Stephanie K Adams
ENG 125 Introduction to Literature
Instructor: Mary Louise Phillips Becker
August 2, 2012
Today in the Twenty-first century we still encounter racism in many categories. Ethnic racism which is unfortunately common has been around for centuries. It would be nice to be able to say that racism is just a thing of the past and that it no longer exists; however, that is not the case. In this brief essay I will discuss the similarities and differences between the poem “What It’s like to be a Black Girl” and the short story “Country Lovers”. Each story depicts women who experienced racism or prejudices in some shape or form, whether it was because of the color of their skin, being a women or social economic background; in either case the results end up the same.
The problem of racism is a complex one; it is difficult to characterize it or place it into one category due to its far reaching effects and implications. The moral issues generate social concerns. ("Racism in america," 2002) Some may have experienced various forms of discrimination such as gender, economic status or weight, but how many have actually experienced racism based on their race? Patricia Smith wrote the poem “What It’s like to be a Black Girl “, this was written in 1991. (Clugston, 2010) There are several different tones Patricia uses during her poem, the first is sad a young girl describing how she feels. As the poem progresses you hear the rage or the bitterness in her voice as she gets older. In this poem she uses similes to describe her pain going through puberty and not bring able to control the way she looks or her body. “It’s being 9 years old and feeling like you’re not finished, like your edges are wild, like there’s something, everything wrong”. (Clugston, 2010)
In this poem she does not use persona but speaks first person identifying herself as the speaker, “First of all, it’s being 9 years old”. (Clugston, 2010) Her choice of words let you feel her intense pain of being in a world that does not accept her because of her color or gender.
The interpretation that was given is a young lady trying to fix everything about herself that the world is telling her is wrong. The straightening of her hair because being black left her with kinky, curly, frizzy hair. It's like the dying of hair, the contacts you wear, and the things you do to make yourself look more like the beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed "white girl." “Its flame and fists and life according to Motown”. (Clugston, 2010) She was explaining the sights and sounds of racial slurs and fighting in her surroundings. If one has not experienced the turmoil within the character, Patricia gave imaginative details that brings you closer to visualizing how it is to be a black girl in a society that looks down upon your for being a woman and black. It evokes an emotional response from the reader. The poem is written in staggered versus that are direct to the point with the use of hyperboles to get her message across, example, “It’s jumping double dutch until your legs pop, it’s smelling blood in your breakfast”. (Clugston, 2010) As said by Ralph Waldo Emason “Poetry is a form of symbolism the use of symbols has a certain power of emancipation and exhilaration for all men”. ( Bourbon, Brett, 2007)
“Country Lovers” is a short story of forbidden love between two main characters, a young black female Thebedi and a young white male Paulus. The setting is in South Africa on a farm during the time of (1946-1994). The author Nadine Gordimer has lived in South Africa and experienced “socioeconomic system that has oppressed the majority of the black population”. (Clugston, 2010) Due to her life experiences she has a “strong opposition to apartheid”. (Clugston, 2010) One of her writings “1959: What is Apartheid?” Gordimer writes, “In all of a black man’s life, all his life,...
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