"Stranger in the Village" by James Baldwin

Essay by BanditKongCollege, UndergraduateB, March 2007

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The Civil Rights Movement that began in the late 1950's was a struggle to bring full civil rights and equality under the law to primarily African American citizens of the United States. In the end, African-Americans won basic rights long denied to them, as well as inspired other discriminated groups to fight for their own rights, which had a deep effect on American society. Many blacks took part in this movement, whether it was through protesting or holding demonstrations. However, some blacks used writing as a means of contributing. James Baldwin published Stranger in the Village as a means of expressing his views of African-American racism. As a result, their efforts helped set the foundation for equal rights among blacks for generations to come. Although the basic needs were met, there is still a lot to be done today.

In Stranger in the Village, Baldwin expressed how common he found racism within a remote Swiss village, which is thousands of miles away from the white-supreme America.

"It did not occur to me - possibly because I am an American - that there could be people anywhere who had never seen a Negro. There was yet no suggestion that I was human: I was simply a living wonder." 1Baldwin was stunned at the fact that he alone could bring such discomfort toward the villagers and how they couldn't perceive him as another ordinary human being but rather a figure to be amazed by. However, Baldwin is even more shocked to hear the local children shout "Neger! Neger!" at him and treated him as a social outcast.

"It must be admitted that in the beginning I was too far too shocked to have any real reaction." 2Here, Baldwin felt very uncomfortable upon hearing those comments and furthered feeling inferior to those of...