richard inBlack Boy, his autobiography. It seemed that the more Richard gainedsuccess, the more he was hurt.
In Black Boy, Richard is abused bywhites because he reminds the whites of their lack of identity and failureto meet society’s expectations. ^B^H^G^H^Graft in the midst of a stormysea. Their lives became bland and their world became, “bleak andundeniable.” (193) The largeness, the coldness, and squalor of the worldto the white racists then and now are mountains of pain that the racistscan not scale.
Like a motherless child, they feel lost and not cared forby a world with all of those conditions. They lose their individuality andthen their selfesteem. Those whites took the hate and despair that theyreceived, and punished blacks, a weaker race, with harsh discipline. WhenReynolds and Pease ganged up on Richard, Richard did, “feel no hate forthe 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 onblacks like Pease and Reynolds did to Richard, whites are able to uniteand find power in numbers, and in turn satisfy their human need for pride.
Richard was commanded to distinguish the separation ^A ^A ^Hand doeslead to the separation of the races, and coupled with the ego that thewhite man at the optical company demonstrated about one’s race results inracism. The cycle of racism ends in the action of transferring that painagainst those who had identities. This was true for Richard’s UncleHoskins as he, “had been killed by whites who had long coveted hisflourishing liquor business.”(63) The whites began to hate the blacks,thus delivering the same hate to the blacks that they themselves felt theyreceived from society. This end hate regenerates the system by leaving theblacks with no identities, and so they started, “transferring their hatredof themselves to others with a black skin and fighting.
” (298)Identity plays a part in racism, but the deterioration of identityhas its roots in external strain including that of society. Richard sawthe breakdown of character by pressures in Don, a worker at the opticalcompany whose, “position was not much better thanoffhand, bantering way.”(289) Therefore the whites’ identity crisis as a result of the perceivedgreat expectations and the individual’s weakness combine to further wareaway the individual to racism. ^B^H^G^H^GBoy.
At early childhood,Richard remained blocked from the molding of society, and so did notelicit a distinction between blacks and whites. Richard described them as,”merely people like other people.” (27) At childhood, Richard found thetruthall peoples seemed somewhat equal. Whites were humbled by therevelation that they were just normal, not the heroes of their dreams.Whites domination over blacks was apparent in Richard’s life as hedescribed the horrendous beating of a black woman who did not pay herbills, and his later match with a car of white boys. The white boysdemonstrated their superiority, even telling Richard in a cocky manner,”You’re a lucky bastard, ’cause if you’d said that to some other whiteman, you might’ve been a dead nigger now.” (214) Their personal valuedropped when they found that they weren’t necessarily the absolute best ateverything, since black Richard could succeed also, and so they wanted toregain their prestige or respect for themselves that they had. Their mostreadily available grounds for success was their racial domination overothers.
Therefore, they must have actively participated in racism as aneed to show that they are better than others. This quality projects intothe boys’ throwing the bottle at Richard. The shear fact that others mightrival whites’ power depressed them.
Richard’s principal, may be consideredblack or white, but it makes little difference as he was obviously moldedby white values. The principal goes as far as to threaten not to allowRichard to graduate if he does not conform to the principal’s views,forcing upon Richard this aggrandizement. Even though the knowledgeremained concealed, the whites were confronted with the truth that theywere just humansand the whole stature that they have built around theirbeings. Because others matched up to whites, it forced them to no longertotally ignore the unconscious acknowledgment of equality. Thus raciststried to defeat others as Richard’s principal did to fulfill theexpectations of excellence, and to dismiss the hurting truth of theirmediocrity.
Each assemblage tried targeting one another in this socialhierarchy. But particularly aimed at were those who rose victorious anddefied statistics or standards thus being reminders of others’ failure;people who were similar to Richard. ^B^H^G^H^Gcharacteristics. Whiteshated him because he undermined their selfesteem as someone could bebetter than they were, and in particular a black. Whites hated him becausehe even proved that they were not perfect racists, and that their racismwas not foolproof.
He was able to rise against submission, white power,and white pride. He saw through the white lies, and the truth that heunveiled stands out as the champion that dismantles the system. Then, issociety racist? Society consists of its individuals, and so the peoplewithin it can determine the answer to that question. But, society doesrepresent the individual. Society tries to create an identity for itself,much like the common man. A society needs the pride that the individualneeds. In order to accumulate that pride, societies often have to beexclusive.
Then, the question emerges on how humans can change society.This is not the first nor the last time the question will arise, althoughthere is a general solution reiterated in the echoes of history and in thecries of the world’s posterity. Great teachers from Jesus to Confuciushave preached the golden rule, the principle of loving thy neighbor asthyself, and it being more blessed to give than to receive. While sounding”high” and idealistic, these two principles have many everydayapplications.
An obvious way to join the fightVictory World Organization,or Youth Against Racism in Europe. Many of these groups are involvedsimply in education in the hope that by educating the public on the truedifferences of race, comfort between the races may be accomplished thusending racism. In simply helping out a neighbor with his groceries,cleaning up a park, or donating time at a local charity, racism dies.
Byfeeling selfimposed humility, the person gets a sense of gratification inhis life. He now knows that he has a good reason to keep going. Eventuallythe person will also receive that same love from others. Therefore, a newsource for positive gratification and love is created, making racismobsolete. These principles have not been fully successful as people arenaturally more willing to be lethargic than active, more likely to befollowers than leaders, usually submit rather than stand up forthemselves. 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 onestrong foot forward, and a heart for others, racism can be defeated andthe world can live in peace and equality.