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Injustices In Blues For Mister Charlie By James Baldwin

1509 words - 7 pages

A collective few people must surrender their power that has been given to them over others to achieve justice and equality, it is with that sacrifice James Baldwin believes we can all obtained justice. But, those who choose to use the power of their binary advantage such as race, gender, and economic status as the function of their identity—they will only support the injustice in society. In the play Blues For Mister Charlie written by James Baldwin, he demonstrates the injustices through characterization within the play. The character Parnell serves as the one person who is powerful enough to achieve justice if he is willing to surrender his power. Baldwin uses the dynamics of power in the characters to illustrate the struggle for justice and the creation of injustice. It is the advantages of each characters power that gives them a privilege that makes it difficult to sacrifice for the justice and equality that Baldwin believes we can achieve.

Baldwin defines the power dynamics as the privileges people have over another in society. Race, gender, and economic status all contribute to the beneficiary that is privilege. The privilege can be equated to the advantages of whiteness over blackness, the wealthy over the poor, and male over female. The character Parnell is a person who is a white man and who is wealthy, Parnell has privileges other characters like Lyle, Jo, Richard, and Meridian do not have, therefore Parnell has power. For instance the privilege of whiteness will make society treat Lyle and Parnell with humanity and dignity compared to blackness which treats people like Richard and Meridian as second class citizens. Manhood is also an advantage that society hands out, Parnell and Lyle’s manhood will give them a sense of superiority over women like Jo and Juanita. Finally it is wealth that gives people another form of privilege, unlike Lyle and the rest of the characters—Parnell is born into a wealthily family, therefore giving him the monetary means to a college education and the ability to pursue all of his interest without the fear of going into poverty. Like the advantages of wealth over poverty, the privilege of whiteness and manhood over blackness and womanhood create injustice. Although race, gender, and economic status separates society into simple binary positions that derail the equality of our humanity, the people who choose to use those binaries, those privileges, that power to function as their identity can only contribute to the injustice that comes along with it.

Parnell is the one person in the whole town who has enough power to make a change and prove that Lyle is guilty and get justice for Richard, but Parnell is unwilling to give up his privilege, his power, for the sake of justice. It is because Parnell—like many others like him, associates his privilege with his identity, and therefore he is unwilling to be the catalyst for justice. The conversation Meridian has with Parnell reveals that he is afraid to give up...

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