Issue of Racism in “Growing Up Colored”
Henry Louis Gates is a famous American writer and educator. In Growing Up Colored, he wrote about his childhood as an African American person in the West Virginia town of Piedmont, where people like him were considered to be second-class citizens. Although it may seem to be at some point arrogant, his text is an essential piece of art because it covers a very relevant topic to the present day: racism. The purpose of Growing Up Colored is to show white people how it feels to be discriminated against and humiliated daily.
Before anything else, to show how it was to live in a racist city, the author describes in detail his everyday life and what things were forbidden for his community. Gates explains how colored people were not allowed to sit at the table in the café, only take food to go, move into a white neighborhood or do everyday things others do. At the end of the text, the author used a sarcastic connotation to express his disguised grief and suffering from discrimination: he said that everything was fine between blacks and whites as long as blacks did not do everyday routines that were not allowed to them. That paragraph is aimed to make readers feel what the black community felt.
Furthermore, to some extent, the author seems arrogant at the beginning of the text: he strictly divides white people and black ones, pointing out a significant difference between them. The author does it to show the reader how it felt to be a black sheep without any reason and how society made him feel. In response to discrimination, the black community was aggressive and arrogant toward the white one. As a form of revenge, the author and his mother criticize white people’s manners, and the black community does not welcome white people to visit their neighborhood. In this way, the author shows the consequences of mistreatment.
To sum up, Growing Up Colored is a precious text that contributed to fighting for black people’s rights. The main strength of the work is that it shows life the way it was, covers a relevant issue, and explains how it was to be a black person in a racist city. The work truly reaches its goal by giving readers of any race an opportunity to learn in detail what kind of life the black community led.