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Michelle Kuo’s “Reading with Patrick” and James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time” influenced my beliefs that being black in American limits your opportunities in education. African Americans are affected adversely by their race. Kuo’s book focuses on how race and slavery still has an impact on some rural county of Arkansas. In addition to Kuo’s work, Baldwin discusses black history with his nephew and advises him not to waste his energy fighting against Whiteman. He encourages his nephew to be strong and not to feel subhuman in this era. In The Fire Next Time, Baldwin examines the issues of racial inequality in America, religion, and the limitation of narrow minded thinking. Furthermore, Angela Y. Davis discusses the purpose of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, connecting the goal of abolishing slavery and how slavery and race are obstacles to achieve freedom, the ability to think freely, to have education, and the most important to be human. All three authors discuss the issues and challenges African Americans and other races face in obtaining education in modern America.
Kuo’s Reading with Patrick, shows us the damage that negative race relations in the rural county of Arkansas. Black people still do not have an equal chance to get the same education as white people. Historically race influenced their ability to get education. They are not given same resources as the white students. They are treated minorities in the education system, and lack resources which limit their ability to succeed. Kuo said, “I began to speculate the modern Delta did not exist in the American consciousness because it disturbed the mind. It crushed part of our American mythology”. Kuo encounters the disturbing realities of life in the poorest county of Delta because most students were not able to read well according to the grade they were in. Everything was totally opposite for Kuo when she gets to Helena. The school system was broken because there were few teachers. People in Helena were treated like this because the majority of them were black people and the American dream does not exist in Helena because everyone has equal opportunities in education or safety and better place to live.
Kuo is very optimistic about changing the lives of the students of Helena through education. She knows these kids need mentors and counselors to guide them to the right path instead going into guns and drugs. Even the teachers at the school were very hesitant in helping the young teens out and always left them without guidance. Kuo mentioned where some teachers were not very helpful to one fifteen years-old student and when Kuo wanted to help him, they tried to tell Kuo that he does not need help and this particular student is already out of the reach. Kuo, however, always felt that these students needed help with their education and put her heart to help the students using quiet reading time and guided writing so the students could develop self-awareness which was left behind because of the broken school system in Helena.
The concern of poor education for African Americans is highlighted in James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. This is a great piece of writing which puts light on the racial inequality in America. Baldwin fears his nephew does not understands the effects of poor education. He states, “I hear the chorus of the innocents screaming, “No this not true! How bitter you are!” – but I am writing this letter to you, to try to tell you something about how to handle them, for most of them do not yet really know that you exist”. Baldwin explains further that black people have the right to be angry because they were racially discriminated by white people. They were beaten by white people; they were seen as subhuman by against white people in the 1960’s.
He advised his nephew that violence and fights against the white people are not the solution to overcoming them. He told his nephew that if he wants to solve the racial problem in American, he should try to be better than white people. In that case, white people will recognize that black people do exist. Baldwin argues that black will only be successful when they are accepted by white people. Most black people think that if they want to achieve this goal they have to accept the white culture; Baldwin says that is not the solution for the inequality in American. He believes that black people know a lot more than white people. Black people should work together with white people to live up to the ideal life and to improve their quality of life.
Baldwin thought religion played a very vital role in racial inequality in American. He always found his religious experiences more emotional than spiritual. He criticized the role of Christian churches in America that claims they had never played a spiritual role in the life of people. Baldwin talked about his visit with the Black Muslim leader Elijah Mohammad and stated. “Elijah went on about the crimes of white people, to this endless chorus of “Yes, that’s right.” Someone at the table said. “The white man sure is a devil. He proves that by his own actions”. Baldwin was against the statement that all-white people are devils because he was against racial inequality. He was against Elijah’s commitment and the idea to the idea that white people are not us and we are not them which means white people had always mistreated black people and saw them inferior to them and they thought that black people are the not only to rule the world. Baldwin was always against the war between whites and blacks. He did not like the idea that both races should fight against each other. He did respect Malcolm X but he did not like his comments about the white race in particular. He did not want war amongst black and white people.
Elijah was also speaking the same language as Malcolm X that the only way to be free is to fight against white people. Elijah called the white people devils at the dinner table and everyone praised his statement. Baldwin also stated himself not very religious because to be very religious altered his way of thinking. His participation in religion changed his view completely about the race in a negative way. He would think against white people and would treat them like enemies which really influenced his way of thinking and writing.
Baldwin believed that religion should bring peace between people. Religion should not create war among black and white people. God has created religion to bring love, respect, and prosperity in the lives of human kind. Religion should be practiced on the bases on their race or their color, and religions do not live on racial inequality of the people. He believed the if religion cannot make us free and loving then religion should be finished and abolished. Baldwin truly emphasized of love and care for each other and never said anything about violence and war between white and black people.
James Baldwin ended his letter to his nephew and said, “we cannot be free until they are free”. Baldwin said to his nephew that the white people who think they are superior to the black people are only trapped in their mindset. They think that they have ability to do anything within the society and he told his nephew that every black people including his nephew knows that white people are not superior to them. And as far as white people, they are knowing that they do not have any superiority over black people but they do not want to exposed that to the black people because than they will be seen weaken in the society and especially what the black people will think about them. He continued to his nephew that if white people accept the reality that they are the same as black people in the society, they will also feel better not to pretend or show their superiority over black people, and that will result the free American for everyone especially African Americans.
Baldwin talked about the religion is his book and mentioned when he was a child and said, “God…is white”. He talked about the race of white and black. He always thought that God is white and that is just because of what he was experiencing at that time and what was going on around him. He thought if God was black then he would not treat the black children badly and he would take care of the black people. But had this instinct in his mind that God is white because he was treated poorly. He proud so many questions for himself. He thought every white people he sees is as a better high position than black person. He talked about the Cristian people that God gave them special rolls at the churches because they are white and God loves them and that was one of the reason Baldwin lost his faith in Christianity because God only loved white people not the black people.
In the book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Angela Davis said that Douglass explained how the corrupt and the irresponsible power that the slaveowner had over their black slaves. Angela Davis wrote, “I have seen him whip a woman, causing the blood to run half an hour at the time; and this too, in the midst of her crying children, pleading for their mother’s release. He seemed to take pleasure in manifesting his fiendish barbarity”. Douglass talked about a specific situation where a slaveowner was whipping a woman and her children was crying for their mother’s release but the white slaveowner never stopped beating her. The white slaveowner enjoyed very moment they abused their black slaves. They would feel proud whipping a slave whether he is a man or a woman. They were merciless to their slaves and their cruel deeds were accompanied with their profanity. The white slaveowners never showed any kindness to their slave. They always took the black salve as inferior to them and there is race.
Angela Davis said, “It struck me with awful force. It was the blood stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery, through which I was about to pass. It was a most terrible spectacle”. White slaveowner never wanted their black slave to be happy or to fell themselves as free human being. Slaveowners starved their slave and by the end of the work day, they were given very less food. If they complain about their slaveowners, the chances are more that they would be beaten by their slaveowners. In orders for them to shows theirs pain and unhappiness in their lives, they all would get together to sing so that the owners would think that the slave are happy with them. These were all black people who were taken by mighty and powerful white people. Their race played a key role in their slavery in that days. Douglass was always against the slavery of black people. He thought everyone should be treated equally beside what race they are. No one should be racially discriminated and should be given equal opportunity to live their live free and to thinks freely. Douglass knew that education is the only way to get himself and these black slaves free.
Douglass talked about how slaves would shows their emotions and pain by singing. Douglass said, “ I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent song. I was myself within the circle; so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see or hear. Douglass shared him experience when he heard the laves singing and all the slaves were doing it all together. The slaveowners took this signing as the sign of happiness that their slaves are happy with them but he said the singing of the songs are not that the slaves are happy but it shows their unhappiness with their slaveowners.
Michelle Kuo, James Baldwin and Angela Davis showed us the effects of the race on the daily lives of the African Americans. And how their race influenced their ability getting the equal education and having the equal opportunities as white people. African American are mostly affected by racial discrimination. Koa talks about her experience in a ruler town on Helena where the effects of race and slavery still exist and kids are still under that effects for not getting proper support for education. Baldwin advises his nephew not go against the white people but to accept them. Although, he nephew is seeing as subhuman by the white people because of his race. He further said that if his nephew wants to success he would work with white people and prove them that black people are equal to them and talked about the racial inequality in American. Angela Davis wrote about the racial discrimination of the American slaves and how the white slave owners kept them slaves for years and not letting the feel the freedom in their lives.
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