Table of Contents
For a very long time, racism and identity crisis have been a challenge across the world. There are races that claim to be superior to others and they desire to be treated as so with the mentality that they should be served and they deserve the best. Besides, it is worth noting that racism and quest for racial identity cause significant psychological issues. In the short story called “Brownies”, the storyline revolves around two groups of scout girls out on a camp; they are segregated around races, one group is made up of all black girls and the other has all white girls. The major theme is racism and human cruelty that exists within relationships in a society. Besides, another story called In “Our Lady of Peace” the storyline takes a different perspective on racism and it presents it inform of differences existing among nationalities, it is about a young class teacher who desires to make it in a divided classroom along racial and nationality differences, The class teacher finds it hard to understand why the students were very rough towards each other and to her as well, she befriends them and is able to control them better in a manner the earns her admiration and respect. Furthermore, in the story “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” is about a young lady, Dina, who loses friendship since she cannot stop pretending, she says phrases she does not mean. A therapist warns her that the mouth becomes accustomed to words it is forced to speak and significantly subjecting to nonsense makes it hard to express significant words when need arises. He wonders if Dina being a black girl was trying to survive in a white society. She has identity crisis issues which many young people suffer from; she does not want to be a typical African American but she struggles to find her place in the society. The story has many racism stereotypes that exist in the society that orbit around races and nationalities.
In the short story, Brownies, there is a significant theme of racisms at Camp Crescendo since the story begins by Laurel stating that she and her group members of black girls would “kick the asses” of the Troop 909 members that was a brownies group of white girls. This shows that the black girls dislike the white girls even before they interacted to know each other. Likewise, on another instance Arnetta says that the Troop 909 members smelt like wet Chihuahuas, she even adds to it that they were Caucasian Chihuahuas. This is flipping the existing stereotypes of black people’s resemblance with Chihuahuas to insult the white girls who were mentally ill. These continuous traumatic interactions potentially led to cause low self-esteem and trigger deep-rooted hatred among the girls. At the end of the story, there is a planned fight since it was said that one of the girls from Troop 909 had referred to a black girl as a “nigger” which is termed to be an insult when it comes from a white person directed to a black person. They later learn that the white girls could not reason logically and they could repeat what they heard. Thus, were it not for the differences between the troops in the camp, the word “”nigger” would not have caused such a huge friction. Researches have shown that the history of racism has tendencies of linking psychoanalytic accounts with social accounts of racism like the troop of black girls reacted towards the issue of a white lady who had called one of them a “nigger” which to them was derogative as per their social judgements.
Our Lady of Peace Story
In “Our Lady of Peace” the storyline has a young teacher named Lynnea has a hard time understanding her students to getting them interact harmoniously but their differences makes it difficult. A fellow teacher, Rob the Cop, whom they trained together finds it hard to continue teaching, gets furious, and quits; he speeds past two black boys, missing them narrowly. He had been frustrated by the disrespectful behavior and negative attitude which students showed the administration. However, Lynnea is still hopeful that something can be done to change and improve the standards in that Baltimore’s school. Admission of Sheba who had previously stabbed her previous class teacher becomes the turning point since she shows interest and motivates Lynnea not to quit teaching. This is a clear indication that misjudgments and existing stereotypes based on the history of a person can cause people to lock others out. The history of Sheba was scary and the idea of her being a nice person crossing the mind was chilling. However, she influenced Lynnea to befriend the students and she was able to gain control of her class. Besides, there were many instances when the class teacher should have used to justify her quitting like when Ebony whipped up from her seat and backhanded her and the class started shouting “Shit! Did you see that! Ms. Davis got banked!”(63). This is a demonstration of social instability, contentious behaviors and surplus of aggressiveness that prevented the students from benefiting from education system which Lynnea was a beneficiary. Besides, there was another instance when Bonza, a student, grabbed the teacher and was “…kissing her with full, sloppy thrusts of tongue”(68). This shows emotional instability of how they could not control their sexual urges and respect their elders. Lynnea is able to overcome this so that she can help the students to be exposed through education and change their racist and irrational behaviors; she believes in the power of education as a cure to eradicate misjudgments in achieving civilization.
Hence, to eliminate this phenomenon, there is need to comprehend it and develop mechanisms for fighting racism. In essence, psychologists and sociologists have tried to acknowledge the psychology behind racism; however, no universal cause has been identified. However, social advocates have continuously insisted on the essence of teaching the children about the racial diversity from the tender age. Indeed, it is believed that chauvinistic ideas emanate from the home country; therefore, it is incumbent upon the social justice activists, teachers, and the community to enlighten young people about the need to value diversity. Moreover, intense public dialogue concerning racism among adults should be encouraged. This initiative may require faith-based organizations, higher learning institutions, non-governmental organizations and law enforcement agencies. However, the most important thing is the continued attention to the racial menace (DeCuir-Gunby 122).
Furthermore, another ideal approach for enhancing education on racism is through holding a conversation with people of divergent ideas, asking them to expound on their feelings. These conversations are effective in building relationships and enhancing tolerance. Besides, they also motivate people to disclose ideas they have always kept (Gale 51).However, the fight against the menace cannot change at once. However, the more spirited fight against it and educating acceptance of others, the sooner, regardless of race or religion, people can coexist in peace in the society.
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
In this story we are introduced to Dina who loses friendship since she cannot stop pretending, she says phrases she does not mean and ends up in trouble. She also judges people based on their appearance and nationality. During the orientation games she behaves erratically by saying to the management that is she were an object she would be a revolver, implying to wipe away humanity just like the gun does. They were not amused and this earns her psychiatric counseling for a whole year. This reveals her lonely behavior and her hatred towards both blacks and white people which leads to her wishing to wipe them away. She does not want to socialize and being bothered by anybody. When Heidi knocks on her door seeking for help, Dina is reluctant to open to her since she is a white. It is until she recites a poem which she loves that she allows her in. This shows how people can create relationship due to convenience and common ground interests but lock people out because of a certain appearance. Additionally, Dina accuses Heidi by asking her “Aren’t you a lesbian” since she had short hair, and wore hard, roach-stomping shoes; she described her that she was dressed like an aspiring plumber. Dina has a corrupt image of lesbians from what she had seen on the television; this stereotype caused her to judge people wrongly without knowing them personally. She portrayed a behavior which was never defined; she did not want to be in relationship with boys as she once ran dropping her package when a boy offered walking her home while shunning a relationship with Heidi. Besides, she sympathized with her mom and hated her dad without giving clear reasons for that. At one time when they were having a conversation, Dr. Raeburn is not scared to tell her that “I think that you are having a crisis of identity” after she told him “just go ahead and ask if I’ve ever fucked anybody’. Likewise, she breaks her friendship with Heidi after seeing her talk to a group of lesbians by concluding that she was one of them, she goes quiet on her for weeks. Hence, in all those situations Dina depicts an aspect of identity crisis since she seems to never flow with anybody and has stereotypes towards almost everyone.
According to psychology, every individual has a sense of belonging to a given community with specific racial and ethnic construct. In essence, racial identity implies conformity with a given cultural heritage. The racial identity theory which influences identity formation among people determines the cultural, political and intellectual legacy of individuals. Dina’s identity formation was skewed since she was a privileged elite girl who had been exposed to corrupt information that made her to have misjudgment and twisted perception on people around her, she could never see the best is people since she her identity crises made her perceived herself with superior heritage among whites and blacks. Likewise, through history, the United States has been challenged with racial tensions emanating from racial identities. Most importantly, the whites have been in the forefront as the dominant race while black American perceived as the minority race. Conversely, with perceived concept of stereotypes and encounters with racial segregation, racial identity has been greatly embraced in the United States of America (Gale 6). This has culminated in the development of racial identity theories. The latter posits that different races develop relationships that incline to their cultural, political and intellectual legacy. For instance, the White race perceives themselves with a given racial heritage among the wider white community commonly referred to as the Caucasians. On the other hand, the African American communities predominantly ascribed to the racial group generally known as the Blacks.
Conversely, the aspect of racial identity has defined attitude, beliefs and political experiences among the different racial groups. Therefore, the behavior and actions have been inclined towards racial beliefs consequently leading to various perception appeals. Certainly, negative perception about own personal racial composition has forced some people to subscribe to the racial behavior of a dominant race in order to belong to a given society. For instance, the black community feels subdued by the dominant white race hence some African Americans have assumed the identity of the white community. Specifically, in social amenity sector for instance schools and hospitals, quality services have been rendered to the white race while African Americans get poor services. In the education sector, academic excellence is associated with the dominant white race (DeCuir-Gunby 87). Such experiences have led to the development of the Black racial identity (BRI). This defines beliefs of the African Americans with respect to other racial groups.
Racial identity development commences at childhood stage is expected to proceed through adolescence to adulthood until elderly stage. However, at adolescent, a challenge of racial identity arises as the teenagers want to subscribe to a given vocation with values perceived to belong to another racial group. Adolescent defined as the age of development tend to be the most critical point of deviation from racial identity. Such deviation is attributed to psychological influence which defines a preferred behavior and action towards a given people around you. Just like Dina there are many people who play neutral ground in the society and they seem to have issues with almost everybody. They never stand up for anything but they have many misconceptions, stereotypes, and misjudgments on which they view people through at any given time.
Nonetheless, the institutionalized racism has made African Americans to find difficulty in identifying themselves. They are forced to display various responses so as to gain acceptance in a given setting. The performance, discipline, and behavior of the white students are always the benchmarks upon which other races are expected to emulate. Such beliefs have made the African Americans feel inferior and thus have prompted some to take part in deviant behaviors so as to be acknowledged. The system that has celebrated the dominant white race and looks down on the Black minority race has made the White race to be the envy while at the same led to hatred directed towards the Black race. For the same token, the whites have been associated with good things while the Black believed to be the hub of bad things including the devil coincidentally given the black complexion. The three stories namely “Brownies”, “Our Lady of Peace”, and “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” shows the interconnection of racism, identity crisis, and how education scan be used to find solution to these challenges that affects and divides our society.
- DeCuir-Gunby, Jessica T. “A review of the racial identity development of African American adolescents: The role of education.” Review of Educational Research 79.1 (2009): 103-124.
- Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for ZZ Packer’s” Brownies”. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.