It happened exactly 20 years ago. As I turned the corner on San Francisco’s Market Street, I saw a guy lying down in a puddle of his own blood. There was a crowd of people standing around, looking at him, but nothing more. I asked a guy standing next to me whether somebody had called the police or an ambulance, he simply responded: “Who cares, it’s justa bum ass nigger”. I spoke broken English then, but that didn’t stop me from going to a nearby pay phone to call 911. As it turned out, nobody had called in to report it! I had only been in the United States for less than three months, but I learned then that there are still people nowadays who hate others because of their skin color. In the book “Song of Solomon” Toni Morrison does anoutstanding job in exposing different perspectives on the very complex issue of racism and how people deals with it. A privileged financial position facilitates dealing with racism, simply because our society likes to please the wealthy, regardless of color; plus the fact that rich people tend to focus on themselves, rather than show empathy towards others.
Milkman, the book’s protagonist did notexperience racism first hand because he was brought up in a wealthy, prominent family. He was well protected, an heir to his father’s fortune. Just like any white kid, he had been born inside Mercy Hospital. Thanks to his father’s success in the real estate business, he had all the luxury at his disposal. : “He couldn’t get interested in money. No one had ever denied him any, so it had no exoticattraction.” Location 1925 E-book. Milkman had become an egocentric, immature young man, whose main interest had been to party and to have fun. "His life was pointless, aimless, and it was true that he didn't concern himself an awful lot about other people. There was nothing he wanted bad enough to risk anything for, inconvenience himself for." (107) On a certain evening, Milkman was looking for hisfriend Guitar, when he found him at the barber shop he listened to an unpleasant incident on the news, on which a “fourteen year old black kid named Till had been lynched for allegedly flirting with a white woman in ….Mississippi.” Although every man in the barbershop had an opinion on the subject Milkman had no comment about it, his only concern was to find a place with music and alcohol so hecould tell his friend about the confrontation he’d had with his father earlier. Till killing did not affect Milkman directly, so he dismissed it as inconsequential news talk.
Having no money makes it easier to show empathy towards those around you because the vulnerability is shared. Milkman’s sidekick and best friend, Guitar had a different upbringing which exposed him to a more hostileenvironment early on. After losing his father, he had to endure the hustles of migrating from the South with his family in search of a better future. “The North was new to him and he had just begun to learn he could speak up to white people.” Location 151. As an adult, Guitar despised the apparent impunity white people enjoyed while perpetrating atrocious acts against blacks. Blacks, meanwhile; wouldget slaughtered over any bogus accusation a white person had made. Guitar’s own father had been killed by a white man. “Even so, his mother had smiled and shown that willingness to love the man who was responsible for dividing his father up throughout eternity”. His mother got forty dollars as compensation for her loss. Guitar had been an angry kid ever since. Not surprisingly, he embraced TheSeven Days, who presented him with an ideal venue to exercise revenge upon those he felt had hurt him by killing his father and countless other blacks. Guitar felt he had a moral obligation to his people, due to the fact that the legal system had failed them repeatedly, thus proven utterly ineffective for blacks all across the country.
Few experiences could be more traumatizing to a teenage...