Throughout I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, racism is a frequent obstacle that non-whites had to overcome. When Maya is young, she doesn’t recognize the racism and discrimination as well as her grandmother does. As Maya gets older, she begins to recognize and take notice to the racism and discrimination towards her and African Americans everywhere.
Maya may not recognize the racism and discrimination very well at her young age, but it still affects her outlook on life the same way it would if she had recognized it. The racism and discrimination Maya faced throughout I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, affected her attitude, personality, and overall outlook on life in a positive way.
While Maya is young, she notices white impudence but doesn’t always recognize it as racism, and it affected her attitude towards her life. She is taught to understand that white people don’t like black people; the white race is evil. Although she can comprehend that and understand to obey whites, but she doesn’t understand the reasoning behind it.
For example, when the young white girls are mocking Momma in front of the Store, Maya is crying behind the door because she can’t understand why they’re being so mean, especially because Momma hasn’t done anything wrong to them. Maya says, “I wanted to throw a handful of black pepper in their faces, to throw lye on them, to scream that they were dirty, scummy peckerwoods, but I knew I was as clearly imprisoned behind the scene as the actors outside were confined to their roles” (Angelou, 25).
Maya couldn’t understand why the girls were mocking Momma or why Momma made no attempt to get away from them. This event to her was an act of hate and jealousy, not one of racism and discrimination. Through hate, discrimination, sexism, racism, and all else, Maya triumphs and brings hope to not only her, but to the black race as a whole. She brings hope that all blacks are capable and having persistence and dedication pays off in the end. She recognizes injustices, and instead of letting it impact her life negatively, she makes positive impacts on her life through the injustices.
Maya’s journey throughout the book is one of true strength and empowerment. She fought racism, even when she didn’t understand what it was. Discrimination strengthened her before she had graduated eighth grade. She turned hate into motivation and ambition. The racism and discrimination Maya faced throughout I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, affected her attitude, personality, and overall outlook on life in a positive way.