Mrs. Wilson: Examples Of Racial Injustice In The 1940s

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Mrs. Wilson is an example of racial injustice in (presumably) the 1940s in America. Johnny and his African-American friend, Boyd, have just arrived after some sort of outing. Mrs. Wilson is then introduced to Boyd for the first time. As soon as Boyd enters the house, he is making jokes and being generally joyful, Mrs. Wilson sees he is carrying wood, and assumes that, because Boyd is black, he must have it oh-so-bad, and Johnny is being rude by making him carry it. This stereotyping, along with Boyd’s “thin” appearance, leads to the assumption that Boyd is weak and sickly, a common view at the time of he African-American community at the time. Next, Mrs. Wilson prepares lunch for the boys, and when Boyd says he is hungry, Mrs. Wilson makes …show more content…

Wilson’s mental image of a poor, weak family, and causes the fabric of her speculation to be knit even more tightly. Also, Boyd’s sister becoming a teacher directly contradicts her earlier stereotypical view on Boyd’s father. Next, she decides to throw in one more assumption about Boyd’s “poor” family, that he must have many siblings adding to his family’s struggles. This one aligns with another African-American stereotype of the time, where African-American families are very large, very poor, and pitiful. Mrs. Wilson assumes that, because Boyd is black, he must have a large family that struggles a lot. Boyd then disproves this assumption by clearly stating that he only has his sister, Jean, as a sibling. However, because this part of Mrs. Wilson’s image was disproven, the starvation part makes a comeback, as Mrs. Wilson forces more food into Boyd’s hands. After this, she breaks into a long winded speech about giving Boyd clothes, and in this speech, multiple assumptions are made. The first of these new presumptions is that Boyd doesn’t have enough clothes to start. To fit in the stereotypical mental image of Mrs. Wilson, Boyd and his “poor”, “struggling” family mustn’t have enough clothes to get …show more content…

This, again, is to mesh with another stereotype of the era. Boyd causes Mrs. Wilson to stop her speech by being (rightfully) confused, and goes on to, as he did before, disprove Mrs. Wilson’s assumptions. However, the real kicker in all of this is that after Boyd states the facts, Mrs. Wilson gets mad at him for not accepting her “generosity”, and, after apologizing again, leaves with Johnny. Before they even leave, she venomously states, “‘There are many little boys like you, Boyd, who would be grateful for the clothes someone was kind enough to give them’” (Jackson 3). Not only is she now contradicting the entire mental image of Boyd from before by essentially calling him stuck and spoiled instead of the struggling child she built the image of before, she is being openly racist towards him. All together, I feel that this story is one that covers “pitious” or “do-gooder” racism, where someone meets someone of a different race or culture and creates a mental image of them that, whether or not it is true, is so pitiable that they can then justify doing “nice” and “kind” things to them to make themselves feel

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