Employment Discrimination In Walter Mosley's Equal Opportunity

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In Walter Mosley 's fictional short story, "Equal Opportunity" (1995), he describes employment discrimination through the character of Socrates Fortlow, an African American ex-convict attempting to find employment. Socrates lives in an abandoned building in Los Angeles neighborhood called Watts. He has been out of “prison eight years, fifty-eight years old, and ready to start life over again,” (Mosley 1).
Socrates faces several conflicts, attempting to gain employment, because of his (1) age, (2) race, and (3) where he lives. He has to travel far to look for a job because everyone on his side of town, especially, Crenshaw and Washington, both store owners in Watts, knew that he collected bottles and cans for money and “they would not hire …show more content…

Ms. Grimes took Socrates’ application and “fingered the address and said, “that was a great way to come by bus.” (Mosley 2). Ms. Grimes also wanted to know why he had left the box blank that asked if he had been arrested or convicted of a felony. “I say?” That I musta overlooked it” (Mosley 2). Ms. Grimes then tell him he needed a telephone and car in order for her to fax his application to the main office, (Mosley 3). Socrates welcomed a “real emotion,” (Mosley 3). Socrates does not believe that he could not get a job at the store because he did not have a telephone or car. He asks Ms. Grimes’ to, "Just send it in." Ms. Grimes pulled the application away from his face and said, "All right. But it won 't make any difference." (Mosley 1). After Socrates leaves, she calls the main office and says that she is “threaten by Socrates,” (Mosley 3). Discrimination against Socrates seeking employment at the Bounty Supermarket is evident throughout the story. However, Socrates keeps on coming to the store by bus for five consecutive days for further updates about his application. It is evident that if Socrates got the job at Bounty Supermarket on Venice Boulevard, he could get to work by bus. Because he did not fit Anton and Ms. Grimes qualifications, he was denied equal employment opportunity at that store. Socrates got the job, however he was assigned to work at another store in Santa Monica with Rodriguez, who is “always talking about giving guys a chance,” (Mosley 8). Walter Mosley’s representation of Socrates with symbolism in the 19the century is very typical of how African American ex-convicts were treated applying for employment in the United States then, and

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