Md Minul Khan
English 102 Sec 14
23 January, 2018
“Self worth is the Best Identity”
Through the short essay, ” My Dungeon Shook”, James Baldwin portrayed a very intense and emotional sequence where a letter written to his nephew explaining how the cruel society that they live in is where the “land of the free” is just a mere illusion to entertain the minority while benefiting the majority. In that letter author James Baldwin explains that American whites has placed “the Negro” in a level that it is far removed from the oppressive London of the past, so has explained by the Charles Dickens. To keep going and becoming successful on these circumstances, young James along with his generations will have to be strong and conscious, drawing from the love which others of his race have bestowed on them, and which they now must pass on to all of theirs coming generations.
In the letter, Baldwin demonstrates that since his nephew is black so white society has deemed him worthless, keep him restricted with limitations and conditioned him to make peace in the way they like. The establishment has placed borders on what he can do or can not do, where he can live, and even whom he can marry though these assertions will no doubt be called exaggerations by white Americans. According to the author, for Afro-Americans needs to feel that they must
become like white people in order to be granted by hetm, the rulers. The Author thoughts present day the white Americans are getting trapped in a history which they do not understand and that their identity is based on the deeply-ingrained belief that they are superior to black people. Baldwin also exemplifies the men who picked cotton, dammed rivers and build railroads with men who came from long line of poets, some of the greatest poets since Homer while describing the lives of Black people.
The key message of James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook” gives me a familiar vibe of something what happened to me and with my family some years ago. My father had to resign his job because he was offered a huge amount of money to do something illegally but he refused that and lost his job. Then our family faced thousands of financial problems and I had to drop my school years which was huge disappointing for me but by the time I grew up and after facing all these hard times now we have respect, luxury life, honesty, money and everything. I also got engaged with the perspective of Baldwin when he mentioned that “the danger in minds of most white Americans is the loss of identity.” I found this idea quite insightful and articulate and an important way to analyze that situation because My family made everything possible and that totally worth of our identity.
Question : Why does Baldwin keep referring to others who say that he exaggerates about the conditions of African American men?