The excerpt entitled "Shame" by Dick Gregory paints an accurate picture of the life of a typical black child, and how his family struggled just to survive. Gregory recalls a time in his life when he was in elementary school and the first time he felt "shame" in his life. This was especially painful for Gregory because Helene Tucker, the girl he liked, was present when he was humiliated in front of the entire class.
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One might think as a child Gregory never thought about the embarrassment of being in a relief program and having to go to the "Worthy Boys Annual Christmas Dinner", wear the same brown and orange mackinaw that many other black children at the time had to wear, or have a truck deliver food to him instead of going to the market because he didn’t have the money, however after his teacher exposed the truth about his lack of a father in front of his class, and more importantly Helene Tucker, the entire load of all the shameful things in his life fell upon him. Gregory was ashamed of not having a dad and having to live in poverty. He wanted to have the courage to go up to Helene Tucker and ask her to go on a "date" (even though he was young) and not feel embarrassed of being black and living on food found in the dumpster.
There are many things Gregory had learned from his experience as a child; the harshest thing is the cruelty of being singled out because of being black. Most likely if Gregory was not black then he wouldn’t have to be in a welfare program because his family would have been able to get a job easier and with higher pay. Gregory also learned that he was being taken advantage of by his teacher (making him clean the blackboard) and that from now on life would not be easy, because of his race and because he could now recognize all the shameful things in his life.
In Conclusion, "Shame" gives a good example of the hardships of growing up in the 1st half of the 20th century as a black child. It shows the humiliation a black person went through just because he is black or does not have a father. Lastly, it shows what one could learn about the cruelty of racism and how one might look beyond the exterior of a person and try to be aware of what they are feeling.
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