ENG125: Introduction to Literature (AFG1301A)
Instructor: Carla McGill
February 4, 2013
How can an African American and a Hispanic girls be treated different when they are the same type of person? I chose the theme of race and ethnicity when I selected the poems “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl” by Patricia Smith and “Child of the Americas” by Aurora Levin Morales. I am a Hispanic person with an African ancestry. I speak fluent Spanish and English and have experience life from both sides of the continent. The poems show how African American and Hispanics American girls lives were affected based on their race and ethnicity. The life of the African American girl life was affected because of her race and racism; while the life of the Hispanic American girl life was (not) affected because of her ethnicity. While both the African American and Hispanic American girls were born on American soil, racism affected the African American girl’s way she lived her life while ethnicity (heritage) played a major role in Hispanic American girl’s life.
The poem “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl” is about a nine year old African American girl who life was immensely affected by racism and the fact that she was a girl did not help her either. The thing that I notice was missing is where is the girl’s parents during the time she was growing up; maybe it was the author intent not to mention the girl’s parents. Growing up is tough enough as a black girl, you add the absence of parents and throw in racism, this girl does not have a chance to live a successful life. According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, racism has two meanings. First, racism is, “The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.” Second, racism is, “Discrimination or prejudice based on race.” The African American girl health was effected by racism, she was conditioned to be ashamed of her skin color, the texture of her hair and ethnicity. In her mind she think the only way the coccasion people will except her is if she look like them. According to Bhui, (2002) Racism is a fundamental cause of disparities in health. Its myriad effects and links to other forms of social stratification lead to it being both obvious and masked. Its boundaries are indistinct because it is internal as well as external, individual as well as ecological, and shunned while being an integral part of dominant culture ideology. Its investigation is important and yet part of the spider’s web that traps the best thinkers of ethnic minorities in contemplation instead of action and this brings us to the final paradox, understanding racism is a prerequisite of beating it (p. 83). I get the feeling that the black girl not only felt that at nine she was not finished, but perhaps she could into a different person other than the person she was then.
The African American girl definitely had mental heath issues, she wanted white skin and blue eyes, something that was accepting of the culture of that time. According to Smith (1991) “It’s being 9 years old and feeling like you’re not finished,” writes Smith, “like your edges are wild, like there’s something, everything, wrong.” (line, 4). According to Smith (1991) the “black girl” she refers to in her poem is feeling the awkwardness of her newly changing body and the hope of something different and maybe better to come (p 283). Some people would say that the African American girl understands her body, but I would say that she is not ready for her body changes perhaps because of who she is or want to be and that is to look like the other girls in the society in which she lives.
The life of the Hispanic girl in the “Child of the Americas” is so different from that of the black girl in the “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl”. I stated that I have live on both...