“The City as Refuge: Constructing Urban Blackness in Paul Laurence
Dunbar’s “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.”
By: Morgan, Thomas L.
This article is about the typical stereotypes that were placed on Blacks. Thomas L. Morgan did not take too kindly to comparisons between him and the Uncle Toms that existed during that time. Mr. Thomas felt that Blacks were somehow restricted by those degrading stereotypes. Thomas L. Morgan wanted Blacks to be depicted in a more positive light. He wanted Blacks seen as intelligent people capable of being their own keepers and protectors. Most of White America was thinking that Blacks were incapable of simple tasks such as writing poems. Black authors often wrote stories about African-Americans who were depicted as lost individuals running around like chickens with their heads cut off. There literature only garnered the stamp of approval if the writer’s work reflected what the norm was during that time. Not one author could write differently without having a harsh backlash to follow.
Authors who chose to write differently or “out of the norm” was treated like outcasts. Being different just was not acceptable then. Change among Blacks was not allowed, but instead they had to stay confined within society’s ignorance. I did not realize how much pressure Black authors had to endure. They could not write about how Blacks really felt. You could not be outspoken, and express yourself as we can today. I learned that Blacks were just considered empty shells of human beings. I also, learned that Blacks did not have much room to grow as a people, because society had placed some many restrictions on them that reading was not enlightening anymore.
Blacks were not thought of as honest people. Nevertheless, as liars. If someone accused a Black person of a crime, then the accuser was always right especially if the so-called victim was White. You were not considered innocent until proven guilty if you were a Black person back then. Nevertheless, instead Blacks were guilty until proven guilty.
The North was just as unwelcoming as the South. I was thinking that the North was the ones that declared war on the South. However, Blacks were just as hated the same way as if they were still enslaved in the South. Black was hated because they happened to occupy the same side of the world as the states that help free them in the first place. I questioned why the North even started a war for people that they never considered as equals. It just does not make since to me.
Black authors did not have a lot of freedom to write. Nevertheless, made due what little rights they were given. We are blessed to be Black in America now, even though not all is perfect now. There are still close-minded people who refuse to let go of the past. Racism is still here, but we are more liberated now more than ever. I could not even begin to imagine some of the hostility Blacks endured. I have experienced some racism myself, but none like this, “You want us to treat niggers as equals. Do you want to se’em sitting around in our parlors…?” quoted by a soldier and another white person.