Racism In ZZ Packer's Short Story 'Brownies'

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A common question arises in philosophy: are people born good or evil? Many believe that humans have an innate desire to exclude minorities and discriminate against people different from them. Although discriminatory trends are prevalent in society, who’s to say whether it is an inborn or an externally imposed tendency? In her short story “Brownies” ZZ Packer intersperses exposition to show that people are not inherently racist but become this way as a result of experience and communal self-reinforcement; as children lose their innocence, so too do they lose their tolerance. Racism is a learned attribute. Children allow racial stereotypes to infiltrate their language and allow these stereotypes to enter the communal echo chamber, launching…show more content…
The girls jump to action and plan to enact racial conflict in response to a threat they believe has been made to them. Being malleable young people not set in their views, the children back down when they see their opponents’ vulnerability. Packer explains through exposition that the community in which the troop lives doesn’t lend to much interaction between races. Therefore, the children only see white people in a stereotypical way––as "ponytailed and full of energy, bubbling over with love and money" (Packer 7). Their only experiences of white people are "white girls and their mothers coo-cooing over dresses... [and] white businessmen swish[ing] by importantly" (Packer 5). The girls of troop 909 hardly fit into these stereotypes, which is shocking and unsettling to the black troop. When confronted with white people in a new way, which is personal and "instantly real and memorable" (Packer 5), the girls feel as if they are being attacked by "invaders" (Packer 5) because the girls of troop 909 are not at all what white girls are supposed to be like. The stereotypical and non-representative view of the white race which the troop has held until this encounter plays into the black troop’s narrative of whites who look down on blacks. This narrative causes the girls to perceive racism
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