What is the role of violence in preserving the Status Quo in racial relations in the book?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As a high school student, Anne understands the use of violence in preserving the Status Quo with regards to race relations.  Violence is used as a means to prevent African- Americans in Mississippi to voice dissent and advocate for themselves.  The opening of Anne's reflections about her high school life concern the murders of Emmet Till, a local family murdered through arson, as well as members of the Black community that have joined the NAACP.  For Moody, her reflections about the role of violence is one in which it has silenced people of color.  Moody is angered over the fact that violence has worked.  It has kept African- Americans in a place of silence, one in which they are afraid to voice their dissent over such intimidation.  Her anger about this state becomes a representative of how violence occupies a significant role in preserving the Status Quo of racial relations in the book:

I hated myself and every Negro in Centreville for not putting a stop to the killings or at least putting up a fight in an attempt to stop them.

It is in this statement where one sees Anne's anger about what she sees as the use of violence in maintaining and preserving a Status Quo.  This order is a condition in which those in the position of power are able to silence people of color through the use of violence.

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