Cultural Conformity Essay

1506 words - 6 pages

By definition, discrimination is the cruel treatment towards a person of a specific group, according to his or her classification or status. For centuries, discrimination has been a big issue in many countries over race, socioeconomic status, appearance and ethnicity. Racism continues to exist primarily not only in the United States, but also in Europe and South America, with attempts to block minorities from any opportunities. In Rick Bragg’s memoir, All Over but the Shoutin, Bragg reveals the influence of racism on the modern world. The effects of these unjust social practices can be felt throughout humanity today.
Rick Bragg’s memoir, All Over but the Shoutin, explores his journey to find his identity. Raised in Piedmont, Alabama, Bragg grew up poverty-stricken. Bragg’s mother picked cotton for a few pennies while his father was a chronic alcoholic, often abandoning him on multiple occasions during his childhood. His mother sold anything she could get her hands on to support Bragg and his siblings, going “eighteen years without a new dress so that her [children] could [wear] school clothes” (Bragg xii). At some point, on the verge of starvation, his family used to eat leftover corn from their local neighbors down the street—who were black—in an era when most black people starved. The first part of his memoir describes the earlier half of his youth as a poor rural white, living with a sense of “false pride” (Bragg 42). As a kid, Bragg spent time scavenging the local dumpster “not for food, because it never got that bad, but for treasure” (Bragg 42). He had to hide his presence from suburban residents, who often chastised him while dumping their trash. Lacking financial assistance and exposed to the early onset of abuse by his father, Bragg realized the fine line which drew impoverished rural White Southerners and their wealthy counterparts as unequal. This conception eventually influenced the phrase “White Trash,” a derogatory term in which affluent white men describing the poor whites living in the United States under a substandard lifestyle. Later in his memoir, Bragg provides an account where a local fraternity from Jacksonville State throws a celebration for the children of poor families. Initially, Rick extends his gratitude for the fraternity’s kindness, but then has trouble relating to them because their cultural differences. Bragg describes them as affluent people, not “rich by Manhattan standards, but Possum trot ones,” (Bragg 97). He finds himself embarrassed and bitter at the ignorance of the individuals who live with their backs turned to society. Bragg wished to capture the “degree of meanness, degrees of hatred, and of ignorance,” that plagued the world (Bragg 62). Just like him, thousands of citizens in United State experience prejudice and social prejudice at least once in their lifetime. What makes it more upsetting is that the dehumanization and ridicule involved due to one’s current condition greatly impacts a person’s...

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