James Baldwin's 'Notes Of A Native Son'

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Hatred for white society was a strong theme among the African American community during the 1950s. These emotions were conveyed through different platforms of the time, ranging from art and music, to articles and books. But James Baldwin, a popular African American writer during this time period, does not obsess over this subject that was so passionately conveyed by so many people like him. Instead of preaching about his hatred for white America, Baldwin utilizes his story of his childhood as well as his early adulthood to illustrate the destructive nature of the African Americans society’s hatred for white society in the very well known essay, “Notes of a Native Son.”
The hatred many African Americans possessed during the 1950s caused multiple riots. Baldwin touches on this in his essay, by mentioning the Harlem riots that broke out during the same time of his father’s death. Baldwin states that “it would have been better to have left the plate glass as it had been and the goods lying in the stores, [but] it would have also been intolerable, for Harlem had needed something to smash” (82). The African American community, infuriated by improper police action, exploded into a fury. While Baldwin does not argue against the riots, he points out their uselessness throughout the essay. The riots, as Baldwin points out, did not cross the “ghetto lines.” Instead of wreaking havoc in white neighborhoods, the black mob simply destroyed its own area. The mob had surrendered to its
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