DISCRIMINATION TOWARD THE BLACK PEOPLE
Charles Johnson states that actually there had been no “Black problem” until the Civil War. It is because before the Blacks had only been chattels. The War happened because the Blacks want their freedom in education, employment, the vote, regularized marriage and even the acquisition of a surname.
The Congress in 1875 adopted a statue which allowed the equality of facilities and accommodation for every race and color, but the famous Plessy-Ferguson Decision in 1896 gave legal discrimination and segregation by virtue of its “separate but equal” doctrine. This doctrine arouses the discrimination and segregation toward the Black people.
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman which is written by Ernest J Gaines consist the life of Blacks in America who are discriminated by the White Americans. This issue inside Gaines’ novel attracts me to analyze the topic of discrimination toward the Blacks in America. The analysis applies interdisciplinary approach to find the aspect of social, history and morality inside the novel discussed. The method of research of this paper uses the library research. The primary source of this paper is Ernest J Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and the second sources are the information which is taken from the library books and the Internet.
The Discrimination Of The Black People
This chapter discusses about the discrimination toward the Black people in America which is reflected by Gaines in his novel. Gaines tells about the discrimination which is experienced by Jane Pittman and her race. Jane Pitman has been lived for one hundred and ten years. Therefore, through his novel, Gaines explains about Pittman’s live from her childhood until her old age which happens during the civil war up to the civil right movement.
The civil war that happened in America did not end both the slavery and the discrimination toward the Black Americans. The discrimination toward them is still continued in which it causes the Civil Right Movement.
The first prove about the discrimination toward the Blacks is the slave names which are given to the Blacks. It means that the slaves are given the names, which are different from the White’s names. They are for example Ticey, Buck and Big Laura The names are given by their masters.
Any slaves who are dare to owe the names like the White’s names will be punished by their masters. It is for example Ticey, who changes her name to be Jane Brown, is hit by her master. It is reflected in statement below.
“‘My name ain’t Ticey no more, it’s Jane Brown’…My mistress face got red…Every time she hit me she asked me what my name was. I said Jane Brown. She hit me again”.
Gaines wants to tell to the readers that a slave does not allow owing a name the same as the White’s. Therefore, the slave who does not obey the rule will be punished by the master.
The other proof of discrimination toward the Blacks people is the massacre of the slaves by the Secesh Army. Gaines explains that all of Pittman’s friends are died because of the massacre by the Secesh Army. The Secesh Army kills her friends brutally and cruelly. It is seen in the following quotation.
“They beat him, he covered up, but they beat him till he was down. Then one of the patrollers slid off the mule, right across his tall, and cracked the slow wit in the head. I could hear his head crack like you hear dry wood break” (Gaines: 21). |
The quotation above shows that the Secesh Army kills the Black slave by beating him until he is down and then whipping his head until his head break. Another proves of the inhumane treatment of the Whites soldier toward the Blacks is the soldier’s ignorance for the fear of the Blacks. “You will hear screaming, begging, screaming, begging; screaming, begging-till it was quit again” (Gaines: 22). This quotation shows how the White soldier dares to kill the Black slaves although the Black slaves have begged in order not to be killed. Hence, from the two quotations above, Gaines tells the readers that the Whites have murdered many Blacks brutally. The murder of many Blacks is the other proves of discrimination of the White American to the slaves.
Furthermore, the Whites often feel disgust toward the Blacks. It has caused them to treat the Blacks impolitely. It is seen in the following quotation.
“When I reached for the cup she pulled it back. ‘You think I’m go ‘in let you put your black mouth on this cup?” she said. “Hold out your hands.” She was saying. ‘I hate y’ all with my heart. I hate niggers with all my heart. Y’ all cause of it all. I hope the good white people round kill all y’all off.” (Gaines: 41).
The statement above reveals that the women as the White feel disgust toward Pittman so that she does not allow Pittman to drink from her cup directly. The women orders Pitman to drink the water from Pittman’s own hands. Furthermore, the women also tells her that she hate all of the Blacks and hopes that the White people will kill all of the Blacks. Hence, Gaines wants to tell us that there are the Whites who hate and feel disgust toward all of the Blacks and desire to kill them. These White people’s feelings cause the Whites treating the Blacks impolitely. This example of impolite treatment is one proves of the discriminations of the White people toward the Black people.
The other proves of the White’s disgust feeling toward the Blacks is reflected in the following quotation.
“Let them stay tonight,” Job said.
“In my house?” the women said. “Stink up the place?”
“They can sleep in the crib.” He said. (Gaines: 55).
The woman feels disgust to Pittman and Ned because they are the Blacks. That is why the woman says that they will stink up her place. Because of the fear of getting her place dirty, they decide to let them sleep in the crib instead of inside her house. Their treatment to Pittman and Ned is the discrimination toward the Black people.
Furthermore, the schools that are established by the Blacks are shut down. The White people do not allow them to have their own school. The Whites allow only the White teacher to teach them.
“That schoolhouse there going is shut down till I can find y’all a competent teacher”. The only teacher to come there was a white; the only time he came was in the winter when the weather was so bad”. (Gaines: 70).
In short, Gaines tells his readers that the Whites close the school of the Black and they give a White teacher to teach the Blacks. However, the teacher only comes in wintertime. This oppression of the Whites discriminates the education for the Blacks.
Besides the closing of the Black’s schoolhouse, the Whites also forbid them to occupy the profession of soldier, politicians, and teacher. “No such thing as colored troops, colored politicians, or a colored teacher anywhere”. (Gaines: 70). It proves the discrimination toward the Blacks.
Meanwhile, the Black people who give spirit to the other Blacks for their equality with the Whites will be murdered. They are Ned and Jimmy. Ned is murdered for having taught the Black people to be the American and Jimmy is murdered for having joined the Civil Right Movement (Gaines: 115 &). These murders attracts Gaines to describe that by then the Whites do not want the Blacks to have the same right as the White and therefore, the Whites kills the Blacks who struggle for the equality. This action discriminates the Black people.
The last form of discrimination seen in the novel is the prohibition of Whites to marry with Blacks.
“She was a nigger, he was a white, and they couldn’t have anything together. We tried to make him follow a set of rules our people”. (Gaines:)
In the above quotation, Gaines describes that at that time the people make the rule in which the Whites are forbidden to marry the Blacks. The rule have discriminated the Black race.
The Autobiography of Jane Pittman sets during the Civil War until the Civil Right Movement. During this period, the Black people in America suffer many forms of discrimination by the White people. The Civil War, which at first purposes to end the Black slavery, does not give a better life for them. There is still much oppression toward the Black people.
The discriminations are reflected by Ernest J Gaines in his novel. When the Blacks still become a slave during the Civil War, they are given the slave names. The slave who does not obey the rule will be punished by his master. The discrimination towards them also seen in the massacre of the Blacks, which is often done by the Secesh Army. There are Whites who feel disgust to them and this cause the White to treat the Blacks impolitely. Furthermore, the White also forbids them to be a soldier, politicians, and teacher and forbid to marry with the Whites. They close the Blacks’ school and murder the Blacks who struggle for their equality as the Whites.
In short, through this novel Gaines wants to tell to the readers that the discriminations toward the Black people are seen in the oppressions of their freedom of marriage, honor, politic, education, and living.