Racism in America
The question about black’s segregation, discrimination and exploitation seem to have taken a center stage for years now. In his book “If Beale could talk”, Baldwin exposes how the black Americans suffer due to lack of equality in America. The Novel is based upon two main characters who are lovers that is Tish and Fonny. The Title of the book by itself speaks volumes about the oppression of the black people in America. It talks about how people are so untruthful to the extent of imprisoning an innocent person. Fonny is accused of rape simply because of being a Black man. He is imprisoned for a crime he never committed. The Writer wishes that the streets would talk so that the truth would come out, and Fonny be released. To the surprise of the author, however, since the streets are incapable of speaking, a Blackman, Fonny is condemned for a crime he never participated. The story is true of the Black Americans in the US who faced a lot of oppression. Black people were denied the right to vote just because they are black, and they were condemned to attend separate schools from the whites. The prevalence rate of the death sentence in the US also indicates that a lot of the people who had been hanged in America belong to the black race. The Love relationship of Fonny and Tish finds a lot of relevance in the American history. Both Tish and Fonny came from the street of Harlem, which was mainly populated by the Negroes. Fonnys mother is opposed to the marriage between Fonny and Tish because Tish is not suitable for him. She terms the marriage as an appropriate punishment for Fonny.
Fonny and Tish live in an apartment that they believe is too small for them as they are now married. They decide to go and look for a more spacious apartment that could fit their needs. Since there was a lot of prejudice against the black race, the chances of the couple finding a more spacious and suitable apartment become like chasing the wind. Most rooms seem to be a preserve of the white Americans. The story is an accurate reflection of the American history where individual schools were only a preserve of the white people, there were different classes on the train for different races and Africans could not vote. The idea of segregation as practiced in America is reflected here. While on the way looking for an apartment too. Tish and Fonny come across an old Negro, who tells them his two years’ experience in prison for a crime he never did. The old Negroes story corroborated with Fonny’s imprisonment for rape without having committed the offense exposes the rottenness of the entire American society. It speaks volumes about the justice system in America. From the scenes in the book, the black Americans cannot get justice from the courts simply because of their color. The Negro has no person to fight for him apart from himself. No person seems to treat the Negro as being an innocent and truthful person. The courts only rush into making hurried decisions against the Negro without proper evaluation of the case. In his book, “Fire next time” Baldwin looks at the American Society from the Negros perspective. He wants every person to put themselves in the shoes of a Negro. In this book, even the whites who always called themselves as the friends of the Negro cannot withstand the pain. A Negro is a person who has suffered a lot in America by virtue of simply being black.
James Baldwins title of his book “Fire next time” is a message sent to the White Americans to sit down and resonate with the Negro to avoid the future racial dilemma. The title has an origin from the Bible from the story of Noah. To quote “…God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, the fire next time”. The message borrowed from this excerpt is clear, the Negro is determined to get his freedom no matter what. The scenario is reflected in the civil rights movements in the 1960s by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. They used all appropriate means including strikes, demonstrations, court battles and pickets to achieve equality. James Baldwin seems to reflect in this book, the bitterness of the Negro. He, however, urges the white Americans to put themselves in the shoe of the Negro. That aside, Fonny and Tish eventually are lucky to find an apartment and decide to go shopping. On the way, a particular man starts harassing Tish infront of Fonny. The man is an Italian. Fonny beats him up and is arrested by Mr, Bell, the police officer for causing a disturbance. A lady in the shop also gives an indicting statement against Fonny. The scenario brings out the lies and untruthfulness of both the white witnesses and an already made up mind of the white policeman. The Negro is never regarded as saying the truth. Even when he is wounded, nobody seems to comfort him apart from himself. It is this agony caused to the Negro that James Baldwin in his book “Fire next Time” foresees a struggle for freedom from the Negro. A Negro fought for America’s independence during the American Revolution, but after signing the declaration of independence, he becomes a slave of his struggle. The pain he has to live with is so overwhelming.
James Baldwin father in the book “Fire next time” challenges God. He says if God so loved the world and if he so loved his children, why did he create some of his children black and cast them down? This statement is an expression of Negro, who has seen it all and thinks the whole world including God is against him. One of the scenes that bring out utter unfairness is Mrs. Rogders rape case against Mr, Fonny. Mrs. Rodgers came from Puerto Rica. After the woman had been raped, she identifies the perpetrator as being a black man. An identification parade is called with Mr. Fonny as the only black man on the line. Mrs. Rodgers picks Mr. Folly maliciously from the line and accuses Folly of the rape. This is utter dishonesty and lies from the whites as against the black people. Since Tish loves Fonny so much, she does all she can to get him out of prison but to no avail. Tish wants Fonny out of prison because she is in love with him so much, and she has given birth to Fonnys, son. Her efforts are however frustrated. The lawyer fails to convince the court of Fonnys innocence. She tries to follow up on Mrs. Rodgers to retract her statement, but she had already run to Puerto Rica. Tish and her mother travel to Puerto Rica to convince Mrs. Rodgers, but she is not convinced and ignores them. Indeed, this excerpt presents a frustrated Negro because of the denial and fabrication of evil acts by the whites towards him. Again, he is hated only because, he belongs to the black race. That’s why in the book “Fire next time”, Baldwin predicts that the time for begging for equality has ended, and there is need for a spirited fight in order for the Negro to set himself free.
From the book “If Beale could talk” we see that segregation of the Negro starts right from his background in Harlem where he resided. We are told Harlem is where a majority of the Negros stayed. This implies that the whites never wanted to stay with the Negro. Black Americans further come to hate religion because religion was being used by the whites as a media for oppressing the Black Americans. James Baldwin in the book “Fire Next time” argues that the question should not be whether human beings can become moral, but rather it is possible for all people to become righteous. The struggle to liberate the blacks is the primary concern in “fire next time”. Here, Mr. Baldwin remembers meeting Elijah Mohammed, the leader of the Islam movement over what he terms as the Negro forming a separate nation. Elijah always told the Black Americans that God is black and that he had chosen the blacks. As such, he expected the Negro to join the Muslim religion as the first step of liberation from oppression. James Baldwin rejects Elijah's proposal and argues that the Negroes children are facing a lot of mob from the aristocrats. He sums up his book by clinching on hope and urging the people of America that it is possible to shun segregation, oppression and discrimination based on color. Again he says, it is possible! Indeed, James Baldwin books have a great impact on the American society as a whole in the struggle movement. From his labor, Today America is proud of the first black president, Barrack Obama and the first black Attorney General of America. Negros now have a chance to go to same schools with the whites. They are now treated with dignity and recognized equally to the whites.