Black People and James Baldwin

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Deborah Lee
Period 1
May 28,2012

Supplemental Reading Assignment

A. The theme of Baldwin’s essay is equality. He establishes this theme in his essay with the juxtaposition of a poor white man and a black man. In this essay, Baldwin speaks of how “People are continually pointing out to me the wretchedness of white people in order to console me for the wretchedness of blacks.” He says that people say that being black is not that bad because there are white people in the same situation and that there is still hope for the black because of people like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis but it is still not something “to be regarded with complacency” because the situations of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis are just rare. Equality in America at the time was possible with “determined will,” but still very rare. Another way James Baldwin established the theme of equality in this essay was when he mentioned the projects, more specifically, Riverton. Baldwin establishes this theme of equality through mentioning Riverton for Riverton was a physical representation of the inequality of blacks and whites in America back then. Baldwin said, “The people in Harlem know they are living there because white people do not think they are good enough to live anywhere else.” There was going to be no equality if people were told to live in certain places because of their color. Baldwin also makes this theme extremely clear when he says, “Negroes want to be treated like men.” B. The tone of the essay, Fifth Avenue, Uptown: A letter from Harlem by James Baldwin and the tone of the poem, Theme for English B by Langston Hughes are similar. They are similar for both authors show that there is hope for equality through the tone of each text. In the poem, Theme for English B, Hughes says “You are white -- / yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. / That’s American.” Hughes expresses that although he may be the only black person in his class, he is still American like the rest of the...
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