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My blood pressure officially raised after reading these.

Posted on March 12, 2018

A majority of this week’s readings touched upon some of the harshest troubles African-Americans faced during their time in segregated America. The two readings in particular that touched upon these difficulties were that of “Black Men in Public Spaces” and “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An autobiographical speech”. Both pieces provided experiences that the authors had in their lives in terms of being racially oppressed in some fashion.

“Black Men in Public Spaces” was more docile in its recounting of the stories that this particular tall African American had to experience. Thankfully he never came in contact with any major danger but there was definitely a sense of disappointment in the way he recounted the stories having to remember each instance he was targeted as a threat. He is simply a man trying to do his best in the world and yet that he cannot do sometimes. What fascinates me is his tenderness to feel the need to relax the white people around him, of course he did it to make sure he wouldn’t be targeted any longer but it almost came out of pity on his behalf. He pitied them assuming the worst in him and for so long he decided he had enough and did them a favor in relieving tensions.

“The Ethics of Living Jim Crow” however, was much more graphic and unpleasant to read. Considering these were the documented incidents of only one black male in the South at the time, I can only imagine the documented experiences of other African Americans living in the same area at the time. He was humiliated, intimidated and beaten. All of which came from a simple forgotten expression of the word “sir” when addressing a white man in the South. It was horrendous to read such pure hatred on white Southerner’s behalf and for what? Simply because the gentleman was of a different complexion.

It always astonishes me how even in todays world people still go out of their way to be overtly racist to do harm to people of color just because they’re people of color. The logic behind “I’m a certain color therefore I can speak down to you” is something that should very much be considered a mental disorder. These sorts of people need to be slowly institutionalized and them slowly let back into society once they come to the realization of “Oh! So I’m not better cause I’m white, who would’ve thought.” Hopefully we won’t have to deal with these “rational thinkers” for any much longer.

As for Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” I found it quite boring in comparison to the other two passages. I suppose to story of two sisters fighting over quilts didn’t really match up to the other stories of African-Americans being oppressed at such a heavy level. I suppose it could be considered to be the more light hearted of the stories, however none the less it wasn’t mentally stimulating. I did enjoy the “Hakim a barber” joke however.


  1. Jessica Hautsch

    Good discussion of these pieces. You pick up on some key themes in both of them. As we will discuss in class, language is very important in “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow.” In that story, we see the way that language is used to oppress people. Also, I like that you explore Staple’s’ thesis that being perceived as a danger is dangerous.

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