Whats in a Name?

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George Ramone
College Composition I
Prof. Loscano
September 14, 2011
In Henry Louis Gates Jr.‘s, “Whats in a Name?“, Gates deals with a sort of life changing reality as a young boy. He recalls the incident from a time when prejudice and discrimination against African Americans was perfectly normal. Gates and his father went to the drugstore in town, where his father was the only colored person that could eat there out of the whole town. As Gates was eating his ice cream, his father greets Mr. Wilson and he responds by saying “Hello, George.” Gates then finds out that Mr. Wilson calls all colored people “George”.

In my opinion, Gates said he never looked Mr. Wilson in the eye again, because he knew he was racist. He had a completely different opinion of him after the incident and didn’t want to look at him. Maybe because he disrespected his father in such a manner. He also could have felt intimidated in a way and was afraid he would face the same as his father. After a long pause his father told him, “ He knows my name boy and that he calls all colored people George.” The author then realized that his father didn’t feel bothered by this.

What I found interesting was that the Gates family was different than the other African American families in the town. They were treated with a mix of dislike and respect. An example would be them being allowed to eat where other blacks couldn’t due to Mr. Gates’ reasons and were of privileged status. Once the incident with Mr. Wilson had occurred the author might have felt ashamed or a bit embarrassed.

Consequently, at the end of this essay there is a moment of silence when the author calls it “One of those things as his mother called it.” He described it as a seeing into another world where reality was bitter. The mood suddenly shifts into Gates talking about Jackie Robinson being the best at hitting better in a clutch than anyone. Overall I liked this essay cause of the details and its honesty....
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