Influences Of Racism In James Baldwin's Notes Of A Native Son

920 words - 4 pages

Influences of Racism

Racism is a topic that has existed for many years. But where does it come from? Who do we blame? Should we blame television, music, politics or even our own families? All of the above play a role in racism. We aren't born hating each other. As we grow up we are taught to hate each other. Things such as how our family members talk, treat and deal with other races affect us tremendously. This is where the problem begins. Then our hatred grows as we are influenced by the things we see on TV and the things being said about others in the music that we listen to. As we read the papers we read about politicians bad mouthing other races. How about where we live, go to school or even work? Yes, another set of influences.

In Notes of a Native Son we see all these things come into play as we read about how James Baldwin tries to understand racism. In the beginning Baldwin describes his father as a mean person and he begins to question and try to understand why his father was the way he was. We see how the father tries to pass along his racist beliefs to Baldwin when he is speaking to his son, "he became more explicit and warned me that my white friends in high school were not really my friends and that I would see, when I was older, how white people would do anything to keep a Negro down." (Baldwin 56). As James grows older he begins to experience first hand what his father was telling him about. It seems that no matter what, he can't escape from hearing the phrase "We don't serve Negroes here" (Baldwin 57). Though he was a non violent educated person it seemed like he couldn't escape the world. The things that were happening around him were too much and he could only stand so much. One day he could no longer take it and just snaps "I could not get over two facts, both equally difficult for the imagination to grasp, and one was that I could have been murdered. But the other was that I had been ready to commit murder" (Baldwin 59). Though Baldwin wasn't originally racist against whites, deep inside he always remembered what his father had told him and his surroundings weren't helping either.

At the time there was a large amount of racial tension going on. In 1943 many people came north in hope of escaping prejudice in the south. All they found were the exact same situations they thought they were escaping from, if not worse. Though prejudice wasn't directly only towards negroes, they were the ones who seemed to have it worst. While everyone was allowed to live in most places, black people were...

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