~ The Essay Question ~
1. The notion of the small town in the American context is closely related to the American Dream, the ideal that, left to their own devices, each American has access to equality of opportunity. Yet, in his “The Case for Reparations,” Ta-Nehisi Coates writes the following:
“Having been enslaved for 250 years, black people were not left to their own devices. They were terrorized. In the Deep South, a second slavery ruled. In the North, legislatures, mayors, civic associations, banks, and citizens all colluded to pin black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and undereducated. Businesses discriminated against them, awarding them the worst jobs and the worst wages. Police brutalized them in the streets. And the notion that black lives, black bodies, and black wealth were rightful targets remained deeply rooted in the broader society. Now we have half-stepped away from our long centuries of despoilment, promising, “Never again.” But still we are haunted. It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.”
With this in mind, with reference to two of the primary texts we (will) have read this semester, critique the notion of the small town and its links to the American Dream from the standpoint of race and racial relations.
Home by Robinson Marilyn, Medicine River by Thomas King or Disgrace by J.M Coetezee ( pick 2 out of these three books as a primary text)