Black Vision Essay, Research Paper
Ralph Ellison was born in Okalahoma, March 1, 1914 he was the grandson of black slaves in the south. His life was full of accomplishment he attended Tuskegee University from 1933-1936. In 1936 he moved to New York where he met the novelist Richard Wright, and later became associated with the Federal Writer?s project. Ellison achieved international fame with his release of ?Invisible Man? in 1952 in the following year the novel won the national book award. Ralph Ellison passed away in 1994, but he left behind him a legacy of African American culture that many had not seen before. In many of Ellison?s works he writes about the Black image in America, or the ?black vision?. Ralph Ellison?s black vision humiliates the black race, makes them feel inferior, segregates them, but still Ellison has hope for America, and he believes that the black race should deal with the ?black vision? independently. This is best proven by the short story ?Flying Home?, a critical essay written on Ellison, and a powerful statement given by Ralph Ellison. The poignant short story ?Flying Home? is the story of an injured black pilot who lies on the ground in physical pain, as he deals with the pain of gaining acceptance in a white society. Todd expresses his feelings on riding the old black man?s ox into town in this excerpt: ?Yes, and humiliation was when you could never be simply yourself, when you were always part of this black ignorant man? 1 Ellison expresses here through the pilot that white America will never be accepting of blacks. Blacks are viewed as being on a lower platform, while the whites hold some type of superiority over them. Todd does not want to be associated with the old man because the old man represents to Tom all that is wrong with Black America. He is not well educated, poor, and speaks poorly; Tom sees this as the reason why blacks are not truly accepted into society. Therefore he refuses to be associated with him in anyway sacrificing the medical aid he truly needs. Another reason Todd does not wish to ride into town is he does not wish to be recognized for his flaw. Todd feels that when he makes a mistake a white person will not hold it against just him, but rather his entire race. Therefore Todd and the rest of black America can never receive true equality because of the ignorant attitudes of the white people. Through ?Flying home? Ellison shows the crude world of the ?black vision? of America. Todd is Ellison?s tool for describing the black vision of America.
Furthermore ?Flying Home? and a critical essay on Ellison prove that although the vision of blacks in America is unjust, it is something that Ellison thought African Americans must deal with. A critic of Ralph Ellison?s work Ernest Kaiser wrote an essay called ?Negro Images in American Writing?. In this essay Kaiser writes ?To Ellison Negro life in America is merely part of the general human condition of western man to be mastered individually by each Negro as a man.?2 In this critique of Ellison?s ?black vision.? Kaiser clearly states Ellison?s view on the hardships of black life in America. Ellison best represents the ideals of the ?black vision? in ?Flying Home?. In one particular scene where the old black man describes his vision of heaven is very symbolic of the ?black vision?. ?There I was sho?but they tole me I better come down cuz us colored folks had to wear a special type of harness when we flew. That was how come they wasn?t flying. Oh yes an you had to be extra strong to fly with one of them harnesses.? 3 When the old black man goes to heaven he sprouts wings, but is supposed to use them with a harness. This is symbolic of Ellison?s ?black vision?, and how a black person must learn to deal with struggle. To fly with a harness a black man must have extra strength. Just as on Earth for a Blackman to endure the ?black vision? in America a black man must be mentally strong, must have great endurance, to put up with the struggles of humility, stereotypes, and double standards placed upon their shoulders. Ernest Kaiser clearly states the fact that Ellison believes the ?black vision? should be dealt with on an individual level. Ellison proves this in the short story ?Flying Home?
Although Ellison?s ?black vision? is largely seen in ?Flying Home?, Ellison still remains optimistic about America in general. Ellison is ounce quoted saying ?If the world has potency to revive and make us free, it also has the power to blind, imprison, and destroy.?4 Ellison believes that the world including America is capable of wonderful things. At the same time it is also capable of all the things the black vision has accomplished. The ?black vision? embarrasses the black American society, it is degrading, and condescending towards blacks, but Ellison supports that the black race deal with the issue themselves, and maintains a positive attitude for hope of abolishing racism.