Themes and Meanings
In an interview, Bebe Moore Campbell said that the real subject of Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine was not racism but childhood, specifically the kind of childhood that produces adults so uncertain about themselves that they must strike out at others in order to prove their own worth. This comment explains why Campbell so painstakingly explores the mind of the unappealing Floyd Cox. Although his actions cannot be excused, they need to be explained if such social evils as racism are ever to be eliminated.
Floyd is a prime example of someone ruined in childhood. Not only has he absorbed his family’s view of the world, which is based on hatred of blacks and envy of prosperous whites, but he has also been set apart from his family as their scapegoat, the one member of whom they are ashamed. It is not surprising that Floyd never becomes a real adult, making his own decisions and acting upon them, but merely continues to react, as a child would do. Moreover, he is so preoccupied with his own insecurities that, as his wife finally realizes, he has no room for feelings toward others.
If adults who are taught in childhood to feel inadequate do not become insensitive, unthinking bullies, like Floyd, they may become emotionally crippled in other ways. Even though they can see the imperfections in their lives, Lily and Clayton have been so trained to submission that they do not have the will to act upon their beliefs.
(The entire section is 540 words.)