On Being Brought from Africa to America: Issue of Race Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 6 April 2016

On Being Brought from Africa to America: Issue of Race

Wheatly´s poem “On being brought from Africa to America” consists of two central messages. First Wheatly´s gratitude for her Christian salvation that “mercy” embodied as the enslavement brought her not only to America, but, “thaught [her] benighted soul to understand.” Second there is a subtle message, a delicate revolutionary thought, dealing with the issue of race. “Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain” describes the importance to remember that those who do right according to Christian belief and are converted and saved like Wheatly will be rewarded in heaven regardless of their skin colour. Her subtle emphasis on religion becomes a gateway for her statement against racism that every other slave should be equal on earth as well. The diversity of tone as at first there is gratitude tuned with understanding, yet in the end authoritative diction and sound creates a more mild, soothing than aggressive tone and claim on racism. The Ballot or the Bullet” speech by Malcolm X concerns the crossroads, a descriptive determination, that Afro Americans have to encounter, choosing between trusting in American democracy and justice to eventually gain equality “the ballot” or taking matters into their own hands becoming much more militant “the bullet”. In fact Afro Americans either need to push harder for their rights to be acknowledged by society or there is a need of a physical fight against the system to overcome the “American nightmare”. With patience and faith, in 1964 Afro Americans still encountered segregation. Malcolm´s religious background, his aggressive negotiation, contrasting juxtaposition and provocation like “[…] if the white man does not want us to be anti-white, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us” or “our mothers and fathers invested sweat and blood” creates a too aggressive tone, militant and radical,. DuBois first chapter in “Souls of Black Folk”, brings awareness to the fact that there is a “problem of the twentieth century, [and it], is the problem of the colour line.”. Afro Americans seem to be haunted by a double image and as a result, see themselves through the eyes of others, especially white America “longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge [the] double self into a better and truer self.” Du Bois internal conflict “double consciousness” proposes to Afro Americans to simply strive to become “[…] both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows”.

The chapter also addresses themes such as the salience of political power, the need for civil rights, innate
loyalty of the Negro, ideal education, unfulfilled promise to the Negro, and a future bi-racial America. All this content is presented within an alleviating tone, intended as negotiation. DuBois “Souls of Black Folk” is the strongest text concerning the issues of race as for his alleviating tone serves best for negotiation in both radical -superior and inferior- sides of segregation. In fact by choosing an alternating, subtle and friendly tone, the aggressiveness somehow is eased into acceptance, and the militant, radical anti racist encounters a mirror showing his own personal circumstance within segregation. DuBois not only targets exclusively at the suppressor “that happens to be the a white man” like Malcolm X, he rather aims at the internal conflict within every oppressed Afro American. Yet enlightenment and internal balance, serves as initial step to overcome the issues of race in order to achieve ultimate equalisation. Lack of religious fundamentalism, militancy and only subtle and non-violent provocation creates a body of thoughts free of extremes. DuBois adjustment of his writing style from a rather narrative tone in Philadelphia Negro(1899) with regards to his manly white audience towards an advocating tone in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), his civil rights activism, crusade on segregation, political disfranchisement and intended improvement of Afro American life strengthen his arguments. Amongst revolutionary thoughts, aggressive radicalism and hatred, DuBois set of tone and arguments is the best harmonising way within an era of riot and anger against segregation and racial injustice.


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