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The Racial Debate In Lumpkin’s To Make My Bread

681 words - 3 pages

The Racial Debate in Lumpkin’s To Make My Bread

A passage beginning on page 350 of Grace Lumpkin’s "To Make My Bread" addresses the issue of black vs. white in the world of the mill strikers. The discussion comes about as a result of a note left by those factory owners and elite overseers who acted against the strike. The message read, “Your union does not believe in white supremacy. Think about that, white people.” Obviously the goal of these words centered on the hope of playing with the emotions of the white strikers. They had always been looked down upon and scorned at by those on “Struttstreet,” who had considered mill hands to be the equivalent of ‘white trash,’ yet they still had been able to maintain the upper hand with regard to their rights and respect in comparison to the blacks of the community. The note, from the leaders of the town, serves as a means of putting down these whites again, now categorizing them as equals with a black worker. Key remarks such as “Your union” and the direct address to the “white people” add to the sentiment of you vs. us, only now “you” meant the inclusion of blacks, a social maneuver that the factory owners hoped the white workers would resent.

As the passage continues a conversation ensues between Bonnie, Ora and Zinie on the note and its implications. Bonnie and Ora agree that blacks should be equally included and represented in the union, while Zinie stands in opposition to the idea. Of the three, Bonnie speaks with the most conviction on the subject, repeating several times that if “the colored people work alongside of us…I can’t see why they shouldn’t fight along side us, and we by them.” Ora looks at the topic with more of a humanitarian approach, insisting that “they’ve got souls the same as us.” Of the three, only Zinie expresses discontent with the idea, calling the other two women’s outlooks and actions “shameful.” When Bonnie brings up black equality in the workplace, Zinie...

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