The Ethics of Living Jim Crow

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Racism and Southern Identification The Ethics of Living Jim Crow1 ! Upon reading the Ethics of Jim Crow a number of things came to mind. First and

foremost, the difficulty of being a black person in this era. Throughout the article it seems that negroes are continually targeted without any basis. The response to any giving situation is never appropriate, the respectability for the self and other negroes is completely obliterated and most importantly there is a system of fear that is instituted not only from white sources but from black sources as well which have been indoctrinated into the system. ! Relevant to Richard Wright is the concept of black masculinity and the way in

which this masculinity is abused, refused and made confused by whites everywhere. We notice int his small narrative the allusion to the way in which black men were called boys but had to call white men sir. This is the first way in which masculinity is refused. Second, the inability of black men to protect black women from abused and having to participate in the verbal degradation of their own females leads to a sense of impotence and shame in black men. This shame is only deepened by female understanding of the inability of black men to to protect them, as we can notice from the girls reply to Wrights inaction and even verbal consent when the girlʼs buttocks is touched by a white men. ! We also notice in Wrightʼs narratives the fears of amalgamation which I think are

deeply rooted in the long standing tradition of fear of black menʼs sexual prowess. The allusion to the killing of a black men because of his intimacy with a white women signal

1

Richard Wright, “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” from Uncle Tomʼs Children (New York: HarperCollins, 1993 [first published 1940] Elizabeth Chang, “Why Obama Should Not Have Checked Black,” Washington Post, April 29, 2010. Accessed January 24 , http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/28/ AR2010042804156.html

deep issues and concerns with inter-racial relations. Furthermore the concept of the white womenʼs untouchability even when that woman is a whore who walks around naked while in the presence of black men, alludes to the placement of white women in a pedestal out of the reach of black men in any shape or form. This is placed vis-a-vis the accepted accessibility of the black female body for all black and white. As a result, of the way in which black womenʼs bodies have been treated as a source of entertainment and savage pleasures, black women are raped without remorse and touched at will. Similarly men are abused at will in many ways which are equally traumatic but also rooted in the alleged worthlessness of black people. This worthlessness is also visible through the ease with which negroes are threatened to be killed or beaten.

Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America2 ! This article presents many different examples that I find particularly useful for our

discussion. The first, the choice of the supreme court to judge discrimination on the basis of racial distinction highlights the inadequacy of american standards (the supreme court being a representative) to judge moral questions. Instead of focusing on the foundations of morality the court chooses race which has throughout american history become an important construct for judgment. The utilization of this social construct is problematic and particularly deceiving. As mentioned in the article race has traditionally been used to identify the otherness of non-other but the negro race which highlights the

2

Barbara J. Fields, “Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America,” New Left Review 108 (Dec. 2003):1362-1414 Elizabeth Chang, “Why Obama Should Not Have Checked Black,” Washington Post, April 29, 2010. Accessed January 24 , http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/28/ AR2010042804156.html

moral dilemma of negroes as a constant target and the...
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