African American Of The South Were Happy Under Segregation Essays

African American Of The South Were Happy Under Segregation Essays

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The idea that black people in the south were happy under segregation, under Jim Crow, under the oppressive regime imposed by white southerners is as offensive as it is wrong – that is, absolutely. All scholarly perspectives must inevitably acknowledge the singular truth that marginalized people in the early twentieth century southern United States, specifically African American men and women in this instance, were barred from living their lives in such a way as to pursue their own happiness in their own way and at their own leisure. Still, while all serious scholarly endeavors on this topic inevitably reach the same conclusion, it is important to understand the complexity of the social context. It must be further understood that the ever-changing social discourses surrounding race relations operated both externally and internally to southern African American culture and that those discourses functioned to perpetuate African American marginalization.
The marginalization of a specific group of people within society is often discussed in terms of how one group actively marginalizes the other. This is likely the best place to start. Richard Wright describes the many ways that he was barred from pursuing his own interests by white men in the south. Some of these instances were directed specifically at him, such as when he was told that he would be able to learn the optical trade by the manager, Mr. Crane, and was then prohibited by the workers who were supposed to teach him because such work, in their opinion, was perceived to be only for white men (Wright, 187-8). Unfortunately, not all African Americans’ experiences with whites were so relatively benign. One example of such a situation in Wright’s life may be observed when he and hi...


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...oint to a multitude of instances wherein Wright’s discontent is obvious. It is equally easy to point to the various instances when Wright and other African Americans expressed their own agency by benignly resisting their own oppression. However, it is more difficult, but more important, to understand how the social discourses helped to shape the world that Richard Wright lived in and that those social discourses, constantly in motion, produced an environment did not allow for the happiness of African Americans. Thus, the same scholarly conclusion concerning African Americans’ ability to be happy in the Jim Crow south is reached. African Americans may not have been singing the Blues in the fields or on the street corners, but that did not mean that they were happy. No, their perceived contentedness was simply their way of trying to stay alive from one day to the next.

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