Analyzing Racism Within Literature English Literature Essay

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In this essay I am going to talk about racism. First, I am going to define the term generally and talk about its characteristics and origin. As the second part of this essay I would like to use some interesting books reviewed during this 7th semester to talk about their most important points on this subject.

A people´s history of the United States wrote by Howar Zinn, is a book that narrates the history of North America through a view of common people of that time. In one of its chapters is reviewed about the arrival of black people, so, we can have an idea about the origin of racism; "There is not a country in world history in which racism has been more important, for so long a time, as the United States." [1] 

Racism is more remarkable in North America, Negroes and whites arrived together, but the circumstances were different for each one, white was master, black was slave came from Africa. White people had necessity in his land labor, they saw Africans as an inferior race, as an easy way to solve their problems, looking at them as animals, and black slaves were the answer. On the other hand labors for blacks was very hard and for this reason they began to rebel against his masters.

"Still, under the most difficult conditions, under pain of mutilation and death, throughout their two hundred years of enslavement in North America, these Afro-Americans continued to rebel. Only occasionally was there an organized insurrection. More often they showed their refusal to submit by running away. Even more often, they engaged in sabotage, slowdowns, and subtle forms of resistance which asserted, if only to themselves and their brothers and sisters, their dignity as human beings." [2] 

The African race had had a rebellious spirit; they always tried to escape, but because of those attempts Africans were cruelly punished. In that time of the history distances between two races became more and more remarkable.

"It was an intricate and powerful system of control that the slave owners developed to maintain their labor supply and their way of life, a system both subtle and crude, involving every device that social orders employ for keeping power and wealth where it is. The system was psychological and physical at the same time. The slaves were taught discipline, were impressed again and again with the idea of their own inferiority to "know their place," to see blackness as a sign of subordination, to be awed by the power of the master, to merge their interest with the master's, destroying their own individual needs." [3] 

Basically the author of this book tells us that racism emerged of the slave system of the time, where African people were first discriminated by their color, but the color was not the main reason of discrimination, the skin tone was related with inferiority, submission, and slavery. I am sure racism was born as a way to keep blacks under the white domination what make me think that racism not is a natural phenomenon of humans but of course is the result of unfortunate events in history.

History has changed and currently slavery is not as the past times, fortunately today there are laws that protect individual´s freedom of black people. Many black people as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and many others have fought to get these rights. But even that, racism still exists; despite the year society still have a racist ideology, why?

I think it is because it has been unconsciously reinforcing as the "machismo" here in México. Through the years both, whites and blacks have gained conduct of defense and offense against a member of the other side, for example a black feels fear of a white if this white realizes that the black is acting as a citizen defending all his rights, not is possible for a black man to be treating as the same way of a white man. There is no acceptance that blacks have the same capabilities and skills; in fact there is no a good relationship and tolerance between them.

Black like me written by john Howard Griffin is a fantastic book that shows us the reality of racism, this man decided to change his skin color to see what it is really like to be a Negro. What he discovers is a life of segregation, repression, a life of low condition but what really surprises me is the setting, 1959, it is near than today, so to me is very sad to realize these things still happening.

In this book is narrated specific details about the white acts committed among Negros, John lived cruel injustice. But at the end he realizes that discrimination exists if you are black, but it also exists if you are white. He experienced both points of view and he realized that even when he was white he was segregated by black people.

Currently people see blacks as bad, people think they are violent but I believe humans being not is violent, well they could be in a circumstances of survival to defend themselves, in the context of this book the circumstances in which Negroes live force them to have a different behavior, it is not the fact of being black, it is not the race but social conditions. It's the society in which they live that forces them to commit criminal acts.

John Howard Griffin says that if a white man were in the same circumstances as a Negro, he would act in the same way because we all are just the same, the author explains and example of this:

"They place the white man in the ghetto, deprive him of educational advantages, arrange it so he has to struggle hard to fulfill his instinct for self-respect, give him little physical privacy and less leisure, and he would after a time assume the same characteristics don't spring from whiteness or blackness, but from a man´s conditioning" [4] 

Howard Griffin concludes that discrimination occurs not only by whites but among blacks.

Currently United States has a black man as president, we never had imagined this. The view of the citizen has changed because it inspire a belief that in the United State there won't be racism anymore but, I'm not sure about this; it is really true that with the presidency of a black man racism will disappear? Or to have a president like him is only a mask to hide racism that still exists in that country? It is difficult that racism ended thanks to the arrival of a black president, to eradicate this social problem is required a great reflection, which I believe does not exist today.

Time has changed and black still being discriminated, many people hate the skin color without to know the reason, it is like a habit that has been increased generation trough generation, it seems that discrimination is a normal habit that parents teach to their sons. People don't ask themselves why they discriminate. On the other hand racism produces strong psychological damage in a discriminated society what produces the destruction of human value.

Realizing those entire things about racism I feel sad because the society in which I live is broken, there does not exist tolerance or respect to a different race, so to me society should be characterized mainly by equality and respect.

The Color of Water is another book related with racism and discrimination but it is more closed to an individual reflection of a man who had confusion about his own racial identity because his mother was white and his father black, the book is concentrated in James McBride Jordan´s introspection it is more about a self experience.

From this book I took one of my best quotations that explains in a beautiful way what is the real meaning of human being, it doesn't matter the color of the skin but what we have in ourselves:

"One afternoon, on the way home from church, I asked her if God was black or white. A deep sigh, 'Oh boy, God's not black. He's not white. He's a spirit.'

'Does he like black or white people better?'

'He loves all people. He's a spirit.'

'What's a spirit?'

'A spirit's a spirit.'

'What color is God's spirit?'

'It doesn't have a color,' she said. 'God is the color of water. Water doesn't have a color." [5] 

Water is a beautiful symbolism because what the author is trying to say us is that people are more worried about how people look like but the most important is what we have inside like the spirit. It doesn't matter the color So, God doesn't look you outside but he always will see your spirit. When we see ourselves in the water what we see is only a reflection, we have to remember that we can't see the spirit physically as we can't see God but of course we can feel God.