The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow Summary

863 Words4 Pages
1- In “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” author Richard Wright debates several events during his childhood and youth where he was indirectly educated how black people were supposed to act in the Jim Crow South. One example of Wright crossing a metaphorical boundary occurred when he worked for an optical company in Mississippi. He “was very careful to pronounce his sirs clearly, in order that his employer might know that Wright was polite, and that he knew where he was, and that his employer was a white man” (227). Wright’s double-consciousness made him alter his behavior when interacting with white people because he knew what would be assumed of him. When Wright explained that he had to show that he knew where he was, he wasn’t only referring…show more content…
This also seen Wright’s hesitation, stares, false compliance, and quick escape. Wright’s body is subjugated by the space he is in and is unable to voice any complaint but comply with a forced, agreeable tone. This lines up with the “geographies of power” (5) that acts as an enforcing mechanism. This construct forces Wright to quickly evacuate the space while being falsely composed and indicates the power that he lacks to remain in that area. Throughout “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” the speaker’s encounters with white people in a white-supremacist culture shows the relationship between race, space and power in a multitude of ways. Wright admits he “must have appeared pretty shocked, for the boss slapped [him] reassuringly on the back” (230). He realizes that the two white men were making an example of the black woman, saying, – and laughing – “that’s what we do to niggers when they don’t want to pay their bills” (230). When Wright is offered a cigarette by the men and has no choice but to accept their bribery, he thinks to himself that “they would not beat me if I knew enough to keep my mouth shut” (230). This twisted understanding between the men show how race and power in particular are not inadvertently related, but rather were shaped through social constructs in pursuit of the sovereignty of a
Open Document