The novel “Coming of Age in Mississippi” by Anne Moody belongs to the category of literature that covers the most burning problems of society and tries to attract people’s attention to inadequate situation within a nation. This essay is focused on the investigation of racial discrimination of black people and hatred to this nation that appears from the early childhood because of prejudices. The problem depicted in the novel will also be investigated on the example of modern world and people’s attitude to each other.
The theme of racial discrimination was not chosen accidentally. From the early history of America the racial inequality was constantly observed towards black people. The discrimination resulted not only in hidden protests such as depicting of the problem in literature, but in rebellions and fighting for rights and racial equality. Anne Moody is one of the talented writers who revealed the problem of racial discrimination, racial hatred and prejudice from another point of view by providing reasons and explanations of her personal attitude.
I was fifteen years old when I began to hate people. I hated the white men who murdered Emmett Till and I hated all the other whites who were responsible for the countless murders I vaguely remember from childhood… But I also hated Negroes. I hated them not for standing up and doing something about the murders… I had a stronger resentment toward Negroes for letting the whites kill them then toward the whites (Moody 129).
This statement is written in a meager manner. There are neither sentimental feelings nor any apology. Truth is sharp, bitter and cruel. However, there cannot be another reality except this one which black people experienced in the forties and fifties. Anne Moody described that besides the considerable problem of lack of education for black people there existed the problem of safe and comfortable living while blacks killed whites, whites killed blacks and blacks being responsible for their lives just threw up their hands.
By revealing this serious theme Anne Moody points out the question of absurdity of racial perception. In the novel she writes: “They were Negroes and we were also Negroes. I just didn’t see Negroes hating each other so much” (Moody 59). This phrase can be traced in an extract where she depicted the attitude of dark-skin Negroes to light-skin ones. It becomes obvious that there existed racial discrimination even within one nation. The fact that black people were privileged only due to their skin tint sounds absurdly. Thus, it is reasonable to consider that racial discrimination lays not in the skin color but in the power which people obtain and apply due to their will to belong to ruling class. Negroes with light skin, being commonly mistreated by their dark-skin fellows, eagerly wanted to stand higher than their brothers and sisters. Thus, they did not differ from the whites who suppressed them.
The disunity of Negroes is the second issue Anne Moody has outlined in the novel. It is shown in the part when blacks gave up instead of coming together and starting a fight for their rights and improving the situation. They continued to argue about social injustice and discrimination but did not make even a little attempt to do something. On the contrary, they were searching the way to perpetuate injustice and equality.
One more serious question Anne Moody has revealed in “Coming of Age in Mississippi” is human ability to live in truth and be oneself. Thus, she has written: “I was sick of pretending, sick of selling my feelings for a dollar a day” (Moody 147). Through this statement she declared her understanding of social inequality and fake promises. She proclaimed not only her sexual maturity but her mental preparedness to start fighting for rights. Also she pointed out, that fake personality and the necessity to sell thoughts and feelings for a miserable sum of money was stipulated by prejudice existing in society. This prejudice was based mainly on the opposition of skin color, level of privilege or power hierarchy. She pointed out that prejudice as a phenomenon has a social origin as it is shaped by opinion of crowd. Moreover, being a subjective opinion, prejudice has a destructive power. It can be traced on the example of Anne who finally does not agree to study at Tougaloo College because of big number of blacks with lighter skin. When she finally meets students of this college she understands that a lot of them are trustworthy. Thus, she proved that prejudice possesses a strong destructive power that spoils not only people’s attitude to each other but human personality and character.
The theme of racial discrimination depicted in the novel “Coming of Age in Mississippi” by Anne Moody is relevant today. The fact that there are a lot of laws in the USA which prohibit the racial discrimination proves that this problem still exists. There are cases when black people are refused to get hired for a job or get lesser salary due to their skin color. Even in some hospitals white people are better treated and get more attention than the black ones. There are evidences when more than 70% of blacks and whites tend to think that the modern USA is racially divided.
Thus, the problems of racial discrimination, racial disunity and prejudice depicted by Anne Moody in her novel, are the problems of personal attitude in spite of the fact that many attitudes and ways of perception are dictated by a separate group of people in order to manipulate a crowd. The issues from the novel are relevant today and can be traced through a number of evidences. In order to change the situation people should change their own attitude and vision to particular people and issues.