Jim Crow is an autobiographical account of author Richard Wright’s educationin race relations in a totally segregated south. Wright talks about hisexperiences growing up in the south and the racism he encountered. He attemptsto show us what being on the receiving end of racism is really like, and thelessons he learned from them. I believe that Wright’s intended audience seemsto be directed towards white people so that they may gain an understanding ofthe hardships blacks went through early in our nations history. Wright startsoff by explaining where he grew up.
The house he lived in was located behind therailroad tracks and his “skimpy yard was paved with cinder blocks” (600). Tosee green you had to look beyond the railroad tracks to the white’s section oftown. I felt that here the author seemed to know that there was a differencebetween the two, but at his young age he did not understand why the two weredifferent. In the first part of the article Wright describes a fight that hegets into with some white boys and the punishment he receives from his motherfor it.Order now
His mother tells him that he is “never, never, under any conditions,to fight white folks again” (601). She goes on to say that he should bethankful that the white kids didn’t kill him. I think that in telling Wrightthis, his mother is teaching him that blacks are not as good as whites and thathe should be thankful that they allow blacks to exist in the same world as thewhites. Wright goes on describing different jobs he had and the dealings he hadwith his white bosses.
In one section the author talks about watching his whiteboss drag and kick a black woman into the store where he worked. After a fewminutes the woman comes out bloody and crying. The author explains what happenedwith some of his black co-workers. None of them are surprised by this and oneadds that she was lucky to just have been beaten and not raped as well. I thinkthe author here is showing that blacks in the early south were almost immune tothis type of racism.
It is so commonplace that the blacks hardly blink when ithappens. Wright later talks about moving to a larger city and the interactionshe had with the white people there. The author explains that the whites therewere a little more accepting, and would actually hold conversations with theblacks. The author points out that caution must be used when talking with whiteson subjects like the Ku Klux Klan, Abraham Lincoln, the civil war, and “anytopic calling for positive knowledge or manly self-assertion on the part of theNegro” (610), should be avoided. Throughout this article Wright talks aboutlearning his “Jim Crow lessons.
” Jim Crow refers to the name of a characterin minstrelsy (in which white performers in blackface used African Americanstereotypes in their songs and dances); it is not known how it became a termdescribing racial segregation. The term Jim Crow’s literal definition means”separate but still equal. ” I believe the author finds the part about beingequal very ironic with his title and when he mentions his “Jim Crowlessons. ” The last part of the article describes how blacks felt about the waythey had to live. A friend of the author summed it up by saying, “Lawd, man!Ef it wuzn’t fer them polices ?n’ them ol’ lynch-mobs, there wouldn’tbe nothin’ but uproar down here!” (610). With this, I believe, the authorhas come to the realization that when it comes to racism, the blacks in thesouth knew about it, received it frequently, and came to accept it and theatrocities that come with it.