Alienation is a being isolated and discriminated by the majority. Society alienates people who seem to be different in a way or another. Alienation also means the separation a person feels from things that naturally belong together. In “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Why the M Word Matters to Me” by Andrew Sullivan, and “How It Feels to be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston, the authors illustrate the alienation they have experienced at some point of their lives or the alienation a group of people have experienced. Martin Luther King writes about the alienation and discrimination that black people experienced just because of their skin color. Andrew Sullivan expresses how he felt alienated by his own family for being homosexual. Zora Neale Hurston demonstrates the alienation she had felt because of her race. These authors fought that alienation by taking a stand against the widespread beliefs, demanding their basic rights, and questioning people’s morality.
In their essays Sullivan and Hurston argue against alienation and against what the majority believes in. Sullivan writes about how he first felt alienated by the closest people to him because of his sexuality. He states: “my parents and friends never asked the question they would have asked automatically if I were straight: So, when are you going to get married? […] In fact, no one – no one – has yet asked me that question.” (Sullivan, page 2) Sullivan writes about how he felt alienated when his family and friends didn’t care to ask him about the day he decides to get married only because he was gay. He expresses his disappointment with them especially that he knows how marriage is important to them. Sullivan didn’t change himself in order to satisfy the people around him. He believed that being different than his family and friends doesn’t make him wrong. On the other hand Hurston writes about the day she felt discriminated because of her skin color, it was the day she left her hometown. She writes: “I was not Zora of Orange County any more, I was now a little colored girl. I found it out in certain ways. In my heart as well as in the mirror, I became a fast brown—warranted not to rub nor run” (Hurston, page 1) This shows how a little girl felt alienated because of her race which is not something by her choice. She explains how when she moved to another town she was nothing but a colored girl. Hurston was never the person who feels different because of her skin color, but the people around her made her feel alienated until she finally saw it; she was a person with color and she was treated differently because of that. Hurston stands against the majority’s belief that black people should be treated differently. She wanted to be treated differently because of her originality not because of her skin color. She states: “At certain times I have no race, I am me.” (Hurston, page 2) Hurston implies here that she shouldn’t be looked at as a person from a specific racial background; she wanted to be recognized for herself and for her achievements only.
The authors also fight alienation by demanding the basic human rights. Throughout his essay Sullivan demands to be loved and treated like straight people. He talks about gay marriage and how it shouldn’t be different from heterosexual marriage. He implies that people shouldn’t be alienated because of their sexual orientation. Gay people are still people who want exactly what every human being wants. They want to love and to be loved, and they want to celebrate their love by marriage. Sullivan writes: Putting gay relationships in some other category – civil unions, domestic partnership, whatever- may alleviate real human needs but by their very euphemism, by their very separateness, they actually build a wall between gay people and their families. They put back the barrier many of us have spent a lifetime trying to erase. (Sullivan, page 2)...
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