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The writer in both of these novels, Alice Walker, was an African-American woman who was very proud of her skin color. She was born and raised during the early twentieth century or period (Walker 2). During this era, most countries experienced widespread prejudice, with whites believing themselves to be superior to blacks. Still dealing with the problem of injustice, which resulted in the enslavement of slaves, with their wives and daughters working as maids in the whites' homes, while their fathers and sons worked on the whites' building sites and plantations. Alice Walker was an activist against the issue of racism and that is why in her book she used the blacks as the chief characters and her books also talks deeply on the African-American identity and their traditions. Therefore the purpose of writing this book is to argue that Alice Walker used same major characters and scenes that venture into the identity and traditions of the blacks.
The first way that Alice explores the identity of the African American is through her daughter known as Dee. When they first met to reunite Dee came with an Arab dude and told her mother and Maggie that she had changed her name to Wangero. Wangero is an African name and this means that the author really wanted the blacks to be recognized and be given their own special or unique treatment. It also proved that the blacks are just superior like the whites and they can use their own names like Wangero instead of using the white names like Alice Walker. Dee also did this in the TV show so as to fight against her oppressors who were the whites watching the show.
Dee was being hosted in a TV show known as the "children who made it." With the idea in mind that her mother had taken her to fancy schools, she was very literate and she must have made it life. During these times the blacks were undermined by the whites and they were considered them not learned. They were also viewed as the less fortunate in the society by the oppressors and that they could not make it in life. The narrator uses the character Dee to show that she believes in African American people and that they are also learned just like their oppressors. The fact that a black was hosted in a very famous TV show, think of Oprah in our generation, shows that she had made it in life and had something worth sharing the viewers.
In the book "Everyday Use" the theme of custom or tradition clearly comes out. Which traditions are seen? Between the black's and white's customs which one is dominant in the book? These are some of the questions whish when answered clearly shows the thinking of the narrator about race. In this book it is now so obvious that the dominant race is the blacks and their traditions or customs are deeply discussed in the book in one way or another. The traditions are characterized by a series of practical objects that have been passed down or inherited in the author's family. Maggie and the narrator are so into their customs and traditions than Dee that is why they were very surprised to see Dee arriving with an Arab man and they could not manage asking whether the two were dating or not.
This is no difference with other book known as "the welcome table" which also uses same main characters and scenes that adventure the African-American identity and traditions. In both books the theme of tradition and race clearly comes out. The theme of race simply is seen by the type of characters used. In both books the characters are blacks and the narrator or author is also an African-American. This depicts racism and the theme of race. The book is about an old black woman who struggles to walk over a long distance in a very cold weather so that she cannot miss a service at an all-white church. Just the fact that whites had their own church during those times show that race was a very big issue back then. Also the way the whites thought about that old woman proved something. First the whites were surprised to her at the door because they did not expect and second they take her in out of sympathy since she was very old. The author goes on and narrates what the whites thought of after seeing her. Some started thinking of their workers, maids and mistresses (Walker 7). This shows how the blacks were undermined by the whites who had no positive thoughts about them.
The African-American characters in this book were also used to show some customs and beliefs of the whites. A good example is seen when the old black woman enters the church and the author starts narrating about what the whites were thinking about her. Some thought of her as a foreshadow of what is to come (Walker 9). They thought she was predicting that the blacks will attack the only place that they consider sanctuary which is their church. This implies that the whites had a tradition and belief of worshiping in the church since they considered it a holy ground or sanctuary. They also believed that blacks should not step into their sanctuary maybe they thought of them being impure.
On the other hand this scene or setting depicts a lot about the culture and identity of the African-American. First on identity, the old black woman does not care whether the church is for whites only. This shows that she believes in her race and knows that they are all the same before God. This situation where the whites have their own worshiping places and the blacks also have theirs is known as religio racism (Bhattacharyya & Gargi & John & Stephen 31). The culture of believing in God is seen for African-American since despite all the old woman went through like cold weather she tried her best to reach the church so that she can pray.
In conclusion racism has been a big problem especially in developed from long time ago. Racism has been going hand in hand with the issue of gender since the black ladies were even more undermined than men (Ware & Vron 11). In our present society intermarriages has helped a lot in reducing racism since nowadays the blacks marry whites and the vice versa is true.
Bhattacharyya, Gargi, John Gabriel, and Stephen Small. Race and Power: Global Racism in the Twenty First Century. Routledge, 2016.
Walker, Alice. "The welcome table." In Love and Trouble: Stories of (1993).
Walker, Alice. Everyday use. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, 2004.
Ware, Vron. Beyond the pale: White women, racism, and history. Verso Books, 2015.
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