Essay about Caucasia written by Danzy Senna

1336 Words6 Pages
Although society advocates believing in a ‘sameness’ between people who are black or white, individuals are still organized by race, class, gender and sexuality into social hierarchies. These hierarchies essentially formulate stigmas that suppress certain races and discriminate against them. Caucasia written by Danzy Senna is focused around a young mixed girl, Birdie, who encounters obstacles in her life that help her form her own perceptions about issues regarding class, race, and sexuality. These obstacles fundamentally shape her to have a unique outlook on society where she begins to question white privilege and also sympathize towards the mistreatment of black individuals. Senna explores the fundamental problems that are associated…show more content…
When Birdie and her sister are sent to Nkrumah, Birdie is taught to recognize and accept her “black” identity. However, her identity is problematized by her physical appearance, especially her “white” skin colour. Living in Boston, Birdie feels that she does not belong to the black community; in Nkrumah students don’t accept her for being a black girl, then she further feels isolated by her dad’s girlfriend, because she is not dark like Cole. “Others before had made me see the differences between my sister and myself – the texture of our hair, the tings of our kin, the shapes of our features. But Carmen was the one to make me feel that those things somehow mattered. To make me feel that the differences were deeper than skin,” (Senna, 1998, p.91). The students are not the only ones who make Birdie feel as if she doesn’t fit in; Carmen makes her feel as if inferior because of her lighter complexion. The concept of altering an identity in order to fit in relates to the bell hooks article “Representing Whiteness in Black Imagination.” In this piece, hooks talks about the terror of whiteness that black people face in which they are afraid and decide to “wear the mask” to fit into society, (Hooks, 1992, p.341). When Birdie is at Nkrumah, she seems to be wearing this mask to fit in with the children at her school when she forces herself to learn slang and adopt a different attitude and dressing sense. The character of Birdie in the novel constantly changes

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