Welcome to the Native Son Online Book Discussion
About Native Son:
Place a hold on a copy of Native Son from Salinas Public Library
About the Author: Richard Wright
Discussion One: Black World—White World—Post-racial World
“Playing white” with his friends on a Chicago street corner is a grim substitute for living white, for living in a world, that is, where one may presumably be an aviator, or a President or a millionaire or whatever one wants to be. –Samuel Sillen, New Masses (1940)
In Book One—Fear, we are introduced to Bigger Thomas, a twenty year old black man, surviving in the Black Belt of 1930s Chicago. In the Sillen quote above, we get an idea of what life is like for Bigger— there is the “white” world, where all things seem possible, and the “black” world where opportunities are either limited or the “stuff” of make-believe. When Bigger’s world of poverty and discrimination converges with the privileged world of his employer, the Dalton Family, tragedy falls upon both the black and white communities of Native Son’s Chicago.
Fast forwarding to the 21st Century, there are many that would say that we are in a “post-racial” world because of the election of Barak Obama, the product of a white mother and black father, as President of the United States. It may be premature to suggest that our country has completely moved on from the separation of races and classes of its citizens, but what do you think? Are your personal experiences more in line with Bigger’s “black” world, the Daltons’ “white” world, or are you living in the harmonic promise of an Obama Era where there is equality for all?