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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Essay

“White makes right” means that the whites are never wronged for their actions whenever a white does something clearly wrong to a black while the black has done right. In fact, the blame is pushed to the blacks instead, simply because whites are perceived to be the superior race. What is counted as morally right or morally wrong depends on how society perceives it, when what is usually right or wrong should not be determined by how the majority feels towards another race, especially when they are biased. As such, this has resulted in a lot of unjust treatment towards the blacks.

This can be clearly seen through three incidents: Mr Morrison’s loss of a job, the burning of the Berry’s and Cassie’s encounter with Lillian Jean in Strawberry. Firstly, an incident that illustrates “White makes right” is Mr Morrison’s loss of a job, since he is depicted as being in the wrong although he was provoked into the fight, and he is made to bear the consequences although there are no consequences for the others, simply because of their race. Mr Morrison lost his job as he “got in a fight with some men” whose fault was “theirs”. However, the other men did not get fired because “they was white”.

This shows that one’s actions’ consequences differs based on race. Starting a fight is clearly wrong, and as the whites were the ones who started it, it is only fair if they got fired. However, even though Mr Morrison did not start the fight, he got fired instead of the other men just because they were white and deemed superior to blacks. This shows that blacks are not allowed to start a fight without being punished regardless of the injustice targeted at them. However, whites are allowed to because of ‘underlying’ reasons and they will not be punished as they have ‘justifiable’ reasons.

Thus, “white makes right” is clearly shown in this case, where we see that regardless of whether the whites do the wrong things towards the blacks, the main detrimental consequences will still be for the blacks and not the whites, simply because of racism. Also, this shows us that when whites do something which is wrong, it is simply brushed aside and they do not really suffer many consequences, however the blacks suffer the consequences instead once they decide to respond. Secondly, an incident that illustrates “White makes right” is the burning of the Berry’s.

White men accused John Henry of “flirtin'” with a white woman and began “rammin’ the back of they car” and “lit him afire with them boys”. When Henrietta, a relative of the Berry’s, reported it to the police, he called her a “liar” and “ain’t a thing gonna be done ’bout it”. Attacking and killing somebody is clearing wrong and illegal. However, the white men go unpunished. This clearly shows that white men can get away with abusing and killing black men. To ‘justify’ their actions, they find an excuse, which in this case John Henry had been flirting with a white woman, while probably all he did was smile in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The blacks clearly did not do anything wrong, but Henrietta’s testimony is powerless to make the police investigate. This shows that the blacks are denied justice despite the fact they are being victimised. It also shows that the truth is meaningless in white society. Thus, “white makes right” as the power of language is determined by race rather than validity, so they can come up with an excuse to ‘justify’ their actions easily and accuse blacks of doing and result in them being punished.

It is also extremely difficult for blacks to prove their innoncence, since people are generally biased against them, whereas the words spoken by whites are considered credible and believable. This also shows that “white makes right”, since the whites are deemed to be reliable and their statements the truth, as opposed to the blacks who are labelled as lying even if they tell the truth, so what the blacks say would naturally be labelled as wrong while the whites would be labelled as right.

Thirdly, an incident that illustrates “White makes right” is Cassie’s encounter with Lillian Jean in Strawberry. When Cassie bumped into Lillian Jean, she demanded Cassie to “get down in the road” and “apologize” by addressing her as “Miz Lillian Jean”. As whites are deemed to be superior to blacks in white society, when a black collides into a white, blacks should apologise to the whites and never the other way round as they are always perceived as correct.

However, if a black were to demand fair, equal treatment, it is stated that this is not necessary as it is considered demeaning for the whites to apologise to blacks, or even to address them normally. This shows us that regardless of blacks’ intentions, and whether they do something out of accident or not, it really depends on the whites’ perception of their actions. The moment whites decide that their actions are wrong, such as bumping into Lillian jean accidentally, we see that the Cassie is automatically labelled as wrong based on her actions.

However, if Lillian Jean were to engage in the same action, she would not be forced to apologise to Cassie, neither would she be forced to call Cassie with the honorific of “Miss. ” Thus, “white makes right” since the whites are able to state whether the blacks’ actions have wronged them or not, even when the blacks did it unintentionally, and we see that if the whites do the same actions on the blacks, they do not need to apologise, whereas the blacks not only need to apologise, but also have to address them with respectful terms.

To conclude, the three incidents that illustrate “White makes right” are Mr Morrison’s loss of a job, the burning of the Berry’s and Cassie’s encounter with Lillian Jean in Strawberry. Mr Morrison’s loss of job shows that regardless of what the blacks do, as long as they respond to the whites when provoked, then they are considered to be at fault and are made to bear the consequences.

The burning of the Berry’s show that the power of language is determined by race rather than validity, making whatever the whites say reliable and making it difficult for the blacks to prove their innocence. Cassie’s encounter with Lillian Jean in Strawberry shows how the blacks’ actions, even when unintentional, can be construed as bad just because the whites perceive them to be so, and the blacks are made to apologise to the whites with honorific terms of respect even though they may not have intentionally done anything to harm them. Thus, this clearly shows how “white makes right.


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