Professor: Sarah Wolf
Response paper: “The Warmth of other Suns", Isabelle Wilkerson
"The Warmth of other Suns", is a beautifully written book by Isabel Wilkerson. The text chronicles the life of a colored family after migration. In the hope of having a better life, many colored families fled from the south to live in northern and western societies. Through the eyes of a young protagonist Pershing, the life of the black man is clearly riddled with prejudice and yet there is overall acceptance for the life that they live. Discrimination is rampant everywhere in the world, moving from one place to another does not guarantee that discrimination does not exist in the new place.
After reading the text I realized that much of the information presented in the book had already been exposed to me. The migration to Monroe did not live up to expectations, a rather unconscious disappointment for the Foster family. Madison and Ottie Foster unconsciously start to live vicariously through their children. They work and train their children to be the best they can in everything they do. The author suggests that, "The table seemed set before Pershing was even born, and he couldn't see how to stand out on his own or figure out how he fit in as the youngest.”(Wilkerson, 75). I relate to Pershing, when I was growing up in Zimbabwe, I was under a lot of pressure from my family to be the best at everything, and to follow a life plan that they had created for me. The text evoked feelings of sadness in me as it took me back to a time I had no say in the decisions made about my future.
In book there is apparent racial discrimination when attending the movie theatre. There are two different entrances. One entrance for black people and another for white people. Black people were subjected to long waits and urine infested seating areas. My parents know too well how it feels to be discriminated against in such a manner. I felt sad as I recalled how my mother told me that she was unable to walk in certain parts of town growing up because it was a white only territory. There were public toilets that she was not allowed to use and they were labeled according to race and not according to gender. Had my mother used any of the toilets meant for the white society she would have either been imprisoned or physically harmed. However I feel a sense of relief that such discrimination is little or none in the world that I now live in now. I am free to share public facilities with everyone despite their race and ethnicity. I was moved and felt sympathy for the black people who were purposely warranting themselves to be miserable. Clearly unhappy with their living conditions, they went on to conduct acts such as urinating in the theatre despite the fact that the consequences of their actions would affect them. Could this be ignorance? It must have been apparent that their actions were affecting them. This could have also been a form of protest. When I was attending high school many of the students at my school were unhappy with the living conditions at the dormitories. They vandalized a lot of the school property during demonstrations but at the end of these demonstrations they would go back and live in the same dormitories, only the dormitories would be in worse conditions.
I felt an array of emotions, anger being the top of the list. The corrupt work system in Monroe is not that far off from the corrupt system in my own country. Professor Foster was clearly educated and could be held to the highest regard in society and yet he needed to have another source of income in order to achieve the same financial status as his white counterparts. In modern day Zimbabwe it does not matter how well educated you are, who you know determines what kind of a job you get as well as what kind of a salary you make. For those living in the rural sector, who have moved mountains to get an education, they battle to gain emancipation in the job…