Racism at its best

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I read Invisible Man before and I was equally dissatisfied with it when I read it then. I will say now that I hate this book because it disturbs me. Chapter Two ruined it. And I feel like I am in the dark the entire time. I can't picture any part of the book clearly.

That said, this book is full of things to write on from the representation of gold coins during the boxing fight in Chapter One to the black man having to turn into a savage to fight for his education to be "distinguished." The names and characters also represent different things like Bledsoe represents the pain the slaves went through from the chain he keeps to his him. The slaves "bled" "so" that we can be free now or "bled" "so" much... I'm not quite sure.

I'd like to talk about the paints though in chapter 10. The idea of keeping "America pure with Liberty Paints" (196) is blatantly favoring whites. The idea of purity = white paint, the white-ist paint ever. But the ironic part is that this great white paint comes from a brown substance that you have to add black to to make it white.

Is Ellison commenting on the idea that everyone originated from the middle-east/Africa and, therefore, the whites came from the browns and blacks? Or that the work of the black slaves is what really built the white America that the author lives in. I dunno.

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6 Comments

April Minerd said:

I'd have to agree--disturbing sums it up for the first two chapters. I like your idea about the meaning of Dr. Bledsoe's name. I knew there must be another level of meaning; but for the name's end I basically went off of sound, a familiar old saying, and the narrator's death threat (194). About Liberty Paints, from what I've gotten from the book so far, your last suggestion seems to fit Ellison's world best. And if that explination is true, it might even be irony because Lucius Brockway is credited with thinking up the slogan, "'If It's Optic White, It's the Right White'" (217).

Christopher Dufalla said:

I had not exactly thought of the origins of the paint. The ultra-white paint comes not only from the pigments of dark that are added in to the base of the paint, but it is also the handy-work of Lucious, an African American worker. The idea that this perhaps alludes to the white race decending from the black race is actually quite stunning. Perhaps its true, and perhaps its not. Either way, it sure does get the gears turning in one's head. The ambiguity and blurry nature of the novel coincides with what the African American youth is facing: brainwashing, "hypnosis", and being put down below their mental means. Quite often in the novel, they face the same uncertainty as the reader. What shall become of the movement for equality, or is the "playing the dumb man" game going to further the race in the desired manner?

Aja Hannah said:

Maybe playing the dumb man game is not meant to further the race, but just keep them out of trouble. By going to a college, the black man can't be playing it dumb unless the white man believes that their colleges are smarter than the black colleges. And the black man goes along with that.

There are aruguments for both sides within the rest of the book.

Jessica Bitar said:

I also blogged about the paint in chapter 10, but I did not think of the way the white paint was actually made.

You make a good points on what Ellison could be commenting on. I think it could be both theories.
I also assumed there was something to take from Dr.Bledsoe's name, but I could not find anything. I like how you interpreted it.

Chelsie Bitner said:

In my art class senior year of high school one we had to use acryllic paints and our teacher would only set out primary colors - yellow, red, & blue - and told us if we want other colors then we had to mix them ourselves. We had to do things to get black and that was harder than it sounds because a lot of the time it would turn out brown. White, however, was very hard. I do not recall exactly the colors used because I always had to do it millions of times. Although we only could use a little bit when we got black, it was used to make white. The same with white going into black. Every once in awhile our teacher would give us either the black or the white paint as well and we still had to make the other. This just goes along with the paint part of your blog. It reminded me of art class and how frustrating it was to get the right colors.

Aja Hannah said:

That's interesting about the paint. I wish I could learn to do that. I wonder if it being scientifically possible is part of the metaphor.

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Aja Hannah on Racism at its best: That's interesting about the p
Chelsie Bitner on Racism at its best: In my art class senior year of
Jessica Bitar on Racism at its best: I also blogged about the paint
Aja Hannah on Racism at its best: Maybe playing the dumb man gam
Christopher Dufalla on Racism at its best: I had not exactly thought of t
April Minerd on Racism at its best: I'd have to agree--disturbing