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James Baldwin’s Critique of the Social Condition Essay

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James Baldwin’s Critique of the Social Condition

James Baldwin was an African American writer who, through his own personal experiences and life, addressed issues such as race, sexuality, and the American identity. “Notes of a Native Son” is one of many essays that Baldwin wrote during his lifetime. Within this essay, Baldwin talks about when his father died and the events that revolved around it. His father’s death occurs in the early 1940s, where oppression and racism were still fairly prevalent in many cities across the nation. So amidst the events that revolve around Baldwin’s father’s death, there are many riots and beatings taking place. This essay is simply not a recollection of what Baldwin experienced in the
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Immediately after the sentence, Baldwin describes the racial tension that exists between the African Americans and the Whites. The people of Harlem as well as other cities are waiting for that one injustice or catalyst that will push their tolerance over the top and lead them to violently fight back through riot and protest. In one sentence, Baldwin manages to switch gears, from one that is very private to a description of the general feeling felt among the people living in Harlem. Baldwin, being a part of the community, takes his own feelings of waiting and applies it to a general picture, where a lot of people were in fact waiting as well.

Baldwin continues on and says that blacks were being oppressed everywhere. “…Negro girls who set upon a white girl in the subway because…she was stepping on their toes. Indeed she was, all over the nation” (73). Not only does this portray the ever growing tension felt among African Americans in a certain area, it expresses the tension felt across the nation. African Americans everywhere were still continuously looked down upon, causing agitation, which was the current social condition blacks and whites faced.

Soon after, the catalyst that ignites riots in Harlem, which was foreshadowed earlier in the essay, takes place. The riots begins when a rumor spread claiming that a white police officer shot a black soldier in the back, which wasn’t the truth at all (81). The way
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