Essay on Racism in 'The Great Gatsby'

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 “Sometimes you can do everything right, and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” The novel “The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas, is about a girl named Starr (who portrays the author) who was drawn into activism after she saw a police officer kill her best friend because he was Black. Racism and discrimination have become such an immense conflict throughout many generations. However, in what ways does the author Angie Thomas, seek to render their heroines sympathetic to the reader?

To begin, the author portrays the way society views racial discrimination with powerful thoughts and comments about the main character. She is constantly surrounded by predominantly white, who treat her and her peers poorly. The author faced many encounters of discrimination towards her; for instance, when she goes places she is not only treated differently, but she is looked at in a certain way. The author stated in an interview “Throughout my life everything that has been said about me has affected my life and followed me everywhere. I would experience microaggressions from my classmates and I never called out the racism.” The novel realistically captures the tension and discrimination between law enforcement and the Black community. The author then tells us that she attended a prep school where she could not be loud, use slang language, or not look unapproachable to avoid the “typical black girl stereotype” where she developed a term she uses as “Code-switching.”

Rather than tarnishing every police officer one by one, Angie draws attention to the law authorization framework all in all. She then approaches her uncle (who is a police officer) to broaden their perspectives regarding the situation brought in the novel. Angie expresses in the book that “The problem lies in society’s inability to be open-minded and listen to the black people.” Throughout the novel, the social consequences she faces are genuine, and for her, intermingling is a survival tactic. Angie showed the audience that African American boys are practically rewarded for reinforcing problematic stereotypes about “blackness” whereas Black girls are harshly punished.

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Subsequently, after the death of the author's best friend, she finds it difficult to confide with her social group because of her belief that they will belittle her if they knew what she witnessed, or where she was really from; as a result, she was left with a traumatic memory without a reliable school system. The author expresses how these microaggressions were getting more difficult to try to ignore. Angie claimed that her relationship with her white friends began to deteriorate because the protest idea regarding racial justice was “offensive” to them. She then tries to deal with the constant racism by attempting these meticulous efforts to avoid anything that would code her as the black stereotype. However, when she developed a community protest, she was then distinguished as it, through her “blackness and anger.” The author also portrays the horrific racism and discrimination through her best friend’s murder that underlies society's brutal manifestation throughout Thomas’s story.

The following quotes indicate the conflict the author is trying to portray that she states goes on way too much in the Black community. For instance, the quote “A black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down. Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.” stated Starr (Thomas 34). This quote expresses how constant racism, discrimination, and police brutality are in her community. The author stated she wants to speak on the matter but is afraid to because of the consequences that she knew would later be brought upon her. It is one of the main conflicts throughout the novel because there is so much the author goes through but is too afraid to confide in anybody because she knows what they would think. Alongside that, this quote from the novel “We want freedom. We want the power to determine the destiny of our black and oppressed communities. We want an immediate end to police brutality and the murder of black people, other people of color, and oppressed people. Complete freedom, justice, and equality, by any means necessary (Thomas 208).” The author Angie Thomas conveys to the audience that the Black community has demonstrated that those conflicts are injustice and they demand an immediate change in the system because the community has been completely racially profiled every day in their lives. The quote also implies that the rights of the black community have diminished throughout the years, making them fight for those natural born rights, and demonstrates what the racial demographic has come to. This next quote puts the main goal of the novel in a nutshell, “Everybody wants to talk about how Khalil died,” I say. “But this isn’t about how Khalil died. It’s about the fact that he lived. His life mattered. Khalil lived!” I look at the cops again. “You hear me? Khalil lived! (Thomas 310)” In this quotation in chapter twenty-four of a moment of anger and triumph, Starr reminds everyone present that a teenage boy was murdered. Throughout the novel, the police and media quickly find reasons why Khalil’s death was inevitable and justified by portraying him as a drug dealer. However, with this speech, Starr breaks down the narrative that Khalil’s life, by its existence, had unconditional value. This strong stand marks an important moment for the main character’s development because it is the first time she publicly speaks out without any measures to protect her identity. With the lawyer's encouragement, Starr has learned to use her voice as a weapon. Throughout this novel, with everything going on, the author has had two different personalities because she was afraid to confide in anyone regarding the matter, as well as so she wouldn't be racially profiled.

In correlation to the racism and discrimination topic, the book The Great Gatsby discriminates against people who aren’t necessarily rich. For instance, this remark “It's up to us (white people), who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things(Fitzgerald 13)' implies that the main characters thought very highly of themselves and treated other people of different race in contradicting ways because they did not want to be seen as anything less than the other race. Racism during the early 1900s was common and was usually between the white race and the colored race. During this time, whites were most dominant and had the ideology that their race was superior compared to colored races. Another quote that represents racism in the book is “A limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which say three modish Blacks' (Fitzgerald 58). This suggests that the character is being discriminative because he was surprised at the fact that there were rich black people. Also, expresses that he was surprised at the fact that the chauffeur was white because normally white people were rich and did not have jobs like that. This quote correlates with the novel The Hate You Give because the characters in The Great Gatsby were being discriminatory and racist towards colored people similar to how Starr was being treated by the “white supremacy.” Lastly in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the character Atticus Finch states “Before I can live with other folks, I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience (Finch 66).” I think this quote corresponds with The Hate You Give because this quote implies that you change who you are around other people but your conscience is always going to follow you around telling you that you should have done something different. It is similar to the novel The Hate You Give because the author Angie Thomas did go through something similar to that, she grew up “code-switching” around other people knowing she needed to speak upon the matter which is what this quote implies.

In the end, the author Angie Thomas renders the heroines sympathetic to the reader by demonstrating the racism and discrimination throughout her life which is expressed in the novel. She demonstrated the effects it had on her, the hardships she went through because of racism and discrimination, and the consequences brought upon her while trying to diminish it.  

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Essay on Racism in ‘The Great Gatsby’. (2024, April 10). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from
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