The topic I will analyze is Racism. I will explore this theme using the films ‘Django’ directed by Quentin Tarantino and ‘Schwarzfahrer’ directed by Pepe Danquart, the poem ‘Racism is around me everywhere’ by Francis Duggan, and the novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. This report aims to examine how racism affects individuals with dark skin, the consequences it brings, and its pervasiveness across different historical periods. Racism remains a prevalent issue, and through this report, my goal is to shape your perception of racism and encourage efforts towards ending this abhorrent behavior.
Throughout my analysis of various texts, the presence of racial discrimination against characters is clearly seen. In Pepe Danquart’s award-winning short film ‘Schwarzfahrer’, the main character endures racial abuse based on his African background. Likewise, in the novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, an African American named Tom Robinson is falsely accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, solely because he has dark skin.
In ‘Schwarzfahrer’, the black man enters a tram and decides to sit next to an elderly woman on an unoccupied seat. Initially disregarding his request to sit down, the woman eventually starts berating and insulting him for occupying that particular seat. She criticizes him for taking it “without any consideration” and proceeds to stereotype all black individuals as malodorous, unintelligent, criminal-minded people who carry AIDS. She suggests changing their names upon arrival to differentiate them since they all appear identical to her. Moreover, she strongly believes there are no laws preventing them from having a foul odor. Through her choice of words, she distinguishes herself from the black man by identifying herself as part of “us” while referring to him as part of “them”, thereby demonstrating her belief in racial superiority.
Similarly, Tom in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ receives an unjust death sentence without a fair trial purely because he is of African descent.
In Maycomb, Atticus Finch, the lawyer, stands alone in his belief in Tom’s story and his efforts to defend him against a prejudiced jury. In a conversation with his children, Atticus exposes the unjust treatment African Americans endure within the legal system. He elucidates that there is an element within society that erodes people’s sense of fairness. Within a courtroom setting, when pitted against each other, the word of a white man always prevails over that of a black man. These harsh realities are an unfortunate part of life. Atticus imparts this knowledge to his children so they comprehend that Tom is being victimized solely because of racism. The character Tom from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ recognizes that he will not be judged based on innocence but rather due to the color of his skin. Consequently, he takes matters into his own hands and flees jail and the racial discrimination he faces; tragically resulting in him being shot seventeen times.
It baffles me how society often hastily judges individuals based on their identity rather than their personal qualities, leading to perplexing treatment of these individuals. The existence of such racist attitudes contradicts the fact that we are all part of the same human race, devoid of any inherent biological distinctions. No race can rightfully claim superiority or inferiority over another. It is astonishing that we cannot demonstrate the same acceptance observed in other species; for instance, a samoyed dog would not discriminate against a labrador based on fur color but treat it like any other dog. This inclination towards rejecting what is different stems from human nature and manifests in various forms, including discrimination against individuals with glasses, cleft palate, or differing interests. Ultimately, racism is merely another manifestation of discrimination targeting those who belong to a different race.
In the texts I have studied, racism consistently leads to violence. In the opening scene of the film “Django,” seven African Americans are shown chained by leg irons and being led by two white men on horseback to be sold as slaves. They endure brutal beatings and whippings, feeling powerless and accepting their fate. The arrival of Dr. Schultz, a German bounty hunter, changes everything. He shoots the slave master’s horse, which crushes his legs, and then throws the key to the African Americans for their freedom. Dr. Schultz presents them with two options: carry the injured slave master back to town, or take their revenge by shooting him and burying both bodies before finding a safe place to live. Having endured repeated abuse based on their skin color, they choose violence as an act of vengeance.
This paragraph explores instances of revenge in response to racial mistreatment. In the movie ‘Schwarzfahrer’, a black man seeks retribution against an elderly woman who unjustly racially abuses him. As the ticket collector checks for fare evasion, the black man forcefully takes and consumes the old lady’s ticket. When questioned by the collector about her train pass, she falsely alleges, “this nigger just ate it!” Consequently, she is deemed to have presented “the dumbest excuse I’ve ever heard” and is escorted off the train. Similarly, in the film ‘Django’, seven African Americans who were enslaved commit murder against a white man as an act of violence. Their enslavement has stripped them of their self-esteem, leading them to hold someone accountable for their own and their families’ suffering. Revenge is pursued due to the physical and psychological harm inflicted by racism. Racism encompasses not only physical pain but also inequity and prejudice that individuals are willing to resist. For some people, resorting to aggression serves as a means to alleviate the agony caused by discrimination and racism.
Although racism has been an enduring issue, its forms have changed over time. The movie ‘Django,’ which takes place in 1858, depicts a period when the number of black slaves approached 4 million. In this era, racism went beyond verbal expressions of superiority—people would physically harm others and even kill to assert racial dominance. White individuals held the belief that they were racially superior and saw black individuals as destined for slavery. Francis Duggan’s poem ‘Racism is around me everywhere’ reflects how contemporary society views racism.
Many individuals still experience racial discrimination, which is deemed unacceptable. The concept of ‘a fair go’ has been shown to be misleading as equal opportunities are not available for all. Despite residing in a so-called democracy, racism endures and genuine freedom remains unattainable.
They make judgments based on your origin and the pigmentation of your skin, making it seem impossible to achieve equality and respect for many.
This segment of the poem reveals that racism persists as an ongoing issue, with individuals still being judged based on their skin color. The poet, Duggan, highlights the paradox of living in a so-called democracy where even the government judges and lacks respect for people due to their skin color. However, the movie “Django” presents a different perspective on racism, as it is set in the year 1858. Calvin Candie, a white southern slave owner, questions why the African slaves he abuses and kills do not retaliate. He believes that understanding the separation of the two species is vital, as indicated by his reference to the science of phrenology.
In the 1800s, racism was extremely unpleasant, as demonstrated by Candie and many white people who believed in phrenology to explain and justify slavery. Candie even performed a gruesome act by sawing the back of an African’s skull, revealing a supposed enlarged area associated with “submissiveness” in the brain. Nowadays, racism is not as extreme but remains a problem for all. It has become more subtle, involving verbal harm and exclusion based on skin color.
Racism has evolved and become less blatant over time, as portrayed in ‘Schwarzfahrer’, a film set in the early 1990s. Instead of physical abuse, the elderly woman verbally attacked the black man. In the early 1900s, the same situation would have resulted in him being forcibly removed from the train, relegated to sitting in the back. The other passengers on the tram deliberately ignored her racist tirade, treating her like an outsider. This demonstrates that our society no longer tolerates racism to the extent it once did. Furthermore, when the passengers witnessed her being escorted off the tram, they seemed relieved. Although I anticipate that racism will persist for some years to come, I recognize that globalization is gradually reducing its prevalence as people gradually embrace and accept all races and cultures.
To summarize, individuals with black skin face persistent racial abuse due to an inherent and unchangeable trait. This racism often leads to violence as a primary repercussion, causing victims to seek revenge in order to ease the pain caused by discrimination. It is crucial to acknowledge that racism has persisted throughout history, adapting and appearing differently in various time periods. Unless we actively address this unacceptable behavior, it will continue to afflict our society without end.