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Racial Segregation And Prejudice In “Brownies”

1137 words - 5 pages

“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 go on a camping trip to this camp site. 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 and prejudice.
Racism is defined ...view middle of the document...

Racism is not only directed toward people of color as white people are also discriminated against because they lack pigment in their skin. Arnetta, a fellow Brownie, describes the white girls from Troop 909 as smelling like “wet Chihuahuas” (Packer 177). She later revises her statement to call them “Caucasian Chihuahuas” (Packer 178). Views on whites are many times reinforced by images people see of whites in every day life. “They were white girls, their complexions a blend of ice cream: strawberry, vanilla” (Packer 177). “…invaders, Arnetta would later call them – were instantly real and memorable, with their long shampoo-commercial hair, straight as a spaghetti from the box. This alone was reason enough for envy and hatred” (Packer 179). Whites are perceived as the superior race in an all-black community. Everything about them somehow seems to exude a kind of reigning beauty that results in an “envy and hatred” the blacks have against the whites. Even little things like hair could produce these hostile feelings, according to the fourth grader. Such reinforcements are nutrients to prejudices that finally help bring about racism. Often the society and the environment that they are brought up in pass down these prejudices. Different treatments black people receive from the world play a significant role in aggravating the problem of prejudice, shaping young black people’s views on whites and intensifying their own sense of inferiority. Racial discrimination is still a cause of suffering endured by many, Packer shows how we all, as human beings, are in fact somehow in our own way deprived and unfortunate. The ironic twist of the plot, where a group of black girl encountering another group of white girls who happened to be mentally-challenged, puts on table the unfairness and injustice experienced by the world. The irony lies in that the blacks are now portrayed as superior than whites here because of their mentally challenged conditions.
Hatred is the major underlying cause for continued racism and prejudice, which leads to violence and retaliation. “Even though I didn’t fight to fight, was afraid of fight, I felt I was part of the rest of the troop; like I was defending something.” This statement makes clear the power society has upon influencing the younger generations, showing how a community comes together to fight for a cause that they think just. Because it is a society, everything is...

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