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James Baldwins Going to Meet the Man

One Never forgets What They are Taught James Baldwin, an African American author born in Harlem, was raised by his violent step-father, David. His father was a lay preacher who hated whites and felt that "all whites would be judged as they deserve" by a "vengeful God" (Klinkowitz and Pritchard, p.1999). Usually, the father's anger was directed toward his son through violence. Baldwin's history, in part, aids him in his insight of racism within the family. He understands that racists are not born, but rather racists' attitudes and behaviors are learned in the early stages of childhood. Baldwin's Going to Meet the Man is a perfect example of his capability to analyze the growth of a innocent child to a racist. Every child is born with innocence. During the flashback to Jesse's childhood, where he witnesses the mutilation and torture of a blackman, Jesse's innocence is apparent. Jesse has a black friend named Otis who he hasn't seen for a few days. When he asks his father where Otis is, the father replies, "I reckon Otis's folks was afrad to let him show himself this morning"(Baldwin, p. 2006). Jesse naturally responds, "But Otis ain't do nothing." His father explains, "We just wanna make sure Otis don't do nothing, and you tell him what your Daddy said"(Baldwin, p. 2006). This statement implies that because Otis is black, he is eventually going to do something wrong. The father has subconsciously put negative thoughts inside of Jesse's head. Baldwin's own father also acted in this way when he stereotyped all whites as being bad and claimed they would be punished by a vengeful God.In the midst of all the commotion, Jesse is unable to sleep the night before the lynching. Within another flashback to that night, Jesse feels a strong need to have his mother close to him but "he knew his father would not like this"(Baldwin, p. 2006). "He wanted to call his mother" and becomes very frustrated and angry with his father because th...

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