Racism In Cullen's Incident And Soyinka's Telephone Conversation

926 words - 4 pages

Racism in Cullen's Incident and Soyinka's Telephone Conversation


The poem  "Incident," by Countee Cullen, deals with the effect racism has on a young black child vacationing in Baltimore.  The child is mistreated by a white child and disturbed in his innocence so much that after spending seven months in Baltimore, this is all he remembers.  A different poem,  "Telephone Conversation, " by Wole Soyinka, also deals with this issue, but from a different perspective.  In this poem a man is trying to rent an apartment but the owner of the complex doesn’t want him to move in because he is African.  She asks him  "How dark?   Are you light / Or very dark?. "  Each black person in their respective poems deals with the prejudice in the best way they know how.  The way they handle it shines a light on the strength and wisdom gained, while casting a negative light on the ignorance broadcast from the racist people.


In America at the time  "Incident"  takes place, people were very much againstthe black population.  This was also the case in England where  "Telephone Conversation  takes place, only not as much so.  The white child in  Incident  has obviously been taught to hate or look down on this race of people.  He will probably grow up to be as closed-minded and ignorant as the woman in  "Telephone Conversation."   It is probable that the woman in  "Telephone Conversation"  was taught this from her youth as well, although the poem doesn t specify this.  It is also possible that it is a decision she made on her own.  She is older, however, and should know better.  The black man in "Telephone Conversation" does not seem to be hurt by the woman's prejudices, he only seems somewhat disappointed by the fact that he is not getting the apartment.  He seems to be above the racism and the ignorance that comes with it and able to deal with it properly.  The black child in  Incident  does not have the experience necessary to deal with the racism in this manner.  He can only absorb the full impact of the racism.  This can be attributed to his lack of experience in dealing with racism.  He has spent most of his life up to this point in Harlem surrounded by other black people.  This will not be the last time, unfortunately, that he will be shown this type of hate.


Another aspect that creates leverage toward the meaning of these poems is thefashion of writing in that is seen.   "Incident"  has a very basic rhyme scheme and is very easily read.  It does not have many images, and it is very straight forward in what it has to say.   "Incident"  creates the...

Find Another Essay On Racism in Cullen's Incident and Soyinka's Telephone Conversation

Raical prejudice comparison in the poems 'Strange Fruit' and 'Telephone conversation'

673 words - 3 pages The two poems that I am going to compare are 'Strange Fruit' and 'Telephone conversation' which both feature racial prejudice.The first of the two poems that I will study is 'Strange Fruit'. This is a very simple and meaningful poem. The author of this poem is writing about what was happening to the black people of the southern states of America. It shows exactly what happens to them when captured which brings in some strong sentences'And the

Prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird & Telephone Conversation

1164 words - 5 pages The dictionary defines prejudice as a learned, preformed, and unsubstantiated judgment or opinion about an individual or a group, either favorable or unfavorable in nature. Through the study of the book, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and the poem Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka, ones understanding of prejudice and what makes up prejudice changes considerably for what could be perceived as for the better or for the worse. Being

Otherness in Euripides' Bacchae and Soyinka's The Bacchae of Euripides

800 words - 3 pages Otherness in Euripides'Bacchae and Soyinka's The Bacchae of Euripides   Both Euripides and Wole Soyinka are focused on a fundamental ethical imperative in their plays: welcome the stranger into your midst. Acceptance of Dionysus as a god, as "an essence that will not exclude or be excluded", is stressed (Soyinka 1). Pentheus is punished severely for excluding, for refusing to acknowledge or submit to, Dionysus' divine authority. In order to

The African World-view in Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman

706 words - 3 pages The African world-view in Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman    In his play, Death and the King's Horseman, Wole Soyinka uses certain literary forms and devices to intermix Yoruba culture and a predominantly European dramatic form to create a play easily understood by the audience, but that allows the introduction of a foreign influence. These devices include the use of a songlike quality in dialogue and the telling of

Narration and Conversation in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

1485 words - 6 pages Narration and Conversation in Jane Eyre        Throughout her life, Jane Eyre, the heroine of the novel by Charlotte Bronte, relies heavily on language and story-telling to communicate her thoughts and emotions. Not only are good story-telling skills important to Jane Eyre as a the narrator, but they are also important to Jane Eyre as a character in her own novel. From the beginning of the novel, we learn of Jane's love of books -- "each

Two Partners and Their Conversation in Regards to Being Gay

922 words - 4 pages what is said or done and, at the same time, shapes the context or where the action takes place. This reflexive relationship between what occurs and where it occurs adds to the complexity of understanding contexts. In the case of Cameron and Mitchell, their contexts are shaped by their relationship as partners as well as the place where the conversation occurs, a public park filled with adults and young children. The historical context of Cameron

Racism and Prejudice in America

1399 words - 6 pages , but it is a more encompassing term. In White Racism, authors Feagin, Vera and Batur explain, “Racism is more than a matter of individual prejudice and scattered episodes of discrimination” (p. ix); it involves a widely accepted racist philosophy and it involves power to deny other racial groups the dignity or opportunities that are available to one’s own group through a socially organized set of ideas and attitudes. Transformation of

Prejudice and Racism in Canada

784 words - 3 pages Racism is a Problem in Canada A few years ago in Smalltown, CA a burning cross was placed in the lawn of a visible minority family. Although the media seemed shocked at this explicit racial attack and portrayed the attackers as a group of abnormal, twisted deviants, I was not surprised. As an Asian student who is writing her Sociology honours thesis on visible minorities in Canada, I know on a personal and academic level that racism in

Racism and Prejudice in America

615 words - 2 pages Racism and Prejudice in America Nigger, Spic, Kike, Cracker. Words of hate that resonate throughout the ideals of racism. Society tends to look only at prejudice on the surface. It is easy to ignore the racism that hides below the surface and is part of American life. I’m talking about apathy. It is apathy that keeps the legacy of hate part of American life. I’m not saying that the majority of white America has a KKK robe in their closet

Racism in Comedy and Entertainment

903 words - 4 pages Racism in comedy is not what it appears to be. What many consider to be racist in comedy routines, is not so. Racism is by definition a “hatred or intolerance of another race or other races,” (Dictionary.com). Stand up comedians known to touch heavily on the subject of race in their shows, such as Sarah Silverman and Dave Chappelle, should not be labeled as racist. They are just using the issue of racial stereotypes for its comedic value

Racism and Discrimination in Sports

2473 words - 10 pages Introduction       Dealing with the issue of sport and ethnology, three major factors come to mind; prejudice, racism, and discrimination. These factors span across gender, ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural groups. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss how these factors have played a part in the evolution of sport in our society. The first issue tackled in this paper will be racism in sports, followed by prejudice and discrimination

Similar Essays

The Humorous Take On Racism In Telephone Conversation

961 words - 4 pages “Telephone Conversation” in which he takes a more humorous and ironic approach on discrimination. The humorous take on racism in “Telephone Conversation” should be used more in teachings to further spread the foolishness of discrimination. A lot of people are oblivious to the things that have happened in the past; from slavery to the civil rights movement and all the things in between that have shaped how discrimination is today. Most are bored

Racism In Amistad, To Kill A Mocking Bird, And Telephone Conversation

1789 words - 7 pages The texts To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, Amistad directed by Steven Spielberg and Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka explore the issue of racism. These three texts focus on prejudice, discrimination, bias, behaviour and attitude revolving around the issue of discrimination because of the coulour of ones skin and the cultural and social attitudes past on from one generation to another. Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel set in the

Prejudice In Telephone Conversation And Dinner Guest Me

698 words - 3 pages Prejudice in Telephone Conversation and Dinner Guest-Me In the two poems, ‘Telephone Conversation’ and ‘Dinner Guest-Me,’ each poet uses their poetry as a means of confronting and challenging prejudice. In ‘Telephone Conversation’ by Wole Soyinka, a phone conversation takes place between an African man and a very artificial lady about renting out a room. When the lady finds out he is African she becomes very prejudiced and racist towards

Comparing The Loss Of Innocence In Cullen's Incident And Naylor’s Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean?

1192 words - 5 pages Loss of Innocence in Cullen's Incident and Naylor’s Mommy, What Does "Nigger" Mean?   Unfortunately, a question that many African Americans have to ask in childhood is "Mommy, what does nigger mean?," and the answer to this question depicts the racism that still thrives in America (345). Both Gloria Naylor’s "'Mommy, What Does "Nigger" Mean?'" and Countee Cullen's "Incident" demonstrate how a word like "nigger" destroys a child’s innocence