Racism In "A Raisin In The Sun" By Lorraine Hansberry
In the play, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry the reader is introduced to characters who have different experiences as African Americans due to the changing era and generational gaps. The play is taken place after a war in Chicago where slavery was abolished is allowed but racism was still present and colored people were not treated equally. The Younger family lived in an urban community in poverty, with unfulfilled dreams, and futures that is reliant on the life insurance of the patriarch of the family. I chose to highlight the concerns and challenges the characters faced with cultural assimilation and the many obstacles they experience not only with the white society but within their own.
Struggling to maintain and sustain a comfortable living situation the faith to change their way of life relies on the hands of Lena. Lena and Ruth discussed the ability to move into a more spacious, better-looking home, in a different environment. Walter and Beneatha’s dreams are attainable through monetary gain. Beneatha aspirations to be a Doctor and Walter wants to own a liquor store, so he longer must work for the white man. Although their dreams would better their family dynamic and situation the process also leaves behind some of their identity blackness. The reader can question is a move in the right direction or a move to feel better than their equal parts. In scene one Lena made a conscious decision to put a down payment on her home because she wants her grandson to be able to have a better life in a nice neighborhood.
In scene two Beneatha is trying to embrace her African culture although her overall look is that of an American. Joseph Asagai an African student questioned Beneatha’s knowledge of her heritage and culture and implies she has been systematically changed. Asagai criticizes Beneatha’s hair and implies that she is an assimilationist and states that “assimilationism is so popular in your country”. Although she strongly denied being an “assimilationist”. Asagai’s stories of Africa informed her that they did not have the issues she faced because they embraced the culture and self-loathed their naturalness. With Beneatha’s lighter complexion and adapting the look of the western culture, she is less likely to be subjected to harsh racism or that of a darker-skinned African American. Beneatha wants nothing more than to be a Doctor however, Asagai impacted changed the narrative because what was more important than representing being colored as well.
Beneatha seemingly not being able to escape or defend her place in the culture encounters her date, George Murchison. George Murchison’s model for assimilation in the black community. His character exudes arrogance because his family is wealthy, and he views other black people as lesser in society. Although attends the best school and may be more academically inclined than most people in his race and he dresses like the white wealthy preppy boys do he is blinded to the fact that he is black and no matter how rich or poor he will never fit into white society. George Murchison makes it clear to Beneatha that he sees African roots and culture as a waste of time. “Let’s face it, baby, your heritage is nothing but a bunch of raggedy-assed spirituals and some grass huts”. George Murchison can pretend to abandon his heritage by dressing differently to fit in with a society that will never accept him or assist with future advancement. Beneatha struggles to be accepted for her blackness and on the other hand, George refrains from embracing his culture to fit into a society he will never belong to while turning his back on the only society that will accept him for who he is.
Lena consciously decided to put a down payment on the house in an all-white neighborhood in Clybourne Park. Assimilation becomes an important part of the play when it is implied moving to Clybourne Park would not only be a downfall but the death of the Youngers implied Ms. Johnson.” I bet this time next month I’ll names will have been in the paper plenty NEGROES INVADE CLYOURNE PARK—BOMBED! Representing Clybourne Park is Mr. Linder whose character is respectful, mannerly, and soft-spoken but can subtly insult the Young family. Mr. Linder works hard to keep the white society he represents free of integration with the black community. Leading to Act three Walter is distraught that he was entrusted with their life saving that was supposed to change their lives but instead led to deferred dreams. Walter in desperation was willing to change to appease Mr. Linder even if it meant acting properly white or reenacting a slave.
Throughout A Raisin in the Sun each character goes through a phase of grief, turmoil, and disappointment. However, through the pain, they were able to gain a new level of maturity and unit after realizing that money does not equal respect. Why does the American dream have to relate to whitewashing because one wishes to better their environment and not live by the negative effects of their environment? Whether an African American inherits enough money in the present day to change their environment and social class and started to dress the part of a wealthy white class family internally we are who we are. We may be allowed but we will never belong.
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