Racism Essay Example: The Dehumanization of the Black Community
“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice” (Albert Einstein). A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, is a novel in which the black community cannot smash the prejudice against them. Their lives are dehumanized because of the whites’ perspective of being supreme to everyone else. The Jim Crow laws help institute this perspective of supremacy to the whites. The frequent discrimination has a part in the deprivation of the black community. They suffer prejudice in the criminal justice and education system, but as well they face racial segregation.
Blacks are greatly degraded and biased against in the criminal justice system. Firstly, Grant is disliked by the sheriff because of his abundance of intelligence. Grant comprehends this dislike and realizes that “he did not like me; I was one of the smart ones” (156). Grant’s understanding of why the sheriff dislikes him represents the degradation of the black community in the criminal justice system.
According to Grant, the blacks could not act intellectual in front of an authority figure, but rather have to act like the dull-witted selves they are assumed to be. Furthermore, Jefferson is convicted because of his race, rather than the evidence provided. Grant realizes the injustice that Jefferson faces, “Twelve white men say a black man must die, and another white man sets the date and time without consulting a black man” (157). Grant illustrates the criminal justice system to be biased against black men, especially Jefferson. Jefferson’s injudicious case represents how the blacks are biased against because the jury found Jefferson guilty due to his skin colour. Hence, the black community is degraded by figures of authority, and are biased against in the criminal justice system.
Racism in Education
The young black students face a highly discriminated education system, affecting their day-to-day learning. Firstly, the learning conditions of the coloured schools are very appalling in contrast to white schools. The school Grant teaches at is a church in which “[his] desk [is] a table, used as a collection table by the church…. [and] [his] students’ desk [are] the benches upon which their parents and grandparents sat during church meetings” (34). The coloured students are often taught in churches, rather than an actual school like the white students.
The conditions are very abysmal because of the discrimination against blacks. These abysmal conditions affect the students’ learning because they do not have a proper environment to learn in. Moreover, the learning supplies in the coloured schools are very mediocre in comparison to the white schools. Grant raises the concern to the superintendent that “many of [his] books [that he has] to use are hand-me-downs from the white schools…. and they have missing pages” (57). The discrimination against black schools is evident because the white schools have new books, while the black schools have to use books with pages missing. The inadequate books directly affect the students’ learning because they cannot absorb the knowledge if some of it is missing. Thus, young black students face a highly discriminated education system involving abysmal learning conditions and inadequate learning supplies.
The black community greatly suffers racial segregation, depriving them of their basic needs. To begin with, institutions are separated by colour to distinguish between the coloured and the whites. While Grant is on his way to the school, he perceives “a Catholic church uptown for whites; a Catholic church back of town for the coloured” (25). The separation of religious institutions delineates the racial segregation that the black community faces.
The churches for the coloured are in a much more atrocious condition in comparison to the churches for the white. These substandard churches cause the black community to not practice their religion, taking away one of their basic needs. Secondly, the sanitary conditions differ greatly for the black prisoners in comparison to the white prisoners. As Grant observes the prison, he notices a “toilet for the coloured people, who came to the courthouse, and it was down in the basement…. the toilets inside were for the whites only” (69). According to Grant, the coloured prisoners only have one toilet in the basement, which is most likely disease-ridden, while the whites have multiple toilets inside the prison. The racial segregation that the black prisoners are enduring deprives them of their basic needs, such as sanitary conditions of living. Therefore, black people face racial segregation among religious institutions and prisons.
Consequently, the black community suffers prejudice in the criminal justice and education system, as well as facing racial segregation. Firstly, blacks are greatly degraded and biased against in the criminal justice system. Secondly, black youth have to face a highly discriminated education system, which affects their learning. Lastly, the black community faces racial segregation, depriving them of their basic needs. Prejudice against black people still exists, and can only be erased if one stands up against the discrimination they have to suffer.