Our African American texts call for close examination of the status of slaves and subsequent generations of free Blacks, how they fit into American society, and their quest for and denial of the benefits of Americanism. So does one assimilate or resist? But The Melting Pot Theory is not inclusive of Blacks since the process of assimilation could not work its magic on black skin.
In the slave narrative, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African, the capture of Africans, their ultimate enslavement in the Americas, the West Indies, and Europe exemplify the assigned inferior status to Blacks in societies of the alien worlds. Blacks have less than their proportionate share of wealth, power, and social status, and are discriminated against by those in the majority. The yoke of slavery did not sanction inclusion, instead it convoluted their status as immigrants or a colonized minority and that sentiment remained a constant. Equiano's race and his life as a seafaring slave narrowed his opportunity of citizenship in a landed community; consequently, he was neither immigrant or colonized. In fact, he was more displaced that ever, sailing under whatever flag happened to be that of his owner/captain. In Song of Solomon and Push the characters are several generations removed from slavery so the question is not whether the position of Blacks is that of immigrant or colonized minority, even though it could appear to be either. More importantly, theirs is the problem of dealing with the ambiguities of being "up from slavery," as the characters come into their own. The su...
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...rally fixed neighborhoods, or "sell out" by embracing the dominant culture and sometimes attempting full assimilation (although it is realized impossible) in order to advance one's career, and acquire better housing and/or education for one's children is ubiquitous. Total assimilation is not real for Black people, it never has been and it probably never will be and that is a sad commentary on the state of the country.
Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudauh Equiano,
or Gustavus Vassa, The African. "The Classic Slave Narratives". Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Penguin Group, 1987.
McLemore, Dale S. Racial and Ethnic Relations in America. Boston: Allyn and
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: The Penguin Group, 1977.
Sapphire. Push. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1996.
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