Stereotypes In James Baldwin's If Beale Street

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In the novel, If Beale Street could talk, author James Baldwin, seeks to humanize black men, through the implementation of character development and their relationships with parents, lovers, and friends. With today’s modern black lives matter movement and frequent cases of police brutality in relation to people of color, this novel humanizes the black male, and Baldwin efficiently dismantles the reader’s tainted ideas about African Americans in America. The novel starts off with the introduction of two main characters: Tish, a pregnant, 19 year-old, lower-class African American girl- and Fonny, who is her 22 year-old baby-daddy who also happens to be in prison. This creates stereotypes in the readers minds, but as you continue to read, your mental state of how you see them changes and the stereotypes fade out.
Baldwin explicitly touches on the other stereotypes the reader could have about African American’s early on in the novel. In 1960’s Harlem, as a result of redlining, African Americans were forced into a geographical area that institutionalized poverty, and few were able to escape it. Everywhere you looked there was poverty, and the schools these children were put into taught them that this was
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One of the biggest stereotypes about African American men is that they get a woman pregnant and then leave them with the baby, often times having multiple babies with multiple women, and that they aren’t monogamous. Their relationship disproves that stereotype entirely. They have plans to get married, they’re having a baby and they’re in love. When Tish comes to visit Fonny in jail to tell him she’s pregnant, he’s happy about it. The stereotypical black male would tell the girl that he wants nothing to do with her or the baby but he doesn’t. In fact the baby and Tish is what gives Fonny, along with their families, the strength to keep going and not give into the system and let the white institutions
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