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African American Culture

Essay by   •  April 26, 2011  •  Essay  •  3,263 Words (14 Pages)  •  2,354 Views

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Stereotypically, we as Americans believe that minorities are more likely to live in poverty, are expected to experience teenage pregnancy, and are forced to adapt early to violence and brutality. The media displays the message that these stereotypes are and in most cases true. Nevertheless, minorities continue to rise above the unfortunate color barrier in which they are obligated to overcome. After years of observing the media and its effect on society, Sharon Flake discovered firsthand how minorities survived troubled times. Coming from a huge family in Philadelphia, she first pursued her dream of becoming a writer, but soon developed her passion for helping young adults overcome struggles she did during her childhood. Still continuing her journey, Flake used the examples from her personal life to create award winning novels about minorities and their struggles as African Americans. Through her writing she is determined to provide hope while minorities encounter challenges, and through perseverance help them demonstrate their own capabilities as acceptable human beings. Not only did she write about African Americans, but she also became a community activist for them too. She reached out as a counselor with youth placed in foster care, and worked as a public relations representative, helping minority and low income families. She even was a leader for the Girl Scouts of America. Her appeal as an African American writer has not only embraced the culture and its history, but it has also qualified her as the perfect example of how anyone, from any background can become victorious. Her life journey is the primary reason for her success and because of that she has been able to encourage young adults and maintain her own excellence. By using personal struggle and the history of African American culture, Sharon Flake proves that young minorities are as exploited today as they ever were.

Prior to the Civil Rights Movement and the effort to support equality, we as Americans have tried to eliminate segregation and solve the problem of discrimination. Made official in the early 19th century,

the law against racial profiling of minorities has been called racial discrimination, which is the unfair and abusive behavior towards members of another race. Since then the problem of discrimination had not stopped and therefore has had continuous difficulty throughout society. During the time of the Civil Rights Movement, a woman by the name of Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus to make room for a white passenger. In a result of that, she was arrested, tried, and convicted for disorderly conduct and violating the local ordinance. After the news of Rosa Park's incident reached the black community, 50 African American leaders, including Martin Luther King organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott to protest the segregation on public transportation (The Unfinished Journey). In connection with the idea of stopping discrimination, lawmakers in the United States created the infamous Jim Crow Laws, which derived from a show performer by the name of Thomas "Daddy" Rice, who blackened his face with burnt cork and danced wildly while singing lyrics that included "Jump Jim Crow." Thomas Rice created this character after seeing a crippled, elderly black person dancing and singing in the south. His imitation not only created a greater separation between blacks and whites but it also made minorities feel unaccepted and unworthy being African Americans. His act ended up creating huge success among big cities all over the nation and in result of the popular song that he performed, U.S officials adapted new laws that were directed towards African Americans. The newly titled Jim Crow laws were passed by legislatures of the Southern states which created the importance of discrimination and molded America in its entirety (The History of Jim Crow). The laws created separate but equal public facilities among whites and blacks, which included segregation of public schools, restrooms and transportation, even the U.S. military was segregated. The laws which claimed to be separate but equal were in fact separate, but were nowhere near equal. These unjust laws ultimately became the source of why lynching, cruel and unusual punishment and violence among blacks stood at its greatest.

The similarities between the experiences both Rosa Parks and minorities today are in fact the same. Her only attempt was to rest peacefully in a seat that she claimed first, only to be wrongfully accused of refusing to cooperate with the police by not giving up her seat. Her personal struggle as an African American woman encouraged the awakening of the civil rights era. The same struggle Parks experienced was found among the characters in modern day society in Sharon Flake's Money Hungry. The book goes into the life of Raspberry Hill, a thirteen year old girl who would do anything for money. Continued memories of being homeless, sleeping in the streets and eating handouts is what keeps her active in doing what is wrong to survive in the world she lives in. It is still not easy being African American, and because of it she forced to deal with the uncertainties of it all. Throughout the book, personal struggle in everyday life is heavily portrayed. The life story of the main character displays how poverty really affects the personal lives of minorities living in unfortunate situations. If Rosa Parks had not grown tired working hard at her underpaid job all day and still had to endure the continuous cruelty from Whites, she probably would not have been forced to refuse her seat. Flake states, "Some people think that I would do anything for money. They're wrong. I wouldn't do nothing bad. Nothing that would hurt people like selling dope, or shoplifting. But when you always trying to think of ways to make a dollar, like I do, folks bound to think the worst" (Money Hungry 1). This goes to show how underprivileged teens go about living all of the time. She also provides brief but profound descriptions of where she lives and how that relates to how African Americans lived in past times. The color barrier is evident in this story. She describes, "I live five miles from here, up the tallest hill in the world. Folks say it's to keep us project kids from coming down to Pecan Landings and causing trouble. That don't stop me none" (Money Hungry 30). This short description displays how the idea of segregation exist in both the Civil rights Era and modern times by expressing the effects of poverty in their lives. The book exhibits the life of Raspberry Hill, a girl struggling to survive by involving herself in unlawful attempts to make money for her family. Unfortunately she and her mother faced being homeless again, and like Rosa Parks she begins to stand up for herself and what she believes. The connection between Rosa Parks and the teenage girl's

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