“Frankie and Johnny”: Who's “Zooming” Who?

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Laurie Wilson Critical Essay #2

“Frankie and Johnny”: Who’s “Zooming” Who?

Traditionally it has been assumed in society that when a white woman dates or cohabitates with a black man, she is either crazy, a slut, political or unattractive. My mother married a black man a few years ago and none of the descriptions above apply to her. So where did all this nonsense stem from anyway? This misconception about white females loving black men has its roots in the fanatical racist ideas that were popular in the slavery era. Since then, males have always been known for the “chase” in polite society but the poem entitled, “Frankie and Johnny” shows the reader the exact opposite. White men have always been afraid of the black man chasing and getting their white women but in this work, it is the white female who is clearly doing all the chasing. I found this poem to be quite disturbing as the African-American author, Sterling A. Brown used many of the typical stereotypes to describe Frankie, the white female. I assume it was not so much about stereotyping but probably to focus on setting of the poem. Not only does he state that she was a “half-wit”, he also lets us know that she is also a psychopath. I am sure the poet tries to tell a sad tale with this poem which could be set to blues music because of the nature of the story. Saying that Johnny was a “nigger” lets the reader know right away that both he and Frankie live in a strongly racist society that frowned upon their white women sleeping with black men. This same society also looked the other way when their white men took black women to their beds. Sexual standards for white men have always been different than the ones forced upon white females. Frankie is born to a meek and compliant female her society but we quickly see her first hurting small animals and keeping her sadistic ways into her...
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