Nyisha Coven Prof: Taylor Larsen English 101 The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch Richard Wrights autobiographical sketch The Ethics of Living Jim Crow has been discussed from many different perspectives by literary critics. Most of them agree with the fact that in it, author strived to dispel the myth that social policies, based on the principle of racial segregation, were beneficial to American nation, as whole. Nowadays, many people refer to Wright as prophet of multiculturalism, because he was strongly opposed to dominance of white people in Americas socio-political life at the time when Civil Rights movement was gaining a momentum. However, the close reading of The Ethics of Living Jim Crow reveals author as someone who believed that civil rights and freedoms is not something that is being given, but rather taken. This is because Wrights sketch does not contain a spirit of tolerance, with which modern hawks of political correctness associate the struggle of African-Americans for the ideals of racial equality. This explains why Wright was critical of Martin Luther King, as political figure. Apparently, author did not believe in peaceful coexistence of representatives of different races in principle, because he was well aware of the fact that, once oppressors loose the spiritual qualities, which enabled them to become oppressors in the first place, it is only the matter of time before they will become oppressed. Wright used to be fond of Malcolm X idea that African-Americans consist of so-called house niggers and field niggers. It is field niggers that, according to Malcolm X, have the potential of not just ending the policy of racial discrimination in America, but reversing this policy back at those who designed it, in the first place.
... task as the "liquidation" of the American economy. And it feared that expansionary monetary policy would impede the necessary private-sector ... the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live ... and that the pace of technological progress guaranteed rapidly rising living standards and expanding markets. The U.S. Federal Reserve' ...
This is the reason why in The Ethics of Living Jim Crow, the White people are presented as embodiment of evil: All that night I was delirious and could not sleep. Each time I closed my eyes I saw monstrous white faces suspended from the ceiling, leering at me (Wright, 7).
From the context of Wrights sketch, it appears that Whites are simply not capable of referring to Black people as human beings. This has nothing to do with education they receive or with the ways, they were being brought up, but with biology alone White people subconsciously view Blacks as inferior beings. The article Discrimination Against Blacks Linked To Dehumanization, Study Finds, which is available on the web site of Science Daily, provides us with the insight on the very essence of White racism: Crude historical depictions of African Americans as ape-like may have disappeared from mainstream U.S. culture, but research presented in a new paper by psychologists at Stanford, Pennsylvania State University and the University of California-Berkeley reveals that majority of White Americans subconsciously associate Blacks with apes The researchers consistently discovered a black-ape association even if the young adults said they knew nothing about its historical connotations (Science Daily, 2008).
It is not by pure coincidence that, in his essay, Wright talks about the unwillingness of White people to consider him as their equal as something that used to insult him the most. In time, when author worked as bell-boy at the hotel, the prostitutes that were making living there as well, did not even bother to get dressed, before he would enter the room: They did not bother about clothing even for bell-boys. When you went into their rooms, you were supposed to take their nakedness for granted, as though it startled you no more than a blue vase or a red rug. Your presence awoke in them no sense of shame, for you were not regarded as human (Wright, 105).
... the professional black female entertainer (Oliver, 93). Womans suffrage and white women in entertainment also paved the way for many African-American Blues singers ... jazz and rock-n-roll in the same way as black people have contributed to the development of the glorious America we ... . After the Civil War, when the slavery was abolished and black people were free, a new era has started in their history ...
Nowadays, no White person in his sober mind would ever openly suggest that African-Americans are somewhat inferior people. However, the way most of Whites act, betray them as subtle racists. It is not a secret that, once the person of African descend moves into the White neighborhood, the prices for real estate in this area drop rapidly.
White Liberals never stop whining about the historical injustices, which even today continue to haunt the descendents of Black slaves. Still, when it comes to embracing the ideas of multiculturalism in practice, they prefer to pretend that this has nothing to do with their personal lives, which is the reason why White yuppies strive to live in secluded neighborhoods, as such that are safer or have better schools. It is perfectly understandable why Jim Crow lessons that Richard Wright learned, throughout his life, turned him into the person who doubts the validity of political Liberalism. Apparently, the ignorant attitude, on the part of Whites, which Wright had experienced when he was a kid, is not something he could easily forget. Author was able to realize that African-Americans will always be treated as second-class citizens in this country, unless Whites begin to think of them as such that posses existential power: Lowd, man! Ef it wuzn’t fer them polices ‘n’ them ol’ lynch-mobs, there wouldn’t be nothin’ but uproar down here! (Wright, 131).
This closing sentence in Wrights essay has properties of political prophesy. Martin Luthers dream remains nothing but a dream, because long gone are the days when African-Americans only strived to be treated as equal. Nowadays, they want more.
The segregation laws of sixties were based on de jure principle. In other words despite the fact that Blacks were being excluded from American social life by numerous by-laws, they nevertheless were able to participate in it, simply because of their growing numbers. Today, there are many de facto segregation rules in place, which regulate racial dynamics in U.S, even though these rules are unofficial. For example, no White person would ever want to take a stroll along the street in ghetto, especially after it gets dark, despite the fact that, in time when Wright was writing his sketch, the situation was opposite: Negroes who have lived South know the dread of being caught alone upon the streets in white neighborhoods after the sun has set (Wright, 96).
... be, regardless if they are black, white, purple, or green. People have also stereotyped African-Americans as the largest ethnic group on ... was read in court. The African-Americans in the picture explode with happiness, while the white people look disappointed and confused ... or racial groups. African-American stereotypes are the most obvious. People have often stereotyped young black men as gang members ...
We can only imagine how happy the author would become, if he was told that, in twenty first century, White people will not only be afraid of Blacks but even of their own shadows. Such state of affairs corresponds to the objective reality. White folks can think of African-Americans as apes all they want, but this is not going to help them, while dealing with existential superiority of Blacks. The graffitis, which are now being officially given the status of Black art, can be seen on the walls of just about any public building in American cities, while so-called White art, is being slowly covered with the layer of dust in museums.
The police officers often do not risk entering Black hoods; because chances are, they will not be able to come out of there alive. African-Americans are being given preference, when it comes to hiring, just because the color of their skin. We need to understand that the reason why Whites are trying to appease African-Americans is not that they truly believe in social utopias, but that they are just trying to buy off some time, before their social status will be adjusted to correspond to their biological value, just as it happened in African countries, after the end of colonial era. It is very ironic that many White people do accept the historical guilt over slavery in America; however, they do not fully understand the practical consequences of such acceptance. Williams essay helps us to understand why the descendants of White oppressors will not be able to make African-Americans to forget the historical injustice, to which they were subjected, up until recent times, by simply paying off reparations. Some critics suggest that The Ethics of Living Jim Crow does not contain a strong political message, while being simply a cry of an oppressed Black person, who suffers from having an unprivileged social status. It is very hard to agree with such point of view. We also cannot agree with suggestion that Wright did not think of racial affiliation as such that has foremost importance, when it comes to designing social policies. Wrights essay is meant to appeal to Black psyche, which is why many African-Americans became politically active, after having read The Ethics of Living Jim Crow. In his article Is Wright Right About Racism?, David Sirota proves that ideas, contained in Wrights sketch, have practical applications: He (Wright) says our government is controlled by rich white people and our culture afflicted by racism.
... intensity in the Chapter Concert [Ellis B. E.(1991) American Psycho, New York: Vintage hereafter referred to as AP], ... to use as a tool by which to read American Psycho. Although on one level the text seems amoral ... One of the criticisms that have been levelled at American Psycho is that, as novels go, it is ... ter? "AMERICAN PSYCHO" AS SOCIAL REIFICATION DRAWN TO ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSION Copyright 2001 ...
Though these statements are also deemed distasteful by the Establishment, they are truisms (Sirota).
Thus, it appears that The Ethics of Living Jim Crow needs to be discussed within a context of African-Americans becoming the most influential ethnic group in U.S. One of the reasons why it is happening now is that Black people did not forget how they were being treated by White racists and that they do not intend to forgive for was being done to them. Wrights essay serves the purpose of reminding the new generations of African-Americans that they still have a favor to return.
Discrimination Against Blacks Linked To Dehumanization, Study Finds. 8 Feb.
2008. Science Daily. 15 Apr. 2008. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/08020 7163811.htm Sirota, David Is Wright Right About Racism?. 28 Mar. 2008.
Creators.Com. http://www.creators.com/opinion/david-sirota/is-wr ight-right-about-racism.html Wright, Richard The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch. 2002. New Deal Network. 15 Apr. 2008. http://newdeal.feri.org/fwp/fwp03.htm.