Gregory's "Shame"

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Prejudice has always played a strong role in history. People have been ridiculed based on race, sex, social class, physical attributes and for many other reasons. Shame is not limited to any one ?type? of person. Dick Gregory?s ?Shame? is a narration of his childhood and how shame affected his life; and, although our lives do not seem similar on the surface, he and I share the bond of humiliation experienced in our childhoods.

Gregory was a poor, fatherless, black boy, who constantly strived to prove himself to others. His family had no money for food or clothing. He had one outfit to wear to school every day. There was no running water in their home because the pipes would constantly freeze, but, in order to impress a girl that he liked very much, he washed his clothing every night with melted ice. Gregory often got sick because ?the fire would go out at night before the clothes were dry.?

He combed his hair carefully every day and always tried to keep a clean appearance. However, no matter what Gregory attempted to do, he was not given a chance to be anyone but a poor, black boy.

In school, Gregory always had to sit in a special seat in the back of the classroom, ?the idiot?s seat, the troublemaker?s seat.? ?Teachers were never interested in finding out that you couldn?t concentrate because you were so hungry, because you hadn?t had any breakfast.? When he tried to be like his other classmates who brought money weekly from their fathers for the Community Chest, his teacher scolded him. She told him to stop playing games, and said, ?we know you don?t have a Daddy.? This ridiculing caused Gregory to leave school, and not return for a very long time.

Gregory was...