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The “Jungle” Effect: Institutionalized Racism

Last class we discussed the issue of labeling African-Americans as animalistic, and further the systemic issues in our society which allow the existence of these stereotypes. In Nicolette’s blog she discussed the cultural effects of slavery on all of society. Whites were instilling animistic conditions for African-Americans creating a perpetual cycle which continues to exist today. Further, as we saw in the scene with the Schoolteacher where Sethe heard the students dividing her characteristics into either the animalistic category or the humane, certain aspects of slavery remain implicitly as a consequence of perpetuating racist education. Nicolette wrote, “Whites who acted as reluctant participants are often just doing what they think their role is in life.” The implicit racism which remains because of slavery couldn’t/can’t be solved by legislative action but needed a re-education of layers of misguided, racist propaganda. 

Although there were many white folks who were helping the movement, there were many (including those you helped) who couldn’t accept their willful ignorance and properly deal with the issue. Continuing to oppress blacks allows for us to disregard such past issues, but in this case we aren’t able to actually investigate the lasting effects of slavery it has only not only blacks but whites as well. Referring to the perpetual oppressing cycle,Morrison wrote, “It was the jungle white folk planted them in.” This “jungle” (system) which white folk instilled has continued to exist. The self-understanding by whites of their awful history and their implicit sentiments seems to be too rich and deep of an issue for many to uncover. Morrison further writes, it is the “screaming baboon living under their white skin.” Oppression is easy to do for society, what becomes a more convoluted and exposing issue is when we try display the truths of our past and the every-lasting effects we continue to face.

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One Comment

  1. Michael Paul Michael Paul

    I love your analysis of the jungle, which is dense in a variety of ways. What attracted me to this metaphor is was that both whites and blacks have a jungle under their skin. This series of chapters brings up the idea that there is little distinction between colors, yet people remember black and white exceptionally. Marrison makes it clear who is white and who is black, but also shows that there really is no difference between them.

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