African-Americans has improved overthe years. Especially during the periodof time following the Civil War when theend of slavery came. The prejudicebehaviors of some of the Americanpopulation did not end with last gun shotof the Civil War though. Throughout theyears our country has bore troughsince the conclusion of the war there hasbeen traces of racism everywhere. Ithas been witnessed in our Californiariots via Rodney King and it has beenseen in such things as sports via MargeSchott. It is no surprise that racism is apopular topic for literature.
James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” is astory about a young black man whofinds his way out of Harlem and intotrouble. The young black man, Sonny,was a musician who left Harlem and gotinvolved in drugs. He came back after aprison sentence to stay with his brother,the narrator of the story. The story ismostly a tail of the trials a black mangoes through living/getting out ofHarlem. The story is not as muchconcerned with the way the Caucasianrace treats the African-American raceas it is a story of the struggles blackshave getting to positions that are atleast achievable for whites. The maininstance of racism and the mistreatmentof colored people is the killing ofSonny’s uncle. “This car was full of white men. Theywere all drunk, and when they seen yourfather’s brother they let our a greatwhoop and holler and they aimed the carstraight at him. . . .They wanted to scarehim. . . By the time he jumped it was toolate” (Baldwin 102). The previous passage was takenfrom the conversation the narrator washaving with his mother about his unclesdeath. It is a very definitive passagefor the view some Caucasian peoplehad/have toward African-Americans.
U.S. News and World Reportreported in June 1996, “In Charlotte, N.C. .
. . a 13-year-old white girl was arrestedand charged as a juvenile with burningthe sanctuary of a black church; there”(Witkin 32).
Racism has no boundaries it is in theyoung of our country, the old, the poor,the rich, white or black. This is somethingthat is briefly addressed in “Sonny’sBlues” but is more of an issue in ToniMorrison’s “The Bluest Eye”. The storyfits perfectly with the previous U.S.
News article. It deals with a African-American girl, Claudia, whose hatredfor little white girls leads her to thedismembering of baby dolls she is givenas presents. The hatred also leads her towishing she could do the same thing toreal white girls that she does to the dolls. The story goes on to talk aboutClaudia’s later life and the way sheturned her hatred into not love but theability to put up with the opposite race.
The story is much more racial thanwhat “Sonny’s Blues” is. At one point inthe story Claudia says, “I destroyedwhite baby dolls”(Morrison 72). Thisleads us to believe that Claudia wouldnot destroy a African-American babydoll had she been given one. She alsowanted to be seen as an individual not alittle black girl she had her own opinionsand wanted to be individualistic insteadof taking part in fads the little whitegirls and adults have set. “Adults, oldergirls, shops, magazines, newspapers,window signs-all the world had agreedthat a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl childtreasured” (Morrison 71).
In both of the stories the treatment ofminorities and their abilities to beindividualistic is discussed. The factthat their race held them back from whatthey wanted to be, Sonny a man whomescaped the black streets of Harlem andClaudia whom wanted to be a colorlesslittle girl who could do and feel as shefelt without worrying about what aadult or a white person thought about it. The treatment of minority groups inthe United States has improved over theyears but is yet to be as good as itcould be. This was proved in 1947 whenslavery was no more but prejudice wasever prominent. John Simons a writerfor U.S. News and World Report says”On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinsonbecame Major League Baseball’s firstblack player. Robinson’s arrival on thefield was greeted with taunts andthreats, but competed fiercely anyway”(Witkin 58). Just in the two examples and twostories that dealt with racism we can seethat our country is moving in the rightdirection on being a free country foreveryone; we’re not there yet. Baldwin, James, “Sonny’s Blues.” Literature and Society Ed. Pamela Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Prentice-Hall, 1994. 93-117. Morrison, Toni, “The Bluest Eye.”Literature and Society Ed. Pamela Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Prentice-Hall, 1994. 70-3.
Simons, John, “Improbable Dreams.” U.S.News and World Report 24 March 1997: 46-59. Witkin, Gordon, “Who Is Torching The Churches.” U.S. News and WorldReport 24 June 1996: 30-4.