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“The Almost White Boy”: Have Our Bi-racial Views Progressed?

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Introduction

"The Almost White Boy": Have Our Bi-racial Views Progressed? by Kenneth Ramsey English 345 Tue. & Th. 3:30pm 1/22/02 The theme of Willard Motley's short story "The Almost White Boy" shares more similarities than differences with present day views and attitudes toward the bi-racial child. Two main views that are held in the pre-segregation setting of Motley's story are still very apparent today. The first is that the bi-racial child is considered to be more black than white and is treated accordingly as a black individual. Furthermore, this view of being more black than white is held by both the black and white segments of society. The second view is that inter-racial dating is much more acceptable than inter-racial marriage. While these are only a couple of views or attitudes that are directed towards the bi-racial child, I believe they are possibly two of the most profound. The fact that a bi-racial child is considered to be more black than white is clearly evident in Motley's story. ...read more.

Middle

Another view that a majority of people in our society share with Jim's society is the dislike for inter-racial marriages. This view is incorporated into the climax of Motley's story. Cora, his girlfriend, obviously feels inter-racial dating is acceptable because she dates Jim for around four months. At the climax of the story Jim resists Cora's advances and asks her to marry him. Her reaction is definitive: inter-racial marriage is acceptable but inter-racial marriage is not. In response to Jim's request for her hand in marriage Motley gives this narrative, "Her eyes met his, burning angrily at the softness in his eyes. 'You damn dirty nigger!' she said, and jumped up and walked away from him as fast as she could." Her response demonstrates that even people who considered themselves to be "open minded" during this era still drew a fine line between inter-racial dating and inter-racial marriage. Cora's reaction shows that Jim clearly did not understand the socially accepted terms their dating. Her violent outburst implies that there is an unspoken rule in regard to inter-racial dating versus inter-racial marriage. ...read more.

Conclusion

He tells her that he is a Negro, as if there were no white blood in him at all. I believe some progression can be seen here simply by the fact that we refer to someone with Jim's background as bi-racial instead of completely black. A change in attitude can also be seen with inter-racial marriages being much more common today. However, I think that this has been a progression from intolerance to tolerance, not from intolerance to acceptance. Progression that is truly radical in nature would not be so similar to the previous views and attitudes of Jim's society toward the bi-racial child. Radical progression of these views will be upon us when bi-racial children are seen as an equal member of both cultures from which they were conceived. It will come when bi-racial children embrace both cultures, the black and the white. More importantly, however, radical progression will have occurred when both cultures embrace their bi-racial children as well. Progression that is radical will consist of acceptance of inter-racial marriages rather than just tolerance for them. Unfortunately, I do not see this kind of progression in my life as my generation like others before it will continue to pass on these two attitudes. ...read more.

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