Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ethnicity Studies and Post-Colonial Theory


In America, we are called a melting pot. Though, are we all combined? Are we all melting together and becoming equal? Our amendments say so, yet our social discourses show otherwise. The once oppressed are now changing their identity to one's similiar to thier ancestors in order to runaway from the melting pot and renforce their heritage into their daily life. Langston Hughes says in "The negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," :
But, to my mind, it is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering 'I want to be white,' hidden in the aspirations of his people to 'Why should I want to be white? i am a Negro -- and beautiful! (1196)
This theory is exemplified in the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, an American Literature author. In this story, an African-American family shows the contrasting characters of a proud African woman and an ashamed one. One of the daughters, Maggie, is very shy and self conscious of herself, yet her sister Dee is vivacious and very proud of her heritage. Dee comes home to visit her family with a new name, Wangero, and a new man. They are both in cultural attire as well as sharing thier African names. In the end Wangero longs for a few of her ancestors quilts left in her mother's house, but her mother already promised it to Maggie. Wangero believes Maggie will ruin the quilts by everyday use, while she would proudly hang them up and show her culture to others. She tells Maggie that she doesn't understand thier hertiage and says, "You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It's really a new day for us"(8). Wangero is the epidemy of Hughe0s' theory on ethnicity. Hughes as well says, "We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame" (1196). The character Wangero in "Everday Use" is exactly the young negro Hughes is striving for in the melting pot.

Works Cited

Hughes, Langston. "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountains." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." American Studies @ The University of Virginia. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. .

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