Student Question

How does the girls' aggression in "Brownies" contribute to the story's theme of racial implications?

Expert Answers

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One of the work's overriding themes is the idea that racial prejudice and discrimination carries implications for both aggressors and targets.  There is little doubt that the girls defensive agression has been caused by a social setting that has demonized the issue of race.  Racial separation is evident, as the girls view the White Troop 909 through the lens of social construction and racial identity, as opposed to personalized notions of experience and introspective narrative.  Due to this, the girls' themselves are victims to racial stereotyping and mass consumption images of race.  The use of the term "Caucasian" proves this.  Additionally, the girls naturally presume that the girls from troop 909 must be willing and conscious participants in racial labeling and discrimination.  The thought never crosses their minds that they might not have said anything or that they might be slow learners.  The girls' overall defensive stance is because they have come to associate the concept of "White people" as representing conscious manipulation of power and constructs of superiority.  The girls have little in way of personal interaction with Whites to possibly contradict the social constructs that are emphasized through the media and mass culture.  It never occurs to the girls that they might be in a position of power over the girls from Troop 909 and that the issue of race might be one that requires personal interaction as opposed to being purely reliant on social messages, which ends up being the cause for their overall defensiveness.  Racial discrimination and misinformation possesses implications for both the purveyors of it and those who are victim to it.

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