Critical Thinking about Racism: Review of “HowI Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Lessons of a Racist Childhood”by American author Jim Grimsley
Thesis statement: Segregation and discrimination continue to thrive in the world today based on other factors that go beyond the color of the skin. Aspects of segregation today revolve around the power that people have on the economic, social, and political platforms.
Topic sentence: It is important to comprehend the above stated hypothesis for the purposes of understanding the reason why racism even exists in the world.
Explanation: A look at the writings of Grimsley shows that the author believed that “separation between the races could one day be conquered" (225).
Topic sentence: The 20th century witnessed continuance of grave discrimination of African Americans in the United States.
Explanation: As a form of explanation, the cases wherein police brutality is directed towards Blacks and Latinos is based on the stereotype that they are fond of criminal activities.
Evidence: A good example in this case is the story of the Little Rock Nine.
Topic sentence: Many factors cause apparent differences among the people of the world.
Explanation: Despite the fact that the laws facilitate freedom of choice and liberty to the people of the world, it does not call for harmony and unity among people of different backgrounds.
Thispaper finds that the people of the world ought to engage in searchingfor purposes of developing and maintaining mechanisms that wouldallow people of different kinds to coexist in harmony, appreciation,and understanding.
CriticalThinking about Racism: Review of “HowI Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Lessons of a Racist Childhood”by American author Jim Grimsley
Thiscritical thinking paper involves an evaluation of the book, “HowI Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Lessons of a Racist Childhood”by American author Jim Grimsley. It however goes ahead to offer acomprehensive review of the subject matter of segregation anddiscrimination as witnessed in the United States, and around worldover time. It is well understood that the issue of racism has beenaround for a long time. Ever since the ancient times, aspects ofracism, slavery, and ethnic discrimination have formed matters ofgreat concern and prevalence. Over the past few decades, however, theworld has been subject to changes or transformations wherein, thepeople have come to do away with racism in the context of thedifferent societies that exist in different regions.Grimsleyis keen to note that, “nearly every white person I have spoken toabout this time (said) ‘`We were not allowed to use the word"nigger" in my family.” (87). He goes ahead to indicatethat, “most Southern mothers also proscribed such words as shit,fuck, and cunt, often to no effect whatsoever” (88). Nevertheless,it is worth mentioning that there are reported instances in therecent past wherein issues of racism have been reported in differentplaces of the world. In some way, people of certain communities, orethnic backgrounds still have urges of observing themselves assuperior to others of different races. Grimsley (72) suggests thatthere is an aspect of racial discrimination that is conducted by“good people.” There exist intrinsic natures among people ofalways wanting to compete with others. From a psychologicalperspective, it could be said that individuals constantly desire tobe alphas, or belong to alpha groups of people within the societiesthat they live in. One could also say that segregation anddiscrimination continue to thrive in the world today based on otherfactors that go beyond the color of the skin. Aspects of segregationtoday revolve around the power that people have on the economic,social, and political platforms.
Itis important to comprehend the above stated hypothesis for thepurposes of understanding the reason why racism even exists in theworld. Such a matter ought to be of concern to many stakeholdersincluding human rights organizations, governments, and commonplacemembers of communities around the world. Administrative agenciesought to be concerned about segregation in terms of racism, since thevice is unlawful in the countries of the world. Then again, it issafe to indicate that racism affects human societies in many spheresor platforms, including but not limited to matters of politics,economics, and sociality. From another perspective, there is hopethat racism might completely be done away within the times to come.The modern societies still witness forms of prejudice towards certaingroups of people. For instance, in the United States, Blacks andLatinos continue to complain about unfair treatment by lawenforcement officers based on their races. It has been reported inmainstream media a number of times that law enforcement officers inthe country have gunned down a black male, who was not armed. A lookat the writings of Grimsley shows that the author believed that“separation between the races could one day be conquered"(225). Then again, the author points out that he comprehends theplight of people of minority ethnic groups in the United States. Hestates, “I would like to have lived in the world… where whatmattered would have been only the way my voice blended with theothers, and the sound we made” (227).
Afterthe civil war in the United States between 1865-1877, AfricanAmericans were momentarily integrated into the general Americansociety especially in the south, where they were observed as mereslaves. Commencement of the 20thcentury however, witnessed a continuance of grave discrimination ofAfrican Americans in the United States. For instance, they were notadmitted into the same schools as the whites, they had to sit atdesignated places in vehicles of public transport and other publicplaces, among other things. The resultant effect is that most babyboomers of the white race were introduced to a time wherein theirupbringing instilled racism in them. For this reason, it has beenhard for them to unlearn the racist ideals that they were taught bythe society as they grew up. A group of interest in this regard,again, is the white people of the South. For these people, thethought of Black caste equality seemed to be the most controversialthing in their lives during the times of reconstruction and end ofsecession. For that reason, civil unrest continued in the South for aconsiderable time as the people (whites) aimed to undermine theefforts by the administration of President Abraham Lincoln.
Withoutany doubt, racism based on the color of the skin seems to be foundedon mere stereotypes about certain groups of people. As a form ofexplanation, the cases wherein police brutality is directed towardsBlacks and Latinos is based on the stereotype that they are fond ofcriminal activities. One cannot decline to note that aspects ofdiscrimination have resulted in moments of serious harshness for manypeople around the world, and for a very long time. In fact, manyyoung people of minority ethnic groups in the United States findthemselves in positions of juvenile delinquents owing to thestandpoint of the larger society about them. In other words, membersof minority races engage in some undesirable social behavior becauseof being identified with stereotypes. The situation could always bedifferent some of these young people might be people full of focusand dreams in life. A good example in this case is the story of theLittleRock Nine.After the case of Brownv. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas,the African-American students sought enrollment into Central HighSchool not because they could, but because they had a sense ofpurpose and goals of attaining desirable education. What followed isthat they were subject to moments of immense racial discrimination,violence, and humiliation. No one would have blamed them if theyopted to throw in the towel, and retreat to the comfort zones ofblacks-only schools. For their courage and strong will, their actionsof fighting for equal rights formed a very important event in thehistory of the United States, on the platform of the civil rightsadvocacy. Without any doubt, the actions of the LittleRock Ninein the years 1957 and 1958 marked a major turning point that servedto unite a country that was gravely divided by racial lines.Ultimately, they managed to show their capabilities and competence asresourceful people in the field of education. In America today, agood number of people of different races have formed tightly knitgroups or teams on diverse platforms.
Ashinted before, racism is a thing that was passed down from generationto generation. Owing to this ideology, one is implored to think thatsince racism continues to exist, people continue to pass down thevice of thought and behavior to generations that come after them.Proponents of racism tend to argue that God had purpose in creatingpeople of different races, and that the purpose does not involveblending of the different groups of people, since the Lord wouldsimply have created people of the same kind. In addition, it seemsthat human beings have an intrinsic need of establishing associationswith others of a different kind. Such is observed in the book ofGrimsley he, together with his classmates endeavored to establish a"tepid and partial desegregation" (40) of their classroom,which had a few Africa American students in 1966. Nonetheless, onewonders why the author saw it fit to label himself “a good littleracist” (18). At the time, the government of the United States haddeclared that all public schools ought not to have racialsegregation integration of students of all races was warranted.
Indeed,many factors cause apparent differences among the people of theworld. Even so, economic factors stand out as having significantweight in terms of bringing about inequality as compared to the rest.It seems that the leading economies of the world are predisposed toengage in competing efforts of development so that they cannot beobserved as being inferior to the other leading players on theinternational platform. Despite the fact that the laws facilitatefreedom of choice and liberty to the people of the world, it does notcall for harmony and unity among people of different backgrounds.Earlier, people of minority communities that were mostly slaves hadno sense of freedom. They were also engaged in forced labor, besidesbeing treated inhumanely from time to time. At some point, forinstance, white people would not have any legal liability for takingthe life of a black slave simply because they owned them.
Thereis also the matter of segregation as orchestrated by the religiousconvictions of people. Indeed, members of specific religious groupstend to observe their faith as being more desirable, or appropriatein comparison to the others. In the writings of Grimsley, heindicates that the local churches in the south did little insupporting integration of the people. In fact, racism sermons were anorm in these places of worship, and they were evident at all levelsfrom Sunday school to the worship services. The author is keen tonote that “The Christian Bible… depicted God`s son as awhite-wooled lamb, God`s adversary as a prince of . . . darkness,salvation as a cleansing that leads to shining whiteness. God,Christ, and all the angels wore white. Death and sin were robed inblack" (94).
Themain problem remains that there is a kind of master-slaverelationship among developed economically strong countries, and thedeveloping economically weak countries. The leading countries of theworld are however, separated into the West and the East. From time totime, there has been demonstration of violence between countries thatbelong to the different sides. Indeed, and even in current times,acts of terrorism continue to occur in the world. This is a clearindication of the existence of segregation among the people of theworld. The future seems delicate in the sense that more and morecountries get to have nuclear power capabilities. For this reason,this paper establishes that separations among the people of the worldcontinue to pose more threats to humanity as a whole. A look athistory shows that the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) were regarded as the“saviors of the South”. They were glorified as “knights inshining armor”, as they engaged in immense acts of violence againstpeople of the black race. As such, this paper observes that there isneed for people of all walks of life to engage in much searchingabout mechanisms of coexisting with other people, whose kind isdifferent from their own. The reality is that so much needs to bedone in terms of how far people still have to go in terms ofappreciating and acknowledging others for who they are.
Inconclusion, this paper finds that separations exist among peopleowing to a need of doing away with competition. Those that havealready achieved success in some areas of life fear becoming inferiorto others at some other time. Racism has been a main form ofdiscrimination in this world for a long time. With laws andconventions in place to protect people from racism, the people of theworld are engaging in other forms of segregation. An importantelement of segregation in the world of today involves the economiccapabilities of persons and countries. There is also the issue ofreligion acting as a basis for segregation. This paper finds that thepeople of the world ought to engage in searching for purposes ofdeveloping and maintaining mechanisms that would allow people ofdifferent kinds to coexist in harmony, appreciation, andunderstanding.
Grimsley,J. HowI Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Lessons of a Racist Childhood.AlgonquinBooks.Chapel Hill, NC. 2016. Print