African American Women Essay, Research Paper
african american women
It would be great if I could write this essay telling all about African American women, how they see the world, their perspectives on society, and their views on life in general, but being an eighteen year old white male it’s a bit difficult. Fortunately, I have had the experience of reading three essays by African American women that may help in understanding these peoples experiences; “A Question of Lanuage” by, Gloria Naylor, “How it Feels to be Colored Me” by, Zora Neale Hurston, and “My Man Bovane” by, Toni Cade Bambara
After these three readings I have gained an insight into the lives of African American women. In Gloria Naylor’s Essay, “A Question of Language” the use of the word “nigger” is questioned. I have always seen the word as derogatory and have always wondered why African Americans would use it as if it meant nothing. After reading this essay, by an African American woman I have a greater insight into why these people would use what I thought to be such a demeaning, demoralizing word. I can now see the word can have many meanings. ” In my third grade class I remarked that once again (the little boy) had received a much lower mark than I did he spit out that word “(232) here I saw the meaning of the word that I saw, the only meaning I knew. A derogatory remark used to demean an African American person. Then as I read into the story more I saw another meaning, ” the word was always applied to a man who had distinguished himself that brought approval for his strength, intelligence, or drive.”(233) Here the word was used as praise. For the first time I could see through an African American person’s eyes and understand what they understood. I also saw other meanings for the word such as “my nigger”, term of endearment. I also learned when used as a plural it represented those who had no respect for themselves or others.
The second story, “How it Feels to be Colored Me” was an eye opener. When I read this story I was stupefied. “I remember the very day I became colored. Up to my thirteenth year I lived in the little Negro town of Eatonville, Florida.”(99) Wow, this was something I really never though of before. This person really had no idea what it was to be colored, this person had no idea that there was a difference between white, black, and brown. I suppose in an ideal society this would be the case, but not living in an ideal society I was surprised. I’ve always empathized with African American people in their struggles to be recognized as equals. This story was basically an enforcement of those feelings. But I like some of the things Ms. Hurston writes. ” I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed uo in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” It seems to me that Ms. Hurston has adapted really well to her situation. When exposed to the “other side” of the world she does not condemn herself to silence or deny herself anything that she deserves. She does not wallow in sorrow because she was ridiculed because of her skin color. She stands up for herself and lives her life to the fullest accomplishing every goal she sets, proving that she is as good if not better than those who ridicule her. “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonished me. Hoe can and deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
The third story, “My Man Bovanne” was a story in which could be applied to any family, whether black, white, green, or oyster blue. I could have put the same situation in my own family and have a similar outcome. This story was very interesting. One could view it in many different angles and from many positions. When seen from the children’s eyes it one can see their embarrassment towards their mother’s actions. “The point is momma well, it’s pride. You embarrass yourself and us too dancin’ like that.”(376) If seen from this point of view their feelings are justified. When seen through the mother’s eyes it is a totally different story. “Blind people got a hummin jones if you notice and I press up close to dance with Bovanne who blind and I’m hummin and he hummin, chest to chest not jammin my chest into the man, Wasn’t about tits. Was bout vibrations.”(374) Here one can see momma’s compassion and kindness. We can see that momma was not embarrassing anyone but was being kind to the blind gentleman who probably had no one else to dance with.
After reading these three essays I can have a greater appreciation for African American Women and what they go through. I can now see the world better through their eyes and understand better their thoughts, feelings, and reactions.