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Racism and Social Injustice in Warriors Don’t Cry

In her autobiographical book, Warriors Don’t Cry, Melba Pattillo Beals examines her experiences of being an African American female living in the USA in the middle of the twentieth century. The girl had to face numerous instances of racism and social injustice. The author describes the different ways people of color addressed such experiences. Occasional attempts to stand for their rights led nowhere. In the vast majority of cases, the Black community did not protest but tried to accommodate the rules and circumstances that existed. However, the book also displays some of the most effective ways to overcome social injustice and racism. Although Melba Beals does not show the way these strategies were employed by African Americans, leading them to important accomplishments, the story shows how these methods could help on a personal level. It is possible to consider at least two strategies, knowledge and action, that helped the characters go through the atrocities of racism in the United States.

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One of the brightest moments describing the might of knowledge and taking action in overcoming social injustice and racism is related to Melba’s infancy. The girl had a near-death experience, but almost all healthcare professionals paid little attention to the Black child’s condition. The janitor overheard the doctor’s words regarding the necessary treatment that was never given by nurses as they did not “coddle niggers” (Beals 3). Melba’s mother started the treatment herself, which saved her daughter’s life. Thus, the woman of color gained knowledge and took action to overcome social injustice and racism. In this case, Melba’s mother did not change the system, but she achieved a more relevant goal since she saved her child’s life. Another illustration of the importance of knowledge and action in overcoming racism was Melba’s experience at Central High School. The girl was committed to completing her studies irrespective of the dangers and hardships she had to endure. At the end of the book, it becomes clear that her commitment enabled her to become a successful journalist, as well as contribute to the elimination of segregation.

As far as the major conflict in the story is concerned, it is the tension between white segregationists and the black community. The majority of the white population tried to maintain white supremacy and make any changes impossible. For instance, Melba was attacked many times and could even be killed. One of the first instances of such attacks took place before her high school experiences. In addition to illustrating the conflict between the whites and the blacks, the attempt of sexual assault unveiled another conflict. The conflict within the black community was also strong. The majority of people of color were afraid of changing the status quo as they feared negative consequences. Melba’s father was one of such people who were against going to the police and making the assault publicized. Therefore, the major conflicts described in the book were the strain between white segregationists and people of color and the tension within the black community.

One of the major themes in the book is the relevance of a combination of knowledge and action. The main characters contribute considerably to the development of the theme. The protagonist of the novel, Melba, can be regarded as a living illustration of the concept mentioned above. The girl understands the value of knowledge and is ready to take action to gain education “being a soldier on a battlefield” rather than a high-school student (Beals 225). Melba’s mother is another example of African American females’ attempts to find their way in American society through knowledge. She pursued higher education and never stopped self-development. The woman also took action by letting her daughter enter the battlefield. Perhaps, the protagonist’s grandmother India is one of the most remarkable characters building the theme. She was a servant in a white family’s house, and she tried to make the best use of this experience. Instead of rejecting and forgetting everything related to that part of her life, the woman learned a lot about managing the household and utilized this knowledge in her family life. She was also supportive and helped her granddaughter cope with the hardships of standing up against segregationists.

In conclusion, the book under consideration illustrates some of the strategies African Americans used to address racism in the United States in the first part of the twentieth century. Education and action were the major tools the protagonists used to make a difference. Melba tried to destroy the prejudice that existed at that time, as she believed that white people simply needed to know people of color better. The brave girl was ready to go through hard times to prove to everyone that the American South could also be a welcoming place for all individuals. She became one of the key figures in the movement that made American society more democratic as segregation was eventually abolished. The book also shows what roles families and communities played in such courageous people’s lives. Women of the color displayed their commitment and achieved remarkable goals.

Work Cited

Beals, Melba. Warriors Don’t Cry. Simon and Schuster, 2007.

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