Black Boy is both an indictment of American racism and a narrative of the artist's development. As a child growing up in the Jim Crow South, Richard faced constant pressure to submit to white authority. However, even from an early age, Richard had a fierce spirit of rebellion. Had he lacked the resilience to be different despite the pressure to conform to social expectations, he would probably never have become an internationally renowned writer. The entire system of institutional racism was designed to prevent the American black's development of aspirations beyond menial labor. Racist whites were extremely hostile to black literacy and even more so to black Americans who wanted to make writing a career.
However, Richard did not only face opposition to his dreams from racist whites. In many ways, his own family and the black community fiercely opposed his aspirations. His grandmother, a strict, illiterate Seventh Day Adventist, considered reading and writing about anything other than God sinful. Richard's peers considered him silly and unrealistic and maybe dangerous. Throughout his childhood, Richard suffered violence at the hands of his family for daring to rebel against his assigned role of humble silence. In Black Boy, he often charges the black community with perpetuating the agenda of white racism.
Throughout his childhood and adulthood, Richard reacted with bitter contempt toward what he saw as the submission of other black people to white authority. Wright has often been criticized for failing to acknowledge or appreciate the richness of the American black community. However, his personal experiences clearly affected his relationship with it. Just as he suffered abuse and hostility from his own family, so did he receive little comfort from the larger black community. Wright constantly clashed with what he saw as Black American submission, and, for personal reasons, clashed with all religious dogmatism. The black community reacted to his rebellion...
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