Black Boy and Mama’s Girl Comparison and Contrast Essay

Topics: Black people, African American, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 6 (2400 words) Published: November 7, 2012
Black Boy and Mama’s Girl Comparison and Contrast Essay

Mama’s Girl by Veronica Chambers and Black Boy by Richard Wright are autobiographies about two people growing up black in America. Richard Wright, born in 1908 near Roxie, Mississippi, became to be one of the most influential black writers in America and his work helped redefine discussions of race relations in America in the mid-20th century. Veronica Chambers, author of Mama’s Girl, has spent most of her career being an editor for various papers and magazines and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. Both books describe how it is like to grow up being discriminated against and the trials that one goes through being a black American. Both Black Boy and Mama’s Girl have similarities and differences in the settings, lifestyles, and style in which the Author tells their story.

Black Boy and Mama’s Girl took place in two very separate time periods. Black Boy took place in the early 1900’s but predominately in the 1920’s when racial tensions in American society reached their boiling points. On the other hand, Mama’s Girl took place in the late 1900’s but predominately in the 1970’s when racism was still visible but not as severe, mainly due to the civil rights movement. Although these two books take place in two dramatically different time periods in American history, they both take place in times when black American’s faced racial discrimination and were not treated equally.

The settings in these books took place in two physically different locations although the emotional basis of the communities were quite similar. Wright traveled a lot from place to place in his early life, and saw many different attitudes towards the way blacks were treated. His story starts in Mississippi, the “Jim Crow South” where blacks were persecuted and discriminated against harshly. He then moves to Memphis Tennessee where his mother struggles to cope with tensions and starts becoming physically ill. He moves throughout Tennessee traveling to different relatives houses while his situation with his mother is unstable. Once Wright is old enough to become independent he moves to Chicago to try to start a better life for himself. Once in Chicago, Wright comes upon many issues with keeping a job and becoming successful. Chambers life on the other hand, starts in Brooklyn, New York where racial tension isn’t as severe because Brooklyn is a mainly black community in the 1970’s. She lives with her Mother, Father, and Brother in Brooklyn but moves around a lot due to her father leaving and her mother having to support the family on her own. She then goes to California when her mom takes a vacation to visit her aunt but ends up falling in love so Chambers mom moves herself and Veronica to California. The racial tension is bad in California, where the American blacks and the Mexicans are forced to live in close proximities and tensions become high leading to violence and gang fights. Chambers doesn’t get along with her step father so she moves to Jersey and lives with her father and abusive stepmother. Once in Jersey, she works hard to obtain a scholarship while dealing with an abusive stepmother and eventually does. She then moves to Simon’s Rock College in Massachusetts where she was named one of Glamour magazine’s Top Ten College Women of 1990.

Black Boy took place in 1912-1937. Main current events such as the Prohibition starting in 1919, the Great Depression starting in 1929, and World War I, which began in 1914 and ended in 1918. Prohibition in the United States focused on the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Drinking itself was never illegal, and there always were exceptions for medicinal and religious uses. Although alcohol consumption did decline, there was a dramatic rise in organized crime in the larger cities. World War one had huge effects on America including highly productive industry that preceded the Great Depression, jobs given to woman, which helped pass the nineteenth...
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