There are many quotes in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees that discuss racism. The book provides an in-depth look at the racially divided South and how racism impacts people’s lives and perspectives on the world. The narrator and main character, Lily Melissa Owens, is a fourteen-year-old...
There are many quotes in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees that discuss racism. The book provides an in-depth look at the racially divided South and how racism impacts people’s lives and perspectives on the world. The narrator and main character, Lily Melissa Owens, is a fourteen-year-old who is taken in by a family of Black women. Throughout the book, Lily learns a lot about race relations. She thinks it is wrong how white people treat people of color and says:
I decided everybody being colorless together was a better plan.
While this is a nice sentiment, Lily also learns that it is idealistic, and racism has deep roots in US society. For example, consider the scene in which she talks to Rosaleen about the Civil Rights Act:
"Lily, child, there ain’t gonna be any place that will take a colored woman. I don’t care if she’s the Virgin Mary, nobody’s letting her stay if she’s colored."
"Well, what was the point of the Civil Rights Act?" I said, coming to a full stop in the middle of the road. "Doesn’t that mean people have to let you stay in their motels and eat in their restaurants if you want to?"
"That’s what it means, but you gonna have to drag people kicking and screaming to do it.’"
Here, Rosaleen explains that just because laws about racial discrimination are changing does not mean racism is going away. People who look down on other people because of the color of their skin are not going to just abruptly change their perspective one day. Racism is too deeply ingrained in the fabric of US society for one piece of legislation to check that every place and every person is not being racist.
Lily also takes note of the lack of difference between people with different color skin. For instance, consider how she observes:
There was no difference between my piss and June’s. That’s what I thought when I looked at the dark circle on the ground. Piss was piss.
Here, Sue Monk Kidd is using the simplistic view of a child to emphasize how at their core all people are the same.