Richard in his autobiography, Black Boy. Richard, just like

Richard Wright tells
about how racial discrimination, unequal rights, conflict, and the Great
Migration during the Great Depression, had a great impact in his life in his autobiography,
Black Boy. Richard, just like any other African American boy growing up in the
deep south of the 1910’s to the 1920’s, had a rough childhood. Throughout this
book, he explains his thoughts and how he feels about being a “black boy.”

            Richard was born in 1908 near Natchez, Mississippi. His
mother was a school teacher and his father was a black sharecropper (+).
Sharecropping is a type of farming where in this case African Americans will
rent or loan small spots of land from the landowner in return for a share of
their crops produced on their portion. Richard’s father was on to travel North
to work for the industrial centers but only got to Memphis, where he worked in
a drugstore and left the family on their own. Before he left they had a couple incidents,
one containing a house fire. Richard was only a couple years old when he got curious
what his white curtains looked like on fire (>. pg. 10). As he set the house
on fire with a broom by accident, he knew his mom would beat and whip him and
ran underneath the burning house (>. pg. 11). After Richard was found, his
predictions were right. His mother stripped the leaves from a tree limb to
prepare it for his back. He was hit so hard and long that he lost consciousness
which made him so sick that he was ordered to keep abed (>. pg. 13). In this
time period Blacks were not treated the same as whites. White people hated
black people just because they were a different skin color. This is called
racial discrimination. Since the African Americans were not liked by any one
they did not have nearly the same privileges as whites. Also if they did
something whit people didn’t like, no matter if it was bad or not, people would
randomly hit and beat them. All they wanted was to be like everyone else, but
that was too much to ask for.

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            In the book, no person got killed, but Richard and his
little brother came across a stray cat that would not stop meowing, which made
their father angry. It got on his nerves so bad that he told Richard to kill
it. Richard wanted to please his father although he knew it was wrong to kill a
poor kitten. After he killed the kitten brutally, he got in to a lot of trouble
with his parents. When he said what his father told him to do, his father
denied it and changed his words around to make it sound like it was all Richards’
idea (>. pg. 17-19). It was wrong that he killed the kitten, but it is also
wrong how his father played him like that. After the kitten incident his father
disappeared and when Richard and became a where and friends with the feeling of
constant hunger. He had to live on a cup of tea and little pieces of bread
every now and then for a long time (>. pg.21).

            Richard at a very young age was pressured to somewhat
take over his father’s responsibilities. One major responsibilities were to get
food for everyone to eat. His mom gave him some money and sent him off to go
shopping. On his way a gang of boys would grab him and knock him to the ground
and take his money. This happened twice till the third time when his mother
gave him a long heavy stick and said, “Go to the store and buy those groceries.
If those boys bother you, then fight.” As he wonders back to the store once
more with the stick in his hand, the gang of boys start to approach him and
wanted to fight. Richards response was, “I’ll kill you!”, and started to swing
the stick against the other boy’s skulls which drew them away

(>. pg. 23-25). He had
now finally learned how to defend for himself.

Although
African Americans got their right to be citizens, their recognition of their
rights stayed a long way off (&). They were not paid enough to hardly make
a living let alone moving to the north or buying enough food to feed themselves
and their families. Therefor, 90% of blacks still lived in the south in the
1900’s. Most of their houses, if they had one, which only one fifth of blacks
owned their own household, were located in rural places. Most men and some
women worked as some type of farmer or laborer. The rest did more unskilled
labor and service jobs such as working at a restaurant or a store (&).
Richard’s mother went to work as a cook when his father left to get some money
to feed them (>. pg. 22).

This
is the time period when everything was segregated. Segregation is the
separation of the blacks and the whites. This included areas such as
institutions, restaurants, schools, restrooms, churches, parks, and playgrounds
(. Pg. 26). Since they were low on money, all they
really ate was tea and bred, so after everyone is done eating, whatever the
people don’t eat either gets thrown away, but most likely Richard and his
brother gets it to feed them. When one doesn’t eat a lot, then gets scraps of
something else to put in their stomach then that is considered, “eating well.” To
sum everything up Richard says, “Why could I not eat when I was hungry? Why did
I always have to wait until others were through? I could not understand why one
people had enough food and others did not.” He had to push aside his hunger
because he had the disadvantage of being black during this time.

Richard
and his family were so poor that he had to go out and beg for money. He got
into watching the drunk people at a bar. Eventually, he turned six years old
and was a drunkard. The people at the bar forced him to drink which made him
drunk for a punishment for lurking around the doors. Later, he got bribed to
stay longer because a person asked if he were to keep drinking they would give
him a nickel. He accepted the offer because he needed the money, so every time
he drank, someone would give him a penny or a nickel (>. Pg. 27-29).

            There are a lot of segregated places
in this book, for example, Richard began school at Howard Institute, which is an
all-black school. Black schools did not have buses, so he had to walk to and back
every day (>. Pg. 30-32). He also attended an all-black Sunday school where he
be the tall, black preacher. His mother invited him over for soup and chicken. Richard
got jealous that he was able to eat chicken, and Richard went how many days with
hardly anything to eat and he wasn’t aloud to eat the chicken till all his soup
was gone, which made him angry (>. Pg. 33-34).