Thursday, October 16, 2014

Humanity: People First

The story of Twyla and Roberta is simply profound. As recent events within our home town shows, race is still, unfortunately, a large issue in our society. The powerful nature of Morrison’s short story derives from the fact that she does not entail the race of either girl, yet race is subtly mentioned throughout the story. From the introductions of Twyla, I pictured her as a caucasian in my head. As Roberta talks to Twyla she says, “Maybe I’m different now, Twyla. But you’re not. You’re the same little state kid who kicked the poor old black lady when she was down on the ground. You kicked a black lady and you have the nerve to call me a bigot”(Morrison3552). I felt Roberta’s condescending tone as well as the emphasis of Maggie being a “black lady” made my perception of Twyla more concrete. It was almost as if Roberta was saying Twyla was twice as guilty for kicking a black lady because she is white. It felt as though a crime against another race was doubly as bad. I believe that Roberta was African American. Several times within the short story, Roberta mentions “blacks and whites,” but the word black is always put before the word white in her dialect. Often times, we put self first in our own dialect out of natural habit. When talking to Twyla, Roberta says, “you know how it was in those days: black-white”(Morrison3550). Roberta’s repetition of the the sequence in which she stated “black and white” made me believe she was African American. 

I find that class issues are equally as divisive as racial issues. Unfortunately, there is still a separation amongst differing people of our country and the world. There are many stereotypes that follow the many races as well. Racism and as well as the convinced superiority of oneself will not dissipate until we teach our children tolerance and understanding. We need to become a people first society. Bring forth humanity and we will have peace. 


  1. See Roberta deriving race and calling Maggie a "black lady" made me think Roberta might actually be white since she found the need to make a racial distinction, rather than just say you hit a lady. I thought the same thing about black and white but I also noticed both girls did this, I think that the author made sure that happened. Because I thought the same thing, attributing your own race first, but Twyla and Roberta, (I'm pretty sure) both flipped the order they'd say this, as in when Twyla said something about Roberta making the issue in the Howard Johnson and black and white thing. I honestly think they don't have a race, or more they both have both races. I might be wrong but I really don't think the author wants us to know either way, like you wrote on my blog I totally agree in thinking that the author wanted us to paint our own pictures of race without any proof, just based on steriotypes. This piece was amazing and I'm so glad you also enjoyed it. Morrison's writing was so eloquent and beautiful.

  2. Katie,
    Your comment reminded me of something interesting that happened awhile ago that relates. When the Hunger Games movie came out, there was a backlash from a group of fans who were very angry that the character Rue was Black in the movie (even though she was in the book as well). They insisted that when they read the book they envisioned her as White and somehow seeing her as Black diluted the power of her character and the plot for them. This tendency to read a character as a member of the dominant culture or as the Other is interesting, and I think it is exactly why Morrison leaves this detail purposefully vague.