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The Ethics of Living Jim Crow an Autobiographical Sketch by Richard Wright

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Richard Wright’s autobiographical sketch, The Ethics of Living Jim Crow was a glimpse into the life of a young black man learning to navigate the harsh and cruel realities of being black in America. Through each successive journey, he acquired essential life skills better equipping him to live in a society of inequality. Even though the Supreme Court, provided for the ideology of “separate but equal” in the 1896 case, Plessy v, Ferguson, there was no evidence of equality only separation (Annenberg, 2014).

“The ‘Jim Crow’ laws got their name from one of the stock characters in the minstrel shows that were a mainstay of popular entertainment throughout the nineteenth century. Such shows popularized and reinforced the pervasive stereotypes of blacks as lazy, stupid, somehow less human, and inferior to whites” (Annenberg, 2014). These laws exalted the superiority of the whites over the blacks. Although equally created, and affirmed by the Supreme Court, and because of the Civil War officially free, African Americans were still treated with less respect than many household pets. The notorious Jim Crow laws mandated segregation and provided for severe legal retribution for consortium between races (National, 2014). Richard Wright writes about this, his life.
The saying about the grass always being greener on the other side comes alive with Mr. Wright’s opening story as he describes the difference between the yards on each side of the railroad tracks. You can almost feel the envy not only for the lushness, but the advantages that he sees with the “trees, hedges, and the sloping embankments of their lawns” (Wright, 1937, p. 21). As cruel and unsympathetic as his mother’s response was to his battlefield injury, it helped to instill the ...


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... Delacorte Press.
Wright, R. (2001). The ethics of living Jim Crow: An autobiographical sketch. In P. Rothenberg (Ed.). Race, class, and gender in the United States: An integrated study. (5th ed. pp. 21-30). New York: Worth Publishers.



Works Cited

Annenberg Foundation. (2014). Separate is not equal: Enforcing the codes of the Jim Crow south. Retrieved from http://www.learner.org/amerpass/unit13/context_activ-2.html
National Park Service. (2014, March 13). Jim Crow laws Retrieved from http://www.nps.gov/malu/forteachers/jim_crow_laws.html.
Rice, C. (2010). Extraordinary, ordinary people: A memoir by Condoleezza Rice. New York: Delacorte Press.
Wright, R. (2001). The ethics of living Jim Crow: An autobiographical sketch. In P. Rothenberg (Ed.). Race, class, and gender in the United States: An integrated study. (5th ed. pp. 21-30). New York: Worth Publishers.



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