Internalized Racism

Internalized Racism

With the continued rise in discrimination on the grounds of the race, it reaches a point whereby persons targeted by racism are besieged by the messages, behavior and attitude of racists. Therefore internalized racism is a state whereby a person has subconsciously accepted the stereotyping and bias imposed on one’s ethnic group. Internalized racism leads to the development of some pattern of thinking and feeling that makes people criticize, mistreat, hate and invalidate themselves as they value and emulate the dominant culture. We are all targeted by racism fights from childhood as the society has a harsh and persuasive racist attitude that can be dangerous mentally. At times each of us might be forced to turn racist and concur to some conditions that internalize the view of racism. The main adverse effect of internalizing racism is that people of the same race end up mistreating each other in the same way that the dominant race mishandles them (Re-evaluation Counseling).

In the novel ‘The Bluest Eyes’ by Tony Morrison the characters well depict the theme of internalized racism (Adair). The setting of the narration is the 1940’s after the Great Depression where we come across two sisters, Claudia Mac Teer and Frieda who live with their parents in a poor household. Although the Mac Teers are not well of entirely, they are philanthropic and decide on accommodating Mr. Henry and Pecalo. Pecalo had fled from her the hands of her violent father after he attempted to burn down the family’ house (Morrison 18). The writer depicts Pecalo as an awkward girl that love the Shirley Temple, believing her blackness is ugliness while whiteness is inherently beautiful. With such a mentality it is correct to say that Pecalo is damaged psychologically and is no longer in a position to appreciate neither herself nor any black person. The worse condemnation that a person can bestow upon him or herself is invalidation of self because it hinders the individual from living to his r her full potential.

Back at Pecola’s home life was extremely difficult as her father consumes alcohol excessively which makes him result to him always battering his wife. Pecola has internalized racism and blamed herself for the conflict between her parents. She believes that if perhaps she were prettier (White) then her parents would have been nice to her and each other. And since she associates beauty with whiteness, she desires to have blue eyes to change how other people see her. According to the writer, this character is a representation of the attitude of most people in society. Most black people care a lot about what other people think about them and wish to have been born white.

Back at school, Pecola is teased by boys, and this gets to her because she lacks self-esteem. Perhaps if she did learn to accept herself for who she indeed was her life in school would have been much better. The new light skinned girl, Maureen also shows the effects of internalized racism as she intimidates Pecola for being black yet she is black too. Most of the students in this school seem to be damaged by racism because even though they are from the same race, they are still mistreating each other.

Another effect of internalized racism evident in the play is how it prevents characters from being bold and standing up for their rights. For instance, although Pauline’s marriage is always in chaos and she is unhappy, she still clings to her abusive husband. She pours all her affection and time to the white family for whom she worked for (Eddie). Pauline loves and yearns to have been part of a white family. She does not believe that despite being black, she deserves to have an equally happy and peaceful family. If racism had not tempered with Pauline’s thinking or attitude, she should have at least tried to work out whatever issues her marriage was undergoing and if it was all not fruitful, then she ought to have walked away from the husband to prevent her child from witnessing any more domestic violence.

Racism has made most black people put their well-being last. Victims are less concerned about their emotional and physical health, making them vulnerable to ulcers, heart diseases, obesity, and high blood pressure among other illnesses (Molina and James 445). For instance, we see Cholly the drunkard finally assaulting his daughter and impregnating her. Judging on the kind of lifestyle he lived Pauline was not supposed to entrust Pecola safety to him. The psychological damage that such an act impacted on Pecola is beyond imagination leave alone is eternal. It was also shocking how such a deed seemed to be something that normal, which means it was something common in society.

With internalized racism in effect, it becomes more challenging to eliminate discrimination of people on the ground of their race. People originating from the same ethnic group are supposed to be united, treat each other fairly and rebuke any attempt of a dominant race mistreating them.

Works Cited

Adair, Vance. “The Bluest Eye | Introduction & Summary.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 May 2017, Accessed 9 Jan. 2019.

Eddie, Borey. “Bluest Eye Summary.” Study Guides & Essay Editing | GradeSaver, GradeSaver, 19 Oct. 2018, Accessed 9 Jan. 2019.

Molina, Kristine M., and Drexler James. “Discrimination, internalized racism, and depression: A comparative study of African American and Afro-Caribbean adults in the US.” Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, vol. 19, no. 4, 2016, pp. 439-461.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Random House, 2014, Accessed 9 Jan. 2019.

Re-evaluation Counseling. “INTERNALIZED RACISM.” Re-evaluation Counseling, 21 July 2016, Accessed 9 Jan. 2019.

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