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Identify an example of covert racism in Book III of Native Son.

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joon9498 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM via web

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Identify an example of covert racism in Book III of Native Son.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 12, 2012 at 6:46 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that one of the most interesting examples of covert racism in Wright's depiction is how the legal system is really not representative of someone like Bigger.  In the grand jury setting, he sees the faces of those who will sit in judgment of him.  The six White men who will decide for what crimes Bigger will be tried brings up a strong example of how covert racism dooms Bigger even before his trial begins.  Being accused of killing a White woman from a prominent family, with salacious news media reporting of untruths about Bigger, represents covert racism because it shows how the legal system sits in judgment of Bigger without taking his interests into account.  Wright's point here is that criminal activity in the heart of American cities and the legal system that renders judgment of such activity is representative of covert racism because of a lack of understanding about the conditions that give rise to such reality.  There is nothing outwardly threatening about the faces of the grand jury panel.  They are not White supremacists.  They are not individuals who have burned crosses in front of Bigger.  Yet, the covert racist element is that they sit in judgment of Bigger without much in way of understanding of him.  Under the pretense of a "fair trial," Bigger's predicament will not be understood by this group, a group that in general has failed to grasp the complexities of race and class that dominate American society.  Hence, while they fail to understand the conditions that makes a "Bigger Thomas," they sit in judgment of him.  In this, there is covert racism evident.

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