Racism In “Little Black Boy” And “The White Man’s Burden”

929 words - 4 pages

People tend to make race a bigger deal than what it is, and in literature race is seen to be even more exaggerated. Even within literary texts we are able to see stratification, degradation and accommodation due to race. Through these texts we are revealed perceptions of race that people had at that time. The portrayal of racism within William Blake’s, “The Little Black Boy” and Rudyard Kipling’s, “The White Man’s Burden” show the racist views that culture had and influenced, especially on worth/purpose, and what was considered moral and immoral.
William Blake's, "The Little Black Boy" depicts racism even though the poem's main message is that divinely everyone is the same and equal despite their race .The opening stanzas that state, "And I am black, but O! my soul is white; White as an angel is the English child: But I am black as if bereav’d of light.", show race degrading views that have been instilled within the little black child, the narrator. These stanzas make racism apparent because it states, "but O! my soul is white; White as an angel is the English child", which makes it seem that since there is some whiteness inside of him because of his soul then he can be angelic, like that of a white child. Not only that, Blake uses skin color to define worth and purpose. Through those stanzas its apparent to see that he associates whiteness as being good and moral, or that of a “light” and black as being the opposite, meaning evil and immoral. Blake then tries to develop another idea of light as the child remembers instructions given to him by his mother. “Look on the rising sun: there God does live. And gives his light, and gives his heat away. And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive. Comfort in morning joy in the noon day.” Heat, light and the sun are all things that are suppose to show that God exists and is always there and the child’s mom is saying to look to God as comfort. But, through theses stanzas it is possible to say that light and white can be said to be the same thing, thus the childs oppressors and God can be said to be the same thing as well. So the boy should submit in serving them and be happy doing it. William Blake’s, “Little Black Boy” is the portrayal of how racism affects a child’s mind in determining his worth and purpose by stating racist views that he was told to believe in.
Rudyard Kipling's, "The White Man's Burden" in its entirety is racist. The poem itself is about how white people are superior and are responsible for...

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