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Everywhere he goes, Wright meets African Americans who pressure him to act submissively toward whites.At school his peers shun him or act threatened when he reveals high ambitions.
However, Wright ultimately blames racism on the white people who act with cruelty and callousness toward blacks. When the teenage Wright admits his dream of becoming a writer to a white woman who knows nothing about him except his skin color, she says, "You'll never be a writer." A similar attitude is prevalent in the North, where white researchers mock Wright for his curiosity, saying, "If you know too much, boy, your brains might explode." But racism is not only psychological; it is also physical. This violence creates a toxic environment of fear in Wright's life and threatens to warp both his intellect and his soul.
In Part 1 of Wright lives with a large extended family but has no meaningful relationships.
Throughout his childhood and adulthood, Richard reacted with bitter contempt toward what he saw as the submission of other black people to white authority.
Wright has often been criticized for failing to acknowledge or appreciate the richness of the American black community.
In the Jim Crow South, it keeps his family poor, undereducated, underemployed, and constantly fearful.
Although he does not interact much with whites in his early years, the black adults in his life are wounded by racism.His brutal early childhood experiences make him worldly, foulmouthed, and skeptical of easy answers.He rejects his grandmother's religion and threatens Aunt Addie and Uncle Tom when they try to whip him. Wright blames him for bringing God's wrath on the family.Wright feels pressure to submit to racism and accept a life of poverty, hopelessness, and inhuman treatment.Wright describes racism as a force so strong that it exerts itself not only outside black people, but also within them.The entire system of institutional racism was designed to prevent the American black's development of aspirations beyond menial labor.Racist whites were extremely hostile to black literacy and even more so to black Americans who wanted to make writing a career.His junior high principal tries to force him to read a valedictory speech that whites will find acceptable.Wright refuses to grovel before whites, and when he is repeatedly beaten, threatened, and fired from jobs, black peers like his friend Griggs speak as though Wright is to blame: "Learn how to live in the South," Griggs says.Wright's mother develops a paralyzing illness and cannot recover with the medical treatments available to blacks.These events, along with laws forcing Wright to attend inferior schools and work in menial jobs, make it nearly impossible for a black boy to succeed.