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Woman Is The Nigger Of The Wolrd

1122 words - 5 pages

Ignored as a person. Denied as a species. ‘The total absence of human recognition” (Morrison, 36). For decades, African-Americans have not only been looked down upon by white people, they have been dehumanized. Toni Morrison is controversial for pillorying this topic, that has been silenced by white society for years, not from the ‘Master Narrative’ perspective, that is the white male one’s, but from the exact opposite of this: an African-American girl. By doing this, she does not only awake pity for Pecola at the reader but also show how anti-black racism is constructed by social forces, interracially as well as intra-racially. Morrison represents African-Americans as people who suffer from the vacuum that white people create between them, the internalization of the white beauty ideal as well as the distancing behaviour towards their own people by African-Americans.
African-Americans feel inferior to white people, as a result of white people trying to distance themselves as far as possible from African-Americans. White people want to have clear boundaries between me and not-me, the Other, in order to retain their identity (Kolehmainen). In The Bluest Eye, African-Americans function as the Other for white people, thereby representing everything that they do not want to be. However, without the Other, there is no self. So people that consider themselves to be better than African-Americans can only feel so by contrasting themselves to them. For example, light-coloured Maureen Peal screams to Frieda, Claudia and Pecola “I am cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly black e mos! I am cute!” (Morrison, 56-57), which proves she needs to juxtapose black with cute in order to feel cute herself. Therefore, the vacuum of white people looking upon African-Americans as a different species is mainly based on racial stereotypes. This theme of the white gaze is prominently worked out in the book through eye-imagery, which stresses that one also ought to look at racism from the victim’s perspective. With this Morrison offers a view for white readers how anti-black racism works, which may lead to the readers tracing if they themselves behave this way. Afterwards, Claudia explains that this type of identifying oneself is all an illusion by admitting that “we rearranged lies and called it truth” (Morrison, 163). Morrison implicitly argues here that anti-black racism is based on an illusion. The excruciating side of the story to the reader is, therefore, that actions based on fantasies can have soul-destroying consequences, as African-Americans actually believing it is true.
Much of the force of African-American people feeling inferior to white people comes from the internalization of white beauty standards. First of all, Morrison stresses that even schools in those times were oppressing African-American children and teaching them to loath themselves. She does this by using a Dick-and-Jane primer that could be found in grade school reading, which implies only people from...

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