What racial injustices does Troy see and/or describe in the first act of Fences?

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

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On many levels, Troy is a product and eyewitness to racial injustices.  On the most basic of levels, Troy understands that there is a sense of discrimination at his workplace in his complaint that only the white workers are allowed to drive the truck.  This is significant on a couple of levels.  The first is that it shows that Troy is sensitive to the issue of race.  However, on another level, it shows that Troy can only identify the immediate issue of racial discrimination on the most immediate of levels.  He is unable to see past his own struggle and advocate for a broader and more sociological discussion and transformation of racial identity.  He sees racism as something that impacts only him, causing a type of intellectual and emotional "fence" to be constructed between himself and others, precluding solidarity.  In scene iii, Troy declares that he simply exists, "moving from one Friday night to another."  This might be another example of racial injustice, to a certain extent.  Coming on the heels of Troy's own exploration as to why his dreams were denied by sociological reality and that he willfully admits that he wants his so to do better than he has fared in his own life, Troy's statement of existence might be connected to the fact that he perceives race as having much to do with why he has not resulted as more or with more in his state of being in the world.  The entire confrontation between father and son is also fostered by what the father perceives to be racial injustice.  Troy does not want his son to endure the same obstacles and heartbreak that he suffered with his own dreams, something that he perceives was a construct of race in America.  The presence of racial injustice is both seen and felt in Troy's life, which is both a product of racial injustice but also of the inability to transcend difficulty in being and consciousness in the world.

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