James Weldon Johnson

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Janice Warriner
November 29, 2012
Composition 1030 Nowak

James Weldon Johnson
From the preface to The Book of American Negro Poetry (1921)

During the 1920’s, the country was still segregated, and black people were denied the right to vote, attend schools where they would be intermixing with white people, and often lived without the same standard of living embraced by white people. They often did not have electricity, their clothes were in poor condition and books were often discarded books from the white schools. Black males were automatically suspects in crimes, and often did not have a fair trial. White people wanted order and perfection. During the film, Birth of a Nation :The Civil War Films of DW Griffith The black, slave woman in the show reminded me of Mammy. Mammy is a well-recognized racial caricature. She was created with the idea to claim that slaves were happy, and thus, slavery was humane. Mammy is pictured with very dark skin and a bandana, signaling that she is a hard worker and is sweaty. She is an extremely heavy set, older woman and the message was that the white men found the black slave woman unattractive and there was no sexual contact between them. This was a complete lie, because rape and sexual exploitation was happening as a result of the master-slave relationship. She was also considered to be the property of the white family. During this time, the Harlem Renaissance was also taking place. During the 1920-1930’s this was referred to as the “New Negro Movement”. Because of the “radio”, black authors, poets, painters, playwrights, actors and musicians gained exposure and were brought to a national audience. An indication that things would change. Has it? Stereotyping always will be a part of society because of the different life experiences and ideas that we develop about ourselves and other people. It becomes a problem with it turns to violence or dangerous ideas or behavior. It is up to each individual...
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