America is the most diverse country with many different people and different cultures from all over the world; because of immigration. Since immigrants have been more accepted and welcomed in the United States, the numbers of intermarriages and biracial children have been increasing extensively. Although, multiracialism brings all races closer, some people use their own culture as a standard. These people who hold their unmixed racial lineage as the golden standard often evaluate other races which leads to racial discrimination. This is the main problem that we are facing in America. In the book, Identity Matters by Lillian Bridwell-Bowles, she put together Reginald McKnight’s essay, Mura’s essay, and Alexis’ short story to address this problem and how the writer, the speaker, or the character has affected the society.
In the first essay, “Confessions of a Wannabe Negro,” Reginald McKnight was talking about the struggle of being a black student and the journey of finding his true self as a black boy. People like Reginald McKnight were being mistreated by society because of their skin color and their way of acting. Despite of what his friends were calling him, McKnight just ignored them because he knew that he could never fight back the majority since he was the only black kid at his Catholic school. Born in Germany and attending a white-dominated school growing up, moving to a segregated school was a big change for McKnight. He felt more comfortable around his new black friends and teachers. But that did not last long, the fact that he did not fit in with his other classmates led to harassment towards him. McKnight cites Trey Ellis, who writes, “It was not unusual for me to be called ‘oreo’ and ‘nigger’ on the same day….
I realized I was a cultural mulatto” (McKnight 68). He prefers himself as a cultural mulatto because his behavior was not accepted by the black community. However, he also cannot be accepted into the white community because he was born as a black male. But McKnight would not let those things define who he is because his “differentness, his relative uniqueness, expands the black world, makes it more complex” (McKnight 72). Living in the country where the white race is the dominant culture can be tough for the minority groups of people in the society.
In “Secret and Anger,” David Mura showed us how the Americans have replaced all the people of color’s roles in the society. He felt anger towards his white friends over the discussion that they had about Asian-Americans not getting the chance to play the Asian character roles in the most famous Broadway production of Miss Saigon. Although, his white friend was demonstrating her experiences of white discrimination and it is very different than from Mura’s. The fact that Mura explained to his friends about his personal experience about racial discrimination growing up showed that both of their personal histories were equivalent, but how they got through it was definitely different. Being a third generation Japanese-American has given Mura a strong feeling of pain and anger because he does not want his daughter, who is mixed race, to experience the same issue that he had to deal with. Mura says, “Unless the world is radically different, on some level, you will still have to choose: Are you a person of color or not?” (Mura 38). Mura explained the prejudices against white and color people to his daughter. His opinion of white people is that they have privilege, dominance in the society, whereas Japanese-Americans have to fight to keep their identity.
Native Americans, also being called Indians, did not even claim the United States as their country. They have lost what is supposed to be theirs as it was taken by the dominant group, what they refer to as “The White Man”. In “Integration”, Sherman Alexie reveals the life of John, an Indian boy trying to find his identity that has not been given to him since birth because he was adopted by members of the dominant culture.
Alexie describes the feeling of anger he has towards himself and this left him wondering who he was and where he actually belongs. When the foster mom was trying to breast feed him, “he takes the white woman’s right nipple in his mouth. He pulls at her breast. It is empty” (Alexie 43). This literally shows that his foster mom does not have milk because she did not give birth to him.
But metaphorically, this white couple could not provide him his true identity, and the culture that he has lost. In the view of him being the only Indian orphan kid at St. Francis Catholic School, he would get special cares from his teachers because they assume that he has problems with his confidence or the “lack of God in his life” (Alexie 45). His experience, growing up without any knowledge of his culture or where he really came from, inspired him to learn more about his identity and learn about which cultures he should be participate in. In conclusion, it is important for society to have respect to all different races or to any identities people choose to be. Multiculturalism can be defined as people abandoning their cultures to become assimilated into American society or people still maintain their tradition and still working within the society. The purpose of the three writings were to unite everybody.
We all live in a generation where everyone has different opinions on topics. McKnight, Mura and Alexie are trying to make the world a better place. But everybody has experiences whether it’s good or bad. The three writers were trying to address this problem on what need to be said. All these racial issues always tie to the values, norms, and practices of the dominant culture, and to what our history portrays.
However, this is something that we can control within our civilization. The answer of how we going to change discrimination link to the future as well as the past.