In the American society, racial discrimination is a big problem that continues to thrive because of the evident unfair treatment of people based on their race. This makes it extremely difficult for geographically segregated communities like Watts to trust the justice system in this country.
In a black dominated community such as the Watts, racial discrimination and biased legal system is apparent. Why should Watts experience the drugs and crimes riddle? If law enforcement officers are working in a just manner, this should not happen in this community.
In the book, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned consisting of fourteen unique stories, Mosley Walter describes the racial aspect by examining bittersweet life of Socrates Fortlow, which came eight years after Socrates completed his rape and murder sentence in prison.. As the novel progresses, Socrates, a black man must work assiduously to find an amicable way to live an upright and praiseworthy life in the world dominated by the white people.
This takes every self-control ounce that Socrates has as racial segregation has adverse effects on his life. After Socrates gets out of prison, he vehemently tries to understand the strange life outside prison. He tries to come into terms with the life he had led before, as well as during his detrimental incarceration.
This results in a masterpiece work, which has a haunting display of a unique life entirely bounded by fear, violence, racism, and lust. In this paper, I will examine “Marvane Street” and “History”. In some parts of these short stories, racial discrimination and racial profiling are apparent. However, this should not be the case because every person should receive equal treatment no matter his/her race.
The “Marvane Street”
The “Marvane Street” is a fascinating must-read chef-d’oeuvre that strategically gives the reader a unique insight on the aspects of race in the community. This story has a unique race enigmatic that calls for thorough scrutiny to unravel the diverse comments on various aspects of racial identity.
As the story unfolds, Socrates, the protagonist in this novel, shows his friend Darryl what he considers as one of the key problems in their community. The community has many racial problems mainly contributed by the difference between black people and white people living in American community (Catherine and John 56).
As a black convict, who has spent most part of his life serving a jail sentence, Socrates strives to live a virtuous life that does not add more violence to this violence riddled society of Marvane Street. Darryl asks Socrates why he keeps on going to the deplorable and infamous Marvane Street. Socrates answers him by reckoning that the street represents a treasured place to identify the problem in this community (Mosley 84).
After his incarceration, Socrates goes to Watts community, which is a black community living in Loss Angles. He first earns a living by doing minor job of gathering cans, and later works as a bounty supermarket worker. In this community, houses and other properties have names, which convey the immense racial segregation existing in therein.
The community has a “crack house, “Young African” house, Luvia’s house, and cop house” (Mosley 86). These entire houses represent various races and social background. One community problem arises from the crack house, which continues to trade illegal drugs in flagrant regardless of the community laws and well-being. The police have turned a blind eye on the crack house because of racial segregation. Instead, the black people doing minor acts like forming social groups are their chief concern.
The police despise people the “Young African” house whose occupants perform their activities in a wrong way: putting up a strong fence to isolate them from other society members (Mosley 91). The cop house is not performing as expected by the community members as people continue to die on Marvane Street, despite the clear presence of the house. Fortlow describes to his friend Darryl how police in Marvane Street have slackened in their duties:
“An’ if that ain’t bad enough there’s a crack house runnin’ almost next do’ two houses down an’ them cops been there…An’ you know there’s been half a dozen people shot or stabbed on this here block in the last four weeks. It takes the cops quarter of an hour at least to answer nine-one-one an’ them cops in that house don’t make a peep” (Mosley 89).
Moreover, the issue of racial unity where community members love and protect people from their race is evident in this story. As Socrates tells his friend Darryl:
“You got to love your brother. An’ if you love’im then you wanna make sure he’s safe” (Mosley 91).
Cultural signifiers such as speech patterns and dressing used by black people are a source of discrimination. Ethnicity or race issues rely much on people’s comprehension of the two concepts. In addition, in this community, the black race is living a hard life because of the limited opportunities available to this race. As Socrates tells his friend Darryl:
“The things that one must do are to survive…think hard, and dream” (Mosley 92).
This conveys how Socrates’ race must keep the hope burning no matter how many farfetched situations they encounter. The grotesqueries presented by modern life in the cities stand out in “Marvane Street”.
The hard-boiled mystery of Socrates life after completing his jail sentence represents the detrimental repercussions of racism. It is quite grotesque that Socrates lacks a marvelous job and has to do minor jobs to earn a living. As the story progresses, the author conveys how black people must keep on trying to end their grief and disillusionment.
The detrimental effects of grief in the black race take the form of a dream where Socrates dreams following a man to a “Graveyard for all the black people who have died from grief” (Mosley 94). The black race faces diverse conditions that have pernicious effects on their lives. Injustices committed to black people in this society have thoroughly crashed out hope from people’s souls. Oppression and social injustices in this community occur with fragrant regardless of the rules set in the community (Alexander 27).
The egotistical actions of the community members in satisfying their own needs at the expense of other races significantly contribute to disillusionment of the black race. Because of racial discrimination, issues such as “passing” prosper. Many black people would wish to “pass” for the white race, as they will not experience discrimination, thus, improving their standards of living. In the dream, a man asks Socrates to perform an impossible task of digging up the dead people.
From this dream, the author conveys a unique message that people must try hard to end grief in their communities even when it seems impossible. This story provides the reader with an opportunity to identify the diverse problems affecting his or her community to come up with amicable ways of solve them.
In addition, police in Marvane Street are practicing double standards, as they administer justice by protecting certain communities while overlooking others. In the “Marvane street” story, the author describes how the police offers inspecting Marvane Street are unjust. Many crimes causing irreparable damages are committed at the very eyes of police.
Police concern themselves with the black race by thoroughly inspecting the organizations they form instead of protecting community members from gangs and drug dealers. As Socrates and Dally see, safety protection relies on the skin color of a person, contrary to what the law advocates.
Derogatory names such as foolish, lazy, violent, and unreasonable are discriminatory of the black people (Catherine and John 39). By treating African-Americans unfairly, police display outright racist mentality. Consequently, “Marvane Street” reveals racial concerns and struggle people from a certain race undergo.
On the other hand, in Mosley’s short story “History”, the author conveys how racial profiling is prominent in this community, adversely affecting the black people. This makes people distrust the legal system set in their community. The story discusses the diverse fallibility people have in the cities.
Socrates has to cope with injustices mainly contributed by the fact that he is black. Racial profiling is vehemently condemned and illegal. However, it exists and continues to increase because of racial segregation. After spending twenty-seven years in prison, Socrates desires to have a new king of life outside Indiana where no one knows him.
Therefore, he moves to the city where he faces racial discrimination, contrary to his expectations. The story portrays Socrates Fortlow as a full-rounded man who tackles difficult obligations in the life outside prison, which is unfamiliar to him. Despite the many adverse conditions exposed to Socrates, he always tries to do what is right.
The experience that the protagonist has in the “History” clearly illustrates the existence of racial profiling. As Socrates walks on a street, the police approach him in a way that depicts racial discrimination. The police officers order Socrates to remove his hands out of his pocket asking him where he was going while pointing a gun on Socrates’ face (Mosley 165). The juxtaposition of black and white races in this community depicts the racial segregation prevalent in this community.
The treatment Socrates received from the police would have been a different case if it were a white man walking on the same street. Racial profiling amounts to racism, which has pernicious effects on the lives of the affected people (Alexander 28). Ending discrimination against other persons based on the race they come from will make all cultures have trust in the law system.
A legal system devoid of equal treatment creates a loophole for individuals to engage in racism. In this regard, race and ethnicity to some extent is not a biologically determined phenomenon. It is a unique phenomenon created by different cultures. Consequently, the way people perceive their identities depend on how their culture chooses to identify them, and on how they identify themselves.
In my society, racial identity is still a contentious issue, as many people always despise people from other races. As the two stories clearly convey, racial discrimination is still a problem, which requires swift measures to tackle. The stories serve as revelations to the diverse racial segregations to expect in our societies. AsAmerica reckons, “…every race should acknowledge other races, as they owe each other huge debts” (93). In this regard, every one of us should advocate for equal treatment of all races.
Therefore, based on the diverse expositions discussed in the paper, it suffices to declare the acclaimed collection of unique and intertwined tales by Mosley as offering a remarkable insight on race. As one reads the stories, emotional impact percolates through the brain because of the outright disillusionment of the black race exposed by the author.
Mosley’s writing in this book is insightful, as well as provoking, as it touches on contentious issues happening in the society. The author permits the readers to involve themselves in the novel using a unique writing that encourages them to forget the issue of friction to focus on the real problems in their communities.
Annotated Works Cited
Alexander, Francis. Stereotyping As a Method of Exploitation in Film. Black Scholar 7.8 (1996): 26-29.
The article explains on how stereotyping is utilized by majority race to discriminate against a minority race. The author expounds on the ways that stereotyping, as used in movies, conveys discriminatory messages against a particular race. The article successfully expounds on the diverse effects of racial stereotyping by examining cases in the American society. Finally, the author gives recommendations on ways in which minority races especially black Americans can do to overcome this stereotyping.
America, Richard. Paying the Social Debt: What White America Owes Black America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2001. Print.
The book redefines the complex and key problems of poverty, racial injustice, inequality, and unhealthy competition in the American society. America argues that White America owes the Black America massive and considerable arrears giving an estimate of this debt. In addition, the author recommends amicable ways to pay the debt. The author conveys a unique message of how people can solve racial problems in this society by acknowledging that the wealthy or privileged literally owe huge debts to the less privileged.
Catherine, Silk, and John, Silk. Racism and Anti-Racism in American Popular Culture: Portrayals of African Americans in Fiction and Film. England: Manchester University Press, 1990. Print.
Catherine and John examine the deep-seated American racism from the 19th century to the current century. This study successfully traces racism development in the American community. It also traces the struggle against racism by minority groups in film and fiction.
The authors emphasize on the unique ways in which media portrayed black people from early years to the present America by analyzing novels and films. The book also provides detailed descriptions on the changes, which have occurred over the years on how media portray women in America.
Mosley, Walter. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. 1997. New York: Washington Square Press, 1998. Print.
The book is an anthology of unique tales that strategically reveal the life history of Socrates Fortlow, the renowned philosopher of his time. It presents his experience as a prisoner for 27 years after having committed rape and manslaughter. During this period, Socrates is reformed. He vehemently tries to live a better life.
In addition, Socrates is searching for equality in world that is devoid of such traits. Socrates encounters distinct acquaintances throughout the novel that provide valuable life lessons to him. He experiences first hand racial discrimination but this does not deter him from fighting for street justice, which local police does not provide to black people in this community. Socrates is a good person and a hero despite the crimes he had committed in the past.