Essay on Racism and Discrimination Among African Americans



In America, racial discrimination is an ongoing issue. Regardless of the advancements we make in society in terms of race, discrimination is something that simply cannot be erased. This issue is addressed in the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn is an adventurous boy who does not realize Jim, a runaway slave’s humanity because society has recognized Africans Americans lower than the dominant race. Similarly, this issue is also addressed in the movie Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson is a gifted African American woman and due to her intelligence, she was able to get the job of checking mathematical calculations at NASA headquarters. Even though she is a gifted woman, society has discriminated her due to her skin color. The employees of NASA like Paul Stafford in the movie were blinded to see Katherine Johnson’s humanity because of how society has portrayed African Americans in a disgraceful manner, similarly to the how society has blinded Huck to not be able to see Jim’s humanity. 

Huckleberry Finn has been greatly influenced by his society in the way he thinks about reality causing him to not be able to see Jim’s humanity through various actions. Huck’s education made his first impression on Jim that he was property to a slave owner. This impression is based on the fact that Huck was raised in a society that devalued the individuality and humanity of slaves. Therefore, slaves were known to be property to own without feelings or thoughts. 

The pranks that Huck played on Jim shows the lack of respect he has for Jim causing him to not see Jim’s humanity. After the incident where Jim and Huck get separated, Huck thinks Jim is dumb enough to believe nothing happened. Jim finds out that Huck is lying because he finds debris near him and this realization makes Huck feel bad about himself. The feeling of guilt took Huck “fifteen minutes before [he] could work [him]self up to go and humble [him]self to a n*****”(Twain 112). This apology reflects Huck’s superiority over Jim. Another example where Huck cannot see humanity in Jim is when they argue over language and King Solomon. Huck states, “It warn’t no use wasting words- you can’t learn a n***** to argue. So I quit”(Twain 104). This reflects Huck thinking Jim is incapable of learning using reason and logic. These actions reflect the blindness in Huck to be unable to see the humanity in Jim.

Just as Huck’s blindness prevents him from apologizing to Jim, similarly, the chief engineer Paul Stafford is blinded leading him to make Katherine Goble’s job more difficult. Katherine Goble is an African American employee at NASA who can do quick and complicated math calculations. Interestingly, Paul is blind for two reasons. He is blind to see the humanity in black people and in woman, both inferior creatures. As a result, he feels threatened by the fact that she has been assigned to check his work, and because he feels threatened, he bars her from meetings. An example to show his blindness is when Katherine Goble respectively asks Mr. Harrison to join the discussions because all her data is changing making the math not available for her. Mr. Harrison seems to be fine with her request, however, Paul Stafford says, “She doesn’t have clearance”(Melfi 85). He then exclaims, “And she’s a woman. There’s no protocol for a woman attending”(Melfi 85). Therefore, it is evident that Paul Stafford is trying his best to not allow Katherine to enter the meetings because she is a woman and is black. Overall, Paul Stafford fails to seek Katherine’s humanity for having inferior qualities. 

Clearly, even with one hundred years of social evolution to help him, Paul Stafford’s actions resemble he is no better at seeing what is before him than Huck was in his day. For it is this blindness that causes conflicts in a society consisting of wars and racial tensions. In the near future, by accomplishing this cure to blindness, it will result in peace and stronger relationships. To achieve this cure, perhaps the first step is to educate our own children to open their eyes to the world and spread their views on humanity throughout their lives.