What does Gregory say about “shame” and “hate”—specifically, how did he originally learn about them, of what was he ashamed, who treated him hatefully, and in what ways did his childhood experience affect his view of the world? In what way can you relate to his story or to one of the other characters he describes? (Be specific and give examples of your own.)
Gregory never learned about hate and shame at home, he first learned about these from his teacher when he tried to donate money in his “Daddy’s” stead to the community chest. His teacher humiliated him in front of his entire class by singling him out as poor. This childhood experience made him see shame in everything he endured in life following that class. As a single mother of two, whom receives state aid, I can relate to some of Gregory’s experiences of being made to feel ashamed.
Gregory was proud of himself, always coming to school in clean clothes (even though they might have been wet) and cleaning the blackboard every Friday after class (for fear that school might not function right if he did not). Gregory was hungry which made it hard for him to concentrate on his school work making the teacher think he was stupid, in turn his teacher would make him sit in the “Idiot’s Seat” for trouble makers. Gregory wanted to donate money like the other students to the Community Chest for the relief program (designed for people in need) but the teacher never called on him to donate. He decided to stand up and tell her he wanted to donate his money anyway, his teacher took that moment to publicly shame him by telling him, “We are collecting this money for you and your kind, Richard Gregory. If your daddy can give you fifteen dollars you have no business being on relief. We know you don’t have a daddy.” (Para 20)
In that moment Gregory saw the faces of his classmates and felt ashamed and hated. Ashamed because his classmates felt bad for him and his teacher clearly didn’t like him as much as he had thought because she publicly humiliated him in that way. Gregory saw shame in everything he did from that day forward, “It seemed like the whole world had been in that classroom, and everyone had heard what the teacher had said, everyone had turned around and felt sorry for me.” (Para 28) He saw shame in going to the Worthy Boys Annual Christmas Dinner because everyone knew what a worthy boy was, wearing clothing given to welfare recipients because everyone knew those were for people on relief, asking for rotten food and spoonful’s of sugar, and running to meet the relief truck for food and supplies.
Gregory used this moving forward in his life, he would use the faces of his classmates as a way to drive him forward in his life. Every time he broke a record or learned to play an instrument he would think of those faces and work