November 26, 2012

The Racial Trope

As I was reading Gates' essay, his statement, "Race... pretends to be an objective term of classification, when in fact it is a dangerous trope," stuck out to me quite a bit when I was reflecting on the essay. Racism throughout history was and still is just that-- a trope that people use for generalizations, comparisons, and reasoning for arguments. I have never learned about the racism in literature before, so seeing how Gates introduces his point on demonstrating "the emblem that links racial alienation with economic alienation" through literature and the reading/writing abilities of Africans showed how such tropes are perpetuated. 

Something else I thought of was what the response to the rise in African reading and writing was. He mentions that it soon became illegal to educate them, but he doesn't quite cover how it affected that argument of blacks being completely incapable of doing so. He mentions how the punishments for blacks were greater, but we don't see how it changes thoughts of blacks and literacy. Overall, I thought his stance on the struggles in racism through language was quite interesting and I like that he addressed the core of the issue as being tropes perpetuated through language.

2 comments:

rachel rivera said...

I think racial stereotypes are something so prevalent in literature that it's hard to believe you've never learned about them before (though, if I'm being honest, I don't know if it's something that I've necessarily been taught either). I think the greatest example we've seen of that has been this semester when we were reading the speech that had been highly circulated in a "black" dialect that made it seem like it was a black woman that had said it instead of a Dutch one, and for that reason, without reading it, I misinterpreted the purpose of the speech. Everything about their race has been stereotyped and made into a trope, from their speech to their actions. While the stereotype has evolved, there's still a prevalent quality that pertains to them just because of their skin color.

I just..even in such an "advanced" society, there's still that predetermined idea on people just because of their race. It's not an objective term and I don't think it ever will be. Talking about race in literature is still a touchy subject because it's always going to be something that ends up in having someone offended.

lmariachami said...

Race is a crutch that is used by society from generation to generation. Racism to be more clear is the crutch. Whenever something occurs that involves two different races, the term "race" comes to play. It's not that two people are just butting heads, but that it is two different races butting heads. Race is always the issue, in almost everything race is brought up.
As Rachel brings up, Sojourner Truth's speech is known because she was black. But the way it was written and the way it actually was depicted are two totally different things. Society used her race to change her language, to change the text. The text makes it sound as if a typical black woman is speaking, when in fact it was a Dutch-African-american woman. She wears the screen of a black woman so society can use race to define and explain her text. Except she didn't want to wear that screen, it was given to her.
Race is used as a crutch. I said it earlier, and I'm saying it again because it is true. It is used as an explanation for how society treats people that are "different" from them.

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