The Impact Of Racism In Sue Monk Kidds' The Secret Life Of Bees

1051 words - 5 pages

In Sue Monk Kidds The Secret Life of Bees, the main character runs away from home, to get away from her father. Her mother died when she was little and she was told she had a part of her death. She finds a picture of her mother and a town name is mentioned on the back of it. This is where she runs off to to find more about her mother. Lily the main character realizes that racism has a big impact in her life through the relationships with the boatwright sisters, when she runs away to Tiburon. In the beginning Lily is very oblivious to racism in and around her life. During her time in Tiburon Lily experiences herself being a minority and in the beginning she has trouble coping with it. In the end she realizes the impact of racism through the boatwright sisters.

Initially, Lily is naive about the effects of racism. It is the summer of 1964 when the civil rights act is passed and it is supposed to give african americans rights they deserve. But Rosaleen the african american lady that Lily runs away with knows that it will take time for her to gain rights. They are looking for a place to eat and sleep and Rosaleen mentions that no one will let her eat or sleep in their restaurant for the color of her skin. Lily doesn't understand:”Well what was the point of the of the Civil Rights Act?...doesn't that mean people have to let you stay in their motels and eat in their restaurant if they want to”(60) There in a time when segregation from whites and blacks was very prevalent and no white restaruant wanted to let a african american in. Lily believes that the Civil Rights Act will change everything instantly, even though Rosaleen knows that it wont. When Rosaleen and Lily arrive in Tiburon they go to stay with this woman who is famous for making honey. There are three african american sisters in the home and now Lily is the minority. She feels out of place and doesn't like it:”A blur passed before me. A moving wave of color. I am not one of you, I thought”(111). She believes color has to define if she is one of them or not. She feels out of place and experiences what it’s like to be a minority. This is when she can sympathize for all the racism and segregation they receive. She now sees the impact of racism on her life, when she meets the Boatwright sisters.

Lily learns about racism when she experiences what it feels like to be a minority. She doesn't quite understand how hard it for Rosaleen because she has never been a minority. This is when Lily can really feel for all the african americans. A police officer comes to visit the boatwrights home, and says to Lily, “I'm just saying its not natural, that you shouldn't be…well, lowering yourself”(198). Here Lily realizes the racism from the police officer and doesn't know how to handle it. She has taken the sisters as...

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