Reading Response Obama – Paola Capano

  1. Obama’s mental note of the “ledger of slights” he experiences daily (80-81)

In pages 80-81, Obama goes into his experience with racism as a young black male. Although it is something him and his friends would joke about, “That’s just how white folks do you”, it is actually something that has impacted him emotionally and mentally. There have been many experiences of racism throughout his life. Some examples of them have been in school, outside, and even in his building. He was been in many uncomfortable situations that have not been easy to just get over, or accept that’s just how “white folks” are. In this paragraph he is mainly giving his insight on the experience he has had living around white people and how it has affected his view on them and society itself.

One of his experiences he shares was, “The older woman in my grandparents apartment building who became agitated when I got on the elevator behind her and ran out to tell the manager that i was following her; her refusal to apologize when she was told that I lived in the building.” This shows us how often Obama could feel like he was unsafe, and disliked in the world, because even at home, somewhere you are supposed to feel comfortable in, he was targeted. The lady felt as if she had something to be afraid of just because of the color of his skin. This shows us her sense of entitlement because of her judgement without even knowing he lives in the same place as she does, making her no better than him. She also did not want to apologize when shown she made a ignorant assumption, showing her lack of respect for him as a person.

Obama learns a lot about himself and the world, as he gains experience around racism and the cruelty of some people. His racial experiences have made a big contribution to his life in the moment and take up a lot of his mind. One thing that Obama did have trouble with is the fact he was biracial, and was close to people who were white, such as his grandparents. This could have been very difficult for him due to the fact that the other white people out there that weren’t his family have treated him poorly throughout his life. This messed with his perception a little and his “trust”. As stated in the scene, “It was obvious that certain whites could be exempted from the general category of our distrust, Ray was always telling me how cool my grandparents were.” Overall he was able to grow a soft spot for his grandparents and kept them out of the generalization of most white people.

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