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"Othering" Race and Taking a Stand

What does it mean to be "othered" because of your race? What is the importance of taking a stand?

James Farmer Jr. and the Congress of Racial Equality
newseumed.org

James Farmer Jr. and the Congress of Racial Equality

Paragraph 1.) This article from “Newseumed” commemorates the great legacy of a lesser-known civil rights leader named James Farmer Jr who played an essential role in the formation of non-violent civil rights movements against those who othered him and other black people for the color of their skin. Farmer deeply suffered from discrimination as a child; however as he grew up and was better informed on how to prevent this ‘othering’, he decided to take a stand for those who had also experienced a time of loneliness and unfairness. To resist the mistreatment of all black people, James Farmer Jr. “organized Freedom Rides, bus trips with black and white CORE members, to test segregation laws in the South. In Anniston, Ala., protesters bombed their buses. Images of the violence transformed the national debate on racism as people saw photos of this terrorism in newspapers” (Newseumed). Even though protesters, including Farmer’s life, was put into jeopardy by many prejudiced terrorists, they continued to stand up for their rights and the rights of the whole black community. Farmer also “played a key role in bringing to an end the formal legal practice of segregation common across the United States. He helped plan the March on Washington, but couldn’t attend. (Farmer was in jail in Louisiana for his civil disobedience against segregation.)” (Newseumed). James was so determined to end bigotry across America to the point where he sacrificed his life and the little bit of freedom he already had. However, if James was white and not black, his life would have been much different (no arrests and or threats).
Paragraph 2.) The amount of sacrifice and courage demonstrated by James Farmer Jr. in the article was also exemplified throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In both works, a person standing up for being othered and or for someone being othered is faced with threatening situations. Even though his repercussions were not as serious as Farmer’s, Atticus Finch was confronted by prejudiced men for defending a black man named Tom Robinson in a rape case. Thankfully Atticus’s children were there to stop the confrontation, whereas James Farmer Jr. did not have anyone there to protect him from the wrath of prejudiced white people. Luckily today our government is structured around equality and fairness; however, during the time of the Civil Rights period, black people including James did not have the luxury/reassurance of the law in their favor.

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Newsela | African-Americans long fought for the right to serve their country
newsela.com

Newsela | African-Americans long fought for the right to serve their country

Paragraph 1.) This article from “Newsela” discusses black men breaking the barrier of their ‘racial expectations’ and becoming the first black men to be pilots, actors, etc… Rather than succumbing to those who other them because of the color of their skin, they follow their dreams and make history instead. In the article, it states how a black man named Jesse Brown wrote to President Roosevelt “...asking why there were no black pilots in the military. He got back a form letter saying that would change one day. Eleven years later, in 1948, he became the first black pilot in the U.S. Navy. Brown had felt the sting of racial taunts all his life. But with the military ending its policy of racial segregation, the 24-year-old ensign was hopeful. "I'm the beginning of things to come,” he said” (Newsela). By having courage and determination, Brown stood up for what he believed in while making history in the process. Another inspirational black person who ignored being ‘racially othered’ and pursued her dream was Nadja West. Nadja was “a black person and a woman...Over the years, more postings and promotions followed. In 2015, West became surgeon general of the Army, its top doctor. She is also the Army's first black female three-star general and the highest-ranking female graduate of West Point” (Newsela). Instead of letting her race and gender stop her from defending her country, she persevered and didn’t listen to those doubting her abilities.
Paragraph 2.) This article encompassing the importance of standing up for what is right no matter one’s gender and or race is shown through many instances in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In both writing pieces, those who are black and or a woman were shunned in their community. Similar to Nadja West, in TKAM Scout Finch doesn’t let her gender get in the way of her actions. Scout continues to dress and play with whoever she pleases (Jem and Dill) while continually being insulted for being a girl. For example, when Aunt Alexandra told Scout to act and dress like a lady, Scout didn’t listen. Even though she didn’t necessarily take a stand, she did refrain from letting other people change and or other her just like the individuals mentioned in the article.

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Race Riot in Downtown Detroit, 1943
newseumed.org

Race Riot in Downtown Detroit, 1943

Paragraph 1.) This visual piece from “Newseumed” shows a black man being pestered by white people at a local amusement park located in Downtown Detroit. This picture is a perfect exemplification of racial othering. An element of this image that reinforces the awful concept of othering/being othered because of someone’s race is the part of the photo where a black man is being paraded through streets full of bigoted white individuals and tormented without a reason other than being colored. From the viewer of the picture’s perspective, the man being exploited appears to be peaceful and has no intention of being harmful. However, the white people only see him for his color and not his innocent nature, resulting in their discriminatory sides getting the best of them; this is racial othering. Another aspect of the photograph that shows the injustice of black people demonstrated in this image is the fact that the police officers are not doing anything to interrupt and or prevent this mistreatment. Instead of stopping this man from assaulting the black protester, they are letting their duties as officers succumb to their prejudiced mindsets/viewpoints.
Paragraph 2.) This visual representation of racial othering is also exemplified many times throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In both works, those who differ in ethnicity/color are looked down upon in their own society and the only accepted race at the time was white. Similar to the photograph, a community is also bigoted towards a seemingly innocent man being disdained due to the color of his skin. This man in the book was Tom Robinson; a Maycomb, Alabama community member being charged with the rape of a white woman named Mayella Ewell. Even though the man in the image doesn’t appear to be arrested for a crime as serious as Tom’s; however, they are both being easily blamed for an offense involved and or against white people. If a white person was arrested for all to see, there would be controversy. Whereas when a black person is arrested, it seems normal and righteous. Thankfully these sickening ‘views’ have changed over time to a point where black and white people can comfortably live in coexistence amongst each other.

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Newsela | Famous Speeches: Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream"
newsela.com

Newsela | Famous Speeches: Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream"

Paragraph 1.) This speech adapted by “Newsela” staff demonstrates a valiant man, Martin Luther King Jr., standing up for black communities and their deserved rights. Not only was King giving hope to black people in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he was also telling those who ‘othered’ black people based on their color that time was up and they could not take the harassment anymore. To stand up for black people and his beliefs, King proclaimed, “ I have a dream that one day...right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers” (King, Newsela). He is not threatening those who hold bigotry within them but rather dreams of little boys and girls of all different races living amongst each other equally and compatibly. King also stands up for the brutal ‘racial othering’ by stating “...when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city...black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” (King, Newsela). Using his strong faith and determination, he is able to give hope to all while also trying to have those who hold prejudice recognize that all people are equal no matter their race, financial situation, religion, etc…
Paragraph 2.) MLK's speech that was intended to motivate people to stand up for racial othering is also exemplified many times throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Even though MLK’s speech wasn’t formally mentioned in the book, what the speech encompasses is. In both the speech and the novel, certain courageous people had to stand up for those who are looked down upon in society (black, poor, etc…). Similar to King, although it was not as important, a man named Atticus Finch defended and stood up for a black man accused of rape named Tom Robinson. Atticus, a man who held not one prejudiced bone in his body, took upon a job that no man or lawyer in his right mind would. Excluding his race, Atticus defended Tom as if he were a white person; equally and fairly. Even though Atticus didn’t stand up for the entire black community, he did allow those who were colored to trust him and his attempt to keep Tom out of jail. Both Atticus and MLK advocated for black people in a way that gave them hope and a bit of persistence.

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