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Published: 14-12-2019

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Coming to Terms with Race in The White Boy Shuffle

In his novel The White Boy Shuffle, Paul Beatty conveys what it is like for a young African American male to grow up in Santa Monica, a coastal town heavily populated by chauvinistic Caucasians with social dominance – at least in the eyes of protagonist Gunnar Kaufman. In The White Boy Shuffle, Beatty demonstrates the horrors and absurdities of cultural labels in familial and social settings. Ultimately he shows that for maturing black boys, Americans’ comfort with racism degrades potential good results both academically and socially.

Gunnar Kaufman is portion of two worlds, loved ones and social. His household life is flooded with the realities of ethnic interpretation and gender understanding it’s where black requirements are kept black, where profanity and sexism are a element of daily life, and where mockery and ridicule are employed to demonstrate the sheer acceptance of racism. Gunnar reveals his family as one of slavery heritage. “I unfurled my gigantic household tree…the class ooohed the generations of crinkled stick nigger couples holding stick hands…I started with Euripides Kaufman…the only particular person ever to runaway into slavery” (Beatty 12). In establishing his family tree, Gunnar in turn puts him and his family members in shackles. Each level of heritage up to his own existence has been preserved in a line that subjects itself to the norms of racial standards. All through his novel, Paul Beatty uses a wonderful deal of profanity and racist remarks not to demean African American family life at that time, but to grab the attention of the reader and say “Hey, this is what genuinely went on.” This approach of boisterous writing requires a really serious topic like racism and turns it into one thing friendly and enlightening. Mansbach suggests this style of literature is common in a great deal of Lit-Hop. “Conversant with race literature and real-life struggle, the characters are capable to position themselves in relation to these traditions, each playfully and seriously” (Mansbach, 95). This drastic strategy to race connected literature is effective in shedding light on racial intolerance in a way that demonstrates an unhealthy acceptance with struggle and moreover a necessity for radical alter.

Gunnar’s household life is riddled with racism and sexism that limit Gunnar’s understanding of gender and race to meager stereotypes defined by his household. “To my understanding, no male Kaufman had ever slept with a white lady, not out of lack of jungle hunger or for preservation of racial purity but out of fear. I’d watch my dad talk to white women, drowning them with “Yes, ma’ams” (Beatty 23). As a maturing boy, Gunnar’s awareness of chauvinism in society is important due to the fact he is distinguishing that one thing is not fair, proper, or equal. In essence Gunnar demonstrates he is uncomfortable with racism in America, a depiction that Beatty portrays as rare and beneficial. Beatty’s depiction of racism in Gunnar’s loved ones life may or may possibly not be a legitimate representation of racial understanding in African American households, but nonetheless it is a representation that Beatty feels is crucial to convey. Gunnar also recalls sexist scenarios inside his household history. “There are no comely Kaufman superwomen…no nubile black women…the women who allied themselves to the Kaufman legacy are invisible” (Beatty 23). Gunnar establishes the harsh reality of the female existence not only in his family but in American society as effectively. This understanding of what it means to be male or female, black or white, wealthy or poor, has offered Gunnar some perception of what his future may possibly hold for him. His ancestral history and family experiences appear to hold him down, but Gunnar’s apprehension of the potentiality of gender and racial roles in society is the crucial to unlocking him from a cage of stereotypes. Gunnar strives for distinction. “They say the fruit never falls far from the tree, but I’ve tried to roll down the hill at least a little bit” (Beatty 24). Gunnar’s ability to differentiate what is right from what is incorrect permit him as a maturing young man to pave his own future. With time, Gunnar takes manage of his personal life with the capacity to resist the norms of falling into patterns of accepting the common stereotypes and discrimination that exist in America.

Gunnar’s social life is just as critical as his family life in figuring out his future as a young African American. Gunnar establishes that his social life and educational life operate interchangeably to some degree. “My early education consisted of two kinds of multiculturalism: classroom multiculturalism, which lowered race, sexual orientation, and gender to inconsequence, and schoolyard multiculturalism, where the kids…who knew jokes ruled” (Beatty 28). In this passage, Gunnar conveys that his social life revolves about the people he knows at school. At the exact same time, his educational life revolves about his social life as by way of experiences and relationships he learns far more and a lot more about what it implies to be black. Significantly of his education about race and himself requires location in school, where he is dipped into each black and white cultures. In school, Gunnar and the other students are continuously told that color does not matter, but are rapidly reminded that racial barriers are nevertheless in place no matter what. “Our teacher says we’re supposed to be colorblind. That is difficult to do if you can see color…Don’t say issues like ‘Black individuals are lecherous, violent, natural born criminals” (Beatty 31). Beatty makes use of quick wit and racist stereotypes to portray the existence of discrimination even in elementary and middle college. This radical way of writing, as Mansbach suggests, is used in “attempt to make race approachable, [and] to reflect its complexity (Mansbach 98). Beatty definitely makes race approachable in this novel and does so in a way that draws out the complications of dealing with black and white vision at an early age. Beatty demonstrates that even at critical times of development for the human brain, students are becoming told a single point, colour doesn’t matter, yet at the same time are observing one more point, racism is around every corner. This can be extremely confusing and complex specially in classroom experiences exactly where students are told that almost everything they find out comes from cold, challenging facts.

Beatty makes use of satire to lighten the topic matter to some degree, but there is no doubt that Gunnar’s accounts of racism are legitimate in shedding light on a topic that is shadowed in black and white. Gunnar recalls his family’s acceptance of black stereotypes: “What are a couple of nigger jokes amongst pals? We Kaufmans have always been the sort of niggers who can take a joke” (Beatty 9). The Kaufmans’ comforts with racial remarks make it challenging for Gunnar to dream massive he is basically trapped to do little more than stand by and accept responsibility for getting black. But Gunnar’s recognition of racism in America sets him apart as a child, a student, and a citizen that sees the realities of discrimination and understands what he should do to resist them. Beatty, Mansbach, and so many other Lit-Hop authors use satire to poke and prod at touchy subjects that society has told us we need to be cautious in speaking about. These strategies are quite unconventional but are tremendously powerful in receiving the very same point across Americans are far too content with current racism in society and such comforts make it hard for maturing children to do something else but subject themselves to the norms of racist pollution. Beatty’s portrait of discrimination in America brings out a great deal of controversial subjects as it is capable to “funnel[ing] the identical raw power into work that takes a stance in the endless struggle for socioeconomic, racial, gender, and sexual equality” (Davis 74). By means of pretentiously pointing out the flaws in racial understanding for young African Americans, he in turn is able to point out how lack of racial understanding affects sexism and financial equality as effectively.

All through The White Boy Shuffle, racism is addressed in a manner that portrays African Americans as hopeless. Gunnar, as an exception to this cultural law, finds meaning and clear explanation to not fall into this hole of Caucasian dominance, but rather dabble and explore at the edges of social and racial barriers. Paul Beatty deliberately pushes buttons by means of controversial word selection and mockery as a means of portraying racial understanding not as technique of tying a individual of colour down, but rather as a means of discovering potentiality. Throughout the novel, Gunnar matures into a young man who finds meaning in life and hope for his future. Beatty makes use of Gunnar as a social icon to demonstrate that racial brands must not define existence. By identifying racial and sexual limitations in society, Gunnar is able to recognize how diverging from stereotypes is the important to effectively coming to terms with not only who you are but, much more importantly, who you want to be.
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