“Exploration on Effects of Racial Disparities Upon African American Identity and Economic/Social Standing In Mid-19th Century America

“Exploration on Effects of Racial Disparities Upon African American Identity and Economic/Social Standing In Mid-19th Century America

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During the first half of the 19th century, serious issues concerning racial discrimination and civil inequality of African Americans plagued the social, political, and economic structure of the United States. This era that followed the Reconstruction period restored the once white supremacist control of the South. It also led to the implementation of Jim Crow Laws and reduced the status of first-class citizenship of Negroes. Although conditions eventually improved, Negroes were still subjugated to the prejudice of the times and faced exploitation in the workplace. In Invisible Man, Ellison uses the metaphor of the Liberty Paint Factory in Chapter Ten to illustrate the dynamic of American society’s suppression of black identity, presupposition of racist attitude towards Negroes, and repression of social and economic improvement for African Americans.
The Liberty Paint Factory and its “Optic White” premium paint serves as a microcosm of mid-19th century American society and its basest, most fundamental views towards defined roles (treatment) of African Americans in society. This pivotal scene exemplifies the perspective that whites hold regarding blacks. As IM is instructed by Kimbro on his first assignment at the paint factory, he is told to “measure ten drops into the paint,” (Ellison, 1) and stir the mixture until it turned the desired color. However, IM notices that as he “measured the glistening black drops,” they would “settle upon the surface and become blacker” (Ellison, 1). IM obviously sees that the genuine color of the paint is not white; rather, the foundation of the color appears to be black, dark black. This illustrates the subjective views of the white people towards their darker counterparts. Kimbro, as ...


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...the factory. Perhaps Ellison speaks an unspoken truth surrounding the dynamic of American society and its promise of freedom, liberty, and equality.



Works Cited
1. Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Random House, 1952. P. 200
2. Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Random House, 1952. P. 214
3. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Invisible Man.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.
4. Reisman, George. "The Ludwig Von Mises Institute." Classical Economics vs. the Exploitation Theory. Ludwig Von Mises Institute, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
5. "African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–68)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
6. "Exploitation." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
7. "Margaret Washington: Obstacles Faced By African Americans." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

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