Racism In How It Went Down By Kekla Magoon

1565 Words 7 Pages
Judging solely by the title, Kekla Magoon’s novel How It Went Down seemingly implies a factual description of how an event occurred. By utilizing a polyvocal narrative consisting of various demographics and intertwining relationships, Magoon rather portrays a lack of collective understanding of the detrimental incident of an African-American teenager being shot to death. Through giving personal viewpoints and opinions of many characters, the novel illustrates the manner in which emotions, varying relationships, and underlying racism can affect one’s judgment or perception of such an occurrence they are bearing witness to. These variables are also shown to affect the perceptions of people who did not directly witness the incident, but are impacted …show more content…
Even though the context is defending a friend, if Sammy’s statement was to be false, it would have been due to his assumption rather than lying to defend Tariq. Sammy’s statement was based off of his knowledge of his close friend, and he was confident that he was telling the truth. Brick’s statement was based off his expectations of Tariq, and he seemed to truly believe this because Tariq had become the individual Brick yearned for him to be. Emotion acts likewise as different forms show to possibly cause different perceptions, leading to what can possibly be a legitimate false belief by the witness. While true misconceptions can occur and are not done intentionally, these factors can also lead to purposeful misleading information. This is shown by Noodle’s firm denial of Tariq being armed when being interviewed by the press (pg. 183), even though he clearly feels believes this is a lie. Whether such a lie is given to defend the individual being questioned, or accomplish some other goal concerning personal connection as Noodle portrayed, it can be very influential to interpreting how the story occurred. The concerning aspect of this is that individuals with personal connections show to be unreliable, individually, in bearing witness to such an incident whether they mean to be or not. When someone with such a connection …show more content…
Throughout the novel, both sides provide evidence to racism and how it affects their opinion of the incident. Tom Arlen exhibits this as he quickly associates the African-American characters as criminals, and his Caucasian friend Jack Franklin as a “hero” (pg. 22). While his relationship with Franklin could have also been an influential factor, his negative description of the kids conveys a sense of prejudice. Through Noodle’s statement, “Damn. Tariq shoulda smoked that cracker (pg. 31),” it is apparent that race is the fundamental cause of the discrepancies of judgment featured in the story. Similar to the influences of emotion and personal connection, underlying racism proves to cause misperceptions of events. Because of racial stereotyping, Trellis and Franklin both may have truly felt they were doing the right thing by intervening. Likewise, it is also possible that Tariq’s peers felt oppressed by Franklin and perceived him as acting more aggressive than he realistically was. Whether these actions stemmed from subconscious misperceptions or hate, underlying racism can play a significant role in both how a story happens, and how it is

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