Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth Questions and Answers
by Richard Wright

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How did Jim Crow laws affect Richard?

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Mary Sutton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Wright depicts how black people, particularly black men, learn to debase themselves in order to survive. For example, the elevator operator, Shorty, is willing to play to racist stereotypes about black people to get extra tips. Wright criticizes Shorty but neglects to realize that this is a game that black people have played since the antebellum years as a means of gaining some benefits within an oppressive system. Those who asserted their power in the segregated South, such as Uncle Hoskins, are murdered due to white envy and resentment of a successful black man. Wright describes how Jim Crow made it impossible for black people (it's important to note that Wright maintained a focus on the plight of black men throughout his writing career) to exist in the South without placing themselves in either physical or psychological danger.

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As with all African Americans at the time, Richard is negatively impacted by the Jim Crow laws and the deep racial prejudice they represent. He's effectively...

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