African American Hate Crimes in Gwendolyn Brook’s Poetry Essay

African American Hate Crimes in Gwendolyn Brook’s Poetry Essay

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The murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri , the murder of a black teen for playing loud music in Florida, the Little Rock integration and all other forms of abuse or hate crimes done against African Americans will always be engraved in our history and in the
hearts of all African Americans as a period of injustice. It was a common tragedy to lose a family
member to one of the many riots assembled by the Ku Klux Klan or simply by a group of
Caucasians determined to exterminate “niggers.” Many were able to see how detrimental hate
crimes were through media. African Americans who owned magazines, newspapers and so forth
were finally able to voice their opinions and tell their side of the story to balance out the usually
biased media run by Caucasians. As a result of the exposed cruelty towards African Americans,
blacks felt justified, some whites became enraged, and yet other whites began to feel guilty for
devaluing the lives of African Americans. Brooks’s ballad “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in
Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon” illuminates the hate crime
committed against a young African American boy and the guilt that consumes the speaker after
she realizes her involvement caused his death. Brooks’s poem acts as a metaphor to convey how
America (during the period of injustice) attempted to overlook the truth of the immoral crimes
committed against African Americas, but as a result of publicized brutality, realized they were

Background information regarding the death of Emmett Till will allow the reader to
better understand how Brooks uses the ballad as a metaphor to represent Americas attempt to
overlook the immoral acts committed against African Americans. According to “The Murder of
Emmett Till,” an article addressing Emmett Till’s death and the media coverage on it, Till’s
death was a prank gone wrong. “After picking cotton with his cousins all day, Till and his
cousins took a joy ride with the family car to Bryant’s Grocery store where his cousins dared him
to talk Carolyn Bryant (Brian). What happened as he was leaving is fiercely debated. Some white
witnesses claimed he either said, "Bye, baby," or whistled at her, while others say that she
became enraged after he simply put his change in the womans hand. Emmett Till’s alleged “fresh
behavior” spread like wildf...

... middle of paper ...

...acism seen in closed-minded individuals through
Brooks’s use of fairy tale language and the depiction of the husband. Likewise, America is made
up of both types of individuals, and through the use of publicized media, we can only hope to
increase the knowledge of the senseless violence we known as hate crimes. After reading Brook's
ballad one can only hope that Emmett Till and other victims of hate crimes will act as a reminder
and provide an inclining of hope that another tragic death will not follow.

Works Cited

Brooks, Gwendolyn. “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. While Mississippi
Mother Burns Bacon.” Selected Poems. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006.

Favat, F. André.. Child and Tale: The origins of Interest. Urbana, Ill.: National Council
of Teachers of English, c1977. Print.

Mootry, Maria K. “Brook’s a bronzeville mother loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a
Mississippi mother burns bacon.” Explicator 42.4 (1984): p51, 2p Academic Search Complete.
Web. 13 July 2011.

Thorton, Brian. The Murder of Emmett Till. Journalism History 36.2 (2010): p396-104,
9p Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 July 2011.

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