How did E.R. Braithwaite encounter racial prejudice and racism and how did he overcome it?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way in which Braithwaite encounters racial prejudice is through his experiences in London.  As a man of color at the time, racial prejudice was found both within the school and outside of it.  Some of Braithwaite's colleagues refer to his race in their initial interactions.  Braithwaite's students are adolescents who have already been infected with racial prejudice.  Their encounters with him are examples of the racism he must confront.  In his relationship with Gillian, Braithwaite encounters the fear that racism cause, seen in the trepidations that Mr. Blanchard expresses regarding his daughter's love for a man of color.

In each of these settings, Braithwaite challenges racism and discrimination in never doubting himself.  He challenges the prejudice he encounters by offering himself as a testimony against it.  The manner in which he displays dignity, confidence, and a sense of resolve in refusing to let racism define him becomes his answer to it.  Braithwaite recognizes that prejudice can be overcome when one is willing to face it and withstand its initial discomfort.  In the moments when he faces racial prejudice, Braithwaite does not allow racism and prejudice to define he and his interactions with people.  He asserts his identity to rise above it.

davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To some extent, E.R. Braithwaite's experiences of prejudice awaken a hitherto unrealized racial consciousness. Prior to his arrival in England, he never really considered himself as an outsider, as the other. He certainly never felt that way when he served in the war. Yet, as soon as he sets foot in England, he realizes that large swathes of the indigenous population treat him differently simply on account of his race. He's actively discriminated against in his search for employment; people look at him strangely on public transport and make snide remarks; he's treated with contempt by waiters at a restaurant, and Gillian's parents strongly disapprove of their daughter dating a black man.

Throughout it all, however, Braithwaite maintains dignity and composure in the face of such systematic prejudice. He's helped to maintain this attitude from the general level of acceptance that he receives at school and in the local neighborhood. This provides him with a haven of calm in which he is respected and from which he gains the necessary strength to deal with the harshness and ignorance of the world outside.