integration essay 1

integration essay 1 - Beth White English 120 Society & Lit...

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Beth White English 120 – Society & Lit Integration Essay 1 – Blood Knot & Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Race tends to be a hot topic, even in our modern society. However, even in this modern society, some of the same issues presented in Athol Fugard’s Blood Knot and August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom are present. Simply the label “minority” that is placed on pretty much anyone who is not white speaks to that effect. While yes, at one point in time individuals who were not white were a minority group in society, that is not as true today, yet we still call those people “minorities.” For example, in my high school, an all-girl, Catholic school, being white was the minority; yet I live in a very white county in New York. When reading Blood Knot and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom , it became apparent that the race issues we still face today came from those periods. The problems created by segregation have left scars on our society that are still visible today. When looking at race relations in both plays, one thing became clear – the disdain the African American characters had for their white counterparts. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom uses the musical genre of the Blues as a way of expressing the differences between black and white. The creation of a quasi-shelter, the Blues, gave black people something to call their own; something that a white person could not fully understand. The Blues gave musicians, namely Ma Rainey, an outlet for their emotions. The music was filled with despair mixed with some moments of comic relief, all of which portrayed their unwillingness to surrender their music and their talent to the current white power. Although Ma Rainey is the “diva” and the star of the play, she and her band mates are aware that their talents are essentially being exploited by the white recording business, but seem almost complacent about it since they view their music as a way of gaining respect and some power in their society. One of the play’s central themes is the black individual’s desire to have a meaningful position in white society. Although they strive for a meaningful position in white society, just the layout of the recording studio in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom makes clear that they have no power, and never really will. In the control room upstairs sits Irvin and Sturdyvant, literally overseeing the recording sessions in the sense a master oversees his slave. Because Irvin and Sturdyvant have complete control of the music, Cutler, Levee, Slow Drag, and Toledo are essentially puppets they use for their own desires.
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course ENGLISH 131 taught by Professor Peggyo'brien during the Spring '08 term at UMass (Amherst).

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integration essay 1 - Beth White English 120 Society & Lit...

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