In The Kitchen By Henry Louis Gates Analysis

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What Happened To “All Men Are Created Equal”?
Both Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and the essay “In the Kitchen” by Henry Louis Gates help give readers an image of life in America as outsiders, as minorities, as black.
In the letter that Martin Luther King writes to the clergymen from the Birmingham Jail, he begins by calling them “men of genuine good will,” and claims that he knows their “criticisms are sincerely set forth.” Dr. King tries to remain polite but an undertone of distrust is also apparent in his letter. By mentioning that he is “confined” in jail, and by calling the black community “victims of broken promises” and “injustices,” Dr. King evokes pity and sadness from the reader. By relating to the clergymen’s
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uses the intricate hair-do process to describe the difficulty of being black and trying to fit into society in America. Gates tells the story using the first person, which gives the reader more sympathy towards him and gives the narrative more truth. Gates writes that he “spent much of [his] childhood and adolescence messing with [his] hair” and he would “watch mama do [her hair] herself.” The fact that he recalls the considerable amounts of grease his mom would put into her clients’ hair, and the lengthy process which his mom worked so hard at in order to “straighten” black hair, show how significant the way a person’s hair looked was for black people in society. “Good hair” was considered to be straight like white people’s hair, while “bad hair” was kinky like black people had. Getting your hair to look as close to white hair as possible was an extensive and painful process which involved “putting hot towels or washrags over greased-down Murray’s-coated heads” and having hot wax drip down your neck, ears, and forehead. This description of the process allows the readers to imagine and almost feel the pain that these people went through and instills sympathy in the readers. The thing about this process, Gates explains, is that “when black people say ‘straight’, of course, they don’t usually mean ‘straight’ literally” because black hair can never become really ‘straight.’ The black women go through such a grueling process, …show more content…
King’s letter and Gates’s essay leave the reader with the feelings of hate for what the white community has done and sorrow for what the black community has faced. As Martin Luther King stated in his letter, the black community has suffered from “broken promises,” from unfair treatment by white people and from not being able to live free from prejudice. Gates has shown that black people have suffered every day, in every aspect of life, even simply from the way their hair looks. He has shown that blacks have tried their best to cover up what makes them different, and have gone to great lengths to do so, even though they should not be afraid to be different. Dr. King helps readers see how frustrating it is to be black because they have tried so hard to negotiate and make a better world for themselves but because of white people’s arrogance they have not been treated justly. Both writers have a common message in their writing that being black in America is incredibly challenging. Blacks in this country constantly feel like they are second class citizens. While Gates and King write in different styles, both convey a sense of how difficult it is to be a black in America. A white reader of Dr. King’s letter is left feeling angry about how whites in America have treated blacks. It has been unfair and anyone who understands that all human beings are equal should feel compelled to work to see that blacks are not mistreated. Similarly, one who reads Gates’ essay feels upset about

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