Young and Black in America by Rae Alexander-Minter

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Young and Black in America Analysis

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Although written for young adults, Alexander’s book, which she calls an anthology, can be used on several levels. First, this text serves as a source for young adults seeking information on African Americans who displayed courage, tenacity, vision, and determination, breaking a pattern of injustice inflicted upon millions of African Americans. Second, Alexander covers the Civil Rights movement, sit-in demonstrations, and the voting rights movement, so that Young and Black in America can be easily used as a supplemental text for high-school American history classes. The book provides information about young African Americans and their attitudes concerning the nature of inhumanity toward others and the anguish and pain that African Americans suffered as individuals because of the color of their skin or the texture of their hair.

Alexander’s carefully selected anthology offers all young adult students a view of history as seen through the eyes of young African Americans. These young people of color write of confrontations, insurmountable working and living conditions, life-threatening situations, and their struggle against racial discrimination. At an early age, they all displayed a conviction to make a positive difference in their lives, as well as in the future lives of others. While acting singularly—as the writer Richard Wright, the great orator Malcolm X, or David Parks describing racial prejudices in Vietnam—or in a collective situation—such as with sit-in demonstrator Anne Moody—all these people offer strong narratives worthy of emulation by young readers.

The author’s sympathies are uncategorically with the people whom she has chosen to include in this book. As a young African American during the major events covered in this book, Alexander could have been like Anne Moody. The author relates Moody’s autobiographical sketch concerning a sit-in demonstration in Canton, Mississippi. At that time, African Americans were not allowed to eat, drink, or have bathroom privileges in white establishments throughout the United States. One day, Moody and others were denied service at a lunch counter but were determined to stay. Moody suffered many humiliations at the hands of some patrons, including name calling; the smearing of catsup, mustard, sugar, and pies on their clothing; and physical abuse by some of their antagonists. These experiences could...

(The entire section is 570 words.)