American Architecture: Constructing an Identity Throughout American history, people have been categorized based on what gender they are, and what their race is. In order to explore these ideas and come to terms with their importances many musicians, film makers, and authors have described the inner-workings of this societal construct. Indeed, both racial and female identities have been at the epicenter of many works of art throughout American culture as can be seen in: Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane, film “Modern Times,” Bessie Smith’s “T’ain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do,” and James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. For starters, both Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Crane and “Modern Times” describe a …show more content…
Ellen is an orphaned girl who appears to have agency up until the point that she runs into Charlie Chaplin who plays a factory worker. Once again, the theme of upward mobility is shown with consumerism. This is alluring to Ellen and she becomes romantically involved with Chaplin. Prior to this, Ellen appears to have great agency with her ability to maneuver for herself and her siblings even though she is extremely poor. However, once the idea of acquire more than what is needed to survive comes into play the audience sees that she is satisfied with just being a housewife for Chaplin. This film greatly exemplifies the complexities of the female identity because Ellen is clearly a woman who could posses independence, but seemingly leaves that behind for the life of a housewife. The film however takes a turn when Ellen is revealed to be a dancer at a local restaurant. By being a working woman, Ellen solidifies to the audience that she is an independent woman with complete agency. Thus, her relationship with Chaplin is merely a romantic interest and not a way to gain social mobility as was seen with Maggie. This movie shows the progression of a woman with agency. Similarly, in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets Crane develops a strong female character with Nellie. Crane describes Nellie as, "A woman with brilliance and audacity" (Crane 62). As a female character she is much more like Ellen from "Modern Times" than she is like Maggie. In fact, Maggie seems
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Movies and entertainment outlets speak volumes about the current state of a nation’s culture. Cinematic creations in the United States allow small voices to be heard and controversial issues to be addressed. However, a repetitive and monumental issue continues to be addressed, yet continues to persist in our 21st century culture, racial inequalities. Since the inception of the United States, black men and women alike have been disenfranchised at the hands of the “white man” in America. Instead of continuing the conversation today, the issue is continually silenced referencing the successes and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century. Nonetheless, an unfortunate reality looms upon this great land; racially based systems and structures continue to exist in 2015 the in United States. This paper synthesizes three films focused on racial inequalities in different time periods. Separate but Equal (1991), Selma (2015), and Crash (2005) illustrate how influential the Civil War amendments are, while serving as an uncanny reminder of how the racial prejudices during the 20th century continue to exist in our great nation today. Needless to say our nation has made great strides, but still has a long way to go.
Racial identities are an ideological, social construct and phenomenon adopted by various literature. Many literature authors select the subject of race to identify the existing stereotypes of race in the modern and ancient societies. Toni Morrison reveals her beliefs about racisms through a graphic description of the Recitatif plot. The style allows the reader to experience the true nature of racism and revelation of personal traits without the use of race. In the short story, Recitatif, Morrison deliberately denies her characters, their racial identity contributing to the ambiguity fluctuating between the dominant races, white and black. The author reviews the historical events of the 1960s and 70s that promote the racial identities of White and African-Americans. Changing the expectations of her readers on the solutions based on stereotypes, further spreading the awareness of the racial stereotypes that are controversial topics on human existence (Löchle 4). The ironic nature, literature tricks, and the plot of the story embrace the racial stereotypes unfolding in the narrative. The author engages her readers through a closer reading through the adoption of literary elements, allowing the readers to fill in the gaps in the story. Through their participation, the readers develop an emotional attachment to the characters and the story, generating a deeper understanding and reversal responses. In particular, the ambiguity of racial
Wilson stated that ''The truth is that often where there are esthetic criteria of excellence, there are also sociological criteria that have traditionally excluded blacks.'' He then continued on to say ''... raise the standards and remove the sociological consideration of race as privilege, and we will meet you at the crossroads, in equal numbers, prepared to do the work of extending and developing the common ground of the American theater.'' Through these powerful words Wilson is saying that in order to reflect American culture in the theater, the history of African American’s must be reflected. There have always been systems in place that have excluded African Americans and white Americans will never understand the way that sense of oppression felt. White Americans will never understand how it feels to be enslaved, be powerless in protecting your family, and being sold off as property, as Eliza Harris from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and millions of other slaves felt. Photographing the “American Negro” by Shawn Michelle Smith presented the idea that white Americans have tried to take away the histories of other races in America. People have always turned against embracing the histories of the African Americans because they were seen as alien to their owners. Their different skin tone separated them from the white Americans who thought of them as uncivilized before they were brought to work for them. Ultimately Wilson calls for Black Theaters to prevent the culture of the
The novel, Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets, by Stephen Crane, takes place in the slums of New York City during the 1890&#8217;s. It is about a girl, Maggie Johnson, who is forced to grow up in a tenement house. She had a brother, Jimmie, an abusive mother, Mary, and a father who died when Maggie was young. When Maggie grew up, she met her boyfriend, Pete. In Maggie&#8217;s eyes, Pete was a sophisticated young man who impressed Maggie because he treated her better than she had been treated to all of her life. Once Maggie&#8217;s mother and brother found out that Maggie was sleeping with this man, Mary threw Maggie out into the streets, condemning her to a life of evil. Eventually, Pete decided he no longer wished to see Maggie.
Zora Neale Hurston is unequivocally open about her race and identity in “How It Feels to Be Colored Me.” As Hurston shares her life story, the reader is exposed to Hurston’s self-realization journey about how she “became colored.” Hurston utilizes her autobiographical short story as a vehicle to describe the “very day she became colored.” Race is particularly vital in Zora Neale Hurston’s essay, “How it Feels to Be Colored Me” as she deals with the social construct of race, racism, and sustaining one’s cultural identity.
In midst of the radicalizations that were apparent in those times, Ferguson brings in the account of the transgendered mulatta. (p. 40). One can imagine the thought that went into this mulatta, where people of all races, sexual orientations could convulge and commit any act of vice that they deemed fit. In this Chapter, one sees a common theme, the expansive arguments around the heterogeneously composed African American culture – something that is visible to this day in the stereotyping that occurs with relation to queer people of color. One can also see another common aspect, in the way in which these articles show the way American industrialization disrupted hegemonic gender/sexual ideals as well as the people mistaking this disruption as racial differences. With the passage of time, these differences became more apparent, but the concept of queer people of color is still something that remains widely shrouded in question in the minds of ordinary
The memoir “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston, was first published in 1928, and recounts the situation of racial discrimination and prejudice at the time in the United States. The author was born into an all-black community, but was later sent to a boarding school in Jacksonville, where she experienced “race” for the first time. Hurston not only informs the reader how she managed to stay true to herself and her race, but also inspires the reader to abandon any form of racism in their life. Especially by including Humor, Imagery, and Metaphors, the author makes her message very clear: Everyone is equal.
Lorraine Hansberry was the first Black woman to pen a Broadway play. In her writings, she wrote male characters, many of whom were male protagonists. Being the feminist that she was, many people saw Hansberry’s depiction of Black men in one of two ways; either as an unhappy retreat from her feminist concerns or as a negative representation of Black manhood. Throughout her career, in works such as “The Village Voice” and “Les Blancs” Hansberry’s wrote other male characters that showed a progressive, revolutionary movement towards a positive and withstanding view of Black masculinity.
The early 1900s was a very challenging time for Negroes especially young women who developed issues in regards to their identities. Their concerns stemmed from their skin colors. Either they were fair skinned due mixed heritage or just dark skinned. Young African American women experienced issues with racial identity which caused them to be in a constant struggle that prohibits them from loving themselves and the skin they are in. The purpose of this paper is to examine those issues in the context of selected creative literature. I will be discussing the various aspects of them and to aid in my analysis, I will be utilizing the works of Nella Larsen from The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, Jessie Bennett Redmond Fauset,
The movie 'Ethnic Notions' describes different ways in which African-Americans were presented during the 19th and 20th centuries. It traces and presents the evolution of the rooted stereotypes which have created prejudice towards African-Americans. This documentary movie is narrated to take the spectator back to the antebellum roots of African-American stereotypical names such as boy, girl, auntie, uncle, Sprinkling Sambo, Mammy Yams, the Salt and Pepper Shakers, etc. It does so by presenting us with multiple dehumanized characters and cartons portraying African-Americans as carefree Sambos, faithful Mammies, savage Brutes, and wide-eyed Pickaninnies. These representations of African-Americans roll
In the short story “Drenched in Light” by Zora Neale Hurston, the author appeals to a broad audience by disguising ethnology and an underlying theme of gender, race, and oppression with an ambiguous tale of a young black girl and the appreciation she receives from white people. Often writing to a double audience, Hurston had a keen ability to appeal to white and black readers in a clever way. “[Hurston] knew her white folks well and performed her minstrel shows tongue in cheek” (Meisenhelder 2). Originally published in The Opportunity in 1924, “Drenched in Light” was Hurston’s first story to a national audience.
Racial identity is an important concept that everyone must deal with in their life. It is an individual’s sense of having their identity be defined by belonging to a race and or ethnic group. How strong the identity is depending on how much the individual has processed and internalized the sociological, political, and other factors within the group. In some instances, people do not identify with their race and they will “pass” as another. Nella Larsen, an African American writer and prominent member of the Harlem Renaissance movement, she explores the consequences of “passing”. Larsen’s Passing is a novel that challenges the concept of ethnicity, race and gender while revolutionizing the idea of what we describe as identity. The novel explores the issue of race through vivid plotting that depicts a mentally touching story of affecting boundaries in the early American society. The novel also explores the effects of racial construction on a person through multiple levels. Through Larsen’s characterization and setting she is able to bring out the social construction of race in an enjoyable and educated format in which race, class distinction and identity themes are intertwined. Larsen herself often struggles with identity, as she grew up being raised by an all-white household after her father, a black West Indian, disappeared from her life. Larsen depicts the theme of racial identity by using two women characters, both of which are attractive, and are “light” enough to be able
It doesn’t take long to figure out that race and ethnicity issues continue to affect America - a quick glance at the news will show the latest riot, hate crime, or police brutality incident. This centuries old struggle has given rise to a number of literary works on the topic, many of which take a different approach to the issue. W.E.B. Du Bois, for instance, published the work The Souls of Black Folk in 1903, arguing for blacks’ right to equality in a horrifically segregated society. In these essays, Du Bois coined the term “double-consciousness,” wherein those with black skin must view the world both from their own perspective, and from the perspective of the predominately white society. The short story Recitatif by Toni Morrison explores this concept through the removal of the characters’ races, and the film Do the Right Thing, directed by Spike Lee, tells a story to demonstrate it. While the former shows double-consciousness through the usage of ambiguity, the latter almost directly references the concept. Taken together, these two sources argue a multi-faceted version double-consciousness, wherein society alienates the characters in ways that go beyond just the color of one’s skin.
Quentin Tarantino’s film Jackie Brown, released in 1997, challenges the pervasive stereotyping of not only blacks but specifically black women. Nowhere is the cinematic devaluation of African Americans more evident than in images of black women which, in the history of cinematography, the white ideal for female beauty has overlooked. The portrayal of black women as the racial Extra has been fabricated through many semblances in the history of American film. Film scholars and feminists alike have long been plagued with lament for the negativity and stereotyping that sticks with black women in American cinema. In this paper, I will argue that Jackie Brown highlights and stresses the racial variance of the female African American protagonist,
The following paper will discuss two of the major dimensions of my cultural identity, and analyze the way in which my identity holds privileges, or has exposed me to oppression. Being that I am white, I have lived a life of privilege simply because of the color of my skin. I have been afforded opportunities, and lived a life free from persecution due to my skin color. I have also lived a life that has been impacted by oppression because of my female identity. This unique position between privilege and oppression is where I live my life.