Racism in Song of Solomon

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Throughout history, racism has been a existing and eminent issue in every society. Throughout the last couple of years there has been tremendous improvement, racism is still an current issue that people face everyday. To continue, the discrimination that racism creates impacts each person's perception of himself and others in different ways.  In addition, one of the most unfortunate consequences of racism is that people don't feel comfortable in their own skin and tend to develop different ways to view their own race.  Throughout Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, she shows several different ways racism affects members of the black community. While racism causes some to resent their race, it causes others to despise the race that discriminates them.

Over the course of the novel, the racism that is portrayed in the Song of Solomon causes some characters to develop a mindset that hates on their own race. Furthermore, Macon Dead is a black man who, behaves like a white man, thinks like a white man (Morrison 223). After witnessing a white men kill his black father without punishment, Macon realizes that he would be better off acting as a white man than actually being black man. Thus, Macon focuses and obsesses over wealth and his job as a landlord because as he collects the other black residents' money, a feeling of power comes over him. The authority he feels by being in charge of black residents and having more money than them satisfies his desire to be a white man. Similarly to Macon's yearning to be white, Hagar also longs for white characteristics.  All Hagar wants is Milkman's affection, so she starts to resent her own physical features because they are common for a black woman, and Milkman is now with a white woman. She starts to hate her appearance due to the racism she imagines in her own mind, and as a result of her desire to look like a white woman, Hagar develops an unstable mental state. For instance, Hagar starts to believe that the physical features of her body look unacceptable and begins to dream for silky hair the color of a penny, lemon colored skin, gray-blue eyes, and a thin nose (Morrison 315-316). After realizing that she will never be able to embody those physical traits, Hagar is left heartbroken. Because both Hagar and Macon felt discriminated throughout their lives, they abandon their blackness and develop an attraction towards the lives of the white people who have oppressed them.

On the other hand, the racism that is depicted in the Song of Solomon causes other characters to scorn the race that discriminates their own. To continue, the racism that Guitar faces in his life causes a deep seated hatred for white people. Guitar's father was killed by a white man, and because of this tragedy in his life, Guitar feels very responsible to stand up for his race and protect the black people against the white people. Consequentially, Guitar joins a secret society called The Seven Days that initiate when a black child, woman, or man, is killed by whites and nothing is done about it by their law and their courts, this society selects a similar victim at random, and they execute him or her in a similar manner if they can (Morrison 154). Guitar feels that this secret society shows that he is willing to kill and sacrifice his life to stop the oppression his people face and stand up to the white community. Even though the white people they kill may not have murdered the black men they are committed to seeking revenge for, The Seven Days society still kills whatever white person they want. Innocent lives are taken to satisfy this group of seven men's hatred toward the white population. The racism in Guitar's life lead him down a dark path of bitterness and hostility towards the white race, which costs the lives of innocent people. Through Morrison's use of the Seven Days, she shows that racism can be a two way streak. Racism is a result of hatred and resentment that can lead people to commiting dangerous crimes in order to defeat the opposing race.

Racism is a part of every society in history and continues to influence lives in today's society as well.  Racism has created resentment so strong that it has created wars and separated countries. Even though every person that faces the issue of racism is affected, each person can be altered by the oppression and discrimination differently. Like Hagar and Macon, racism creates some people to want to be someone they are not and will never be. However, like Guitar, racism can create animosity so strong for the opposite race that people are willing to sacrifice innocent lives. Of course, race should not be a factor in determining how one lives their life and views themselves, but sadly, it is.

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Racism In Song of Solomon. (2019, Jul 18). Retrieved April 22, 2024 , from

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