On the Subway Sharon Olds depicts the harsh realities of our world. Some may believe whites have privilege over other races; however, Olds tells the story in a way that challenges that notion. Old’s use of imagery and simile help the reader understand the contrast between the white and black world. Olds uses imagery in describing the (black) male. “Casual cold look of a mugger… hooded lids.”
In the contemporary era, the issue of race remains a prevalent topic in public discussion. Thus, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is meaningful as it explores the legacy of racial injustice in the United States and its consequences in today’s society. In his development of the underground railroad as a literal and physical vehicle to freedom, Whitehead is able to candidly detail the ubiquitous nature of racial prejudice and the horrors associated with it. Over the course of his novel, the author utilizes a variety of rhetorical devices in order to further explore the many hardships that ‘freedom’ inevitably entails.
The society’s standard of race and skin color impacted the two men’s lives. Brent Staples the author of “Just Walk On By”, narrated about his endurance of society’s unfairness. Richard Rodriguez unfolds his experienced in his article “Complexion” a lengthy battle of self-value. The resemblance of racial struggle that both men strive hard to be accepted in each of their environment. As a result, these intolerable racial profiling and skin color degradation, is emotionally and mentally damaging to any individual’s especially to the men of color.
Sharon Olds, in her poem “On the Subway”, used a white woman to reveal the complex relationship between herself and the African-American boy on the subway; through Old’s use of juxtaposing visual imagery along with tonal shifts and levels of realization as well as other poetic devices Olds comments on the stark differences between their lives as a result of discrimination in society coming to realize, in the end, they are both human and therefore inherently the same. Olds uses contrasting visual imagery to develop both portraits as well as illustrate the deep disparities between the life of the caucasian speaker and the African American boy on the subway. The boy wears “black sneakers laced with white in a complex pattern… like scars” symbolizing
The bright colors and the deformed cartoonlike style in combination with the obvious history of racial mixing suggests the ugly past that is tied to biracial people who are both black and white. The painful and ugly history of rape and the mixing of blacks and whites within slavery is not only expressed through the figures but also through the use of bright colors that clash with each other and also through the cartoonlike distortion of the figures. The ‘ugly” style is meant to express the ugly and difficult history of biracial people. The style and color choice also addressed the subject of “passing” as another lighter race and the tendency of biracial people to choose their lighter skinned heritage over their black heritage. Robert Colescott was known for transgressively playing with themes of race and sex, he was very politically aware.
The story represents the culmination of Wright’s passionate desire to observe and reflect upon the racist world around him. Racism is so insidious that it prevents Richard from interacting normally, even with the whites who do treat him with a semblance of respect or with fellow blacks. For Richard, the true problem of racism is not simply that it exists, but that its roots in American culture are so deep it is doubtful whether these roots can be destroyed without destroying the culture itself. “It might have been that my tardiness in learning to sense white people as "white" people came from the fact that many of my relatives were "white"-looking people. My grandmother, who was white as any "white" person, had never looked "white" to me” (Wright 23).
In Terrance Hayes’s poem “Mr. T-,” the speaker presents the actor Laurence Tureaud, also known as Mr. T, as a sellout and an unfavorable role model for the African American youth for constantly playing negative, stereotypical roles for a black man in order to achieve success in Hollywood. The speaker also characterizes Mr. T as enormous and simple-minded with a demeanor similar to an animal’s to further his mockery of Mr. T’s career. The speaker begins his commentary on the actor’s career by suggesting that The A-Team, the show Mr. T stars in, is racist by mentioning how he is “Sometimes drugged / & duffled (by white men) in a cockpit,” which seems to draw illusions to white men capturing and transporting slaves to new territories during the time of the slave trade (4-5).
a. What purpose is served in the novel by the presence of Mrs. Hedges? Of Mr. Jones? Of Min? Mrs. Hedges is a product of the street, learned to conform to the street, and made it work for her success. She attempts to help Lutie, by showing her how not to be a part of “brawling, teeming” (251) life of the street.
“On the Subway,” written by Sharon Olds, is written from the perspective of what is presumed to be an upper class white woman, who finds herself on a subway with a lower class black boy. In “On the Subway”, Olds focuses on the controversial issue of racial conflict, and the theme of White v. Black. She does so by use of contrast between whites and blacks, by using harsh enjambments, powerful imagery, and by using the tone to convey the purpose. A major strategy used by Olds throughout the poem is contrast; in this case, the contrast between blacks and whites.
In Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask” the speaker wears a mask to hide his internal suffering because he does not want the rest of the world to think he is weak. This poem relates the prejudice black people face against white people. The speaker starts the poem with the lines, “We wear the mask that grins and lies,” (1). Here he describes the kind of “masks” that he wears.
It’s been 53 years since President Lyndon Johnson enforced the Civils Rights Act of 1964, but racism is still an ongoing issue to this day, whether it’s intentionally or inadvertently caused by the people in our society. Cornelius Eady evaluates the concept of racism through his poem, “The Cab Driver Who Ripped Me Off,” which focuses on the views of a prejudiced cab driver. Eady’s literary works focuses largely on the issue of racism within our society, centering on the trials that African Americans face in the United States. “The Cab Driver Who Ripped Me Off” from Autobiography of a Jukebox is an influential poem that successfully challenges the problems associated with racism, which is a touchy, yet prevalent problem that needs to be addressed.
Words have the power to create great things just like they have the power to destroy them. Claudia Rankine uses her book, Citizen: An American Lyric, to illustrate the idea that racism has become an everyday component of our society. This book expresses the idea that language normalizes the existence of racism. This particular
Nikky Finney's book Head Off and Split is a work of art in every sense. It combines both historical elements and personal elements. She shines the light on our countries habit of oppressing and enslaving African Americans. She masterfully weaves together the history of the time and her own memories in an unabashed way that lays bare the wrongdoings of our country. Forcing the reader to see part of our history that is often glossed and skimmed over in conventional textbooks.
The poem I chose to analyze is We Wear the Mask, written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar in 1896. Its theme is about hiding our true feelings and emotions, and lying about who we are. When looking at Dunbar’s life history, and the political context at the time, we understand that he efficiently uses this theme in order to talk about how black people have to hide how they feel about their social status and the treatment they receive from white people. He conveys the theme to the audience thanks to a clever word choice. Indeed, he talks about “grin” and “smile”, using facial expressions as a description of the mask (Dunbar, lines 1 & 4).