In the memoir, Colored People, Henry Louis Gates Jr. talks about what was the untalked about racial rule in integrated schools. Now that the races had been blended together there was still the line of race and gender (Gates p. 98) that could not be crossed. In the story by Langston Hughes, Cora Unashamed, Cora is a daughter in the only black family in town. She ends up pregnant by a white boy who drifts in and out of her life. She is looked down upon by her parents, but is unaffected by this. To Cora, her baby was a living bridge between two worlds.
Hughes p. 43) Gates and Cora share both similarities and differences in their hope for a society, which sees no color. Gates struggled with the fact that his peer and confidant throughout childhood, Linda, could never be more than a friend and classmate. He loved her as an equal, as he knew she loved him. Cora, on the other hand accepted the fact that Joe, the father of her child, could not be a part of her life and she did not try to fight it. Gates and Linda were both taught by society that they were different.It is not evident to a child that race is ven an issue, it is something that is taught in hush hush conversations, and slight undertones. It is like a cancer that grows unnoticed, and then one day just takes over.
This is what happened to Gates and Linda. The fact that they couldn t progress in their relationship didn t completely occur to them until they were about eleven years old, when as Gates puts it The strictures of race has entered our lives, catching us unawares (Gates p. 108). Cora accepted the fact that there would be no future, even from the beginning of her relationship with Joe.Of course, she hadn t expected to marry Joe, or keep him. He was of that other world, too (Hughes p.
43) Gates and Cora both knew that the wall of racism, especially between genders was too high to climb and too thick to break down. Gates speaks for both Cora s situation and his own when he says, …the fact that it was an impossibility for us did not have to be spoken (Gates p. 106). Both Gates and Cora lived in a time where seeing eye to eye, and especially beyond skin color was very rare.Gates talked about how he was scolded in class because he referred o his mother as she and how it made me feel good, this white woman talking about my mama like that, in front of the other kids (Gates p. 93). Cora was used to being talked down about.
Being the only black family in town, and her father being a drunk, Cora was forced to stay in town to support her family and help with the other eight kids. The people of Melton, her town, referred to her as a Negress when they wanted to be polite (Hughes p. 40). Stereotypes and accusations were just two of the everyday battles that Gates and Cora had to fight.Cora icked her fights, she figured fighting against the other world was a losing battle and lived her life the best she could under the circumstances. Gates, with the help of his mother learned how to fight back. When his teacher accused him of stealing her scissors, he got back by receiving straight A s for the rest of the year.
In academics, he achieved astonishing scores as well as awards. By setting his sights so high and achieving so much, he was able to say in his own way, Nothing you can say or do will discourage me, it will only make me work harder and set my sights igher.Unfortunately, Cora did not have the role models like Gates did in his parents and brother, Rocky. Cora did not have great opportunity to fight back. She was one against a community of many, and if she did, she might lose her job, the only thing that promised her a decent meal and a stable way of life. Cora s only way of fighting was to keep her head held high, despite everything that was against her.
She projected an air about her that despite the things that people did and said and the names they called her. She would stand tall.Gates and Cora were two people in an unfortunate time, where not many choices were given, and going against the way of society was considered suicide, especially for one s reputation.
Both dealt with racism in their own way, both in a way that slightly defied society s prescription. They were both children raised with an uphill struggle ahead of them. Were when some climbed as hard and as fast as they could, even though the top was nowhere in sight, others gave in and toppled to the bottom, reasoning that the harder they fought, the longer that climb would be.