The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow By Richard Wright Essay

The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow By Richard Wright Essay

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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. Black and the disadvantages of the Black fighters was evident. Only having cinder blocks as weapons and a few pillars to hide behind, the Black boys knew they were fighting a losing battle when the Whites returned fire with broken bottles and green shrubbery to seek shelter (Wright 1). This would only be the first time Wright recognized the disadvantages of Black communities. The images of green grass, bushes and trees would remain in his head for years to come as a symbol of access and opportunity. David G. Gil, a professor emeritus of social policy at Brandeis University and author of “Understanding and Overcoming Social-Structural Violence” would say that Wright was both victor and victim to the structural violence that was Southern America. Structural violence is defined by a lack of ability to “unfold their innate potential spontaneously when living in natural and socially shaped conditions in which they can satisfy their basic needs” (Gil 24). White America’s dominance over Blacks during this time created a society where structural violence was the norm. Without the ability to receive a quality education, employment opportunities were scarce and Blacks struggled to live as free, equal and safe Americans. Although...


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...en a look at the wrong time could have caused the end of Wright’s life. On his way home with one of the maids from the hotel, a watchman slapped the maid on her buttock, and Wright turned around and was baffled by the action of the watchman (12). The watchman returned Wright’s gaze and pulled his gun, before asking Wright if he liked what had just happened. Fearing for his life Wright responded “Yes, sir” (13). The actions of the White societies in the southern states were quite undemocratic. The specific act of structural violence is not allowing citizens to be free and equal therefore how can any nation committing these acts be a part of the “free world” (Gil 31). America claimed that their main values were of equality, liberty and cooperation but not everyone was living this way under the law and therefore this society could have been defined as undemocratic (31).

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