Dr. Carol A.
MartinHu 208 Intro to HumanitiesFebruary 08, 1999In the memoir, Colored People, Henry Louis Gates Jr. talks about what was the untalked about racial rule inintegrated schools. Now that the races had been blendedtogether there was still the line of race andgender(Gates p. 98) that could not be crossed.
In the story by Langston Hughes, Cora Unashamed, Corais a daughter in the only black family in town. She ends uppregnant by a white boy who drifts in and out of her life. She is looked down upon by her parents, but is unaffected bythis. To Cora, her baby was a living bridge between twoworlds. (Hughes p.Order now
43) Gates and Cora share bothsimilarities and differences in their hope for a society,which sees no color. Gates struggled with the fact that hispeer and confidant throughout childhood, Linda, could neverbe more than a friend and classmate. He loved her as anequal, as he knew she loved him. Cora, on the other handaccepted the fact that Joe, the father of her child, couldnot be a part of her life and she did not try to fight it.
Gates and Linda were both taught by society that theywere different. It is not evident to a child that race iseven an issue, it is something that is taught in hush hushconversations, and slight undertones. It is like a cancerthat grows unnoticed, and then one day just takes over. This is what happened to Gates and Linda. The fact thatthey couldnt progress in their relationship didntcompletely occur to them until they were about eleven yearsold, when as Gates puts it The strictures of race hasentered our lives, catching us unawares (Gates p.
108). Cora accepted the fact that there would be no future, evenfrom the beginning of her relationship with Joe. Of course,she hadnt expected to marry Joe, or keep him. He was ofthat other world, too (Hughes p.
43) Gates and Cora bothknew that the wall of racism, especially between genders wastoo high to climb and too thick to break down. Gates speaksfor both Coras situation and his own when he says, . . . thefact that it was an impossibility for us did not have to bespoken (Gates p. 106).
Both Gates and Cora lived in a time where seeing eye toeye, and especially beyond skin color was very rare. Gatestalked about how he was scolded in class because he referredto his mother as she and how it made me feel good, thiswhite woman talking about my mama like that, in front of theother kids (Gates p. 93). Cora was used to being talkeddown about.
Being the only black family in town, and herfather being a drunk, Cora was forced to stay in town tosupport her family and help with the other eight kids. Thepeople of Melton, her town, referred to her as a Negresswhen they wanted to be polite (Hughes p. 40). Stereotypes and accusations were just two of theeveryday battles that Gates and Cora had to fight.
Corapicked her fights, she figured fighting against the otherworld was a losing battle and lived her life the best shecould under the circumstances. Gates, with the help of hismother learned how to fight back. When his teacher accusedhim of stealing her scissors, he got back by receivingstraight As for the rest of the year. In academics, heachieved astonishing scores as well as awards. By settinghis sights so high and achieving so much, he was able to sayin his own way, Nothing you can say or do will discourageme, it will only make me work harder and set my sightshigher.
Unfortunately, Cora did not have the role models likeGates did in his parents and brother, Rocky. Cora did nothave great opportunity to fight back. She was one against acommunity of many, and if she did, she might lose her job,the only thing that promised her a decent meal and a stableway of life. Coras only way of fighting was to keep herhead held high, despite everything that was against her. She projected an air about her that despite the things thatpeople did and said and the names they called her. She wouldstand tall.
Gates and Cora were two people in an unfortunate time,where not many choices were given, and going against the wayof society was considered suicide, especially for onesreputation. Both dealt with racism in their own way, bothin a way that slightly defied societys prescription. They were both children raised with an uphill struggle aheadof them. Were when some climbed as hard and as fast as theycould, even though the top was nowhere in sight, others gavein and toppled to the bottom, reasoning that the harder theyfought, the longer that climb would be.