American Negro In James Baldwins essay, The American Dream and the American Negro, as he reflects on the experience of black Americans, he states that the so-called American Dream does not apply to the American Negro. Baldwin says that the American white man does not take notice or appreciate the hard and free labor the American Negro did which helped to build the United States. He uses many examples to show the reader difficult plight of black men and women in America. The South is used as an example. He states that it could not conceivably be what [it is] if it had not been (and this is still so) for the cheap labor (Baldwin p380).
The statement is bold, but effective in illustrating his point. The examples he uses throughout the essay make the essay convincing.
Baldwin states that his culture, his history, is rendered meaningless in the white society around him. The American Negro, being completely subjugated, has had his own opportunity for a unique sense of reality destroyed. The American Negro built America, according to Baldwin. The black man picked cotton, built railroads, worked and helped to make America the nation it is today. According to Baldwin, the South would not be a powerful influence in the government if it had not been for the American Negro. Further since the United States is the major world power and the South is a major element in that power structure, the black man’s contribution is therefore even more significant. The average white man does not take notice, appreciate, or respect the hard work the black men did for the South.
Lessons of Life Does the American Dream belong to every one or does it exclude some individuals? The American Dream is a very powerful force that molds America. It has existed for many generations but has it changed over time? The foundation of the Dream tends to stay the same that is the pursuit of happiness, hope, freedom, justice and equality. The concepts within the American Dream should alter ...
Their hard work was for America, and black men and women have the realization that the country they have put their sweat into has done nothing for them. The country they identify themselves with, live, and work hard for, has no true place for them. While since World War II, a new sense of the true history of Africa has emerged giving some sense of hope to black men and women that they can form some sense of history; still blacks are faced with a white society that does not understand. Baldwin cites that Robert Kennedy stated that in 40 years there could be a black president. Not only does this sound condescending, coming from the scion of an elite, wealthy, aristocratic family, it also has a bitter ring of truth. White society in 1965 would not and could not consider a black man or woman worthy.
It “might” occur in 40 years. Black society knows all too well the bitter truth. At the time of this essay in 1965, given the circumstances and oppression, blacks could scarcely believe that such a thing could happen. For a white man to utter such a thing was ridiculous. Baldwin ends with an admonition, until the moment comes when we, the Americans, are able to accept the fact that my ancestors are both black and white, that on that continent we are trying to forge a new identity, that we need each other, that I am not a ward of American, I am not an object of missionary charity, I am one of the people who built the countryuntil this moment comes there is scarcely any hope for the American dream (383).
Throughout Baldwins essay, his tone remains informative, serious, argumentative, and challenging. An example is the statement that poor white men and women are raised to believe that no matter how horrible things get, at least they arent black.
James Baldwin: Going to Meet the Man & Go Tell it on the Mountain James Arthur Baldwin was born Aug. 2, 1924 in Harlem, New York City, and died in France on Nov. 30, 1987. He gave an important literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and '60s. His first education was that of a preacher, but then he exchanged it for literature. Critics, however, note the impassioned ...
I suggest that of all the terrible things that could happen to a human being that is one of the worst. I suggest that what has happened to the white southerner is in some ways much worse than what has happened to the Negroes there (p380).
The poor white southerner who thinks that the only thing he has to hang onto is, at least he is not an American Negro. That is a terrible thing. Baldwin observes that the poor white southerner is morally bankrupt. Note also however, that Baldwin also grants that the poor white southerner is also a product of his reality.
He is shaped by the environment that produced him. With this reference he shows the reader with an extreme, but true, example of the character and tone of the oppression of American black men and women in this time period. They are perceived and treated as the lowest of the low. Baldwin’s tone in this quote is very serious, and challenging. Who among us has not encountered this prejudice? Baldwin gives the reader a stark situation to contemplate. Baldwin uses another bold example when describing the South and the Negro Americans work that contributed to its power; The Southern oligarchy which has still today so very much power in Washington, and therefore some power in the world, was created by my labor and my sweat. .
In 1965 this was an audacious statement, but truth does lie within it. Baldwin skillfully makes his points here also providing a challenging example the reader can understand. In white society the Puritan work ethic holds that rewards go to those who work hard. Baldwin points out that blacks worked hardest of all, with no recompense. For those readers in 1965 who may naively have thought that civil rights legislation was going to fix things, Baldwin points out that the Fifteenth Amendment had been in place for a hundred plus years, and was not honored. He states, If it was not honored then, I have no reason to believe that the civil rights bill will be honored now (381).
This reference gives the reader a historical governmental document and shows how it was not truly in place, or obeyed.
He asks the question, if this amendment was not honored, why would he believe that that civil rights bill will be respected? This example provides factual documents and actions that the reader can easily understand and visualize. This creates a powerful case for Baldwin. Finally Baldwin points out that One of the things that the white world does not know, but I think I know, is that black people are just like everybody else. We are also mercenaries, dictators, murderers, liars. We are human, too (382).
1. There is an enormous different between the life of humans and other animals. First of all, humans are clearly at the top of significance for the simple reason that they are at the top of food chain. This is what allows people to dictate society. Combine this with the fact that humans have the ability to reason, and it is clear that people have more of a significance. It is as simple as this, no ...
Indeed, but humans who have been thoroughly subjugated.
Humans who have had their sense of reality and cultural history destroyed. These are humans, who in 40 years, “might” be deemed worthy to be considered for president (but not just now).
These same humans who have helped build American, but have not enjoyed its opportunities. Throughout Baldwins essay, for the times in 1965, extreme but convincing examples were used to make his points. By using these examples, he builds a powerful argument. Who can take issue with him? Baldwin is informative, serious, and challenging. His points are well written, clear and understandable, and create an effective argumentative essay. He indeed sounds like an Old Testament prophet, showing people the truth even when they may not have wanted to hear it..