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The Desire to Fit In.

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The Desire to Fit In In the essays, "In the Kitchen" and "Homeboy" by the African American authors, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Malcolm X, the common theme of assimilation is discussed, while demonstrating contrasting views. These two stories reflect on the aspects of being African American in a society that is highly influenced by the superior culture. In their essays, Gates and Malcolm X discuss some of the changes African Americans did to fit in to the customs and attitudes of the well-liked and accepted ethnicity, which were the non-blacks or whites. In "In the Kitchen," by Henry Louis Gates, emphasizes the social significance of the hair- straightening process for the blacks; he defines "good hair" and "bad hair". It was well known that kinky hair belonged to the blacks, and straight hair pertained to the whites. Many people from town went to Gate's home to get their hair straightened. Big Mom, Gate's grandmother, performed miracles from her own home. She straightened hair as much as God allowed her to, except the "kitchen". ...read more.


Therefore, Malcolm X manages to discover the "black ghetto." He meets Shorty, who refers to him as "homeboy." Shorty teaches his homeboy that "everything in the world is a hustle," and introduces him to a lifestyle that was just true. As part of his adaptation, Malcolm X has his kinks straightened. When he sees his thick, smooth sheen of shining red hair as straight as any white man's, he feels ridiculous and stupid (Malcolm X 190); he experienced self-degradation. Malcolm belittles himself to the level of fake negroes wanting to look "pretty" by white standards ( Malcolm X 179). After experiencing betrayal, Malcolm X promises himself to never loose touch with his identity, in order to meet the customs and be accepted by the white people. In "In the Kitchen," by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and "Homeboy" by Malcolm X, similarities as well as differences appear. "In the Kitchen" and "Homeboy" are essays that incorporate the theme of assimilation. They focus on a minority group, in this case the blacks, struggling to adapt to the customs of the prevailing culture. ...read more.


He was one of the many blacks that violated and mutilated their God- created bodies to try to look appealing to the white culture (Malcolm X 191). Gates's and Malcolm X's feelings toward the straightening process are particularly contrasting. When Malcolm X conks his red hair he is full of shame and angry at himself for even acting out such a fallacy. On the other hand, when Gates straightens his hair he feels accepted, presentable, and dirt-free. Malcolm X finds his way in to society without having to disown his individuality, he didn't feel the need to adapt to the expectations of what was known as the better culture, however Gates did. Despite, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Malcolm X distinguishing ideas toward certain events, they are still African-Americans that wished to be viewed as equally important as the whites. When Gates straightened his hair, he changed his appearance, nevertheless he was still African-American. An individual, should not let another person or culture influence them to modify who they are to be socially and physically accepted by another culture; you are who you are. When Gates straightened his hair, he changed his appearance, not who he was, nevertheless still African-American. ...read more.

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