Racism and Sexism are two issues that I believe affect everyone in life today and should be dealt with. A great film that exemplifies the injustices of Sexism and Racism that African American women faced in the early 1900’s is The Color Purple. Alice walker, through her film The Color Purple, encapsulates the lives of a African American female prior to the Civil Rights Movement.
Describing female empowerment, The Color Purple illustrates the domestic violence that women from the south would have to face. Walker illustrates the film through Celie, who from a very young age faced constant obstacles until she speaks up against the injustices with the moral and physical support of her friends, who happen to be other women living through the same hardships. Walker’s film provides an insight of a unpleasant, but realistic account of the lives of poor black women from the south with a sad and abusive past. Celie writes about the misery of childhood incest, physical abuse, and her loneliness through her letters to God (Zare & Ataeiniya). The discrimination based on a person’s sex, with attitudes based upon the beliefs of stereotypical roles of sexes is classified as sexism. Not only is it a issue on one’s individual attitudes, but it has begun to be ingrained into all institutions of society. In the past, men had boundaries that were firm to define their role because of their sex, in order so that they could keep them within the well respected category of masculinity.
Women also had boundaries, and in the 1920’s in the south,women knew that their place in life was to cook and clean, and to keep mind to the men. As Cheung said, “some of these women are moreover, thrice muted, on account of sexism, racism, and a tounglessness, that results from prohibitions or language barriers” (Cheung, 163). Women were denied masculine powers, as they were forced to tend to domestic services, and serving others. Black women however, were not only supposed to tend to men, but also to white women because of the issue of racism.
Prior to the civil war slavery may have come to an end, but the issue of racism was nowhere near its end. In the film, we see the stereotypes of the Old Southern Life upon seeing Celie, being raped and abuse by her father at the age of fourteen. She had multiple children, but her father would take them away from her.
Later on in her life, since she was the “ugly daughter”, she sold off to a man called Mr. We see the stereotypes because we are allowed to see how women were limited to just house chores like we talked about in class. This relates to the Ted Talks we saw about feminism, and also to the most previous presentation we had towards feminism.
In the film, these stereotypes are deeply emphasized as Mr. is the man to go out and work all day and Celie must stay at home and tend to house chores. Mr. depicts the greatest male stereotype of all by being a very violent and abusive man with Celie. Throughout the film we see Mr. abuse and take advantage of Celie. Racism is the belief that some races are essentially, superior to others and therefore have a right to dominate them. In the United States, racism, particularly by whites against blacks, has created profound racial tension and conflict in virtually all aspects of American society.
Until the breakthroughs achieved by the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, white domination over blacks was institutionalized and supported in all branches and levels of government, by denying blacks their civil rights and opportunities to participate in political, economic, and social communities. So, blacks had a general sense of fear when it came to whites in the South. In the film, Walker displays the racism that black women in the south endured, such as when Harpo’s wife, Sofia, gets asked to clean a house by the white mayor’s wife.
The mayor then slaps Sofia for her comment, and she punches him. She is beaten by white people to where they cracked her skull. By the end of the novel; however, Celie breaks all traditions and stereotypes of blacks and women of the time period by opening her own pants business and living independently.
Though Walker did not directly face the gender and racial prejudices of the 1920’s, mid-century life taught Walker many life lessons which she never forgot, and later described in her writing. Growing up, Walker’s parents taught Walker to reach for her dreams and never give up hope of achieving them. The Color Purple deals with Celie aspiring for great goals similar to Walker: self-respect, pride, and success. Walker’s parents instilled in Walker the ability to choose her own path in life, and to make of it what she wanted.
Later to write about the fictional character Celie in The Color Purple, Walker portrays her young childhood dreams through Celie’s free-minded and ambitious character. At first, Celie mentally isolates herself, and reveals her fears, hopes, and emotions solely to God through her daily prayer. Celie believes through religious introversion and keeping secrets from her husband, her life will improve and she will better herself, her lifestyle, and find happiness.