The Motives of Racism in The Story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

The Motives of Racism in The Story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

The story, “Everyday Use” written by Alice Walker is a narrative that succinctly describes the lives of Mrs. Johnson and her two daughters which she treats differently and vice versa. Using careful descriptions, Walker illustrates the factors that contribute to the values of one’s culture and race. Through the communication between the characters, it is evident that racial misunderstanding and discrimination is one of the biggest problems of the past because of the ideologies held by people from different races. Even though the situation is different nowadays, racism is still present as it has taken new forms and shape. Alice Walker explains the effects of racism through contrasting family members and views by illustrating the importance of understanding our current life concerning our culture.

Characters in the story, “Everyday Use” use racist questions to reveal the perspective and ideologies they uphold. Walker describes racism as the reflection of evil and harm made to ordinary people. For example, when Mrs. Johnson is sitting in the yard and asks her friend, “Who can even imagine me looking a strange white man in the eye?” Her statement depicts that no black man should not be looked directly in the eye (Walker 315). This question shows that even though blacks were free, they were still discriminated upon.

Walker illustrates how blacks faced a lot of discrimination such as the lack of basic education. Mrs. Johnson asserts that during her youth years, blacks were not allowed to pursue their education. This is the reason as to why her daughter is looking down upon her and regards her a someone below her status. Mrs. Johnson states that “I never had an education myself. After second grade the school was closed down.” (Walker 316).  Mama did not attend school when she was a child based on their poverty status. Back then, blacks had a difficult time obtaining a quality education.

Walker shows how the whites discriminated blacks based on their skin color. They were segregated from other people and were regarded as useless beings. Through racism, blacks lost their sense of self-esteem as the whites constantly looked down upon them and this made them feel worthless. For instance, Mama describes herself by stating, “My skin like an uncooked barley pancake.” (Walker 315) This means that her skin was dark representing the color of slaves. She had to go through a lot of difficulties because of her skin color.

Walker shows how racism was evident when white folks poison some of the herd that black herdsmen were watching to cause suffering and discrimination. The white people wanted to make the blacks suffer so they disrupted their livelihood and enforced silly rules on the blacks. Mrs. Johnson asserts that “When the white folks poisoned some of the herd the men stayed up all night with rifles in their hands (Walker 319). They were forced to protect their, but in the true sense, it is the whites that were affecting their livelihood.

Conclusively, in the story “Everyday Use,” Walker discusses different facets of racism by illustrating its prevalence in the past and its effect currently. The story is based on an era of racial separation between a community that has a diverse ethnicity. Notably, racism is depicted as a difficult problem that most blacks had to go through and the effects are still present up to date. There is racism has led to a lot of vices because status is based on similar ideologies, culture, and level of education


Work Cited

Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” In Love & Trouble: Stories Of Black Women, Alice Walker, 1st ed., Harcourt Publishing, New York, 1973, pp. 314-321.