“Stranger in the Village” Critical Analysis

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In his literary novel, “Stranger in the Village,” James Baldwin carefully applied technique in an effort to expose the injustice that black people have endured at the hands of whites (both Americans and Europeans). In his letters, he expresses how bigotry against blacks has been implemented and continues to be applied today. Many race relations scholars have tried to analyze the situation in light of Baldwin's revelations. Observers believe that white men see blacks as a kind of insanity that they have yet to comprehend. As a result, they treat them accordingly. However, in the current day and age, the whites remain totally frustrated by the strides that the society has taken towards overcoming the coldness directed to the blacks. This is viewed in the recent election and re-election of President Barack Obama as the leader of the free world. This might however be a momentary situation since the successor of the first black president has been painted to have negative attitude towards other races including the African-Americans.

One of the most complicated subjects in present day is the issue of racism. Furthermore, it is totally irrational. On the other hand, the media and the world at large normally treat it as something simple and that can be easily dealt with. For one, the article presents the strange manner in which the Swiss villagers were treating Baldwin, while most of them may have never moved out of Switzerland. This is despite the fact that Baldwin was the first black man to set foot on that tiny Swiss village. One observer presented evidence that after almost six decades following Baldwin’s visit, there were more black people in the village. Despite that, peculiar glances were following all the blacks visiting the village. These glances were treating the blacks in a manner of mockery and hostility. This, the author says is expected, however, being looked at in a manner that even children were referring to the blacks with the title ‘Neger’ is what was so upsetting and noticeable. This is in fact more pronounced by the fact that the people treated blacks in a manner to suggest that they were more of a wonder that they were human. The type of unkindness that conceals that they do not believe that the blacks and whites belong to the same species, only that they had a different skin tone. In the contemporary world, it is not only weird but totally unacceptable that wealthy and influential individuals such as Beyoncé and Drake face pulses of xenophobia when they visit Swiss clubs notably on Friday nights.

On further development of the essay, Baldwin changes his scope of the story from just covering what was observed in Switzerland to what is observed on the larger scope of the entire Europe. The scope changes from the way they treat Africans as animals in which Baldwin believes that the Swiss are unaware of the rich black history. They would even go further to feel the African-American hair or rub off their skin to just feel how different it was from their own. Further into the view of Europe and America as a whole, Baldwin reveals the manner in which the Americans created a history for the blacks. What is strikingly different in the American view as compared to the European view is that the Americans are fully aware of the African Americans and they have a very unpleasant history of the blacks. The Americans created a bad history for the African Americans. They have treated them with a lot of hostility as the blacks have mostly been treated as slaves. However, in the European context, the element of African American is almost non-existent. This is because in the American context, blacks are treated as slaves and it is widely known as so. Even in the present day and age, there are many whites who still treat the blacks with much resentment. In the European context however, there were fewer slaves that were majorly a preserve for the rich. Till the present day, it is clear that the Americans strive to separate their history from the Africans despite the fact that the African Americans may have lived in America since the beginning of time. Some of the, were born in slave families and may not be able to trace their roots in Africa. Despite this, Baldwin is for the view that the history of both Americans and the African Americans is forever intertwined.

In the essay by James Baldwin, the key theses is that of the oppression towards the Africans/ African-Americans and how the issue is yet to be resolved to the present day. The author clearly contrasts how the Africans are treated differently in by the Europeans as compared to the Americans. The ignorance in the Swiss village is apparent. It is clear that eventually, history is an influential factor in shaping culture and the manner in which other races treat each other or their attitudes towards other races is a result of the history of the conflicting parties.

It is very intriguing the kind of attitude that the people from a certain region have towards each other. For instance, in a poll to determine the American attitude towards themselves in 2012, it was found out that more than fifty per cent of Americans were negative towards the African Americans. What was further spectacular was the fact that a greater portion had a more negative attitude to the Hispanics. During the re-election of president Obama to office in the year 2012, the president managed to get the seat without the aid of having a majority of the white vote. This doesn’t necessarily imply that the American society was ready to change their view on the African Americans. It is totally strange that in as much as there are many Americans having a negative attitude towards the African Americans, they also harbour a negative attitude towards themselves. The facts further trickle down to the whites being anti-white. This further implies that more than three-quarters of Americans have a racial prejudice of some sort.

The above revelation strengthens the point that the issue of racism in America is a force to reckon with. This is further so because it was thought that there would be a massive change in attitude since the election and re-election of President Barack Obama into office in the period between 2008 and 2015. However, it remains a mystery since there were many reports during his tenure of how Blacks were treated irrationally by their white counterparts. There have been several incidences that have been revealed in the media of how the blacks have been oppressed especially by the police. These have happened within the president’s watch. Many scholars who have attempted to tackle the subject reveal facts that these incidents have been there since the beginning of time, it is only that they have come to the light in recent times. It is widely known that those who are the minority in most cases are very vulnerable. This has been the case with the blacks in America. There have been a huge percentage of blacks who have been oppressed for a long time in silence. Empowerment through skills in fields that require talent such as sports and entertainment is one of the ways in which the blacks have managed to voice their grievances to the public. While the world has managed to hear what they have tried to put across, it is not clear when the oppression will stop. This is because it still remains to be the case despite the social status of the character in question.

In conclusion, it is clear that the history of a people shapes its culture. With this, the resentment that is directed towards Africans is something that has been experienced since the beginning of time. However, it remains to be complex topic that doesn’t seem to have a solution in the near future. For a major change to happen with regards to racism, a major attitude change is required from the whites.

November 03, 2022

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