Essay Son America

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~ Thirteen years ago I wrote an essay entitled “Oyinbo,” an autobiographical account of my personal experiences with race and racism. By killing yourself in such a painful, but at the same time, fearlessly heroic way, you were able to sustain your honor and eradicate shame. In Japan, relationships between people are greatly affected by duty and obligation.In duty-based relationships, what people believe or think has a more powerful impact on behavior than what the individual believes.Then goes into narration about his father when Baldwin was growing up, “He was not a young man when we were growing up and he had already suffered many kinds of ruin; in his outrageously demanding and protective way he loved his children, who were black like him and menaced, like him; and all these things sometimes showed in his face when he tried, never to my knowledge with any success, to establish contact with any of us (64).” And the rest of that paragraph continues the narration about growing up with his father. The book had long intrigued me for I had heard that it was widely taught in creative writing courses and was a favorite of many authors, including several well-known authors whose work I admire.Then he transitions to an analytical statement, “It seems to be typical of life in America, where opportunities, real and fancied, are thicker than anywhere else on the globe, that the second generation has no time to talk to the first (63).” An example of the vise versa case occurs just a few paragraphs later, in a paragraph which starts out in an analytical tone, where Baldwin spends a moment describing his father.The first half of this paragraph explains how Baldwin saw his father as very handsome, and how although his father was beautiful, he didn’t know he was beautiful.Before we were married, my husband asked me if I identified as “black.” I remember thinking this an odd question.I thought it should be obvious that I identified as black even though I was, “technically,” half black and half white.His father was a part of the first generation of free black men.He was a bitter, overbearing, paranoid preacher who refused change and hated the white man.


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