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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 9 of Black Boy, after Richard Wright has been fired from a being a delivery boy for not laughing and talking as the other blacks do, driven off, he writes, "because of my attitude, my speech, the look in my eyes"; Wright goes to his old classmate, Griggs, who works for a jeweler. Richard asks Griggs where there is work, but Griggs questions whether Richard can hold down a job, explaining to Richard what it is that the white employers see in the young man's face: 

You won't let people tell you things.  You rush too much...Dick, look, you're black, black, black, see?  Can't you understand that?

When Richard replies that he does, Griggs counters, "You don't act a damn bit like it."  He then "reels off" an accout of Richard's actions o every job he has held that summer, proving that the white employers have been watching him.

Griggs instructs Richard to stop acting around white people as though he does not know they are white.  He tells Richard to think before he acts, and think before he speaks. Griggs says that it is essential to dissemble, to pretend to be inferior.

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