“Brownies” is a short story written by author, ZZ Packer, which takes place at Camp Crescendo, a summer camp near the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. The story surrounds a group of African American Brownie girls, in the fourth grade, who journey to this campsite for a camping experience. On the trip, they encounter another brownie group comprised of white girls, all of who are mentally handicapped. “Brownies” is told from a first person involved point of view, through a fellow Brownie member from the African American troop, named Laurel. Because the story takes place in the 1960’s, ZZ Packer explores issues that are prevalent in that time period, such as racial segregation, prejudice and ignorance.
Racism is defined as the “systematic oppression of African-Americans and other people of color and the related ideology of white supremacy and black inferiority” (Bohmer 95). “It assumes an inherent superiority or inferiority on the basis of perceived group attributes” (Pachter et al. 61). Racial segregation exists everywhere in the United States during the 1960’s, especially in the south where it was required by law. “When you [live] in the south suburbs of Atlanta, it [is] easy to forget about whites. Whites [are] like those baby pigeons: real and existing, but rarely seen or thought about” (Packer 179). Packer conveys the reality of the times extremely well by creating the all-black girl scouts and the all-white girl scouts, but there is no mixing of the races in either group. Additionally, the two troops remain separated throughout the story and the tension created between them is a reminder of the struggles that black people experienced.
African Americans and white people do not share the same public facilities, including schools...
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....” Are We Born Racist. Psychology Today. 10 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
Packer, ZZ. “Brownies.” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2006. 177-94. Print.
Pachter, Lee M, et al. “Perceived Racism And Discrimination In Children And Youths: An Exploratory Study.” Health & Social Work 35.1 (2010): 61. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Ponterotto, Joseph G., Jerlym S. Porter, and Shawn O. Utsey. “Prejudice and Racism, Year 2008--Still Going Strong: Research On Reducing Prejudice With Recommended Methodological Advances.” Journal of Counseling and Development 86.3 (2008): 339+. Academic OneFile. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Racism. Anti-Defamation League, New York, 2001. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
“The New Racism.” Time 88.1 (1966): 19. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
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