Chicago’s Southside, like many other towns, suffers considerably post World War II. Racism stretches across the nation and into the Youngers, an African-American family in the play A Raisin in the Sun, home. Lorraine Hansberry, playwright of A Raisin in the Sun, vividly shows people how racism and discrimination can make a family suffer. Since racism will never go away, people need to learn how racism negatively impacts others’ lives. Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun demonstrates how racism affects the Youngers’ daily lives.
First, racism in A Raisin in the sun comes from how the community influences people to act towards African Americans. In the play, Walter says is “Paper come? (RUTH points impatiently to the rolled up Tribune on the table, and he gets it and spreads it out and vaguely reads the front page) Set off another bomb Yesterday” (Hansberry 29). These people live in fear of bombs everyday. The fact that Mama wants to protect her family, and the whites did not want to let her is outrageous (Foertsch 423). Mr. Lindner says that the problem that they have, they could talk about and solve them, but he also wants to be racist and keep the black family away from his neighborhood. There is no respect from him in this scene (Thomas 470). Beneatha says, “… the only people in the world who are more snobbish than rich white people are rich colored people. I thought everybody knew that” (Hansberry 52). Mr. Lindner says that the problem is not talking about their problems, but he also wants to be racist and keep the black family away from his neighborhood. The Youngers are proud of what their new house, and how much they work for their house (Thomas 470). The house that Mama buys reflects how the Youngers’ lives are. Getting to be able to buy the house is a struggle, just as their lives are a struggle (Matthews 557). To summarize, although African- Americans face racism from both white and blacks alike, it is most commonly found in whites.
Additionally, the way African Americans are treated shows racism’s presence in Hansberry’s play. First, Ruth prove how African Americans are treated makes an impact, such as, “Well, being a colored woman, I guess I can’t help myself none” (Hansberry 38). Blacks and whites want equality. People all have dreams they want to be fulfilled. The fact that people see others as different, and think that they should not be able to have the same wants is not okay (Gordon 124). Second, Mama thinks that if she were to have freedom from whites, her live would be complete (Matthews 559). Also, Walter is trying to prove that African Americans do not get treated equally when he says, “Mama, you know it’s all divided up. Life is. Sure enough. Between the takers and the ‘tooken.’ (He laughs) I’ve figured it out finally. (He looks around at them) Yeah. Some of us always getting ‘tooken’” (Hansberry 141). To add, families, like Mama’s, do not have much; so they find a good home to live in. When they are shoved from the new home by the white people, there actions show how whites do not care how they are treated (Thomas 470). Finally, housing laws caused black to be treated differently. They upcoming neighborhoods are meant for whites, and the Clybourne Park Improvement Association is going to try to keep it that way. (Cuasatis 13). In short, African Americans have visibly suffered from the hands of racism.
Furthermore, the Youngers’ jobs show how African Americans were not treated as equals in the play. Lena even says in they play, “’Cause it sounds respectable to ’em. Something white people get, too. They know ’bout the flu. Otherwise they think you been cut up or something when you tell ’em you sick’” (Hansberry 46). Walter is a chauffeur who works for white people in order to provide for his family (Thomas 468). Working class white people are not treated the same as working class blacks; whites are given more money and better days to be off in order to take care of their children (Matthew 13). Also, Walter says to Ruth “Don’t you get up and go work in somebody’s kitchen for the last three years to help put clothes on her back?” (Hansberry 40). Ruth is so focused on Walter eating his eggs because he needs to go to work. Walter and Ruth need to be able to feed their child, and possible newborn child (Matthews 561). Ruth has to work in someone else’s kitchen and take care of other people’s children. Lena also has to work in other people’s kitchens (Thomas 469). In brief, the Youngers’ jobs represent how racism is used in their everyday lives.
Moreover, language is used to show racism in this play. Walter says to Mama, “And you—you people just put the money in my hand and you won’t have to live next to this bunch of stinking niggers! …” (Hansberry 143). People have to be willing to listen to suggestions on how to change. People have to be willing to join forces with others to be able to work together (Matthews 558). When Beneatha says that Walter is dead to her, Mama says that she should support him even at his lowest points in his life. The struggles people go through help them to become better people (“Lorraine Hansberry: Personal Struggles” 23). In fact, Ms. Johnson believes, “… if we left it up to these here crackers, the poor niggers wouldn’t have nothing” (Hansberry 101-2). Then the Clybourne Park Improvement Association says they are not racist, even though they want to stay segregated. (McClinton 510). Everything that Lena does is for the wellbeing of her children. She buys the house for her children and, she does not want to be white or pretend; she just wants her children safe and happy (Saber 461). All in all, language is a prime example of how racism affects the Youngers’ lives.
Finally, the Youngers’ house is a major conflict because of the Clybourne Park Welcoming Committee. As the book were describing the home it states, “Weariness has, in fact, won in this room. Everything has been polished, washed, sat on, used, scrubbed too often. All pretenses but living itself have long since vanished from the very atmosphere of this room” (Hansberry 26). Additionally, The Youngers live in a rundown tenement. They buy a house in order to have better living opportunities. Mama want Travis and Ruth’s baby to have better education and to have a better life (McClinton 510). Despite how the Youngers are living when Mama says she bought a house; Ruth says that she would rather scrub floors the rest of her life then to stay in the home they are in now (Gordon 127). To prove a point Mama tells Walter, “Well, you tell that to my boy tonight when you put him to sleep on the living-room couch …” (Hansberry 73). In addition, Lorraine Hansberry went through trying to move into an all white neighborhood. She knew how it felt to go through this process; therefore, she was able to incorporate her experience in A Raisin in the Sun (“Lorraine Hansberry: Personal Struggles” 22). Finally, there are many ways people would do to try to keep blacks out of their neighborhood, such as making them pay more for homes, denying them homes, and refusing loans for them (Matthews 556). Overall, discrimination against blacks is a key factor of the brutality of the youngers’ living arrangements.
In simpler terms, influences from the community, how African Americans are treated, work, language, and housing affects the influence of racism in the Youngers’ lives. Alongside de facto standards, Jim Crow Laws were created to control African-American lives. Eventually, those laws were changed, resulting in the elimination of discrimination against African Americans. Let people now promote equality so that others do not judge people by race. Let people create a new society that does not discriminate and allows all people to reach the American Dream.
Racism on a raisin in the sun. (2021, May 20).
Retrieved August 9, 2022 , from
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