Prejudiced and racism are stimulating disputes in American society. To some extent, these words have touched the level of curse words in their abusiveness. Up till now, racist and racism are evocative words of a reality that cannot be denied.
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One of the renowned writers in English literature has given us some solutions to this contemporary problem. Walt Whitman has commonly been professed as one of the few white American writers who excelled the racial attitudes of his time, a great prophet rejoicing the cultural and racial multiplicity and embodying democratic ideals. When I think about Walt Whitman the first thing that comes to my mind is a big part of his poetic philosophy is kind of have a free spirit and treating everyone equally. He is against slavery at the time and against about racism. Even though he had his struggles of being gay at a time when people take that as the end of the world. Comparatively even five to ten years ago people in America had a concept that being homosexual is not the end of the world. But in his time slavery and being homosexual exiles were the same thing and you could be killed or be in prison. But it gives Whitman in his poetry the view of what his ‘his’ person if everyone knew he would be condemned as well. So, he had to live with that. That is why Whitman is considered as the first epic American poet who believes that we should treat each other equal. Frederick Douglass’s writing has also given us the viewpoint about racial judgment remains and which were a substantial problem back then, this must be understood against the contextual of extraordinary progress since decades. And the fact of the matter is that there is mostly no practicable alternative to some form of favorable action if we want to pledge the evil effects of certain forms of insight. Thus, although Whitman’s racist opinions of blacks, shaped in part by the bad science of the day, were inconsistent and at times unsure, his poetic vision stimulated a way past his own conventional limitations toward better justice. His solution to the inconsistency was to avoid racial subjects, much as he would avoid issues about the massacre being committed against Native Americans. He could not even resolve such inconsistencies in his own spirit. Therefore, the first thing I consider as I explore this is the reality that Americans don’t really believe America darn aware of. In the same way, Douglass was writing for people who are not used to hearing this. He is talking to people through his writing only look at other Americans misconception of slavery today and American slavery was a part of the worldwide system. but by focusing on it he was writing for people who can only think of black people as Being the melting pot that America is today, the diversity and range of races and cultures are immense. While many know the exact definitions between race and culture, some still can find it hard sometimes to distinguish between the two. Race is the grouping of individuals who share the same ethnic backgrounds and geographic roots. On the other hand, culture is the thoughts, customs, beliefs, values, and traditions that define these individuals where location does not indefinitely define an individual’s culture. Looking at these two terms, it leads one into a deeper discussion between the differences of an examination of biculturalism compared to the analysis of racism. The first is a study of individuals who have been influenced by their combined culture and its consequences, while an analysis of racism is a study of the prejudice or antagonism against people of a different race by people who feel superior. In the novel American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, there is an evident distinction between race and culture.
Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese is a prime example of how race and culture interact with each other and can also sometimes overlap. The novel is about a young boy named Jin Wang living in America who finds it hard to find his own sense of identity being a Chinese American boy, stuck in a internal battle of race and culture. Jin is unable to create an identity that expresses both American and Asian equally.It is even seen in the novel that Jin has a sort of fantasy alter ego named Danny, who encompasses a stereotypical appearance and demeanor of a young, white American boy. Throughout the novel, Jin tries to accept his Asian values, but he is looked down upon by the people around him, thus leading to him sometimes rejecting these values as well. When he tries to channel his whiteness, he is reminded, especially by his cousin Chin-Kee, or Danny’s cousin, that he can never be equal to white people no matter how hard he strives to fit in.
A big theme that was explored in this novel is a feeling of “foreignness” and not just through the character Jin, although he experiences this feeling quite often. Jin is constantly trying to prove he can be “American” and that he fits in with the American culture in his new town and school in hopes of not seeming Chinese. While this is a main focus in the book, I do think that not only Jin experiences this, but also that it can be seen through, another character in the book, The Monkey King who refuses to appear like the other monkeys in this supernatural world of his. It is an interesting parallel to think about how both of these very different characters experience the same feeling of foreignness. This theme of otherness is constantly being portrayed in a lot of other Asian American literature and in American Born Chinese it is seen that one’s race is not something that they can run away from nor change, but much more a process of self acceptance and perception.
Jin Wang attempts to assimilate himself into the white community by mimicking the white people’s lifestyles that he observes on a daily basis and at school and running away from his own Chinese race. A boy named Wei-Chin from Taiwan transfers into the same class as Jin and innocently approaches Jin and speaks Chinese to him because he believes that Jin would be welcoming of their similar heritage. Unfortunately the receiver the opposite, as Jin mocks Wei-Chin and says that they should speak English because they are in America (Yang 37). This interaction between the two boys is ideal at showing the distinction between race and culture, as it shows that Jin values cultural citizenship. Since he wants to fit in America, he abandons the Asian part of him and tries to disconnect himself from speaking Chinese and his Chinese heritage. In this scene, there is also an interaction between him and his classmates when he is eating dumplings for lunch. These boys ridicule Jin and his culture, continuing on to make racist, stereotypical comments about his culture’s food (Yang 32). From that scene on, Jin eats sandwiches instead of dumplings in order to further confirm into the white norm.
These scenes truly perpetuates the discussion between the differences of how we examine biculturalism compared to the way we analyze racism. There is a frequent amount of biculturalism through American Born Chinese, but it is this is commonly turned into a term with a negative connotation through the racist demeanor of other characters in this book, which thus leads to more and more resentment from Jin of his own heritage. It is hard to specifically use the word culture when talking about what Jin resents, as he sometimes cannot comprehend what his culture is as he doesn’t feel Chinese since he grew up in America for the most part, but he does not feel American either since assimilating into white culture is endlessly futile for him. When he first comes to school, just based upon his race and his migration from China, his classmates immediately associate him with the only other Asian in his class, Suzy. In one scene, Jin says, When the class finally figured out we weren’t related, rumors began to circulate that Suzy and I were arranged to be married on her thirteenth birthday (Yang 31). Not to mention the racist comments about his family eating dogs from both his classmates and his teacher. The racism and malice towards him trying to embody biculturalism pushes him further and further to resent his own race.
There is no changing a face or an appearance, let alone someone’s race, and that is the true essence of how foreignness flows in American Born Chinese. It is something that the characters cannot run away from since it is a part of who they are and shapes the experiences in the world around them. However, the one thing they are able to change is their self perception, therefore dealing with this sense of foreginess is really a process of deal with one’s self. This novel’s battle between race and culture immensely heighten the distinction between the two terms race and culture and allow readers to see and understand the true meanings behind them in different types of context. slaves’ that’s all they can be and that is what civil war was about. People of north say that as human being we can’t deal with the slavery anymore. And then Douglass is coming in and saying why don’t I write and speak to everyone through my writing. As a result, both writers grab the attention of people who would not normally pay them any mind. As we can see for both sides of this issue that people voted is one of the most stressful if we added the likes of Douglass and Whitman into this dialogue and calm people for a second and brought intelligent wisdom into this that might solve a lot of problems.
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