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Coming From Mississippi

Essay by   •  October 4, 2010  •  1,438 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,783 Views

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While reading this book, I came across issues that I had already learned about in school over the years. I knew that for a least the past sixty years there has been some sort of conflict between the perceived to be white race and the perceived to be black race. No one really remembers how it all stared but the snowball effect had taken shape and it very rapidly spun out of control. Coming of Age in Mississippi written by Anne Moody was different however because it gave us an inside look as to how the black people in the heart of it all were directly affected. I have always read a unbiased version of this story and have never been able to relate to what I was reading simply because there was no emotion on the page but I found that this time around I had no problem feeling sorry and hurting for Anne Moody and her family. This book looks at all aspects of the Civil Rights era and gives examples to almost every sub topic but the subject that struck a cord for me was appearance. I am a woman of mixed decent and I have heard in life time people call me yellow and I never thought anything of it until I read in the book that they used that same term to describe a black person with a lighter complexion. This played a huge role in the black community back during that time and it is still relevant today. It caused a black vs. black hatred and it divided the community at a time when they needed to come together the most. This idea that the lighter young skin is, the better you are still plays a role in the black communities around the nation today. This book has many examples of when it first started the turning point for light skinned blacks.

The first time that I came across the term yellow or "high yellow" in the book was when Essie Mae was describing Florence. She was Essie father's best friends widow who he ending up leaving her mother for. "Florence was a mulatto, high yellow with straight hair. She was the envy of all the women on the plantation" (Moody, 18) This is a perfect example of the appearance issue. Just because this woman had lighter skin and straight hair, she became the envy of all the other woman. It was a way for the other men and woman around to make her stand out from the rest and make her feel even more different then she already did. In the book it makes it sound as though "dark" black people thought that being a mulatto, or of mixed breed, made you closer to the whites therefore extremely far from the blacks no matter what. The funny thing is that the people who were of mixed breed didn't see themselves as white; rather they saw themselves as a lighter shade of brown. This idea still presents itself today and I think that if it hadn't been an issue in the past, then no one who think to even make it one. People look back and see evidence of this kind of discrimination back during this time period and see that it relevant and can still be used today to try and oust the lighter skinned blacks into a different category.

Another great example of this is Raymond's mother, Miss Pearl. She is a yellow woman who can't stand the idea that her son is starting a family with someone who has darker skin then he does. In the book, Essie Mae describe her as "a slightly white woman"(Moody, 31) She was a woman who didn't want any type of mixed breeding within her family even though they themselves were black. Being yellow, she saw herself on a different level, a much higher level, then the other blacks in the community and she wasn't about to let here guard down for a woman that her own son had children with. She wanted her son to marry the woman in his life who was yellow like her and forget the woman who had just had his babies. This is an example of the mindset of some people at the time. They thought that they truly were above other blacks, darker blacks, when it comes to everyday life. They don't want to have anything to do with them, they refuse to see eye to eye and they don't respect them. Today, it is easy to find people who have this exact same mindset, one that just makes the gap between black people even greater. Feeling as though you are above someone based on the color of your skin isn't going to make things better for anyone. That is the reason that we have so much hate in our world toady. It started out with black on black hate and when people got the idea that that was an okay thing to

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