Reading Sapiens Reminds Me of These

There must’ve been always a book that people have been talking about and even popular enough but you haven’t got feeling yet to start reading it. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is that kind of book for me. I have to muster up the energy to open the book again and finish what I’ve started last year. In the middle of my journey with this book, I found something intriguing subchapter Purity in America of chapter 8: There is No Justice in History. The chapter mainly discusses about racial injustice, caste and white supremacy. Each passage from the subchapter reminds me of some books that I’ve read before as well as an Academy Award winner movie. I’m thinking about sharing these books and movie to you, as this could be for your reference to understand deeper regarding the matter.

“Trapped in this vicious cycle, black were not hired for white-collar jobs because they were deemed unintelligent, and the proof of their inferiority was the paucity of blacks in white-collar job” (Harari, 2011, 193).

In this passage, it reminds me of the absolute remarkable non-fiction book Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and a rhapsodic novel by Pulitzer Prize Winner, Toni Morrison, that is Song of Solomon.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is an outstanding and daring work from Black British author, Reni Eddo-Lodge, about the palpable systemic racial injustice, class and white privilege in Britain. She gives ultimate, logical and history-data based reasons why she’s done talking about race to white people. The books isn’t only about an angry voice of black author. It’s organized and widely sensed.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison is a sentimental story about the carried meaning of a name. Milkman, real name Macom Dead the third, is having a rough life over the nickname he was branded to yet couldn’t give a heart to use his real name. His convoluted dilemma to choose his own life path, taking a look to his aunt and his father, is the reason why he’s tracing back his ancestor and first owner of his name.

Why these two books were popping up to my head when I read the passage in Sapiens? Both of Eddo-Lodge’s and Morrison’s book are scrutinizing the life of being black. In Lodge’s, she has amazingly explained how rooted the superiority feeling of white people over the black. It’s given in the data where the chance and possibility for black people to be a doctor, lawyer and any kind of white-collar job are almost nil. Meanwhile in Morrison’s book, Milkman’s father is infatuated by social status and richness as a life protection. He thinks having these two things, though restlessness comes as a price, will make you safe because that’s what you need to have as black people. Both given the explicit and implicit elaboration why the vicious circle that Yuval Noah Harari’s talking about remains standing still.

“Black were forbidden to vote in elections, to study in white schools, to buy in white stores, to eat in white restaurants, to sleep in white hotels” (Harari, 2011, 194).

The last phrase punched my brain. My mind immediately wander to based on true story film, Green Book (2019), starred by Viggo Mortensen and Mahersala Ali. This Academy Award for Best Picture winner is a film about unprecedented friendship between an Italian-American driver, Tony Lip, with his black employer, a world-class African-American pianist Dr Don Shirley. Tony was hired as a driver for Dr Don Shirley who had concert tour in the Deep South in 1962. Having no appropriate manner which was in utter contrast with well-educated and mannered Dr Don Shirley, Tony started to find out the vulnerability of being black people despite the glamorous and sophisticated lifestyle Dr. Don’s was depicting.

Long story short, Green Book is actually a travel guidance for black people’s hotels. They both were following this book as a recommendation place to sleep and rest during their long journey in the South. It’s hard to comprehend why such separation is needed in the first place. A believe system that judges black people as a dirty, contagious and uneducated human beings is actually the reason why the vicious circle is endless.

“American aesthetic culture was built around white standards beauty” (Harari, 2011, 196).

Nothing is more ironic than the story of Pecola Breedlove who’s spending her entire childhood hoping that her eyes will turn to blue. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a vocal work of how the beauty standards in America is a mess. Innocent child has been taught that they aren’t beautiful and worthless for possessing none of white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. Other than white people beauty standards are seen as ugly and trash. When Harari said the passage above, I couldn’t agree more of how he interprets the vicious cycle that creates all of these beauty standards. It’s ruthless and damaging.

Racial dynamics are inexplicable biologically (Harari, 2011). However, racism is an imaginary hatred structure that’s been carried around by those who are benefitted in the system.

I strongly believe no matter where you are, who you are and what skin color you are in, it’s an issue that can no longer be despised. You’re part of this.

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Originally published at https://mentariadri.blogspot.com.

is a liberated writer, teacher and creator.