Reading Response Obama — Jaqueline

In pages 83-85, we see an important part of Obama’s life while growing up. After an argument between the both of them, Ray invites Obama and his white friends to a party he’s having. When they arrived on the day of the party, Obama immediately noticed his friends were acting off and that they weren’t into what was going on around them. An hour into the party his friends asked him to drop them off home and when Obama went to announce their departure, Ray steadily gazed at him and they exchanged their goodbyes. After he had dropped his friends off, he started thinking about what Ray had previously told him about this being a white man’s world and they simply live in it.

“…And by the time I had dropped my friends off, I had begun to see a new map of the world, one that was frightening in its simplicity, suffocating in it’s implications. We were always playing on the white mans court, Ray had told me, by the white mans rules… Whatever he decided to do, it was his decision to make, not yours, and because of that fundamental power he held over you, because it preceded and would outlast his individual motives and inclinations, any distinctions between good and bad whites held negligible meaning…”

This quotation on page 85 shows that after noticing how his white friends reacted to being at their party, he slowly started seeing what Ray had meant. Their white friends could leave when they didn’t like or felt uncomfortable with something. They were not forced to stay and deal with situations where they felt like that, whereas Obama and Ray, along with so many others, didn’t have that choice. They are constantly under the white man’s shadow, acting and doing however and whatever white people demand or expect of them. Regardless of whether an individual was considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they still held a certain amount of power over any of them so the meaning of the words good and bad loses any meaning.

In this scene, Obama learns that they are truly living in a white man’s world. Whatever they say goes. Where white people have the option of doing whatever they want like refusing something, leaving something, or ignoring something, this is not something Obama can do. In order to get what he wants, he would essentially have to suck up to people in a higher position than him, whether it be a teacher or coach. Nothing was handed to him, and he would have to work two times harder to get to the same point others were at just by doing the minimum and for simply being white.

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