Degradation and Discrimination in Richard Wright's The Ethics of Living Jim Crow

Degradation and Discrimination in Richard Wright's The Ethics of Living Jim Crow

Length: 917 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Richard Wright's "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow" illustrates his cruel childhood lesson of how he learned to live and survive with the degradation and discrimination that was prominent in the South. In this essay, Wright talks about the lessons he learned growing up regarding the proper way to act around white people in order to be safe and avoid confrontation. Whites viewed themselves as superior to blacks and acted in ways to reinforce this idea. Their oppressive actions create social pressures and consequences that make blacks act in certain ways to avoid the common lynchings or beatings. The majority of blacks accept their inferior role because they viewed it as impossible to escape due to police and society structures. However, Richard Wright doesn’t share this subdued outlook, instead he exhibits frustration towards these people's actions and chooses to respond with defiance.
The lesson of whites dominance is repeated throughout "Ethics of Living Jim Crow." This attitude creates a social atmosphere that forces blacks to choose how they react in each situation carefully. This white dominant theme appears when Wright is applying for a job at a mainly white company. "I was very careful to pronounce my sirs distinctly, in order that he might know I was polite, that I knew where I was, and that I knew he was a white man." The whites demanded respect from blacks and the blacks give it to them to avoid the harsh consequences. In addition, whites expect them to know their place in society and stay there. When Wright inquired if he could learn more about the work he was met with immediate anger. "This is a white man's work around here, and you better watch yourself." Wright's employers wanted him to be the typical black man and not d...

... middle of paper ...

...e man the satisfaction of demeaning a black man. Wright does not want to accept the oppression and instead, chooses to defy it in any way possible.
Throughout "Ethics of Living Jim Crow" Wright explores the issue of white dominance through Jim Crow laws and how blacks act in response to these discriminatory acts. Through the discrimination and racial violence, whites created a social situation that forced blacks to either accept the inferior role or pay the consequences. He displays the majority of blacks, including his mother, as submissive to whites. They do not dare defy whites and tried to avoid any confrontation with them. While most blacks accept this role, Wright defies it and works to improve his life. This new way of thinking sends him North in search of a better life. I believe things like this happened to a lot of people and caused the Northern migration.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow Essay

- Jim Crow laws, a serious blemish on America’s legislative history, were measures enacted in the South to impose racial segregation. Beyond this, they were a code that allowed, and essentially encouraged, the disenfranchisement and oppression of African Americans. With such a cruel ordinance in place, African Americans had to learn to adjust their mannerisms and lifestyles accordingly in order to survive. However, this learning process was far from effortless or painless, as evidenced through Richard Wright’s work “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”....   [tags: African American, Jim Crow laws, Racism]

Strong Essays
972 words (2.8 pages)

The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow By Richard Wright Essay

- Growing up in the South during the 1920’s, Richard Wright, the author of “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”, written in 1940, portrays the difficulties of life as a young Black man. Born the grandson of slaves and the son of a sharecropper, the largest influence in Wright’s life was his mother (Biography 1). As a young boy with minimal supervision, Wright found himself getting into trouble while fighting with the White boys. While living in Arkansas Wright and his friends would engage in gang violence, it was White vs....   [tags: White people, African American, Black people]

Strong Essays
1348 words (3.9 pages)

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

- 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)....   [tags: inequality, prejudice, stereotypes]

Strong Essays
711 words (2 pages)

Essay on The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow

- Two Men and One Idea: Racism Why does racism exist. First off, what is racism. Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race. Racism is a sticky situation where Americans refuse to talk about. People don’t like to converse about the topic of racism because it’s very controversial, especially among blacks and whites. There are two, well-known African American men who portrayed the harm of racism through their literature. W.E.B. Dubois explained his idea of racism, double consciousness, and the veil through his writing called The Souls of Black Folk....   [tags: African American, White people, Black people, Race]

Strong Essays
869 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about The Segregation Of The Jim Crow Laws

- The legal segregation of people, depending on race was known to Americans as the Jim Crow laws. These laws consisted of many rules and regulations, separating whites from blacks with the claims of separate but equal treatment. Although the laws claimed to be equal, blacks always seemed to end up with the short end of the stick. With the discrimination, unjustified lynching, unfair segregation and the violations their of civil rights, I’d say being an African American during the Jim Crow laws was no walk in the park....   [tags: Jim Crow laws, African American, Race]

Strong Essays
860 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander

- Michelle Alexander in her book "The New Jim Crow" argues that Mass Incarceration is similar to Jim Crow; Alexander believes that caste systems such as Jim Crow and slavery are similar to the existing system of mass incarceration. In addition, Alexander accuses the U.S. criminal justice system, implying their laws undividedly target African Americans through the War on Drugs and racial limitation. In comparing mass incarceration with Jim Crow, Alexander points to compelling parallels regarding political disenfranchisement, legalized discrimination, and symbolic production of a race....   [tags: African American, Jim Crow laws, United States]

Strong Essays
724 words (2.1 pages)

Degradation of the Human Gene Pool Essay

- "We [the human race]|do not have much time to prove that we are not the product of a lethal mutation" "I almost think it is the ultimate destiny of science to exterminate the human race." The genetic catastrophe consists of four major genetic "epidemics" - those of cancer, vascular disease, musculoskeletal disease, and behavioral disease. There are identified approximately 250 common genetic diseases, and approximately 7,000 "rare" genetic diseases. The list of genetic damage is growing daily....   [tags: Genetic Degradation]

Free Essays
1776 words (5.1 pages)

Ted Hughes' Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow Essay

- Social Issues and Creation Stories in Ted Hughes' Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow       There are many mythological stories that exist in this age.  Within these different myths, there are many answers to how our world was created.  Yet, one must become open-minded to other myths that do not necessarily discuss creation; Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow can be seen to fall into this category.  This collection of Ted Hughes' poetry is intertwined with social issues and creation stories.  Throughout this collection, the poems not only involve Classical and Christian related ideas they also include several twentieth century advancements....   [tags: Crow From the Life and Songs of the Crow]

Strong Essays
2526 words (7.2 pages)

Critical Analysis on ‘Fools Crow by James Welch Essay

- Critical Analysis on ‘Fools Crow by James Welch Since the beginning of time, mankind began to expand on traditions of life out of which family and societal life surfaced. These traditions of life have been passed down over generations and centuries. Some of these kin and their interdependent ways of life have been upheld among particular people, and are known to contain key pieces of some civilizations. Since these traditions have become apparent through centuries they are customary and have a tendency to lack individualism, as the group among which a person lives is seen as more important over the individual....   [tags: Fools Crow James Welch]

Free Essays
832 words (2.4 pages)

A Comparison of Violence in Living Jim Crow, Incident, and Blood burning moon

- Violence in Living Jim Crow, Incident, and Blood burning moon      Violence seems to be quite a common topic in black American literature of the first decades of the 20th century. One major reason for this is probably that it was important for black authors not to be quiet about the injustices being done to them. The violence described in the texts is not only of the physical kind, but also psychological: the constant harassment and terrorising. The ever-present violence had such an effect on the black that they just could not fight back to stop the injustices....   [tags: compare and contrast essay examples]

Strong Essays
875 words (2.5 pages)