Written Task 2 – Text Shame by Dick Greggory This essay will discuss an episode from the autobiography by Dick Gregory, Nigger (1964), entitled Shame. Here, the author talks about one of the most important lessons he learned during his childhood: the world is not equal to everyone, and does this by telling his experiences lived in his school and neighborhood, all with the aim to present the difficulties that he and his social group faced during the forties in the United States. Using this story we will find the solution to the question “Which social groups are marginalized, excluded or silenced within the text? To find this answer we will find how the author presents his difficulties and why his group was marginalized, excluded or silenced. We will also analyze the structure and vocabulary to see how the ideas are created. The episode starts with a very strong sentence, “I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go for school for that”. Here it is shown that the exclusion of the author’s group is created by the society he lives in, and not by his social group, still, we do not know which social group it is referred.
This makes the reader wonder what ideas people are exposed in the streets and if they are right. In this sentence, an irony is also presented. School, a place where people should learn to be better persons, is teaching hate people to be ashamed of themselves. Until half of the second paragraph we do not know the author’s skin color, but the hint is given in the sentence where Gregory is talking about his cloths “white folk’s shirt fits me better”.
Now we know that he is from a specific social group, he is an afro descendant, which suffers from racism, especially in the time where the story is settled. In the end of the third paragraph it is said that the author was ashamed of himself for the first time in his classroom, again mentioning how his social group (now we know that he is afro descendant) was seen as different in society. It is much empathized the situation that the Negros found themselves in relation to their profit, to their money.
The lines between 44 and 49 are dedicated to clarifying how extreme was the poverty that the author faced and gives a scope to the reader of how the kid felt in relation to food. The author is mentioning how he ate paste at school because there was nothing else. The reader thinks how terrible the taste must be, then the author imagining the reaction of the reader clarifies that just as pregnant people get strange tastes, he was pregnant with poverty, and ends up saying that paste does not taste bad when you are hungry.
This part explains how critical was the situation faced by his social group, making the reader want to change this situation. On the sixth paragraph the author narrates how his teacher looked at him “all she saw was a little black boy who squirmed in his idiot’s seat (…)” for this we get to identity clearly how the social group of afro descendants is clearly seen as inferior to white people. The needing of clarifying the author’s color skin gives the impression that being Negro is a defect, something that makes him inferior.
The exclusion of the Negro is also enhanced in a discussion between the lines number 80 and 81. The teacher explains why she does not accept the author’s donation to the Community Chest. She says the reason is because the donations are for the author’s kind, all in front of his class. This happens almost in the end of the episode and exposes the author in front of his classmates, making it clear for him that he is different and should be ashamed of being Negro.
This explains the first sentence of the text, when it was said that shame was learned at school and centralizes all the inferiority imaged created for the Negro worked throughout the chapters. Until the end of the episode the author shows how he started to notice that the separation of the social groups was present in society, how he just had not noticed. Two examples are the Worthy Boys Annual Dinner and the relief truck. This two are exclusive for afro descendents and for the author they just serve as motives of shame for being inferior.
He estates this by saying “Why couldn’t they just call it Boys Annual Dinner? ” and “I hated that truck, food for you and your kind”. In conclusion to the question “Which social groups are marginalized, excluded or silenced within the text? ” we can say that the afro descendants are this group. The text may not start by clarifying this, but it starts to get clearer as we discover that the author is a black kid and as his teacher treats him differently from the others.