Dealing with Adversity

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Dealing with Adversity
Telicia Hood
English 125
Brendan Praniewicz
9/25/2011

Dealing with Adversity
In the mid-1960’s, going from a girl to a woman was hard, but if you were black and going through, it was much harder. In the poem “What it’s like to be a black girl” Smith (1991) depicts this transition as very challenging. In comparison, “The Welcome Table” by Alice Walker (1970) depicts life through the eyes of a black woman. This paper discusses the content, form, and style of each poem. The content within the two are very much similar. They have a lot in common when it comes to the topic of race. Although their style is different, the form of the two is close related. However, this is a paper that analyzes the two literary works from the course reading which share a common theme. The dominant theme present is racism. The theme here is about black woman who long to escape and be free but cannot have that freedom because of the society they live in. Have you ever wondered how woman felt in the mid-1960? These among others are just some answered in Walker (1970) and Smith’s (1991) work. With so much negativity around it was hard for black woman to figure out their place in the world. They were left trying to be what everyone around them wanted them to be. Thankfully, no longer are churches or anywhere else divided into black and white, but to all is welcomed at God’s table. Content: “What it’s like to be a black girl (for those of you who aren’t)” Racism is based on fear. Fear of the known and fear of the unknown. It can greatly describe the mid-1960’s when black woman were not welcomed anywhere. The year 1960 can also describe the setting in this poem. During this period Smith (1991) was a young black girl, 9 years of age trying to come to terms with her own nationality, she is also the main character in the poem. The plot of the story is that like most girls Smiths age, she wanted to belong. “What it’s like to be a black girl” is Smith’s own mixed emotions about growing up in America. America, at the time wanted to be accepted but found it integrated, and none the less did Smith (1991) feel the same. In this poem she used imagery to convey her desire to be like the accepted (white) instead of black especially when she says, “it’s like dropping food coloring into your eyes”, and “popping a bleached mop head over the kinks of your hair” (Clugston, 2011, chap. 12.2). What she meant is that she wanted to be like the normal, pretty, blue eyed, blonde haired white girls. Ultimately, the poem takes the reader inside the mind of a young girl struggling to come to terms with her racial uncertainty. As heard and some have even experienced, there was a time when blacks were not accepted. When a person feels unaccepted it makes everyday living much harder. In the 1960s there was a lot of racism. One of the biggest issues was being blocked from jobs, Gerald Talbot (2011) said. Blacks were denied many jobs even if they were qualified (Washuk, 2011). Black women could only get hired as maids, cooks, or sitters. The whites did not believe in black nurses, doctors, lawyers or firemen. Although civil rights movement was in progress, blacks were still limited in many ways. Style:

As you read this poem, you will see that the point of view is obvious. Smith (1991) tells the story in first person. She is literally depicting her personal experience growing up in the mid-1960s. The first sentence start out “first of all” (Clugston, 2011, chap12.2) allows you to see the first person point of view. Smith’s mood is quite that of an uproar, she shows much anger throughout the poem. She uses very strong words such as “fuck” to further express that anger. With such mood, majority of her tone is very sarcastic. But at the same time is like she is begging for change, pleading to be accepted, and longing for understanding. Form:

“What it’s like to be a black girl” is in the form of slam (Gantz, 2011). This actual form is not found in the text...
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