Racism is defined as the prejudice towards someone of a different race based upon the belief that the latter individual`s race is inferior. This form of bias has made headlines countless times, especially in the American culture whereby the Caucasians believed they were more superior to the African Americans. It is, nevertheless, noteworthy that since its abolition, individuals have learned to co-exist together regardless of their ethnic differences. Initially, people from both ethnic backgrounds could not travel together or go to the same schools, but now everything has changed and harmonious and peaceful concomitance appears to have prevailed. There are, however, a few incidences of racism being cited by the press which show that the social ill has not been suppressed completely. One of the most explicit accounts of racism is revealed by Hansberry in A Raisin in the Sun.
A Raisin in the Sun: Depicting Racism in Everyday Life
The aforementioned play depicts a situation where despite both the blacks and Caucasian individuals living together, it appeared that racism was still exhibited in the course of their lives. The play recounts the life the Young family which comprised entirely of black individuals living in the confines of a small apartment ("A Raisin in the Sun Summary"). Besides this, these people experience a lot of hostility upon moving to new environs owing to their skin color. It appears that the big dreams initially held by the family have been quashed by the seemingly unfriendly people living close to them. The main character in the narration is Walter, and it can be observed that he is forced to deal with most of the issues alone. Other characters such Walter`s sister and brother, Beneatha, and Travis have little to say. Walter`s elderly mother Lena appears to be very concerned about what is going on, and it is apparent that since her husband`s demise things had been getting tougher. On the other hand, the black family in the narration belongs to a group of second-class citizens owing to their disadvantaged state. Walter is a hardworking man but due to his ethnicity, there are limited job opportunities available for him. His low paying occupation does little to assist him in providing for his family and he constantly wishes that he could be in a position to offer his family the best life. Further still, living in an all-white neighborhood did not present the much-anticipated friendliness that Walter` family hoped they could get.
George Murchison: Internalized Racism and Conflicting Cultural Identity
George Murchison is one of the characters who despite belonging to the African descent, appears to be unwilling to live by his culture`s ways. Having come from a well-endowed black family he is readily accepted into Walter`s family when he begins dating Beneatha. George`s attitude towards the African culture is, however, prejudiced and this makes Beneatha`s affection towards him fade away ("George Murchison: Character Analysis"). During one of the incidents, Beneatha condemns George for not taking pride in his culture and he argues that that culture is nothing significant. This offers a contradictions showing that different African-American individuals held differing opinions about certain matters. Additionally, George is depicted as a victim of internalized racism. This is a situation whereby individuals from the black community become so used to being treated in a prejudicial manner to an extent that they end up treating members of their own race in a similar fashion (Majeed 237). In addition to this, Ruth, Walter`s wife who is a domestic worker argues how her white employer would call her agency and have her replaced if she called in sick (Majeed 239). It depicts that she is replaceable contrary to popular belief that people are treated equally despite their ethnic affiliation. It appears that the white people do not believe a black person can become ill in the same way that they do. They, therefore, picture a worst case scenario of what would probably have caused such an individual not to turn up for work.
The Symbolic Significance of Lena's Homeownership and the Opposition Faced
The most obvious example of racism in this play occurs in the initial scene after Lena`s husband`s death. It is the main idea that the whole narration is built on. Upon his demise, she is expecting some insurance money amounting to $10000 and plans on using this to purchase a beautiful home for her family (Majeed 241). She spots a nice house within Chicago and makes a down-payment for it. What she, however, fails to realize is that this home is located within a community that her family was not welcome to live in. It is surprising that she does not even note this, but the uproar from the white neighbors is clearly visible. Soon after making the payment, someone from the homeowner`s association is sent to the apartment to discourage Lena and her family from moving into their new house (Majeed 241). His constant use of the term "you people" while referring to the black family is a clear revelation of racism (Hansberry 55). In addition to this, the character, Mr. Linder, tries his best to act politely as he clearly reveals that Lena`s family is not welcome into their neighborhood (Majeed 248). Astonishingly, the representative offers the family an even larger sum of money in order to persuade them to leave their community; though they vehemently decline the offer (Majeed 243). This appeared to be the beginning of the great struggle they were bound to experience as a result of living in this new environment.
Economic Significance: Money, Opportunity, and Racial Inequality
In the 1950`s the economic prominence of a majority of black individuals was wanting. Many of them lived in impoverished states. Due to this, money appeared to have such a great significance in the lives of these individuals. In the course of the play, Lena says "So money is life...things have changed" (Hansberry 79). She was alluding to Walter`s great love for money. At that moment she had denied offering him money to establish his liquor store. It is apparent that Walter`s position as a chauffeur did not satisfy him and he had that great urge to be something bigger and also to become financially stable. He is inclined to request for the money since it appeared to be difficult for black people to obtain credit from financial institutions, and yet he needs to do something significant to satisfy his ego and prove his relevance, not only to his family but also to those who undermined him. Currently, any person can be in a position to get a well rewarding job in the American economy based on their qualification unlike the situation depicted in the course of this narration.
Social Confinement: Residential Segregation and the Young Family's Struggle
Far from the physical confinement experienced by the Younger family as a result of living in a small house before they moved into a new home, their social roles also appear equally constrained upon their arrival in their new environment as it becomes very difficult for them to relate with those living close to them. Residential segregation is clearly depicted in the play. The Young`s neighbors viewed them like a vermin that ought to be eradicated from their community. Hansberry tries to offer a clear picture of how hard it was for a family of black people to fit into a society comprising of white individuals ("A Raisin in the Sun Summary."). Besides, very few people managed to move into such neighborhoods and it appeared that everyone was well aware of their presence and did not feel like they were justified to be part of that community ("A Raisin in the Sun Summary."). This clearly shows that despite the eradication of slavery, the Caucasians still felt that they belonged to a superior race compared to the black individuals and hence having the latter people moving into their community made them feel threatened. As a result, during the entire story, the Young`s appear to be fighting for their position within the new community they had moved into.
The above examples clearly demonstrate the various incidences of racism existent in A Raisin in the Sun. This is a story which focuses on a family of black individuals. Initially, the latter family lived in a small apartment but upon the demise of the breadwinner of the family, Lena decides it was time to move her family into a new neighborhood. That decision is met with a lot of resistance, to an extent that even the representative of the community comes to visit them with an intention of convincing them to leave the community. It is apparent that the Young family belonged to the section of underprivileged individuals in the society. The family was poor and this was because the adults did not get an opportunity to work in rewarding professions. In addition to this, Walter experiences a lot of difficulties while trying to obtain a loan from the bank to start-up a business and the only person who could help him is his mother who is also hesitant. Based on the evidence provided it can be concluded there is no doubt whatsoever that racism is a subject can clearly be depicted in this narration. This is clearly an account that no family would ever want to ever encounter in the course of their lives.
Hansberry, Lorraine. Lorraine Hansberry's a Raisin in the Sun. New York: S. French, 2017.
Lit Charts Editorial Team. "George Murchison: Character Analysis" https://www.litcharts.com/lit/a-raisin-in-the-sun/characters/george-murchison. Accessed. 25 Apr. 2018.
Majeed, May Ahmed. "The Fusing of Inner Life Theory and Outer Life Theory in Lorraine Hansberry? s A Raisin in the Sun and August Wilson? s Fence." International Journal of English Language and Literature Studies 3.3 (2014): 234-249.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "A Raisin in the Sun Summary." Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 25 Apr. 2018.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Essay:
Q: Where Does Racism Appear in A Raisin in the Sun?
A: Racism can be seen throughout A Raisin in the Sun in various ways. When the Younger family moves into a predominantly white neighborhood, they experience hostility and discrimination from neighbors as well as pressure from a representative of their community to leave; limited job opportunities arise alongside economic disparity within their community - as well as internalized racism within themselves.
Q: What are the effects of racism in A Raisin in the Sun on its characters?
A: Racism has serious repercussions for A Raisin in the Sun characters. Racist prejudice interferes with their dreams and ambitions while encountering economic setbacks, limited opportunities, and social discrimination in their new environment. Furthermore, characters must confront how racism impacts both themselves and their relationships in order to find lasting solutions.
Q: Is racism still relevant today?
A: Unfortunately, racism remains an important topic today. While progress has been made in certain areas, systemic racism and racial discrimination still occur across society in various forms - visible examples being education, employment, criminal justice and healthcare; disparities can also be observed within housing. Efforts must be undertaken to dismantle structures which perpetuate racism while creating equality and inclusiveness for all individuals.
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Paper Example on General Racism and How It Manifests in "A Raisin in the Sun". (2022, May 16). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/paper-example-on-general-racism-and-how-it-manifests-in-a-raisin-in-the-sun
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