“Black Power”, the word alone raises an abundance of controversial issues. black power was a civil rights movement led by the black panthers which addressed several issues including segregation and racism. Black power had a different meaning to every member of the Mc Bride family, Ruth and James both looked at black power from a different angle. In “The Color of Water”, The author James Mc Bride admired the black panthers at first, but slowly he grew afraid of them after fearing the consequences his mother might face for being a white woman in a black community influenced by black power. James’ worries were baseless, black power’s motive was to educate and improve African American communities not to create havoc or to harm members of the white community. There was a time in James’ life when he was thrilled to see member’s of the black panther.
James’s tates “But our favorite was a gleaming black, souped-up GTO with the words “Black Power” written in smooth white script across the hood and top” (26).
James admired the owner of that car, He wanted black culture to be carried out and he seemingly loved “dap”, the black panther’s handshake. The media assured their viewers that the black panthers were a threat to whites anywhere, Which planted a seed of fear in James’ mind. James was so afraid that he wouldn’t be able to sleep till his mother was home (33).
... foot out to trip you quicker than a white man. Yes, we need black power, but first we need UNITY. We already have ... injustice. The same thing happens to white men. I don't see no reason for black power. I"m mixed, am I supposed ... to deny my mother! Racism is sick, coming from white people and black people ...
James would sometimes find himself in situations where people would call his mother names for no apparent reason other than that she was different. James’ fear for Ruth grew stronger after she was robbed by 2 black men.
Ruth on the other hand wasn’t at all influence by black power nor did she have any opinions, arguments or negativity to express towards them. Ruth got along fine with black people. She was robbed by black men but that didn’t change her point of view about other blacks. James was very scared when the member of the black panther was standing besides his mother but she wasn’t the least concerned about him. Ruth and James had very different points of view James looked at the differences between people which created separation but Ruth looked at the similarities and because of that she had nothing to be afraid of.
“The Black Power movement encouraged the improvement of African American communities, rather than the fight for complete integration.” (web).
Black power wasn’t created to harm white people. Ruth had nothing to be scared of and nor did James need to fear for his mother’s life on the count of the black panther’s hurting her. Ruth’s and James’ different points of views about black power and the black panthers led them in different directions.
Black Panthers were just a group trying to encourage racial consciousness amongst black communities, They didn’t want to harm whites. The robbery and the vulgar remarks Ruth received were because she was different. James’ worries about his mother were in fact baseless.