Racism in Black Boy, Black Caesar and Malcolm X

Racism in Black Boy, Black Caesar and Malcolm X

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Racism in Black Boy, Black Caesar and Malcolm X


In all three stories, Black Boy, Black Caesar and Malcolm X, there are black male characters who experience growing up in racist societies, and who witness the importance of their extended families. Richard, Tommy and Malcolm respectively, become the men they were through these childhood experiences and these experiences mold them into becoming who they were as adults. Although each of these men experienced both racism and the importance of extended family and the black community, they all turned out to be somewhat different.
The aspect of racism in their lives, is especially important because it causes these men to become filled with hate and drive them to lives of crime. For example in Black Boy, Richard and his friends have a gang fight against white kids. Another aspect of racism for him was the Ku Klux Klan, this can be seen when a man tells Richard after seeing a white propaganda sign that "Do you know what the Ku Kluxers do to colored people?" Then Richard responded "They kill us. They keep us from voting and getting good jobs." Racism also plays an important role in shaping Tommy's life. Although it is apparent throughout the film, the best example is when he meets McKinney, and he beats Tommy while shouting racist comments. Also, in Malcolm X, Malcolm grows up in a very racist environment and he experiences his dad, a Baptist preacher, being murdered. This can be seen when "My father's skull, on one side, was crushed in, I was told later. Negroes in Lansing have always whispered that he was attacked, and then laid across some tracks for streetcar to run over him. His body was almost cut in half."
A major difference though is that each deals with racism differently. Tommy blows it off because he just tries to overcome it and become better than the opposing person. Richard becomes angry over it, but acts naively towards it. This can be seen when he gets caught selling the paper, and he doesn't know what it is. "I protested naively, feeling unsure of the entire world now, feeling that racial propaganda surely could not be published in Chicago, the city to which Negroes were fleeing by the thousands." On the other hand Malcolm decides to act white instead of being upset by it. He dyes his hair and walks around with Sophia a white woman.

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"I paraded her. The Negro men loved her. And she just seemed to love all Negroes. Two or three nights a week, we would go out together. Sophia also admitted that she also had dates with white fellows."
While racism plays an important role in shaping these men, extended family was a vital aspect in each of their lives. When Malcolm's father was murdered and his mother in the hospital he went to live with Ella, his half sister from his dad's first marriage. She is very important because she takes him in and supports him while he is growing. Also, she is important because "I think the major impact of Ella's arrival, at least upon me, was that she was the first really proud black woman I had ever seen in my life. She was plainly proud of her dark skin." This is extremely important to his development because she tries to turn him from acting white and also when he is an adult he stands up for equal rights and the importance of the black man.
Although it was Malcolm's half sister that was his extended family, it was Richard's grandma and uncle Clark who play a vital role in his development. When he is living at his grandma's house, things are bad because the money is tight and his grandfather is abusive. How ever, when he is sent to live with his uncle where things are much better, he decides to return to his grandma's because that is where his mother is. This can be seen in the conversation between his uncle and him. It says "Uncle Clark, send me back to Jackson…. Things will not be as easy for you at home as here, there's not much money for food and things…. I want to be where my mother is." While extended family plays a pretty important role in Malcolm and Richard's lives, Tommy was alienated from his family and it didn't play a very important role.
As these characters were growing up, both racism and their extended families shaped them into the men they were going to become. Malcolm is shaped through the murder of his family and by the ideals set before him by Ella and his brother while he was in prison. Also, Richard was changed by his father leaving, living with his grandma and the experience of growing up in a very racist society. While Tommy wasn't affected by his family, racism played a key role in his childhood and he decided to overcome racism by becoming stronger and more powerful than his enemies. Each man grew up in a different situations, but there were many similarities and they all experienced some form of crime in their lives and grew up to become different men based on their reations to their childhoods.
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