Reading Response Obama — Richard G. Bordes

  1. In your own words, summarize the scene you have chosen. Write one paragraph of 5-7 sentences.
  • In this scene, Ray is throwing a predominantly black party at his home and suggests to Obama that they invite their white friends, Jeff and Scott. The party ensues and Obama’s white friends mingle around and dance for a while. After about an hour, they ask Obama to drive them home, much to Ray’s barely shown disappointment. As they’re driving, the white boys convey their newfound understanding of Ray and Obama’s situation. They compare it to how it must feel to be the only “black” guys at their school parties since their school is most likely predominantly white, but Obama shrugs it off while fighting down an urge to smack them. After dropping them home, Obama begins to self reflect and comes to understand his situation as a black man living in the Jim Crow Era and the unfairness of not being able to truly do something about it, lest his defiance ruin him.
  1. Select a significant quotation from the scene. Explain in your own words.  One paragraph 5-7 sentences.
  • “We were always playing on the white man’s court, Ray had told me, by the white man’s rules. If the principal, or the coach, or a teacher, or Kurt, wanted to spit in your face, he could, because he had power and you didn’t. If he decided not to, if he treated you like a man or came to your defense, it was because he knew that the words you spoke, the clothes you wore, the books you read, your ambitions and desires, were already his.”
  • I believe this quote is meant to represent the gravity of not only Obama and Ray’s situation but the situation of a majority of black people living during the Jim Crow Era. The “white man’s court” represents the multiple aspects of society that are controlled by the white population, who during this era, were more prejudiced towards the black population. They had the pull and influence to make or break a black person’s life if they felt like it. For example, if a black man was to be caught talking or even dating a white woman, he could be given a false rape charge and sent to prison for the remainder of his lifetime. Or he could even be killed for “corrupting” that “poor white girl” with his “blackness”. They could get away with any injustice they performed against the black community and sometimes it was like they were still slaves, but with slightly better living conditions.
  1. In this scene, what does Obama learn about himself and about the world? One paragraph of 5-7 sentences.
  • In this scene, Obama learns the true reality of a black man living during Jim Crow. He realizes that the world he’s currently living in is the “white man’s” world, where people like him were disadvantaged at every turn. Even their hopes, dreams, and future could be controlled by the “white man” and even destroyed. And Obama felt powerless to stop it or even be able to complain since his anger could be used as a weapon against him if he wasn’t careful. He has to resign himself to the situation he’s been dealt.

1 thought on “Reading Response Obama — Richard G. Bordes”

  1. You refer to Jim Crow era as if Obama’s narrative takes place in the past. It does not. Obama’s story is today. However, he shows us that today in modern times Black Americans still feel the sting of racism in America. Otherwise good answers, Richard!

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