In the start of Act Two Scene One of A Raisin in the Sun, Beneatha and Walter are around the house and it seems that they are reenacting in what they believe to be are “Africans in their natural habitat.” This started after Beneatha tried on an outfit that was given to her by her friend Asagai. “Walter— Do you hear the beating of the wings of the birds flying low over the mountains and the low places of our land— Beneatha OCOMOGOSIAY!” (79) To them, it seems like a harmless act of play amongst the two siblings. When observing this (keeping in mind of the events and interactions), it is evident that they created their own single story of African people. In The Danger of a Single Story, Adichie said, “The single story creates stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” (2009) What they were failing to realize was that Africa is not all about people dressing either half naked or in robes and talking about nature, struggle and in gibberish. They speak about things beyond that, dress in regular clothes and speak English along with their native language. They had assumed or listened to others who told them such a one-sided version of Africa, a place that their ancestors came from. It is evident here that the danger of a single story lives in everyone, no matter if you are the oppressed or not. This is why getting to know someone or a group of people is important because we too become a victim of a single story.
Patterns that seems to occur over and over again in the play are the ideas of discrimination and assimilation. As we spill over into Act II, Beneatha continues to address such patterns in her interaction with George, a wealthier black student that she attends school with. He comes from a family who is doing well in terms of finances and most likely lives in a better neighborhood than the Youngers. When he stops by to pick up Beneatha to go to a play, he is shocked and at first (he seemed to be) disgusted at her cutting her hair. Beneatha did this as a way to become “more in touch with her roots.” Due to his reaction, this caused her to say, “I hate assimilationist Negroes!” (81) George is the type of well-off person of color that doesn’t compare himself to poor people of color. It’s like he is better because he is wealthy like his race no longer becomes a factor in the world because he has wealth. This type of person seems to be on a way higher pedestal and some may feel they are as equal as white people due to their wealth.
Unfortunately, some will not associate with anyone that doesn’t share the same wealth as them. They rather assimilate and stick with white people rather than support those who are the same race but different economic status. This is evident when George responds to Beneatha by saying, “Let’s face it, baby, your heritage is nothing but a bunch of raggedy-assed spirituals and some grass huts!” (81) People like George fail to remember where their bloodline originates from. To him, he may not even see or recognize himself as Black to an extent. For him, his race is Black but because he is better off and financially doing better than the Younger family, some are brainwashed into thinking they are white or even as privileged as white people. In reality, when it all comes down to it, black people are black people in the eyes of conservative, racist white individuals.
What other people can we think of today that are like George, an individual that is black and well off, causing him to not even associate with poor people of color? Explain how.
Do you think it is right that George treats poor black people as other or acts like he is better than them? Why or why not?