Wright's Autobiography, Jim Crow

Topics: Black people, Race and Ethnicity, African American Pages: 2 (692 words) Published: May 24, 2013
Wright vs. Jim Crow: From the Ethics of Living Jim Crow by Richard Wright

Social situations illustrate the power of how external pressures influence peoples’ reactions and responses. The pressures can often have a strong effect on their responses. Richard Wright's "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow" illustrates his cruel childhood lesson of learning how to live with the prejudice and discrimination. It is an autobiographical sketch of the Negro experience in a white-dominant society. Whites view themselves as superior to blacks and thus act in ways to express their superiority. Their discriminatory actions create social pressures and dictate consequences that compel blacks to act in certain ways. Rather than simply stating the Jim Crow laws, Richard Wright utilizes his childhood anecdotes to capture the dominant white attitude that imposed a low social status on blacks. While the majority of blacks accept their inferior role, Richard Wright exhibits frustration towards these people's actions and chooses to respond with subtle defiance. Rather than accepting the social situation and acting like other black folks, Wright learned to develop subtle ways to defy the whites. Ethics of Living Jim Crow begins with Wright claims to be his first lesson in how to live as a Negro. In the beginning, he only learned of the harsh, cruel reality of "Living Jim Crow." But towards the end, he developed his own rules so to speak, by asking a white man if he could borrow books from the library under his name. By doing so, his actions sharply contrasted with the other blacks who chose to accept the oppression. Even as a young boy learning to live in a discriminatory world, he tries to accept the world as is but he cannot. Although borrowing books is a small act of defiance, it still shows that he is unwilling to accept things as they are. The lesson of how whites are clearly dominant over blacks is reiterated throughout "Ethics of Living Jim Crow." More importantly,...
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