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Black Girl, White Girl - Book Review

Essay by   •  March 30, 2017  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,636 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,155 Views

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The book that I picked was “Black Girl, White Girl” by Joyce Carol Oates. This book was a fictional book with a powerful overall meaning in regards to the way individuals view race as a whole. Many people believe that race is what soley separates others, when in reality, we all struggle through the same aspects in life, no matter what color your skin is. We see this is current within this novel from the two main characters, Minette Swift and Genna Hewett-Meade.

These girls are both college students who attends Schuyler College, which is located in Pennsylvania. Genna’s ancestors were the founders of this college Minette was an African American girl from Washington, D.C whose Father was a Black minister. She was very standoffish and would act as if she was superior towards the other students within in the college. and Genna believed that she was rude at first. Genna is a girl who comes from an elite family whose Father, “Mad Max”, is a civil rights activist. He is under the surveillance of the F.B.I, which he ultimately is arrested. Her father does not show much attention towards her and this ultimately bothers Genna. When he hears that his daughter is roommates with an African American girl, he encourages her to become friends with her. With these two being roommates, it was hard to crack her shell and have Minette open up to Genna. However, as time goes on, Minette becomes the victim of hate crimes such as the term ‘Nigger” being written on her door, her window being broken and her school books are destroyed, which creates tension at the college and makes her to go further into solidarity, even though Genna finds out Minette does it herself. Minette moves out the door and later dies in a house fire and Genna tries to piece together the puzzles of the mysterious death. The book ends with her meeting her Father in jail and handing him a manuscript, which is this book.

The demographics within this book are faced amongst Blacks and Whites. Genna was a White girl and came from a superior family, while Minette was an Black girl whose Father was a minister. There are major challenges that are focused around this book. Besides race being a major theme in this book, we also see loneliness/separation, and race relations. Loneliness is a theme that I found common in this book. Genna suffers from being lonely due to her Father’s neglect for her and the “hippie” side of her Mother such as the drug usage that she engages in. Minette is also someone who experiences loneliness. Within the college, due to her race, she felt alone even though Genna tried her best in order to make her feel wanted. Race is an obvious theme that is common within this book as well. We know that there are great race tensions that are built between the other college students and with Minette because she is Black. The theme of race also pours into race relations that are common and is even something that is common within society today. We were able to view the race relations that were prominent amongst Black and White races.

The author does not come out and give the reader any recommendations in order to change these types of preconceived notions about people, but from this book, I took an overall message to help us minimize race problems even in society today. I believe that we need to start looking at people for the types of experiences that they come from and what makes them the person that they are, not their skin color. When we can understand what a person went through throughout their life, we can accept them for that. By looking at people by their experience, that is what actually shapes a person, not the tone of their skin. If people sat back and realize that there are many different things in life that we all share, where race is not a factor. For an example, someone’s health. This is something that no one can control and we all know people who have experienced similar diseases within a family, but it is not targeted to certain races, we all experience pain and heartache. From this I also took a literal stance from this book as well. Since Genna and Minette were roommates, I look at everyone being roommates. We are all surrounded by people, and could be very close in proximity to them, but yet we don’t truly know the real them. Coming into college, I have experienced the same issues, but not to the extent of racism. In college, we don’t truly know our roommates, but we know what we see on the outside, which can ultimately be harming by creating stereotypes.

At first glance, without doing any background research on the book, I believed that it had something to do with a girl who was biracial, which intrigued me since I am biracial. Even though, I discovered that the book had nothing to do with a biracial character, I can still relate my personal experiences with the book. I believe that this book also demonstrates us how sometimes White people try very hard to make minorities feel comfortable, by going above and beyond. When looking at some of the things I have witnessed on both spectrums, I see this very often. Within my high school, there were very few Black students, and because of this, I feel like sometimes the White students tried very hard to be liked from them. For an example, they would make comments about the new released rap songs that were coming out, but would never have these types of conversation with White students. Also, it was very common in my highschool that when the White students were around the Black students, they would try to “act Black”, by the various slang that was used; however, the difference was they would change their language when around other White



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