“There are hundred of races in the world. Unfortunately, for as long as human have existed, we have enslave those weaker, of those we perceived to be weaker than ourselves”(thinkquest). Racism is everywhere, and we often see it on the streets and schools. There are many short stories and poems that are termed as racist. “On Being Told I Don’t Speak Like a Black Person” by Allison Joseph, “ Sonny’s Blue” by James Baldwin, and “ Blink Your Eyes” by Sekou Sundiata are renaissance works that show the issues of racism that black people had lived and are still living today.
In “On Being Told I Don’t Speak Like a Black Person” by Allison Joseph, the author tells the story about a young Negro whose mother received brutal treatment in her school in England. In the beginning, Allison says: “Emphasize the “h”, you hignorant ass”(557). This shows that the “h” is sarcastic, and the “tone condescending intensifies racism”(Caroline). They might have used the emphasis of “h” to humiliate the negro, to make them feel bad about their skin color, and to show the negro that they cannot fit in the white society even if they become educated.
Negros have suffered horrible experiences. Allison wrote about the way teachers treated Negro in school. She says: “ …teachers slapped her open palm with a ruler in that Jamaican schoolroom”(557). Allison’s mother lived under a white teacher’s pressure, and the teachers showed this negra that she will never learn how to speak like the whites, and they can spank her because she is black, and blacks cannot do anything against the teachers because the whites have the power and the Negro is a submissive servant. In addition, Allison also shows her own life in the United States.
Allison is a black person living in the United States, and she sees people discriminating her because she does not act like a black person. Allison writes: “ And I didn’t sound like a Black American, college acquaintance observed, sure they knew that a black person was supposed to sound like. Was I supposed to sound lazy” (557) Allison shows that America’s society judge the black just for their skin color, and most white people see the Negro as lazy, and do not work to bring money home, do not go to school, and do not know how to speak.
For example, some restaurant servers prejudice the Negro when they walk into the restaurant by making their own assumption that the table with Negro will not leave any tip. However, in many cases, they are wrong because the table with Negro might leave more tip than a table with white people. Racism is not gone. The Negro is still facing it today, but racism today is expressed differently than it was in the renaissance era. During the renaissance in Harlem, the Negro did not have enough opportunities for their future due to racism.
In “Sonny’s Blue” by James Baldwin, the author tells the story of two black brothers born in Harlem, and the older brother losses communication with his young brother, Sonny. The older brother is the narrator of the short story. Later on, they reconnect due to news the narrator receives about Sonny’s prison. Before the narrator reconnects his life back to his brother, he shows many problems both had because they are Negro. Racism is evident throughout the story. The narrator wrote about Sonny’s friend. And now, even though he was a grown-up man, he still hung around that block, still spend hours on the street corners, was always high and raggy”(310). It shows that the Negro do not have opportunities to become successful in life. The Negro has barriers between them and the outside world, which prevent most negro to obtain education or skills, and they are obligated to live on the streets corners asking for money, using drugs and stealing. In addition, the narrator also shows how racism affect the education of a negro which can be describe as Sonny’s choice of life.
Sonny choice of life relates to the lack of opportunities black people have during the renaissance in Harlem. After the death of Sonny’s mother, the narrator tries to open Sonny’s mind, and advises him to finish school. In the kitchen talking to Sonny, the narrator writes: “I want to join the army. Or the navy, I don’t care. If I say I’m old enough, they’ll believe me”(321). Sonny already knows that there aren’t opportunities for him. He is forced to choose among necessities; he sees the army as the only opportunity open for Negro to escape from the streets.
On the other hand, the school will give him the degree, but he does not believe that it will help him find a good job. He already knows that there are no doors open for the Negro. However, the narrator disagrees with Sonny. They are still in the kitchen talking about Sonny’s future. “… But if you don’t finish school now, you’re going to be sorry later that you didn’t”(321). His brother is showing him that he can fight against racism, and he can find opportunities for his life.
For example, His brother “denied” racism, and he gained education and skills to become an algebra teacher, but Sonny does not see it, and he chooses to live on the street like his “friend”. In addition to the lack of opportunity, black people are more often to be discriminate in traffic than whites. In the poem, “Blink Your Eyes” by Sekou Sundiata, the author shows the reader a Negro is stopped by the police officer because he is black even though the Negro didn’t do anything wrong. The author writes about the red light. “But the Law said I was on my way thru a red light red light red light”(582).
The following passage, the red light means that this area is not for Negro. It is a neighborhood where white people live, and black people around can be seen as a threat to their place. However, this is not an excuse for the officer to stop this person. Sundiata let the reader know that “…In other words the light was green”(582). The green light is open only for the white society; the Negro does not have chances to go to another level, so the door “always” will close for them. After the officer stops the negro, Sundiata writes: “ Why did you stop me? Somebody had to stop you
I watch the news, you always lose. You’re unreliable, that’s undeniable” (583). The white society do not want to let the negro have opportunities in life, and the negro will be always seen as a threat to the society, and the white society does not need them. The negro does not have the power to stop racism, and it will always be part of their life. However, it is changing. The negro has more voice today than in the past, and they are more recognized. For example, Oscar Grant’s case where a young black guy was murdered by a police officer by “mistake”. People see it as a “racism murder” (Jessie).
Fortunately, the justice was made for his family. This shows us that Racism is not completely gone. The three stories from the Renaissance show us that black people had suffered racism for many years. From being stereotyped as lazy and uneducated, to not having opportunities to succeed in life and not being accepted by the white society, the Negro has had a difficult journey to improve their situation. Even though today racism is not as prominent as in the Renaissance, we still see some signs of racism that are not completely gone.
Works Cited: Sundiata, Sekou. “Blink Your Eyes”. Approaching Literature. Peter Schakel and Jack Ridl – New York Bedford and Martin’s, 2008. Joseph, Allison. “ On Being Told I Don’t Speak Like a Black Person”. Approaching Literature. Peter Schakel and Jack Ridl – New York Bedford and Martin’s, 2008. Baldwin, James. “ Sonny’s Blue”. Approaching Literature. Peter Schakel and Jack Ridl – New York Bedford and Martin’s, 2008. Jessie. “ Racism & The Murder of Oscar Grand III”. Racism Review Blog 17 Jan. 2010 http://www. racismreview. com/blog/2009/01/07/racism-the-murder-of-oscar-grant-iii/ Think Quest. “Common Prejudice”. < http://library. thinkquest. org/C006274/race/intro. html