[It is important to note that this story was published in 1972. Although the Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964, the Department of Labor did not begin enforcing the quota system of hiring minorities until the seventies. Opportunities were extremely limited for African Americans at the time of the...
[It is important to note that this story was published in 1972. Although the Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964, the Department of Labor did not begin enforcing the quota system of hiring minorities until the seventies. Opportunities were extremely limited for African Americans at the time of the writing of this story.]
As a result of the lesson presented to her by Miss Moore, Sylvia is no longer complacent with her life.
Miss Moore takes the children of the neighborhood on a trip to demonstrate how an unjust economic and social system creates unfair access to money and resources for other races, while black Americans have few opportunities. However, Sylvia seems disinterested.
So we heading down the street and she’s boring us silly about what things cost and what our parents make and how much goes for rent and how money ain’t divided up right in this country.
When they arrive in Manhattan, the children are conducted into a socioeconomic area where an elite class can purchase non-necessities at what seems to the children to be unreal prices. The prices on the merchandise are sometimes higher than their household's yearly income. Sylvia and the others are initially incredulous and cannot comprehend the inequities in a country that has two such different places in New York. The children do not seem to fully comprehend that there are people who can buy such things. Nevertheless, the store makes an impression upon the children. For some, however, this feeling is so surreal that they dismiss it.
Later, when Miss Moore asks the children what they have come away with from this trip, some respond in a manner that greatly disappoints their chaperone. "White folk's crazy," one says; another says that he would like to return there when he gets his birthday money. However, Sylvia's friend Sugar impresses Miss Moore after the woman suggests to the children,
“Imagine for a minute what kind of society it is in which some people can spend on a toy what it would cost to feed a family of six or seven. What do you think?”
“I think,” says Sugar. . . “that this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don’t it?”
Miss Moore smiles when she hears Sugar's response; then, she looks at Sylvia, but Sylvia refuses to say anything; Miss Moore is disappointed. However, when they arrive in Harlem, having forgotten about their trip, Sugar suggests that they spend the money they have left and offers to race Sylvia to the drugstore, shouting at Sylvia to try to catch her. Sylvia lets her go. She wants to ponder what occurred today, so she says that Sylvia can run and win if she wants to.
"But ain't nobody gonna beat me at nothin'," Sylvia says to herself. She realizes that she has a larger race to run because she wants to figure out how to better her life and have the opportunities that others have.