The issues of race and ethnicity have always been rather important for human beings. The modern society tries to be more tolerant and polite towards the identities of every single race or ethnic group. However, in the past discrimination according to the racial identity was a usual phenomenon. Only the people of art, especially writers, promoted racial equality in the society. One of the writers of such kind was Charles Waddell Chesnutt, and this paper will focus on his ideas about race and ethnicity.
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To strat with, it is necessary to state that the above mentioned author was a person of the African American origin. However, this fact was unknown to the readers of Charles Waddell Chesnutt until the latest years of his literary career. Writing mainly short stories and novels, Charles W. Chesnutt was an acknowledged genius of the prose of realism. However, his creative work faced considerable challenges that were conditioned by his identity. From this, as well as from the typical features of his writing style and imagery, it should have been obvious for the readers that their favorite author was an African American.
In more detail, the major feature of the works by Charles W. Chesnutt was their simplicity and readability for the least educated groups of the American society. His short stories and novels are distinguished by clear description of the lives and misfortunes of the African Americans and other discriminated or enslaved minorities of the American society. Thus, for example, “The Conjure Woman” by Charles W. Chesnutt is a bright example of his literary genius that managed to combine the realism and fiction in one work. Accordingly, another feature of his work that demonstarted his racial belonging was a great appeal to the descriptive and figurative language. Finally, the open support of the discriminated minorities in the pro-slavery Southern states in the time after the Civil War was another sign of his belonging to the African American ethnic group.
Moreover, about 60 years before Matin Luther King, Charles W. Chesnutt created his speech in support of the African Americans and granting them the equal rights with the white Americans. It is universally known that the 19th century and the early 20th century was the time of discrimination, segregation and various other kinds of the violation of rights of African Americans. Thus, in his famous speech of 1905, Charles W. Chesnutt proclaimed such values as rights equality and the supremacy of law as the basic ones for the American society. Making references to the Independence Declaration and the United States Constitution, Charles W. Chesnutt made the American society think about the ideals for which Lincoln died and numerous sodliers gave their lives during the Civil War. Abolition of slavery and recognition of the equality of all human beings were to become fundamental for the construction of the society of the future.
Thus, all the above discussed facts prove that the African American identity of Charles W. Chesnutt was obvious throughout his whole life. Despite the fact that his appearance did not allow his contemopapries to consider him an Adfrican American, his own attitude towards his race was simple – he represented the African Maericans on the arena of the American cultural and social life, and his literary career was one of the proofs to this point of view.