The Ethics of Living Jim Crow
The response to any giving situation is never appropriate, the respectability for the self and other negroes is completely obliterated and most importantly there is a system of fear that is instituted not only from white sources but from black sources as well which have been indoctrinated into the system. Relevant to Richard Wright is the concept of black masculinity and the way in which this masculinity is abused, refused and made confused by whites everywhere. We notice int his small narrative the allusion to the way in which black men were called boys but had to call white men sir. This is the ? rst way in which masculinity is refused. Second, the inability of black men to protect black women from abused and having to participate in the verbal degradation of their own females leads to a sense of impotence and shame in black men.
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This shame is only deepened by female understanding of the inability of black men to to protect them, as we can notice from the girls reply to Wrights inaction and even verbal consent when the girl? s buttocks is touched by a white men. ! We also notice in Wright? s narratives the fears of amalgamation which I think are deeply rooted in the long standing tradition of fear of black men? s sexual prowess. The allusion to the killing of a black men because of his intimacy with a white women signal 1 Richard Wright, “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” from Uncle Tom? Children (New York: HarperCollins, 1993 [? rst published 1940] Elizabeth Chang, “Why Obama Should Not Have Checked Black,” Washington Post, April 29, 2010. Accessed January 24 , http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/28/ AR2010042804156. html deep issues and concerns with inter-racial relations. Furthermore the concept of the white women? s untouchability even when that woman is a whore who walks around naked while in the presence of black men, alludes to the placement of white women in a pedestal out of the reach of black men in any shape or form.
This is placed vis-a-vis the accepted accessibility of the black female body for all black and white. As a result, of the way in which black women? s bodies have been treated as a source of entertainment and savage pleasures, black women are raped without remorse and touched at will. Similarly men are abused at will in many ways which are equally traumatic but also rooted in the alleged worthlessness of black people. This worthlessness is also visible through the ease with which negroes are threatened to be killed or beaten. Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America2 !
This article presents many different examples that I ? nd particularly useful for our discussion. The ? rst, the choice of the supreme court to judge discrimination on the basis of racial distinction highlights the inadequacy of american standards (the supreme court being a representative) to judge moral questions. Instead of focusing on the foundations of morality the court chooses race which has throughout american history become an important construct for judgment. The utilization of this social construct is problematic and particularly deceiving.
The discussed phenomena of grouping all actions performed by blacks into the category of “black actions” as a collective, also points out a major tension in american society. This has always been a major issue and continues to be today as we hear negative criticism of Precious because it portrays African-American families as dysfunctional rather than the way in which we view a white ? lm and understand that it is one white family or group of persons, rather than the representation of the “White” race. ! This article also does a great job at noting the in-discriminatory way in which ruelty has often function thus complicating the debate and daring to ask the question of to what extent these practices were human cruelty and evil in general. Whites had enslaved whites and blacks had enslaved blacks, as a matter of fact non-enslavement was an exception rather than a rule. ! *Note: as a side point one can see that the uni? cation of blacks and whites along lines of class was one that arouse in the upper white class a fear which led to the desire of separating these groups to weaken their strength.
Why Obama Should Not Have Checked Black & Responses3 ! In response to this article I must say that I strongly disagree with the view that he should not have checked black. I believe that Obama even as the leader of the United States of America has the God-Given right to identify himself as he chooses. The fact 3 Elizabeth Chang, “Why Obama Should Not Have Checked Black,” Washington Post, April 29, 2010. Accessed January 24 , http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/28/ AR2010042804156. html hat he checked the black box does not in any way imply that he wants to deny his white identity. As a matter of fact in numerous occasions he has made full claim to the richness of his person as a result of his bi-raciality. At the same time however, he may feel more closely and inescapably identi? ed with the black side of his identity because it is physically inescapable. It is not that he is allowing society to rule what his identity is, but more of the psychological processes involved when he gazes upon a mirror and sees a black face.
Most importantly it is a recognition of his ties to his Black ancestry, a recognition of the particular struggles that he faces as a black men and the way in which he may feel more closely related to one community because of the way in which societal pressures (such as racism for the color of his skin regardless of his whiteness) may have pushed him closer to one community rather than the other. ! Additionally, and this I do recognize, one of the biggest appeals of the Obama campaign was precisely the fact that for the ? rst time a BLACK man had the opportunity of being in the White House.
The campaign did not focus on how a bi-racial man would make it there. Therefore in checking any other choice there may have been many people who may have felt upset. Also, checking the bi-racial category could bring to the forefront fears of amalgamation that still exist in America today. By Muting these fears with checking the Black box, Obama avoided a great deal of popular decline. ! Last but not least, the message about race is not something that the act of one powerful person determines. Her daughters do not have to make the choice that Obama made, why not? Because it is precisely that, a choice.