The United States used to be deeply divided between what was commonly known as the Deep South, with its vast plantations of cotton and tobacco, and the north, which was much more industrialised. In the south, the plantations required a lot of manual labour, which led the whole economy to depend on slaves. It was therefore understandable for the south to be reticent when the north abolished slavery. After the Civil war though, which lasted from 1860 to 1865, slavery was definitely abolished in the whole country. But the black community still did not attain an equal status. Indeed, an era of segregation and racism against “the Negros”, as they were often called, followed. Racism and violence escalated in post-civil war America and associations like the Ku Klux Klan grew. Often, the black community preferred to stay silent or become “Oreos”, but some individuals decided to stand up against oppression. Of those are Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, both militants for black peoples’ rights and both assassinated.
C.P Ellis, once exalted Cyclops of the KKK, analyses the motives of racism. In his interview with Studs Terkel, he explains that poverty and lack of education are the two main factors which lead to intolerance. After slavery was abolished, some white people found that they were denied the American dream whilst the black community was beginning to access education and earn decent money. Lack of education and poverty being interrelated, the vicious cycle just kept going on for those white Americans. In C.P. Ellis’s life, there is a repeat of history: his father was poor, uneducated and denied the American dream, which propelled him into the Ku Klux Klan. The same thing happens to Ellis, almost as though he inherits his father’s problems.
It is understandable that this vicious cycle, from which there seems to be no escape provokes anger, frustration, jealousy and a sense of defeat. Soon enough you need to find someone to... [à continuer]
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