I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing Term Paper

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Racism is not only around today- racism has been around for a long time. It became a huge issue in the United States when we started to bring slaves over from Africa. The racism grew after the civil war when the blacks were freed from the bondage of slavery. Racism hit a high around the time the "Jim Crow Laws" were passed. Blacks and whites were segregated; each had to use their different sections of public property, and the racism grew stronger and stronger. Maya Angelou lived, around WW II, in Arkansas. In her book I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings she tells of her life, and she tells of the racism that she, as a black female, had to go through in life. In her book we see that racism affects everyone, and someone is always hurt.

The white folks in this story are not as kind to Maya as she would like them to be. The whites held themselves superior to blacks, because they were different. The whites even expected the blacks to treat them better than they would treat others. They would make the blacks walk out of their way so that they would not walk by them on the streets, and would make them call them Miss, Mrs., and Mr. Also when Mama took Maya to the dentist the white girl shut the door on her. She waited till doctor Lincoln came out. When he finally came out he would not help Maya because she was black. Dr. Lincoln said, " my policy is I'd rather stick my hand in a dog's mouth than in a nigger's" (Angelou 189). That not fair of the doctor to do that. Maya is a human like everyone else white or black. Both whites and blacks were created equal in the eyes of the Lord, one race is not more important than the other. Maya talks about the fact that she had to live on one side of town with the black people, and the whites lived on their side not wanting to associate with the blacks. " the strange pale creatures that lived in their alien unlife, weren't considered folks. They were whitefolks" (Angelou 26). Here Maya clearly states that the blacks and whites were different in the white and black folks thinking. The whites were people just like everyone else, and they did not need to treat the black folks any different. Back then racism was practiced right out in the open by most of the community. Now, in the year 2000, racism is around just as it was back then, but now it has different forms. Today, racism is mostly expressed in jobs. Many minorities are passed over for a job because they are a minority. Affirmative action was a government program to end the discriminations of jobs. That did help matters and many minorities are in the work place, but that does not mean that they are being treated fair. My supervisor at Best Buy was being discriminated against when he was stuck at the same position for seven years. All that people have to go through: name-calling, jokes, being left out, and/or humiliated- for being a good worker different is not fair. Its not life threatening like racism can be, but having your dignity crushed can be very damaging. What Maya went through was true racism, and I pray that nobody ever has to go through that kind of suffering.

Racism is practiced from generation to generation. What your father believes, is most likely what you are going to believe. Maya says, "Heroes and bogey men, values and dislikes, are first encountered and labeled in that early environment. In later years they change faces, places and maybe races, tactics, intensities, and goals, but beneath those penetrable masks they wear forever the stocking- capped faces of childhood" (Angelou 20). For the world to change from racism, we need to start with our parents and than with us. Than little by little racism could decrease.

Maya Angelou is a very religious girl. Mama raised her to be a good Christian. Through out the book we see her religious views. For example, we see that she believes that the blacks will be rewarded for their sufferings in heaven. "They were assured that they were going to be the only inhabitant of the that land of milk and honey, except of course a few whitefolks like John Brown who history books said was crazy anyway" (Angelou 120). We see that Maya believes that only the blacks will inherit the kingdom of God with the exception of just a few white folks. We can see why she thinks that only the blacks are going to heaven. Maya was treated poorly all her life because of her color. She was taught to love her neighbor, and when your neighbor does not love you and treats you bad, you don't think that you will see them in heaven. Salvation by works is easier to understand than faith in what Christ did for us. I think that Maya thought that works and action earned salvation instead of what Christ did for us. We don't hear too much about the cross when they talk about being saved. We see more about actions and works that earn us salvation.

I grew up around a large city I have seen racism first hand. My supervisor has experienced it first hand, which hurt me to see such a man denied what is his because of a color Racism is around today just like it was back in the time of Maya Angelou. Today racism is mostly in jobs (for what I can see), and in the time of Maya Angelou it was life and death in some cases. Nevertheless, racism hurts everyone it comes into contact with, whether it be physical or emotional, racism is wrong. Yes, all of us are different. All of us are people; therefore we should do to others, as we would have them do to us.

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