Anne Moody's Coming of Age in the Mississippi

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At the start of the book a naïve, young and innocent African American girl lived life almost oblivious to the socially constructed issue of race. She did not see the difference of skin color and believed it was perfectly normal to socialize with whites. As far as she was concerned raced did not exist. This view was quickly altered and changed as the little girl named Essie-Mae Moody grew up fast in a society dominated by racial boundaries involving whites, blacks and a hierarchy of people who had parts of both. Essie’s first encounter with race which initiated her first change, from being oblivious to being confused, occurred early in life. When she was young, she was friends with and often played with white children. This all changed when an unknowing Essie-Mae tried to sit with her white friends in a white’s only section of a movie theatre. After being harshly corrected of her errors by her mother her eyes were opened for the first time to a world with race. “I knew that we were going to separate schools and all, but I never knew why.”1 At this point her innocence was lost and confusion took hold of her. At this point she realized the bigger picture, that she and her friends were different because of their skin color. “I had never really thought of them as white before. Now all of a sudden they were white, and their whiteness made them better than me.”2 Essie-Mae also realized at this point that whites had nicer and better things, everything was better for someone who was white. Her confusion continued to increase as she questioned the racial differences. She didn’t understand how looks alone did not make someone white, as was with her white skinned “black” relatives. “If it wasn’t the straight hair and the white skin that made you white, then what was it?”3 The racial hierarchy was not only comprised of blacks and whites, which Essie-Mae Moody discovered at a young age. In between white and black were all shades of people, some almost flaunted their white...
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