Morales (1986) and walker (1970) represent the theme of race and ethnicity in their works in the short story, “The Welcome Table”, and in the poem, “Child of the Americans” by Morales (1986) and Walker (1970) respectively. The themes ethnicity and race contradicts as practiced by the different communities that the short story and the poem review. How does ethnicity and race control as a category of social inequality and injustices in the society? Drawing from the two authors’ work, we will analyze how race and ethnicity acts as a tool of division, discrimination and ranking of individuals in the society.
The race of an individual is the genetic inheritance that a person acquires from their parents and ancestors. It constitutes the color of an individual and the associated characteristics that come with color. Biologically, we may define race as sub-species, where a group of individuals carry anatomical characteristics that differentiate them from all other races. On the other hand, ethnicity describes once culture background. It is a link between genetically inheritance and culture (Clugston, 2010). Race and ethnicity are often interchanged, but from the above, there is a difference.
Individuals create their own personal identity. Ethnicity and race are mainly historical and cultural construction by individuals. Looking at race and ethnicity from a macro level view, sociologist observed that the racial discrimination and prejudice have a positive effect on the dominant groups at the expense of the minority groups whose economic structure are exploited. At a micro level the every day interaction and contact between the people of different ethnic background and racial differences results to tolerance or hostility. For instance, in the narration hostility is evidence where the congregation in the church is uncomfortable with the old woman presence in the church. She was harmless and was on a sincere motive when she attended the service but because of the difference in race and ethnicity background she was thrown out of the church. They bring social inequality and injustices in the society, and erosion of some cultures as outlined in the poem; Child of Americans. The poem and the narration use different styles of writing to bring out the same theme.
The theme of ethnicity and race has brought about the major conflicts in the society. Highlighting conflict when the old woman went to the church and the sermon stops every body else in the congregation stares at the woman with a snare. The ladies in the church ordered their husbands to throw the old woman out; they then, looked at the old woman with contempt. After, she is thrown out they are comfortable and the sermon proceeds. This is a contradiction were the church individual’s expectations to show love to all the attendees of the sermon to bring them closer to the lord. Use of conflict has vastly enriched the literacy work of Morales (1986) and Walker (1970) it creates an in depth understanding of the theme ethnicity and race.
Ethnicity and racism brings about prejudice in a society. Prejudice is a vice in a person or a community. This is a negative attitude towards a group of people, in most instances it is the racial or ethnic minority group. The most wide spread form of minority group prejudice is racism, where one race is regarded as supreme to all other races and ethnic groups. In the poem this is clearly highlighted where the America is the superior race and all others are the minority, I the Africans know they race but they do not want to conform to the ways of Africans or even to be associated with Africa. They poem states “Africa is me but I cannot return”. This shows the weight of racism in the people and the Africans have accepted the fact that they are the weaker race and have a weak ethnicity background and they despise themselves as well; thus they cannot come back to their land. As a result of, racism prevailing in a community the members of the minority race and weaker ethnic background often experience prejudice, exploitation and discrimination.
Walker (1970) narrates the story of the old woman from the perspective of the white race; the whites describe the woman as: lean and angular, and her color skin of poor gray Georgia earth, which was beaten by king cotton and the extreme hot weather. Later the narrative changes to the old woman’s first narration of her encounter with Jesus. The changes in the perspective help to outline the feelings and thoughts of all the characters in the narration.
The old woman dies an unhappy woman, but, at no point does she denounce her culture and race. She appreciates her race and does not find it an offence to worship in the same congregation with people with a white skin. She gets to the church, and occupies her seat, but everybody else stares at her, comparing her to an evil spirit that has invaded with their privacy. According to Walker (1970), “Those who knew the hesitant creeping up on them of the law, saw the beginning of the end of the sanctuary of Christian worship, saw the desecration of Holy Church, and saw an invasion of privacy, which they struggled to believe they still kept”. (p.5) This is a vivid description of the congregation, and ironical description makes the narration compelling and real. On the contrary, Morales (1986) shows how excited some individuals are to be alienated by cultures of the West. They know they are Africans, by genetically inheritance from their parents, and ancestors, but they have vowed to never return to their land. In the poem they declare, “I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return”. (p 15)
Authors use narrations to bring out a theme like is the case in the narration welcome table that has the theme of ethnicity and race. A narration is associated with an idea that lies behind the narration. The narration narrows down the broad idea in the underlying idea, makes it unique, and makes the idea concrete. Thus, the theme in a poem or a short story is the representation of the idea in the story. In the poem and the short story, the authors use different ideas to bring out the same theme of ethnicity and race.
Morale (1986) shows how race and ethnicity erodes the cultures of some communities. They claim to speak English with a passion, efficacy, and the craft of their day-to-day living. They hate to identify themselves with the land of their birth, and they do not have an initiative to discover their ancestors’ land. They refer to them as ghettos. Reading the poem from a firsthand person’s view brings out the genuine literary work, making it credible. The poet manages to elicit the real emotions from her personal experience. Therefore, she manages to take the reader through her experiences. As a result, the reader is completely immersed.