Slave on the Block Essay

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Mowery has a doctorate in rhetoric/composition and literature from Southern Illinois University. He has taught there and Murray State University. In the following essay he examines the theme of unintended, or "benign" racism.

Overt racism— insults, threats, violence and discrimination— is not the only problem faced by African Americans. There is a more insidious kind that is more difficult to confront: unintended racism. In the short story "Slave on the Block," Langston Hughes addressed this type of bigotry. The characters in the tale are well-meaning people who are unaware of the effect their behavior has on people around them.

The Carraways are introduced as "people who went in for Negroes." But their attitude toward the blacks they meet is patronizing and condescending. In trying to express appreciation, they actually depreciate blacks with their insensitive remarks. When they first meet Luther, Anne says, "He is the...

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This section contains 1,679 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Slave on the Block Study Guide
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Slave on the Block from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.