Racism In The Piano Lesson

1049 Words 5 Pages
French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac once said, “Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact.” Racism in America between 1877 to the 1930’s was an example of Balzac’s words. Although African Americans deserved to be equal socially and politically, reality showed them that the White man will always be racist. If they ever tasted success, it would be met with more racial hardships. In The Piano Lesson the fictional character’s represent the African American society at the time, and the larger problems they faced. Examples of social deterioration by Whites and reforms to introduce political inferiority are found throughout the book. August Wilson’s play, The Piano Lesson, exemplifies a lack of …show more content…
Social progress was a struggle for African Americans, although they saw glimpses of success at times, ultimately they were unable to reasonably progress by 1930. In the Piano Lesson, many examples of a lack of social progress are given but one stands out, as Wilson highlights in his play when Doaker is explaining the history of the Charles family and he says, “… [Robert Sutter] asked Mr. Nolander to see if maybe he could trade off some of is niggers for that piano.” (Wilson 42). Though the phrase “nigger” sounds alarming in the present times, it was a commonly used derogatory term at the time, signifying a lack of social progress. Secondly, the mere fact that one could trade a human being for a piano is appalling, no matter how grand the piano is. From this conversation, we can witness the degradation of the African American race by the white man. The Charles family’s goal for equality was too difficult to achieve during their time period. Despite this, one could argue that Blacks achieved social equality to a certain extent. Ray Stannard Baker, whose book Following the Color Line, examined the racial divide in America, said, “I found Negroes working and making a good living in all sorts of …show more content…
During the Post-Reconstruction era of the United States, African Americans were beginning to fall under sets of laws that weakened their political footing as a race, and slowly brought signs of slavery once again. The protagonist in the Piano Lesson, is a sharecropper named Boy Willie, meaning he is occupied in a system of labor that is legal, but is almost like slavery. The sharecropper is trying to struggle and break from this form of slavery, but Wining Boy says at one point in the book, “Now that 's the difference between the colored man and the white man. The colored man can 't fix nothing with the law." (Wilson 38). It is evident that there is an absence of political progress for African Americans, since the law is not designed to help a black man. As human beings African Americans should be given equal power to the White man morally and constitutionally. If they cannot do anything about the law, especially if the law is going against them, then political progression can only become more difficult. Despite this, some may argue that there was political progress. In the Plessy v. Ferguson trial, when attacked upon the ground that the constitutionality of the act conflicted with both the Thirteenth and Fourteenth amendment, which prohibits certain restrictive legislation on the part of the States, it is stated that, "The object of the amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races

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