Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin

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This is yet another deep analysis written by James Baldwin on the issue of racism. But instead of writing from the perspective or setting a black person as its main character, this time the story revolves around a white deputy sheriff.

I was very much touched indeed about the description of the lynching of that black man in a small town where Jesse, the white deputy sheriff lived when he was young. It very much astonished and enraged me to read that Jesse’s father and mother saw the lynching of a human as a fun event instead of the violation of humanity. What saddens me more is the fact that Jesse as a young boy has to witness this brutality despite of his initial reluctance. However later on I realized that deep white superiority as a notion was planted in him which prompted Jesse in his adulthood to abuse African American citizens as well without hesitation or concern. He couldn’t endure black people from challenging white people’s authority, they were the masters, blacks can only be subjects.

Going in a deeper level I view this novel as basically a protest for racism by lending the Jim Crow mentality as an example to demonstrate the fear rooted in white people that black people someday might threaten their positions in the society as the force of dominion. Therefore this burning, castrating, hanging of a black man to death merely was shown as an illustration and a warning to other minorities of what they will suffer if they defy the power of the white people.

-Coreen C. 

Going To Meet The Man by James Balwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

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This book would probably be my favorite book written so far by James Baldwin. It is a novel that deals a lot with racism and injustice. Personally, in some point of our life we all feel like we’ve been treated unfairly for no reason and I can relate a lot to this perspective. Whether it’s because of my nationality, skin color, gender, and or even physical appearance in general. Fonny doesn’t deserve to be put into jail because he was falsely accused of rape, but in a society where white people always prevails at that time, a black man couldn’t voice his opinion out freely.

Now Tish on the other hand really touches me a lot, I was deeply moved by her strong sense of love and determination. She didn’t leave Fonny because he was put into jail and even when she was pregnant with his child, she didn’t choose to do abortion. Speaking of the truth, I can’t see any glorious future between a black criminal and a teen mom. But Tish doesn’t seem to agree with me, her family doesn’t have a lot of money and yet they were willing to hire all kinds of lawyers just to accomplish an almost impossible mission-battling against the entire world.

I definitely would recommend this book to people that are having depression or feel like they don’t belong to this harsh world. No worries, this novella will make you know that there are people like you, you are not alone.

-Coreen C. 

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

“I, Too” by Langston Hughes

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“I, Too”, written by Langston Hughes, is a short poem/book that influences the equality of the African-American culture. “I, Too” is one of the most significant poems written considering how this poem has changed peoples’ views toward African-Americans. Also, since February is considered Black History Month, many people around the world celebrate and remember the important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. That being said, Langston Hughes, would be one of the most important people to remember for Black History Month as he would influence African-Americans’ equality by his style of writing. Hughes also described the rich culture of African-American life using rhythms influenced by jazz music.

This poem was written during the time where the significant Harlem Renaissance was occurring. The Harlem Renaissance was when many African-American writers, artists, and musicians would gather and present black culture to white audiences for the first time. The sentences in this poem are very short;however, they are very significant as well. Hughes writes, “They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes… Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes. Nobody’ll dare say to me, ‘Eat in the kitchen,’ then.”

These sentences are very significant as it shows that the character is standing up for his/her self and believes that equal treatment should be the answer. The final sentence in the poem is, “I, too, am America.” This is also very important as it describes pride in the African-American culture and that they are part of the people of America and not known as “things.” I really enjoyed this poem as this poem has changed many views of people throughout the world.

-Matt J. 11th grade

“I, Too” by Langston Hughes is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

invisibleman_ralphellisonInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison is an amazing novel that takes you through the experience of being an African American man in Ellison’s day. The theme of invisibility is key throughout the novel. For example, in the beginning of the novel the narrator gets his own electric power for his underground home. The electrical company is confused because they do not know the source of the electricity loss in their company. The narrator is thus invisible to the company but is still getting away with taking electricity for his home. Therefore, we can see that invisibility allows an individual to perform actions that may not be caught, since no one suspects them.

Also shown extensively throughout the novel is the imagery of sight and blindness. For example, Reverend Homer A. Barbee in the novel is blind. Brother Jack gets a glass eye and the narrator is overcome with blindness through many instances in the novel when he is giving a speech and he is blinded by either the thick wall of the white men’s smoke or the stage lights. This novel is a great insight for readers to really witness what types of struggles that African American individuals had to go through in Ralph Ellison’s days. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is a must-read novel for one to be informed about how African Americans felt while living in America.

-Nirmeet B.

Invisible Man is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Axis360.