During 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom – World

During the early 1940s and the
late 1950s, there were many racial issues circling throughout America. During
World War II, men of color were allowed to fight in the military because “NAACP
and other civil organizations worked to end discrimination in the armed forces”
(The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom – World War II and
Post War). Because those organizations worked hard to end discrimination in the
military. It encouraged people of color to demand for equality in civilian life
as well” (The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom – World War
II and Post War). The Invisible Man
was written after segregation, during WWII, and was published during the
beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. The novel was a representation of the
time it was written and published, because it supported the ideals that the
people in the movement presented to the world. Racism today is believed to be
mostly erased from society, but many can see that there are still racial
stereotypes that keep us all separated, no matter how often we say, “separate
but equal.”  In the novel, written by
Ralph Ellison, the unnamed narrator tries to go throughout society to find
himself, but had obstacles in his path that made him believe in people who were
trying to push him off his path of self-knowledge. He found that racism was
entirely still present and that it was a factor that made characters act a
certain way towards him. Invisible Man uses
vision motifs, color symbolism, character betrayal, and the theme of perception
of reality to help the reader understand African American’s thoughts and action
on self-versus-society.

            Malcom X, a human rights activist, black nationalist, as
well as a Muslim minister, in the beginning of his reign in the movement, spoke
about getting equality in any way people could; “his indictments of racism and
his advocacy of self-defense eliciting admiration, as well as fear” (Malcom X).

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Later though, once he abandoned the Black Muslims, he stated in an interview
with Les Crane that “if the FBI, which is what people depend upon on a national
scale to protect the morale and the property and the lives of the people, can’t
do so when the property and lives of Negroes and whites who try and help
Negroes are concerned, then I think that it’s only fair to expect elements to
do whatever is necessary to protect themselves” (Les Crane Interviews Malcom X);
Malcom X didn’t necessarily influence people to break the law, and he didn’t
want them to either; he stated in the interview that “that doesn’t mean that
we should buy rifles and go out and initiate attacks indiscriminately against
whites. But it does mean that we should get whatever is necessary to protect
ourselves in a country or in an area where the governmental ability to protect
us has broken down,” to describe the areas where violence was so bad, that the
police couldn’t do anything to stop it. In invisible
Man, Ras the Exhorter’s ideology is somewhat the same of Malcom X’s in the
beginning. Ras portrayed hope and courage to those who needed them, and he
urged people to become separate from whites. While Malcom X didn’t urge black
people to become separate from whites, he did try to make them more aware of
the issues and try to have white people not control his people, just as did
Ras. Ras seemingly was upset with the narrator whenever he found out that the
narrator surrounded himself with white people and acted with them, not knowing
that they did not have his best intentions in mind.

            The color white is resembled in literature in a multitude
of ways. In most cases, it means purity and cleanliness of thoughts, spirit,
and emotions, as well as innocence, calmness, and equality. But in a few cases,
this color is used to depict death, isolation, and critics. Today, the color
white can be seen almost everywhere: the clouds in the sky on a bright, sunny
day, a doctor with his lab coat, the dress of the bride at her wedding; but it
is also seen in hospitals where to some it means hope, but to others it means
death; in schools, where everyone is separated by their level of intelligence;
in prison where some people deserve to be, some don’t deserve to be, and others
who get out because of their stature. Red often symbolizes passion, deception,
and violence in novels (Color Symbolism). It depends on how a person views the
world around them. How a person sees and perceives things can entirely change
how a story goes. Throughout the novel, Ellison uses vision motifs, as well as
color symbolisms, to shape the story and give the reader a hint at what exactly
is happening in the plot. Within the first few chapters, Ellison covers how
blindness and the color white works of irony. When in unnamed narrator is
walking down the street, he knocks into a man who then calls the narrator “an
insulting name” (Ellison 4). This proceeded to make the narrator angry and beat
up the white man, only coming to his senses after he pulled out his knife to
slit the man’s throat, noticing that the man is blind. The following day, the
blind man reported that it was a mugging attempt, only because he did not know
what the real cause was. Later in the novel, Invisible Man is forced to fight
people of his own race, but has a white handkerchief tied around his face.

After the narrator is kicked out of college, he goes to work at a Liberty
Paints that sells “optic white” paint. This paint is a special type of paint
that is white, but in order to make it the exact color of white they produce,
the company drops 10 drops of black oil into the mixture (200). Right here, it
is irony because the fact that the company is called “Liberty Paints” uses a
different color used to symbolize black Americans to produce their most popular
color in their entire business. Nobody know that was the company’s secret
ingredient, as because nobody would want it because it would spoil the product
because of its impurity. Since the narrator surrounds himself with white
people, he often becomes isolated in society and doesn’t realize the evilness
of it because of his innocence in the beginning.

            Betrayal is something that everyone faces in their lives.

Society betrays itself, the government betrays society, friends betray friends.

In a quote from Bernie Sanders, he states that “Election days come and go. But the
struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and
not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic,
social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues.”
Politicians today notice that racial issues are still around, but what have
they done to fix it? According to an article on The American Prospect website,
it is to believe that the government purposely situates black families into bad
circumstances, saying that “Baltimore’s ghetto was not created by private
discrimination, income differences, personal preferences, or demographic
trends, but by purposeful action of government in violation of the Fifth,
Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments.” The mayor of Baltimore claimed that “blacks
should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incidence of
civil disturbance, to prevent the spread of communicable disease into the
nearby white neighborhoods, and to protect property values among the white
majority.” Is the government purposely trying to make African-Americans become
people into what society stereotypes them to be? Create thugs and criminals so
that they fit into society’s stipulations? In Invisible Man, the narrator is imaged in some scenes to be what
society though black men were: savages and criminals. In the first chapter,
with the fighting and almost killing a disabled man (though unknown to him at
the time), later fighting his boss and then getting hurt because of it, also
when he was seducing a woman and convincing her that he did something to her
that was wrong. The Brotherhood ended up betraying IM in the end, as well as
did Bledsoe and Norton, all because the narrator wasn’t the type of person they
wanted him to be and he found out their secrets in the end.

            Many people today still believe that racism isn’t the
biggest issue in our country anymore. But the fact is that it 100% still is. Invisible Man, no matter how long ago it
was written, shows the issues that lie beneath the rocks.  Ellison shows that generation need to work
together to make things possible. There is no clear person to blame on the fact
that this issue is still real, and why it still is. Today, we must get over our
differences if we want to survive without wars brewing in the pot constantly.

We must stop being selfish, and band together. “It is to be regretted that the
rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish
purposes.”