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 onto 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. “l 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 Beam’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 cost 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 Blessed 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). Blessed 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, Troubled, to Mr…
Norton. In some aspects, Blessed 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 Blessed had given him, and manages to land a job at Liberty Paints with the help of Emerson, “l 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 a factory. From the moment he enters the factory, he is shunned by any and every person there. A demanding man Akimbo yells at the narrator in the factory’ and is rather intimidating and yelled at the office boy as well until he rebutted with the Comment, “Awe, swan, you slave driver (Ellison, 199). This statement is ironic because it
Akimbo parallels to Blessed because they are both trying act better than their own race. Clearly both men are African American, and to refer to one of them as a slave driver is ironic. The narrator is given the meager and tedious job of mixing paints, and although he does mess it up because the instructions are not clear, he is given a job that is insulting to his intelligence. ” ‘If it’s Optic White, It’s the Right White. ‘ “l repeated and suddenly had to repress a laugh as a childhood giggle ran through my mind: ” ‘If you’re white, you’re right,’ ” I said. “That’s it, ” he said. (Ellison, 218).
The narrator is in conversation with Broadway about the paint at Liberty Paints, meanwhile the man had been clearly discriminated against for being forced to work in the basement, with the constant worry that his job is going to be snatched away from him. He even admits that the slogan “If you’re white, you’re right” gave the idea for the Optic White slogan, further showing an example of the thought of white supremacy located in the work place during this time period. “I’m a day laborer… ” A day laborer, you heard him, but look at his stuff strewn like chitterlings n the snow… Where has all his labor gone? Is he lying? ” “Ana, such! ” “Then where did his labor go? Look at his old blues records and her pots of plats, they’re down home folks, and everything tossed out like junk whirled eighty-seven years in a cyclone. ” (Ellison, 278) This speech in front of the old couples house is one Of the first acts Of public speaking the narrator does, and he discusses how unfair it is that this couple is good and honest and works their whole life or are “day laborers”, yet they are thrown out on the street and publicly humiliated without a second thought.
V’/HO holds first claim on the loyalty of the Negro worker-his fellow workers who toil side by side with him, or his employer who hires and pays him, sometimes against the wishes of white labor? Is it wisdom for Negro workers to protect the interest of white labor, which has so often kicked them in the face, or should they line up with employers against labor unions, even to the point of scabbing and strike-breaking? ” (Granger, 234-39). This quote from “The Negro–Friend or Foe of Organized Labor? Is directly connected with the scene from “Invisible Man” where the narrator works in Liberty Paints cause this time period is a time when “the world of northern labor became haltingly more open to African American ‘s” (Sperm and Harris, 172). This is important because it is the beginning of where African American’s began to integrate into the work force in the North, but unfortunately were given the lesser jobs and more labor oriented jobs. Whether in an industrial or business setting, blacks frequently found themselves confined to particular kinds Of work, no matter what their skills or aspirations. Of the “blind alley’ service positions that racism forced many African Americans to settle for. ” (Sperm and Harris, 172). The narrator had aimed for like Blessed had in the beginning of the novel, but when he is sent to Harlem he is given a job so insultingly easy at Liberty Paints. This concept connects directly to today, as Chris Rock said, “Yeah, I love being famous. It’s almost like being white, winnow? . Due to the stereotypes that are instilled in us at a young age, many people few African American’s in lesser jobs, and more of the celebrities rather than the Coo’s. “The change in the Negroes relation to industry during the last decade and a half has been so sudden that neither the black nor the white working world as been able to grasp its significance and adjust itself to its circumstances. The essence of this change has been the shifting of the Negroes position from that of a labor reserve to a regular element in the labor force of nearly every basic industry.
It has brought the Negro face to face with problems of working condition, which, though they may contain many special elements, are essentially the same as the problems of other workers. ” (Sperm and Harris, 173). This quote is important because it shows that although the African American’s have fully integrated into every aspect of the working force, they till experience many problems of working conditions as well as other problems of racism in their daily lives. Still, when I hear commentators interpreting my speech to mean that we have arrived at a “post racial politics” or that we already live in a color-blind society, have to offer a word Of caution. TO say that we are one people is not to suggest that race no longer matters- that the fight for equality has been won, or that the problems that minorities face in this country today are largely self-inflicted.
We know the statistics: On almost every single socioeconomic indicator, from infant mortality to life expectancy to employment to home ownership, blacks and Latino Americans in particular continue to lag far behind their white counterparts. In corporate boardrooms across America, minorities are grossly underrepresented; in the United States Senate, there are only three Latino, and two Asian members, and as I write today am the chamber’s sole African American.
To suggest that our racial attitudes play no part in these disparities is to turn a blind eye to both our history and our experience- and to relieve ourselves of the responsibility to aka things right” (Obama, 232-233) From the novel “The Audacity of Hope”, by President Barack Obama, he addresses many of the people in the world that believe racism has come to an end because he is the President, or that his speeches are trying to say that the world has become color-blind.
He addresses them all to tell them just because he has a voice in the government, he is still “the chamber’s sole African Connecting directly to today’s government, although there is a first black secretary of state, her politics did not benefit the African American population because she was so conservative. While she did indeed sis above the common stereotypes, she left the rest of her race behind with her. “On this day in civil rights history, Condolences Rice prepared to take over the office of U. S.
Secretary of State, recently vacated by Colic Powell. Rice’s and Bowel’s conservative politics are criticized by many contemporary black leaders who charge them with supporting an agenda that hurts the majority of African Americans” (Williams, 362). The problems that the African American population had with the secretary of state, is very similar in nature to that of the narrator in “Invisible Man” who was thrown out of college so hat Blessed could keep his race hidden from influential people such as Mr…
Norton. He was willing to put his race beneath him like the secretary of state did for the purpose of individual success. “This one of the greatest jokes in the world is the spectacle of the whites busy escaping blackness and becoming blacker every day, and the blacks striving toward whiteness, becoming quite dull and gray. None of us seems to know who he is or where he’s going” (Ellison, 577). When the narrator begins to reflect and question parts of humanity, he makes this statement.
This directly connects with the Tory of the secretary of state, and Blessed because it talks about people of a certain race willing to drop their identity, culture, and stereotypes without discovering who he or she is beforehand. “The contradictions between caring, a principle part of the identity of nursing, and racism make it difficult for nurses to acknowledge racial prejudice in the profession” (Barber, 346). Another example to why there is clearly still racism in the labor force is this article about how nurses in the recent past decade experience much prejudice in the workplace even till this day because of racial stereotypes.
Two examples of racism in the workplace for the narrator in “Invisible Man” are when he worked at Liberty Paints, as well as in the Brotherhood. In the Brotherhood they made the narrator seem like he had an opinion when in reality they were controlling everything he said, because they did not trust him and also brainwashed him. “Training. All is not lost. There’s hope that our wild buy effective speaker may be tamed. The scientists perceive a possibility. Very well, it has bee arranged; perhaps not scientifically but arranged nevertheless.
For the next few months our new rather is to undergo a period of intense study and indoctrination under the guidance of Brother Hombre” (Ellison, 351 In the beginning, the Brotherhood gave the narrator the idea that he was going to give speeches with his own thoughts and opinions, meanwhile the whole time they were planning to push him down still. Even though African American’s have fully integrated in basically every form of careers in the United States, they still experience racism in the workforce. This shows that while yes we have come far, we have not come far enough.
When there are more individuals working for homeless and leaving behind their culture and race than not, then we have not come far enough. “When you’re sharing a foxhole with another man, you don’t worry about what color he is, just whether or not he will protect your back” – Lee Benson. Originally the novel “Invisible Man” was going to be a story talking about unfair it was that African American’s should risk their own lives every day when they are drafted into the military, but are rejected basic rights when they are at home. ” once asked my father why he had gone to war for America. He told me he went because he was drafted.
Still, I, who had learned to read as a five-year- old kid in the sass’s by observing FOR WHET ONLY at public water fountains and FOR COLORED at motels where my family stayed on trips to the South, wanted to know why any black man or woman would risk his life for America. He said defending his country was his duty as an American citizen. And, he said, who knows the importance of protecting and preserving the promise of freedom between than African Americans? If asked to fight for this country again, he would do it” (Moore, XVIII). Referring to the black soldiers during this time period as the “Unsung
Heroes of WI”, this novel is very similar because it shows discrimination in yet another field of employment. How is it fair that the soldiers risk their lives for the country, but are denied basic rights at home. As Moore said, “What makes any person patriotic, particularly an African American? White folks built this country, didn’t they? That slaves contributed to building America is a foreign thought to many Americans. Black folks were victims, not contributors, right? (XVIII). This is closely related to how far we have come today in the workforce because there is often racism in the military today. In he Army case, certainly, where relevant data are available, blacks who were matched up with whites on key universalistic criteria still suffered discrimination on the basis of race” (Dual, Smith, Nor, 714). This is important because it shows that while it may seem like we have come far, there is still often racism in this field. While they have the same basic rights in the United States as every other white soldier, they still experience discrimination. In the movie Forest Jump for example, one of the characters “Bubby” was stereotyped as a very unintelligent African American who was drafted into the military.
The narrator may have had no affiliation with the military, but Ralph Ellison’s original intentions for writing this book was going to be about this unfairness that was going on with the African American soldiers who were risking their lives. To determine how far we have come since the novel “Invisible Man”, I questioned what exactly is racism. Is racism bringing the obvious to light? For example when a song that is racist and vulgar towards African American’s comes on and you look at the person in the room that is African American.
Or is it racist when you clutch your bag a little tighter when you’re in the city and o’er standing next to an African American walking down the street? All of these things are considered racist but many are afraid to address them. “Perhaps to lose a sense of where you are implies the danger of losing a sense of who you are. That must be it, thought – to lose your direction is to lose your face. So here he comes to ask his direction from the lost, the invisible” (Ellison, 577). We have come a long way since this novel was written and Ellison introduced the term “invisible” to the world, but we have not come far enough.
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