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Living in a Jim Crow Society

Posted on March 20, 2017

In the autobiography “Ethics of living Jim Crow “by Richard Wright, he describes his experience living in a racist society and the ways in which he resisted racial opression. The readers were able to see him grow and learn the ‘’proper” way to deal and approach a white person in this segregated time period. The themes that were in his essay was fight and being resistant and then later on we see it switched to surrender which became the more prevalent theme. Which is the only way one can truly survive in a lynching/ segregated time. When I began reading his autobiography it was an eye opener and I found myself tearing up a little. In the beginning of his piece he spoke about the time that he got into a fight with a couple of white boys and how he got hurt. This first instance showed that he was a bit naïve to the situation and in a way resisting the idea of white supremacy. His mother then warned him because not only can they harm him but they could have killed him for the mere fact that he was black. For the most part that was the only part of the essay we saw a resistance. Wright had to learn from his previous situations like being roughed up at his first job by two of his coworkers Morrie and Pease that there was no other way but to surrender to oppression which is ironic in order to resist oppression one has to surrender himself.  Jim Crow shifted the morals of not just him but other African Americans, their fear of death they are willing to take the treatments they receive from their oppressor. I enjoyed reading is autobiography sketch because it gave us insight to the lives of those before us. It shows that although blacks had a rough time they wanted to survive and in doing so you had to surrender. That to me makes these people a whole lot stronger and I see Wright is a fighter.

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  1. Jessica Hautsch

    Very nice discussion of Wright’s piece. It can be hard to read because of what Wright has to do to survive. It is hard to read about him learning the “proper” (never have air quotes been more appropriate) way to behave in his society. The fact that he was forced into submission under threat of death. His story provides a lot of evidence about the injustice of the Jim Crow South.

Crystal Williams

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