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Thesis Statement Autobiography Ex Colored Man

Racial Identity in The Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man Essay

1327 Words6 Pages

Slavery was abolished after the Civil War, but the Negro race still was not accepted as equals into American society. To attain a better understanding of the events and struggles faced during this period, one must take a look at its' literature. James Weldon Johnson does an excellent job of vividly depicting an accurate portrait of the adversities faced before the Civil Rights Movement by the black community in his novel “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.” One does not only read this book, but instead one takes a journey alongside a burdened mulatto man as he struggles to claim one race as his own. In Johnson's novel, the young mulatto boy is at first completely unaware of his unique circumstance, and lives life comfortably and…show more content…

It is after this realization that one begins to see the young boy struggle with his racial identity. As time continues, the boy struggles with what to make of himself and his future. His musical aspirations begin to hold more weight in his decisions, but are still rather questionable. Whenever he seems to be making the steps to pave his future, he seems to continuously be redirected from his intended path. His inability to fully strive for a profession can be directly related to his inability to choose how he wants to be viewed, or rather who he wants to be viewed as, by society; he lacks the confidence to potentially make the “wrong decision.” The narrator becomes increasingly likely to make a career of music, and is greatly inspired by spirituals he hears at a church service. As he leaves to “settle down to work” (Johnson 133) , he witnesses a gruesome and cruel scene. A black man was to be hanged in town, but instead a white mob burns the black man alive. The narrator is terrified and scarred, committing to live his life as a white man. Shame is what the young boy now feels, for whether he lives as a white man, he is indeed a black man. Shame is responsible for the choice he made, because he wished not to be “identified with a people that could with impunity be treated worse than animals" (Johnson 139). There is not one single

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The Autobiography of the Ex-Colored Man: The Ability to Pass Essay

1120 Words5 Pages

The Autobiography of the Ex-Colored Man: The Ability to Pass The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man depicts the narrator as a liminal character. Beginning with an oblivious knowledge of race as a child, and which racial group he belonged, to his well knowing of “white” and “black” and the ability to pass as both. On the account of liminality, the narrator is presenting himself as an outsider. Because he is both a “white” and “black” male, he does not fit in with either racial group. In the autobiography of an Ex-colored man, James Weldon Johnson uses double consciousness to show the narrators stance as a person that gives up his birthright for the “privilege of whiteness”.
Beginning from when the narrator was a little boy, being…show more content…

“A great wave of humiliation and shame swept over me. Shame that I belonged to a race that could be so dealt with; and shame for my country, that it, the great example of democracy to the world, should be the only civilized, if not the only state on earth, where a human being would be burned alive.”(137) Because of that day, the narrator made a decision that he felt was best for him at the time, which was to let the world make their own perception of him. “I argued that to forsake one’s race to better one’s condition was no less worthy an action than to forsake one’s country for the same purpose. I finally made up my mind that I would neither disclaim the black race nor claim the white race; but that I would change my name, raise a mustache, and let the world take me for what it would; that it was not necessary for me to go about with the label of inferiority pasted across my forehead.” (139) In the narrative, it is conclusive; the narrator’s adult life is considered a performance. Due to the fact he is a man of multiple race, it is hard to determine which lifestyle is the performance, and which lifestyle comes natural to him. The narrator has various connections to the “white” and/or “black” world. As a child, the narrator was friends with both “shiny” who was a black boy and “red head” whom was white. Both where considered his best friends even after the day he found out he was

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