Invisible Man

Topics: African American, Barack Obama, Race Pages: 9 (3224 words) Published: February 24, 2014

The Unsung Heroes; Inequality in the Labor Movement
“We’re never so outraged as when a cabbie drives past us or the woman in the elevator clutches her purse, not so much because we’re bothered by the fact that such indignities are what less fortunate coloreds have to put up with every single day of their lives—although that’s what we tell ourselves—but because we’re wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and speak impeccable English and yet have somehow been mistaken for an ordinary nigger.” -Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

When asked if racism still exists in the world a common answer is,“No, how could we be racist when we have a black president!”, but even an extremely well educated man such as Barack Obama the President of the United States sees every form of racism on a day to day basis. Racism today is not a concept that just low class uneducated African American's struggle with, this is a concept that everyone in the world struggles with. Racism will never be truly abolished from the world because it is a part of humanity that is instilled in us at a very young age, racism towards the “different” and the “other”. Society put a certain stereotype of each race into our minds and even if we don't act on these thoughts.

In Ralph Ellison's “Invisible Man”, Ellison lays these questions on the table. He digs deep into the discrimination towards African Americans. “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.” (Ellison, 3). This quote is in the opening of the novel and could not have been said any better. Ellison coined the term “invisible” in his novel, and it becomes a theme for the rest of the novel. This directly correlates to Barack Obama's quote about racism and is a prime example that the same racism that existed in the time that “Invisible Man” was written, still exists in the world today even if in a milder form. One area that there is still much discrimination and racism is in the labor field, the racism present in the world today is connected to the racism that the narrator experienced in Ralph Ellison's “Invisible Man”.

Employment discrimination is one area that still experiences one of the most racism in the present day. Throughout the entire novel of “Invisible Man”, the narrator struggles to find where he belongs especially in what career field. He begins at the college where he strives to have the job that Bledsoe has, but he is denied and expelled and sent off to New York City. “Don't you know we can't tolerate such a thing? I gave you an opportunity to serve one of our best white friends, a man who could make your fortune. But in return you dragged the entire race into the slime!” (Ellison, 140). Bledsoe is the definition of a white man's black man, he lives to please all of the influential white men connected with the college yet knows he will always be below them. The narrator's first experience in a job driving around Mr. Norton had already failed due to racism because he exposed the “slime” of his race, Trueblood, to Mr. Norton.

In some aspects, Bledsoe is almost racist himself, racist against his own culture. Once he arrives in New York, the narrator is in search for a job using the deceiving recommendation letters that Bledsoe had given him, and manages to land a job at Liberty Paints with the help of Emerson, “I really want to help. Look, I happen to know of a possible job at Liberty Paints. My father has sent several fellows there... You should try” (Ellison, 192). Emerson has been one of the first genuine men that have not been racist in the work force, but even though the narrator is a brilliant man and has had an education, he gives him a labor job in...

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Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. Random House, 1952. Print.
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Obama, Barack. The Audacity of Hope. New York. Crown Publishers, 2006. Print.
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Barbee, Evelyn L. "Racism in U.S. Nursing." Medical Anthropology Quarterly ns 7.4 (1993): 346-62. JSTOR. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. .
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