'Recitatif': The Impact Of Racial Stereotypes

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From beginning to end in Toni Morrison’s short story, “Recitatif”, and Brent Staples’ essay, “Black Men and Public Spaces”, both authors explore the idea of single stories and the impact of racial stereotypes on individuals. Through Staples’ use of crime-based diction and Morrison’s use of imagery, these authors show how preconceived notions that society communicates about racial differences can affect one’s thoughts and actions. In “Black Men and Public Spaces” Staples often portrays his frustration with being a victim of the racial stereotype that all black men are seen as dangerous. As he walked at night behind a woman in the street and she began to hurry away, he “...first began to know the unwieldy inheritance [he’d] come into… It was clear that she thought herself the quarry of a mugger, rapist, or worse”(Staples 1). …show more content…

He also uses “unwieldy”, which literally means cumbersome or difficult to carry, to describe his “inheritance” of this racial stereotype as a heavy burden on his life. Just by looking at him, the woman perceives him as a threat and she distances herself from him in fear of being harmed. This reaction to him increases his awareness that society perceives him as a threat because of the stereotypes that are associated with his race and gender. In Toni Morrison’s “Recitatif”, the main characters, Twyla and Roberta, first meet at an orphanage as young children and then encounter each other several more times throughout their lives. Through their encounters, an important aspect of their relationship is that one is black and one is white. Twyla doesn’t think much of their racial divide until their children's school was to be integrated. “Strife came to us that fall...Strife. Racial

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