Type of paper: Essay

Topic: America, Literature, United States, Race, Community, People, Stereotypes, African American

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/08

Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston and James Baldwin- three African American writers whose works were explored the themes of racism, sex, sexuality and which attempted to dispel some of the assumptions on this topic. Wright and Hurston, especially were authors who sought to find new ways of presenting and interpreting the African American experience that would try and erase their image as an inferior race. This had to be done as this was an image that was crystallized in the de facto American caste system. While Wright and Hurston were part of the Harlem Renaissance, Baldwin came into the scene a little later and had slightly differing views on racism and sexuality in America.
Baldwin said that race was a subject he had to deal with first and get out of his system so he could write about other subjects. He did not consider the blacks and the whites in America as different people but he rather saw it as a blood relationship and called it the ‘profound reality’ of the American life. He also broke a stereotype about African Americans when he said that they do not have any desire or propensity for violence even if violence was meted out to them on a regular basis. Baldwin’s works dealt not only with race but also with sexuality. His book “Giovanni’s room” which he wrote in Paris during the Montgomery riots and the burgeoning civil rights movement in America did not have a single black character or an allusion to race. Rather it contained the theme of homosexuality. Baldwin by writing this book was not only breaking a popular assumption that black author’s wrote passionately only about race issues and civil rights which was popular at that time but that they could also deal with the issues of homosexuality. This was a break from the regular machismo image or the masculinity of the African –American hero in Black literature. The protagonist in his novel was not only not black but he was rather a White American who was trying to come to terms with his sexuality. His work proved that Africa –American male writers did not center their works on African-American men and women.
Baldwin also was critical of the strictures of the African-American middle class. Although he never went as far as to say theta they were trying to imitate the whites, he along with Hurston tried to get away from an obligation or a moral responsibility to depict the middle class African-Americans. Baldwin’s work was more international while Hurston believed in looking at the folk community of the southern United States. She maintained that this was the place to look for and write about as it stood for group authenticity, pride and cultural tradition. Although she wrote about the southern folk tradition she was also critical of the patriarchal nature of the society. She did not seek to idealize the black community and rather spoke about the gender bias that was existent. Her work was a deviation from the contemporary works that were about the reconstruction of the black manhood. Hurston in another work of hers, ‘sweat’ talks about the oppressive black society where the man is threatened by the whites as well as the economic independence of the woman. Through the protagonists’ behavior she only deals with gender issues but also racism which is silently prevalent in their lives. The black man’s helplessness and inability to deal with racial oppression is turned against the woman in his life when he becomes the oppressor. Hurston’s works and portrayal of the black society and women breaks with tradition about the proper portrayal of the African-American community. Wright on the other hand wrote about the rootlessness, cynical nature and cultural impoverishment of the northern blacks in his article “How Bigger was born”. Wright’s style was hard-hitting and forceful, more activist than artistic as Baldwin called it. Especially his work especially ‘Native Son’ that was a testament of the cruelties of racism and its inherent human costs. Wright’s work was one of the first which eloquently brought out the violence, fear and hatred that destroyed the black culture. He wrote about the racial prejudice and his works were called as protest literature. Wright maintained that literature was protest and no one could name a single novel that was not protest. In wright’s work the white people are effective in pigeonholing the blacks into a label of “blackness”- a negative and violent stereotyping. The violence that is a result of the violence perpetuated by them is transformed into a characteristic feature of the blacks and not as resistance.
The three authors dealt with the issues of racism and sex in their own ways. They broke some assumptions about blacks as well as black writers by writing about racial oppression, homosexuality and gender roles in the black society. Hurston was a pioneer of black feminism, Baldwin digressed from black masculinity to write about homosexuality and white men and Wright through his characters sought to break the stereotypes that were associated with his community. The critical acclaim of their works is a testament to their success in breaking the assumptions about the community they were writing about as well as about the writers. Stereotyping is a sign of ignorance as well as laziness. Sometimes it is also a result of the unwillingness to accept differences. The only way to eradicate stereotypes is to create an understanding of the differences among people. Instead of using differences as a weapon to create disharmony and using stereotypes to hate and fear other people, differences must be understood as a fact of life. They must be seen as something that enriches our lives and gives us an opportunity to learn more. Stereotypes can be eradicated only when there is a willingness to learn more, be open and a reduced propensity to hate. As wright’s protagonist in his Native Boy later sees the white people as individuals, it is important to see people as individuals rather as a group to get rid of stereotypes.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 08) Good Essay About Autobiography. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-about-autobiography/
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"Good Essay About Autobiography." WePapers, Dec 08, 2020. Accessed July 23, 2024. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-about-autobiography/
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"Good Essay About Autobiography," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 08-Dec-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-about-autobiography/. [Accessed: 23-Jul-2024].
Good Essay About Autobiography. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-about-autobiography/. Published Dec 08, 2020. Accessed July 23, 2024.

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