It was a brisk fall morning. The leaves on the trees had already turned to hues of oranges and reds and were preparing for the freezing months ahead. After a two-hour astronomy lecture, which seemed as long as a forty-year exodus through the desert, I was more than happy to finally be leaving. I met up with my friend outside her classroom and we started heading home. I would have never guessed that our lives would soon be put in jeopardy.
The streets of Lower East Side Manhattan were crowded with lawyers, jury members, and judges, on their way to and from work. The wind was cold and harsh, and the buildings looked charming as they were getting decorated for the upcoming holidays. With numb ears and fingertips my friend and I were having flamboyant conversations about television episodes, professors, and favorite coffee flavors, as the air turned our breath to smoke.
The subway station was warm and welcoming. I’m not sure if it was the fact that she was big, black, laying across the bench sleeping, or a combination of the three that made me nervous as soon as my friend and I entered the F train at West 4th Street. My friend, being the braver out of the two of us, chose a pair of seats not far enough away from the woman. Bad move.
The hustle of the train woke her up. Turning to see what the commotion was, my friend looked her way. She caught my friend looking, and immediately we were targeted. She started saying racial slurs, and threatening words, as she stood up and moved closer to us. She accused us of calling her a “nigger”. My friend and I, both shocked out of our wits, glanced at each other with wide eyes as we silently exchanged6 our final farewells. We got up and walked to the other side of the train car. She followed us. She was yelling now, calling us two little white girls. Things got physical, and she pushed my friend down with just her pointer and middle finger, before a little man wearing a suit intervened. While he was talking to her we switched cars. I don’t know which bothers me more: the fact that this happened, or the fact that the man thought my friend and I started the fight.
Poor grammar, offensive language, reckless adventure, and a racial bias, are only a part of the list of characteristics that lead critics to attack Mark Twain’s book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This novel is a story of a young boy named Huck Finn and his adventures with a run-away slave, Jim. Huck was born in the South in an extremely racist time in American history. He was raised in a setting where he was taught to treat African Americans as property instead of humans who are capable of feeling, and thinking.
Racism appears throughout the book. Huck takes advantage of Jim’s gullibility and lack of education. He tricks him with a snakeskin, and later tries to convince him that a series of dramatic events were a dream, which both confuses and upsets Jim. The critics and supporters of this novel remain in debate over whether or not these racist moments outnumber the certain points in the book that portray Jim as a highly respectable man. Huck grows throughout the book as he sheds his childhood views on African Americans and gains a new perspective on how slaves are people too.
In Long Walk to Freedom (1994), Nelson Mandela writes, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” In this quote Mandela says that