Personal Experience with Racism
Racism in Janie’s life appears even before she was born and lasts during her entire life journey. Her grandmother and mother Leafy both were victims of racism and the world she came into after her mother was raped, was already poisoned. Even absent of her parents in her life emphasizes circumstances of racism. Janie's first understanding of her difference of race comes to light when she finds out that the black tiny 6 years old girl in the picture next to whites is her. ” So when we looked at depicture and everybody got pointed out there wasn’t nobody left except a real dark little girl with long hair standing by Eleanor. Dat’s where Ah wuz s’posed to be, but Ah couldn’t recognize dat dark child as me. So Ah ast, ‘where is me? Ah don’t see me”(00). After Janie sees a dark little girl on the picture, she is confused. Janie always spent time with white children and believed that she was one of them.
Throughout this years she never experiences racism and the race was not a factor in her life until now. However, since she discovered herself on the picture “Aw, aw! Ah’m colored!’" she begins to think about the true nature of her racial identity. Her second experience with racism takes place when Janie goes to a predominantly black school. The light skin tone makes her different within black children. Schoolmates are jealous of her life condition, clothes she is wearing and make fun of her for living with a white family. " They'd push me 'way from de ring plays and make out they couldn't play wid nobody dat lived on premises"(9). It indicates that black children show to Janie that lighter skin color, dressed like white cannot be part of them.
When Janie becomes big enough to understand things the grandmother shares her experience with racism with her and tries to show her brutal reality of race. "Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see." because of nanny's past is part of Janie's identity the grandmother reveals her life story as a victim of racism and attempts to explain to her what real life is like. While she designates the fact that the white man is a ruler and black men were always put down and discriminated against by white men, Nanny calls attention an even more victimized group – black women. Nanny's story illuminates the reason for Janie's light-skin and consequently diffusely illustrates one underlying reason for Janie's concerns about self-image and race.