Maya Angelou, the famous author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, has written through this book her autobiography and a look at the segregation in the early years of 1930's. On page 187 of that book she has written that: " It seemed terribly unfair to have a toothache and a headache and have to bear at the same time the heavy burden of blackness." Earlier in her childhood she suffered and learned from the grievance of certain white people in the south part of United States of America. At Stamps where she was raised by her grandmother, as a child she was affected by racism and those who preached it. She could not even believe they were human or real. She had lived it and had some terrible experiences from it. However, back in California, where she was born she understood the segregation with a certain realism.
Sometimes I explain to myself that the history ofsegregation could not be otherwise. It would have been difficult for the master to accept equality with the former slave. However, the way that Maya has described the situation in the book tells how horrible it was at that time. First of all, growing up black and female as she said was very painful. At Stamps, where as a child she was raised, the first act that made her burst in tears was when the three little powhitetrash girls were mocking Momma her grandmother. They were calling her by the first name instead of the last name. " Bye, Annie." Although, they were living on her own land, they did not hesitate to show their impudence to the owner because they were white. They were as poor as, and even poorer than Momma, but their skin made the difference.
How can I imagine that only because I am black, I could not take just a little look at beautiful white girl? Then, the black area of Stamps became so scary knowing that " the boys "(The members of the KKK, Ku Klux Klan) will be around later.
They pretended that a negro had " messed with a white girl ". And whenever that happened, all the negroes were like on death row. It was very awful, at that age, two children were not only suffering from segregation, but they understood the situation also. How can I imagine that Bailey and Maya were scared whenMomma sent them to the white area to buy stuff. Should two little children be scared of other human because of their identity. That situation explains clearly why the black people, in their revival meetings expressed their anger and hatred. And it could not be otherwise.
Imagine that someone one day decides to change my name for the easiness of her pleasure. Mrs Cullinan, one of the characters of this book was the first Maya's employer and from whom she had a bad experience. one day, while she was talking with her friends and to please them Margaret became Mary. " What's your name girl?" Asked the ladies. And Mrs Cullinan said. "She doesn't talk much. Her name's Margaret." " Is she dumb? " " No. As I understand it she can talk when she wants to, but she's usually quiet as a little mouse. Aren't you Margaret? " And they said.
" Well, that may be ,but the name's too long. I'd never bother myself. I'd call her Mary if I was you." I wonder how someone just for her will and her colleagues' decided to change my name. In some ways my name is my identity or myself. your name is the first record that tells you exist. I asked myself how someone dares to take liberties into someone else's identity. I was thinking after reading the book, how that would be if Cullinan became Cull! I presume that Maya would be in her tomb already.
I believe that America is looking up today comparatively to what happened early in the years 1930s and 1940s.This explains that Martin Luther King did not fight for no reason. Though, the idea dwells again in certain minds, the law has forbidden any of some kinds of behavior. I wonder, how Doctor Lincoln would survive with his policy " better dog than nigger " today? How could a doctor, a professional who supposes to respect and have certain consideration for human life, say a such thing? " Annie, you know I don't treat nigra, colored people." And Momma said. " Seem to me, Dentist Lincoln, you might look after her, she ain't nothing but a little mite. And seems like you owe me a favor or two." And with a firm tone, he said. " Annie, my policy is I'd rather stick my hand in a dog's mouth than in a nigger's." Sometimes I wonder where that color is from and even where the white people are from. Just because I am black I have to suffer a toothache, just because I am black, I have right only to a little level of education, and I have to accept any kind of injustice.
Here was an act of injustice again, and that part of the book makes me pensive and think how Little was the access to education. And I believe that the hope to a normal life for them did not exist Either. Mr Don Leavy who was on his way somewhere for his campaign. He simply passed through and saddened the ceremony with his bad speech. He left Maya and the rest of the audience with a certain indignation. He let them know that despite their efforts, their roles were limited. They could not be a lawyer or a doctor or a physicist. He even specified that sport is their field, or maybe handyman. How horrible that was, someone decided about others' future and lifestyle. Consequently, it was clear to understand where the anger was from, and who created it. I believe that the revival meeting should be about love for each other, either way, black for white or white for black. However, their situations were so painful that through their prayer they hoped for vengeance at the final day.
However, in California the situation was different. The black people who were living at St Louis had a little chance to survive than those at Stamps. Maya had the chance to go to a white high school where she completed the list of three black who had that privilege at that time.
That explained her feeling when she wrote: " In San Francisco, I perceived myself as part of something." At Stamps, there wasn't any life, it was really like a bird closed in its cage, and having nothing else to do than sings. In other words, sitting in the same classroom with those white girls already made a big difference for her. Receiving the same kind of education, being treated in the same way that Miss Kerwin treated the white girls made her feel comfortable. And since that time she began to see the segregation with certain realism. The possibility for the black people to become owners, though she understood that the war favored that situation she could not help to strengthen her to believe there was hope. Moreover, the possibility to apply for and have the streetcars' job, which typically reserved to white people. She struggled and was very persistent, though all the signs of racism that the secretary had shown since the first time she went to the office. And she had a little bit incentive with Mother Dear's words that infused her with a certain determination.
Regarding to all of those facts, those changes and the difference between Stamps and San Francisco, she became confident that she was worth something and all the black people had some value.
In short, it is really hurtful that I have to suffer cause of who I am. That's not fair to be responsible for my identity. I don't think that Maya asked to be black neither her brother Bailey.
It's really painful to have a toothache and have to bear the horrible Doctor Lincoln's policy.
However, I believe that life in San Francisco changed a little bit Maya's vision about segregation and the segregationists. The truth is that you don't have to lump people, Different area, different people and different customs.