Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

Segregation: An Abomination

Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

Segregation: An Abomination

Article excerpt

This article discusses the theme of segregation, which was derived from the incorporation of institutionalized racism and existed among the Afro-Americans in the early nineteenth century. The hostile and negative feelings of the White racists towards the Blacks, who were treated 'inferior,' are focused on the oppressions and dehumanization experienced by the 'colored people' are explored in the light of Claude McKay's and Gwendolyn Brooks' poems. As Black creative writers, they view this iniquity as an abomination. They raised their voice for their discriminated race and created 'Black Consciousness' among them. And their poems taught them to raise their banner of victory from the dust.

Segregation generally is taken to mean the practice of forcibly separating people based upon their race or ethnicity. However, under modern civil rights, the law force does not have anything to do with the legal definition of segregation. The African Americans have about four hundred years ' history in America. The peculiar kind of experience that they had in America has made them evolve into a community of their own. The Black community is described variously as Negroes, African Americans, Colored people, etc. More than 22 millions in number, the Black people in America comprise a considerably large chunk of the American population. They are people of African origin. The Negro or the Black American, as Richard Wright, the renowned African American novelist, has pointed out: "means something not racial or biological, but something purely social, something made in the United States" (Smith, 2006, p. 25).

The United Nations convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (1965) defines racial discrimination as: "any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life". Ethnic minorities, indigenous and tribal people, people of different colors, and migrant workers are common victims of racial discrimination in employment and occupation.

Discrimination in employment and occupation takes many forms and occurs in all kinds of work settings. It entails treating people differently because of certain characteristics, such as race, color or sex, which results in the impairment of equality of opportunity and treatment. In other words, discrimination results in, and reinforces, inequalities. With discrimination the freedom of human beings to develop their capabilities and to choose and pursue their professional and personal aspirations is restricted without regard for ability. Skills and competencies cannot be developed, rewards to work are denied, and a sense of humiliation, frustration and powerlessness takes over.

Langston Hughes expresses grief for his life in the race-conscious society thus:

I have had so many hardships in this life that it is a wonder I'll live until I die. I was born young, black, voteless, poor and hungry, in a state where white folks did not even put Negroes on the census... (243)

The treatment of Blacks by their counterparts is clear when one reads the following observation of Milton Meitzer (1997) in his Biography of Hughes:

Negroes were always being made fun of in the stories and cartoons of the popular magazines... Many a novel savagely caricatured the Negro, and in the movies and on the stage, audiences saw Negroes only as clowns, servants or helpless victims. (128)

The oppressions are traced to the slave past when the poor Africans were uprooted from their land, language and families and sold away in an alien land. Their miserable slavery in America where they were kept chained, whipped, lynched, underpaid and underfed is brought into focus. They were kept in a state of continued ignorance and poverty without education. …

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