The words of Toni Morrison were engraved in my mind like a bible is to a priest. Not long ago, my AP Literature teacher, Mrs. Amanda Durfee, assigned the class a very intellectual and meaningful piece of writing, Beloved Toni Morrison. I can still picture the atmosphere of the classroom, the twinkling lights glistening overhead, the promethean board flickering because someone forgot to change the batteries, and for some reason it was really cold.
All throughout the winter, just like the main character, Sethe, my temporary address was 124 Bluestone Rd. Cincinnati, Ohio. I camped out in the room near the “pool of pulsing red light,” waiting for a sign from the shedded blood of Sethe’s daughter Beloved. I waited and waited, until 124 was finally quiet. The book Beloved shows the effects slavery had on African Americans, especially the women. Sethe, her husband, and his brothers were enslaved to Mr. and Mrs. Garner, although they were very sweet owners, a slave is still a slave. After the death of Mr. Garner, a close friend of his who Sethe refers to as the “Schoolteacher” became their owner. He was a brutal master and made Sethe and her family suffer. Eventually, they all attempted to escape and the only survivors were Sethe, her children and one of her husband’s brothers, Paul D (who eventually becomes a new love interest for Sethe but that is beyond the point). Sethe, a mother of 4, and a murderer of one, was able to survive on her own with her children and husband’s mother. The household consisted of herself, her 2 young boys (who eventually ran away to be on their own), the spirit of her first daughter, her second (living) daughter, and her husband’s mother, Baby Suggs. Through all the hardships and the spiritual disturbances, Sethe was able to push through it all and survive until the Civil War was over and she was finally free.
The book Beloved was based on racism. All throughout the novel, Black folks were demonized by the White man. “ ‘Those white things have taken all I had or dreamed,’ she said, ‘and broke my heartstrings too. There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks’ ” (44). As a black women living in the mid eighteen hundreds, Sethe was struggling with her identity and fitting into society. Racism has been and will always be a problem in the United States, with Beloved taking place after the Civil War, Sethe may have been free on paper, but in society she was still a Black women with no rights. Racism doesn’t only occur within the Black community, it happens to all minorities whether you are a female, African American, Indian, Mexican, Arab, Jew, Muslim, or even Christian, we are all discriminated against.
As a female Arab Muslim, I have experienced racism in the first degree, so in some ways I may be able to relate to Sethe. Whether we like it or not, racism has conquered America, especially under the “rule” of a republican cheeto. If it is not publicised, it is behind closed doors and there is no escaping it. “Amy moved to the other side of the lean-to where, seated, she lowered her head toward her shoulder and braided her hair, saying, ‘Don’t up and die on me in the night, you hear? I don’t want to see your ugly black face hankering over me. If you do die, just go on off somewhere where I can’t see you, hear?’ ‘I hear,’ said Sethe. ‘I’ll do what I can, miss.’ ” (41). Even the White woman, Amy, who helped Sethe while giving birth, didn’t want Sethe dying anywhere near her. Sethe couldn’t do anything but nod her head and agree. This shows the sickening ideals of racism and the horrible things suffering African American women had to go through. Although society may have advanced and the racism isn’t as open and accepted as it used to be, it is still going on and being ignored. In many ways, the racism against Sethe is relevant to the racism/discrimination that I have experienced. From the feeling of not belonging to the physical altercations one has to go through in order to survive, us minorities should not have to fear going outside of our homes or walking down the street to the restaurant we really like just to get physically and verbally abused.
The book Beloved by Toni Morrison shows the pure reality of racism and slavery. Although slavery may not be a problem anymore, racism still is. No matter your race, religion, gender or ethnicity, racism/discrimination exists and there is no escaping it. From a Black enslaved woman in the nineteenth century like Sethe, to a “free” Arab American Muslim woman in the twenty-first century like me, racism and discrimination is everywhere, it is up to us to either let it take over or shut it down completely.
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