Black Masculinity in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing

Black masculinity, a preconceived notion that suggests that Black men are “inherently inferior, aggressive, and violent,” is one of the reasons why racial injustices persist in the United States today (Ferber).  In Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee highlights the racial tensions that exist in America during the 1980s. These racial tensions, however, continue to plague present-day America. The movie is set in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, a primarily African-American neighborhood. In the film, Spike Lee creates the character Radio Raheem, a man who is meant to act as an all-encompassing representation of Black masculinity. Physically, Radio Raheem appears to be the stereotypical Black male, as described by Spike Lee. He is large and menacing-looking, but he does not engage in violence without a justifiable reason. When a seemingly justified reason arises for Radio Raheem to act violently, it is met by his demise. Unfortunately, the unjustified “steadfast images of Black man naturalize and reinforce […] the message that Black men are naturally aggressive [and] violent,” which is why the White policemen in the movie feel the need to control him, ultimately killing him in the process (Ferber). In Do the Right Thing, Radio Raheem is used as a way to demonstrate that Black masculinity and the fear fostered by this idea will continue to promote racial injustice and prevent integration between the Black and White races.

The early stereotypical ideas that surround Black individuals are used to vindicate policing and punishment in America. During slavery, Black men were objectified. White owners treated and viewed Black men as “beasts who had to be controlled and tamed to be put into service” (Ferber). The comparisons made between African-Americans and animals completely dehumanized the Black race as a whole, which caused them to be viewed as “savages.” As a result, White owners felt the need to “domesticate” their slave and severely punish and abuse them. Despite the changes that occurred post-slavery, which led to slaves being recognized as people, this did not put an end to the view that African-Americans are aggressive and violent. These early ideas surrounding African Americans took a new form, known as Black masculinity. The image generated by Black masculinity leads to distress within the White population, causing concern when considering “taming and controlling Black males” (Ferber). It is this fear and generalization surrounding the Black race that promotes the divide. Today, many White policemen who associate Black males with Black masculinity are quick to exert their power and dominance over a Black male involved in a situation necessitating police intervention. Often times, they use their belief in Black masculinity to justify their unnecessarily violent actions against Black men before developing a greater understanding of the situation. If White policemen continue to react irrationally towards Black individuals, the Black race will continue to distrust the White race, promoting this endless cycle of hatred and violence.

Radio Raheem is one of the only characters that truly embodies Black masculinity in Do the Right Thing. In this film, most of the characters appear small in relation to Radio Raheem. Before Radio Raheem appears in the scene, his presence is known. The sound of his blasting boom box precedes his entry before his “physical stature fills the camera lens” (Johnson). Spike Lee uses a boom box to signal Radio Raheem’s entry as a way to accentuate Radio Raheem’s dominant and intimidating appearance, the same way that stereotypical Black males are viewed. Spike Lee carefully chooses to use medium close-up shots when filming Radio Raheem so that he towers over the other characters, particularly White characters like Sal. This shot choice is designed to place on emphasis on what Radio Raheem has to say, especially when he argues a need for pictures of Black individuals on the walls in Sal’s pizzeria. During this scene, Radio Raheem continuously manipulates his tone of voice in order to appear aggressive and deliver his words with authority.

Although Radio Raheem appears to be a stereotypical Black male in Do the Right Thing, the destruction of Radio Raheem’s boom box is an important example of how White individuals use their belief in Black masculinity to validate their actions. The climax of the movie begins when Radio Raheem and Buggin Out arrive at Sal’s pizzeria to assert themselves as they ask Sal to put pictures of Black individuals on the wall. Once the two men begin arguing with Sal, he feels a need to exert his dominance over the “threatening and violent Black men,” even though they do not come across as violent. In his attempt to control these Black individuals and catch their attention, he destroys Radio Raheem’s boom box.  Radio Raheem is angered because of Sal’s refusal to display pictures of Black individuals on the wall, but he does not initially engage in violence. However, the destruction of Radio Raheem’s boom box infuriates Radio Raheem and prompts him to act aggressively towards Sal, fully embracing this social construction of Black masculinity. If Sal had treated Radio Raheem as an equal and talked to him in a civil manner, he could have calmly communicated his reasoning for the lack of pictures of Black individuals on his wall, preventing the violence all together.  Spike Lee chooses an alternative ending in which Radio Raheem and Buggin Out fail at their attempt to promote equality. Sal’s refusal to cooperate with the two men reinforces the idea that persists in society today; “Black men are […responsible] for their own failure to succeed, and they must be controlled for their own good” (Ferber).

The assumed overly violent and hyper-masculine qualities of the Black race are what prompt the White policemen to exercise so much control over Raheem that they ultimately control his destiny, death. This scene is comprised of multiple shots that have been fragmented together to demonstrate the fighting leading up to Radio Raheem’s death and the characters’ reactions after the murder of Radio Raheem. As the fight between the White and Black race ensues, Sal and his sons against Buggin Out and Radio Raheem respectively, the policemen associate danger with the Black males in this scene. In order to diffuse the situation, the policemen are first to grab Buggin Out and Radio Raheem and handcuff them. The policemen fear “aggressive Black men” and assume that they are the cause of the issue, without first speaking to anyone to develop a greater understanding of the problem at hand. As Radio Raheem struggles to break free of a policeman’s grasp, the policeman places Raheem in a chokehold, killing him. In this scene, the “Black male body brings together the dominant institutions of (White) masculine power and authority” to do one thing, “to protect (White) Americans from harm” (Gray). Authority figures did not even consider that Sal or his sons might have been the cause for the violence because White individuals are rarely viewed as the perpetrators of a crime. Had the policemen properly evaluated the situation and separated all of the individuals in the fight, they might have been able to recognize those at fault during this scene. However, Spike Lee decides to have the scene end in Radio Raheem’s death in order to demonstrate how White policemen continue to be blinded by the idea of Black masculinity, causing them to do anything they can to prevent these “scary and aggressive Black men” from getting out of hand, even if that means inflicting death upon them. The racial injustice revealed in this scene did not only result in the death of an innocent Black male, but it also gave Black individuals within the community a reason to view White individuals, particularly White policemen, with scorn and disdain, furthering the divide between the Black and White races.

Critics claim that Spike Lee teaches his audience to do the wrong thing by teaching viewers that White policemen and white individuals are “the enemy.” That, however, is not the goal. Spike Lee is trying to bring police brutality towards Black individuals to light. Although the death of Radio Raheem is fictional, this death directly parallels the death of Eric Garner, a 6-foot-tall, large Black male who was killed after a White policeman put him in a chokehold. Eric Garner was approached by policemen for selling untaxed cigarettes in Staten Island. Although Eric Garner was wrong for participating in this illegal activity, this was not justification for his death. The videos taken during Garner’s death capture the encounter between Garner and the police, in which Officer Pantaleo presses Garner’s head to the pavement as Garner says his last words, “I can’t breathe” (Baker et al.). Although Eric Garner did not provoke or act aggressively toward the police officer, the underlying fear of the “inferior race” drove the officer to kill Garner while he had the chance. Was Spike Lee wrong when he decided to let Radio Raheem be killed by White policeman in his movie? No. The microcosms represented in Do the Right Thing was Lee’s vision of an authentic portrayal of the racial violence in New York, even though these views may be contested (Johnson). Both the death of Radio Raheem and Eric Garner capture the attention of the unwarranted racism that exists in law enforcement, causing the lives of many Black individuals to be ended early because of the fear perpetuated by Black stereotypes.

The Black Lives Matter Movement is a peaceful protest movement whose goal is to actively recognize the pervasive role of racism and reshape these views to promote equality and racial justice throughout America (Johnson). After the death of Eric Garner and other black individuals who experienced gratuitous deaths, the Black Lives Matter Movement strove to bring attention to the problems that exist between race and law enforcement, beginning an attempt to put an end to the institutionalized racism that exists in the United States. In Do the Right Thing, Buggin Out and Radio Raheem are representative of those who participate in this movement. Due to their awareness of the racist individuals that work at Sal’s pizzeria, they attempt to gain a following and peacefully boycott this business. Their peaceful boycott was not very long-lived, but they did succeed in informing the community that their race is marginalized by the workers at Sal’s. Their recognition of the inequalities their race faces and their desire to put an end to this racial injustice peacefully is one of the ways this movie tries to promote integration in the same way the Black Lives Matter Movement tries to promote integration in America.

Peaceful and violent methods for achieving racial justice appear to be ineffective in the film. At the end of the movie, Radio Raheem is killed when he peacefully tries to gain acknowledgement for Black individuals in Sal’s Pizzeria. Additionally, the destructive action towards Sal’s pizzeria, in response to Radio Raheem’s murder, only entices other Black members of the community to join in the violence. In both examples, the Black individuals are viewed as “fucking n******,” and fail to gain respect from the White individuals in the film. Spike Lee incorporates quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X at the end of the film to offer an explanation for the two contrasting methods of action. Martin Luther King Jr., a proponent for peaceful protest, argues that “violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. […] It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert” (Johnson). Although Martin Luther King Jr. is justified in his rationalization for nonviolence, peaceful protests are only effective when the receiving party is willing to work with the protestors to collectively find a solution. Unfortunately, the ideas and fears perpetuated by Black masculinity influence many individuals, and prevent them from effectively listening to what Black individuals have to say.  If Black individuals are instantly disregarded, imprisoned, or killed for conveying their ideas like Buggin Out and Radio Raheem were, will the United States ever achieve racial justice? No. In this case, the Black individuals will lose to the White individuals who are deemed as “superior,” and Black Americans will continue to be marginalized.

Contrastingly, Malcolm X’s more radical approach towards achieving racial justice is unsuccessful as well. Even though Malcolm X suggests that violence can be used as means for “self-defense,” he fails to realize that Black individuals participating in violence aids in promoting the idea of Black masculinity. If already-biased White individuals see Blacks partaking in vandalism or actions of violence towards Whites, who initiated physical or verbal abuse, many will not seek to understand the reason behind these Black individuals’ motivations. Black individuals will continue to be viewed as the “aggressive” and “dominant” despite their valid reasons for their actions. In Do the Right Thing, Black members of the community actively sought vengeance after the murder of Radio Raheem. By destroying the White-owned pizzeria in support of Radio Raheem, they brought attention to the injustice of his death, but his death did not act as an impetus for change. The violence brought upon by the Black individuals only succeeded in supporting the idea that Blacks are “violent” and “need to be controlled,” ideas associated with Black masculinity. Violence did not bring together the two races as the Black individuals may have hoped, but rather increased racial tensions between the groups.

In Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee, a film director of great ingenuity, effectively portrays the inequalities faced by those who are marginalized. By creating characters that embody the characteristics associated with Black masculinity, like Radio Raheem, Lee brings awareness of how some people view Black individuals today. His inclusion of the opposing ideas offered by Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are used to demonstrate that there needs to be an alternative way to promote racial justice in society. Peaceful protest and violence seem to only be effective temporarily, if at all. Spike Lee argues that there will be greater racial integration between Whites and Blacks when people are entirely devoid of the ideas perpetuated by ideas of Black masculinity. How can entire population effectively remain uninfluenced by fears and ideas perpetuated by stereotypes? Spike Lee does not offer any answers; yet, he does know that until individuals evaluate others based on their character and situation rather than the color of their skin, there will continue to be these feelings of distrust and contempt between Blacks and Whites.


Works Cited

Baker, Al, et al. “Beyond the Chokehold: The Path to Eric Garner’s Death.” The New York Times, 13 Jun. 2015, Accessed 23 April 2018.

Ferber, Abby. “The Construction of Black Masculinity.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues, vol.31, no. 1, 2007, pp. 11-24, Accessed 23 April 2018.

Gray, Herman. “Black Masculinity and Visual Culture.” Callaloo, vol. 18, no. 2, 1995, pp. 401-405,  Accessed 23 April 2018.

Johnson, Brian. “Baltimore 2015, Black Lives Matter and the Presience of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.” Filmint, Accessed 23 April 2018.

A Day of Disability: Raymond Carver’s Cathedral

In Raymond Carver’s Cathedral, a fear reinforced by stereotypes and the unknown prompts the husband of the blind man’s ex-caretaker to be bothered by the blind man’s arrival. Due to his lack of interaction with blind individuals, the husband’s perception and fear of the blind was unjustified. He was bothered by the blind because in movies, “the blind moved slowly and never laughed” (Carver 1). These preconceived judgments only lessened his enthusiasm towards meeting his wife’s friend, demonstrating how the unfair portrayal of the blind in movies can procure false images of people with physical impairments in viewers’ minds. If the wife had not forced her husband to meet her blind friend, Robert, her husband would continue to remain fearful of the blind due to his ignorance. The author, Raymond Carver, creates this story and highlights Robert’s strengths in order to confront the prejudices against the blind and demonstrate that those with this disability are misunderstood.

The husband’s lack of interaction with the blind causes him to be surprised upon Robert’s arrival.  Since the husband had never met a blind person, he was surprised to find Robert without dark glasses. According to the husband, he “had always thought glasses were a must for the blind” (5) due to its prominence in the media. Furthermore, the husband continues to be shocked by Robert when he sees him smoking a cigarette and finding his food on his plate. The husband had read that the blind did not smoke because they “couldn’t see the smoke they exhaled” (6), but clearly this was not the case. Robert smoked like any other man, despite his disability. Throughout the narrative, Robert’s preconceived views of the blind are continuously challenged by Robert’s actions. Robert is blind, but that does not stop him from drinking, smoking, falling in love, and participating in activities that other individuals engage in on a daily basis. The author creates Robert in order to challenge the flawed views some individuals have of the blind and to reassure readers that those who are blind function and go through life like everyone else.

In the narrative, the Robert is not feminized nor infantilized. The author strategically creates Robert this way so that Robert does not seem inferior to the other characters in the narrative. Despite the fact that Robert is blind and cannot read, see food in front of him, or watch TV, the author does not focus on the obstacles he faces. Instead, the author highlights the actions Robert is capable of and his ability to learn despite these setbacks. Robert may be unable to see the cathedral that his ex-caretaker’s husband describes, but this serves an impetus for him to learn about it and try to imagine what it looks like. By holding the husband’s hand while he draws a cathedral, he is able to almost visualize a cathedral through these motions. If the author had constructed a blind character that let his disability negatively affect him, the husband’s imperfect views of the blind would have been confirmed, Robert would have been portrayed like one of the blind people in the movies, and he would have been pitied by the characters in the narrative. However, by creating a character that is willing to learn despite his disability, it serves as a way to demonstrate that the blind will do anything to view the world as much as others do. Robert may not be able to physically see a cathedral, but it does not mean he can’t understand what it looks like. Robert’s character ultimately demonstrates that the prejudices that the blind are subject to in the media are not accurate representations of the blind. By confronting these stereotypes, Robert is able to show individuals that blind people are just like those around them and that they use their body to their full potential, even if they do not have full capacity of their vision.


Carver, Raymond. Cathedral. 1981, Accessed 13 Apr 2018.

Antoinette: Trapped in the Sargasso Sea

In Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette seems to be trapped her own version of the Sargasso Sea, the body of water referenced in the title.  The Sargasso Sea is located in the middle region of the Atlantic Ocean and is the only sea in the world that is defined by currents as opposed to land boundaries. The currents in the Sargasso Sea move in a continuous, cyclic pattern. Sargassum, a free-floating seaweed, is found throughout the Sargasso Sea and is the reason for its name. In the novel, Antoinette appears to be trapped in a never-ending cycle, a characteristic of the Sargasso Sea. Like her mother, Antoinette eventually goes insane when she becomes unable to cope with negative obstacles in her life, reliving some of the experiences of her mother’s unfortunate destiny.  The abundant sargassum in the Sargasso Sea is also a representation of the racial problems that trap Antoinette. Since Antoinette is a creole, she is not purely English or purely Jamaican, leading her to remain tied to both countries while being stuck between the two because she does not particularly belong to either, like the sea itself. The discrimination she faces in the novel, which is representative of the sargassum in the sea, is what prevents her from identifying with either country. The people of the Caribbean call her a “white cockroach” and the English call her a “white nigger.” The juxtaposition of these two characterizations of Antoinette demonstrate that she is unable to find a place where she fits in since she cannot fully associate with either. Figuratively, the Sargasso Sea is what traps Antoinette in this recurring cycle of insanity and prevents her from experiencing a sense of belonging to either the Caribbean or England, which is why the title is so significant.


Antoinette’s damaging experiences throughout her life are a detriment to her character. As a child, Antoinette recognizes that her mother is a woman who depends on a man’s affection for satisfaction. It was not until Antoinette’s mother remarried that her mother began to emerge from her state of depression and act like herself again. Yet, the burning of their house of Coulibri, the death of her son Pierre, and the leaving of her husband compromised Antoinette’s mother’s sanity. Although Antoinette is cognizant of her the experiences that drove her mom to madness, Antoinette tries to break the cycle and remain composed in the face of difficulty but is met with a similar fate. Like her mother, Antoinette relies on her husband for happiness and yearns for her husband’s affection. Although she continues to try to tell her husband, Rochester, that she was always “happy in the mornings” and that every day was a “fresh day” for her, Rochester still associates Antoinette with her mother and believes that she will ultimately become insane like her (Rhys 118). Rochester’s infidelity and Antoinette’s inability to connect with him physically and emotionally affect her like the events that compromised her mother’s mental health. Antoinette becomes an alcoholic and loses her sense of self, just like her mother. By the end of the novel, Antoinette is “tied to a lunatic for life – a drunken lying lunatic – gone her mother’s way,” just like Rochester had predicted (149). Antoinette will forever be connected with her mother and be unable to break the cycle, which is why she will be trapped, figuratively, in the Sargasso Sea, a tumultuous cycle that leads to insanity.


The sargassum that fills the Sargasso Sea represents the racial constraints that prevent Antoinette from identifying with England or the Caribbean. Due to the color of her white skin, Antoinette was unable to connect with the colored people on the island where she was raised. Even though Antoinette was a creole, the people on the island viewed her differently because she was partially European. She was referred to as a “white cockroach,” and could not maintain a friendship with her colored “friend,” Tia.  The unbridled hostility Antoinette receives from the colored people on the island demonstrates Antoinette’s inability to identify with those on the island. Due to Antoinette’s mixed heritage, she is fully unable to identify with the English either. When Antoinette’s mother saw her spending time with Tia and growing up like a “white nigger,” her mother became ashamed of her for not embracing the white race. As her life progresses, Antoinette’s mixed descent is one of the reasons Rochester is unable to love her. The discrimination Antoinette was subjected to by both whites and people of color is represented by the sargassum that traps Antoinette. Antoinette recognizes this dilemma and even questions her white heritage when she states that people “tell [her she is English] but [she does] not believe them” (162). As a result, Antoinette is entangled in the sargassum of the Sargasso Sea by the racial limitations imposed on her by the people of the Caribbean and the English, which is why she fails to fully identify with either race.


Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. W.W. Norton & Company, 1982.

Eliza Liriano Post 2 – Isolation: A Product of Categorization in Nightwood

In Dijuna Barnes’s Nightwood, Barnes creates the character Robin to demonstrate how the failure to categorize an individual can lead to his or her isolation. Robin’s inability to comply with social expectations prevents her from identifying with a particular group. She cannot be considered an adult because she acts like a child and plays with dolls; yet, she cannot be classified as a child because she is older and has intimate relationships with her loved ones, Felix, Nora, and Jenny. During her relationship with Felix, Robin has a child. She cannot fit the role of a mother because she fails to care for her son and lives her life as though he does not exist.  Additionally, her relationships with both men and women showcase that she is not a heterosexual.  She is attracted to women but she is not a lesbian because her past relationship with Felix illustrates that she also has a sexual attraction to men; thus, she is a part of the “third sex” (Barnes 157). Barnes purposely does not label Robin as a mother, heterosexual, lesbian, etc. because she struggles to fit into any of these categories. Her incapacity to conform to social constructs and have a mature, long-lasting relationship with anyone causes her to be emotionally isolated from the people around her and prevents her from forming serious connections. As a result, she believes her only escape is running away from her roles, physically isolating herself from those she once cared for. In doing so, she attempts to find a safe haven, where she truly fits in, leading to her eventually assume the role of a dog and separate herself from the entire human race.

Robin acknowledges her differences and, without justification, runs away when she feels pressured to undertake a certain role.  In society, partners typically care for and remain faithful to their significant others. In Nightwood, this was not the case. Once Robin begins to the assume the role of Nora’s partner, she feels the desire to leave her. Emotionally, she is incapable of loving Nora unconditionally and putting Nora’s needs and wants before her own. In an attempt to escape the responsibility of being Nora’s partner, she has an affair with Jenny and leaves Nora. Robin physically isolates herself from Nora for she feels that she is not able to live up to society’s expectations and remain loyal because she is different from those around her. Furthermore, Robin’s inability to remain with Jenny shortly after leaving Nora emphasizes that Robin’s differences prevent Robin from establishing meaningful relationships with those she cares about. In Nora’s conversation with the doctor, he states, “Robin was outside of the ‘human type’—a wild thing caught in a woman’s skin, monstrously alone” (155). Although the doctor does not fully understand Robin, he does recognize that her failure to fit into a category is the reason why Robin finds discomfort within herself. Internally, Robin cannot let herself be loved by others, leading to her emotional and physical isolation. The ideals set forth by society limit Robin’s freedom and force her into a role she does not want to fulfill. Her differences lead her to reject these expectations she views as requirements and fuels her desire to find a place where can be accepted for the person she is.

Robin’s inability to be categorized leads to her isolation, which is a detriment to her character. Her failure to connect with others on an emotional level results in her physically isolating herself from the people she loved, leading to her finally assume the role of a dog in hopes of experiencing acceptance. Robin compromises her humanity to take on the role of an animal, demonstrating the extreme measure she has to resort to in order to find solace. Although the novel ends on a dramatic note, the author creates this scene to emphasize how categorization and one’s inability to submit to social constructs can lead to their isolation from those around them, and in this case, the entire human race. Barnes utilizes the character Robin to convey that people should not have to take drastic measures to be themselves, even if they do not exactly fit into a particular group.


Barnes, Dijuna. Nightwood. New York: New Directions Books, 1937. Print

Table for 3: Should White People Apologize?

This podcast by Aidee, Emily, and Eliza debates whether an apology promotes or hinders equality within America. Past narratives and modern examples are used to understand the controversial issues that exist between different races. Will an apology from the white population guarantee success in the United States?


Eliza Liriano Post 1 – The “Afric-American Picture Gallery” and the De-evolution Within the United States

Amidst the rising of the Civil War, the “Afric-American Picture Gallery” was published and utilizes dramatic irony in an attempt to illustrate the growing racial differences that exist within the United States. The Anglo-African Magazine catered to the black audience, with Ethiop describing his journey to the Black Forest. This bizarre episode demonstrates how whites and blacks within the United States cannot coexist. In order to display the treatment experienced by slaves, Ethiop writes about his encounter with Bernice, a former slave, and how Bernice has his old slave master locked in a cave. In this instance, the roles are reversed, and Bernice, a black man, chains up his white master, Felix, and separates him from his family. Bernice tells Felix that the latter no longer has rights and no longer possesses himself (Ethiop 177), which is exactly what slaves faced until after the Civil War. Despite to their racial differences, Ethiop does not promote integration, but rather uses this story to appeal to slaves and highlight how whites should be treated like those enslaved. This incident promotes the idea that slave-owners should receive equitable retribution and punishment for their actions.


The excerpt about the year 4000 and the Amecans, also known as the “Milk White Race,” is another instance in which Ethiop employs dramatic irony to emphasize de-evolution occurring within the United States (174). In the 1850s, slaves were inferior to white colonists. They were treated as chattel and lacked the liberties white Americans were entitled to under the Declaration of Independence. However, it is in this literacy piece that the white race does not advance. According to the tablets Ethiop found in the Black Forest, the “milk white skins” used to rule the land with their “hands of iron” and their “hearts as the stones of our valleys” (175). Although, they were recognized as individuals of eminence, they enslaved African Americans to do their work for them, which caused them to “vanish” (176). Ethiop describes how their lack of labor caused their muscles to atrophy, leading to the end of the white race. The irony Ethiop employs in this passage relates to theory of “survival of the fittest” suggested by evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin in the 19th century. His theory of evolution argues that those who are superior would be able to survive and reproduce. In relation to society’s advancement, society evolves as long as the individuals apart of it are able to adapt to various conditions. Instead of surviving, reproducing to promote slavery, and developing new cities, it is the power of the whites that leads to the demise of their population.


On the brink of the Civil War, white superiority promoted divisions within the states. Although tablets in the magazine article exemplify how the blacks advance in society, white individuals were the ones that advanced and survived to reproduce to continue slavery within the United States. This literary piece may appeal to African Americans and those who are enslaved because many of the stories regarded and promoted white inferiority. Regardless of the races that prospered in the magazine or the United States, only one race survived. The underlying idea illuminated by Ethiop is that the promotion of one race does not actually indicate evolution or advancement. Instead, the inability for various groups to get together and coexist peacefully hinders the progression of society. Ultimately, Ethiop’s “Afric-American Picture Gallery” is a literary piece that foreshadows the problems that Americans are going to encounter as the Civil War approaches and promotes the death of individuals from both groups. If whites and blacks are at war and are dying, the advancement of the United States will be hampered altogether and the United States will be subjected to de-evolvement.



Ethiop. “Afric-American Picture Gallery.” The Anglo-African Magazine, vol. 1, 1859, pp. 174-177, Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.