Race and racism in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan; ”Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde; and “ The Paranoid Style of American Policing” by Ta-Nehisi Coates Critical Analysis essay 1

Race and racism in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan; ”Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde; and “ The Paranoid Style of American Policing” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Race and racism in Mother Tongue, Fourth of July, and The Paranoid Style of American Policing Critical Analysis essay

Race and racism in Mother Tongue, Fourth of July, and The Paranoid Style of American Policing

The racial composition of America is greatly diverse.  As a result, the knowledge of race and racism in America is essential in developing an understanding of America. In the essays “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan; ”Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde; and “ The Paranoid Style of American Policing” by Ta-Nehisi Coates the concept of race and racism is profoundly outlined. A close examination of these essays reveals the role that is played by race and racism in America.

Race and racism in Fourth of July by Audre Lorde

In the “Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde the concept of race and racism is depicted in Audre Lorde’s encounter with racism on her trip to Washington DC. In the essays, Lorde confronts some racist experiences that infuriate her.

For instance, she “learned that Phyllis’s high school senior class trip had been to Washington, but the nuns had given her back her deposit in private, explaining to her that the class, all of whom was white, except Phyllis, would be staying in a hotel where Phyllis ‘would not be happy’” (Lorde 568).

Race and racism in Mother Tongue
Race and racism in Fourth of July by Audre Lorde

The fact that Phyllis could not be allowed on a trip to Washington DC with her fellow white classmates due to the accommodation arrangements infuriated Lorde. It was disturbing that black people could not be allowed to rent rooms.

Race and racism in Mother Tongue, Fourth of July, and The Paranoid Style of American Policing

Another instance that portrays racism is the encounter with the waiter at the ice cream shop. Lorde and her family visit an ice cream shop, and they take their seats waiting to be served. However, the waiter in the ice cream shop dismisses them as black and, therefore, they cannot eat in the restaurant, “The second time the waitress stated, “I said I can give you to take out, but you can’t eat here” (Lorde 569).

Lorde’s frustration from racism heightens as she confronts her parents due to the occurrences in the ice cream shop. She asserts “But we hadn’t done anything!’ This wasn’t right or fair! Hadn’t I written poems about Bataan and freedom and democracy for all?” (Lorde 569). Her anger ensues from the fact that her parents are aware of the discrimination that they face from the whites but they decide to remain silent about it.

Race and racism in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan

In “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan, the challenges of disparity in race are portrayed by the struggles that Tan deals with as she is raised in America by her Chinese mother who has little knowledge of English. Tan affirms that despite her mother’s perfect comprehension of English, her speech was poor. 

Race and racism in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan
Race and racism in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan

Race and racism in Mother Tongue

She says that her mother’s English was “broken” (Tan 36). Due to her poor speech, it was difficult for other people to understand her except for Tan.  At first, Tan was ashamed of her mother due to her broken English, but later she came to embrace it as a “language of intimacy” (Tan 36) since it brought her back to her roots.

Race and racism in Mother Tongue

Tan’s mother experiences racial discrimination since people take advantage of her poor English to disregard her despite understanding what she says, “People did not take her seriously, did not give her good service, pretended not to understand her, or even acted as if they did not hear her (Tan 37)

Race and racism in The Paranoid Style of American Policing by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In “The Paranoid Style of American Policing” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Coates highlights the prejudicial killings that befall the young African American youths in the hands of the police. He decries the rot in the wielding of authority to police in the form of racial profiling that leads to the death of many black youths.

He brings out the role of racism in the dead of black youths through an instance of a police shooting, “This weekend after a Chicago police officer killed her 19-year-old son Quintonio LeGrier, Janet Cooksey struggled to understand the mentality of the people she pays to keep her community safe” (Coates).

Race and racism in Mother Tongue
Race and racism in The Paranoid Style of American Policing by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The racial profiling that surrounds the young black community in America is found to be a big stumbling block since even the judicial system seems to be complacent. This assertion is justified as “Two days after Jones and LeGrier were killed, a district attorney in Ohio declined to prosecute the two officers who drove up, and within two seconds of arriving, killed the 12-year-old Tamir Rice” (Blades).

Coates also argues that “No one should be surprised by this. In America, we have decided that it is permissible, that it is wise, that it is moral for the police to de-escalate through killing” (Coates).

All in all, race and racism play negative roles in the essays “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan; ”Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde; and “The Paranoid Style of American Policing” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The effects of race and racism in the essays are overlooked, and they are taken as norms.

Race and racism in Mother Tongue, Fourth of July, and The Paranoid Style of American Policing Works Cited

Blades, M. “Open Thread for Night Owls. Ta-Nehisi Coates: ‘The Paranoid Style of American Policing’.” Daily Kos, 1 Jan. 2016, https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2015/12/31/1465074/-Open-thread-for-night-owls-Ta-Nehisi-Coates-The-paranoid-style-of-American-policing

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “Quintonio LeGrier, Bettie Jones, and the Paranoid Style of American Policing.” The Atlantic, 30 Dec. 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/illegitimacy-and-american-policing/422094/

Lorde, Audre. “The Fourth of July.” Language Awareness. 9th ed. Clark. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s (2005). 567-570

Race and racism in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan

Tan, Amy. “Mother tongue.” The best American essays. New York: Tickner & Fields (1991).

Race and racism in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan; ”Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde; and “ The Paranoid Style of American Policing” by Ta-Nehisi Coates Critical Analysis

Mother Tongue by Amy Tan: Audio with Whiteboard Animations

The Fourth of July by Audre Lorde Summary and Analysis

Ta-Nehisi Coates on discussing racism directly, honestly

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