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Racism in “The Black Table Is Still There” by Graham Essay

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Updated: Jan 3rd, 2022

The issue of racism has been, and will continue to be, discussed. Discrimination based on categories like color, tribe, language, among others, is evident even today and owing to its consequences, people have set out to address its cause and its probable remedies. Among these people is Lawrence Otis Graham. In his story, The ‘Black Table’ is Still There; Graham provides a reflection of his school life as an adolescent. He points out the kind of life that was depicted by his diverse schoolmates, some of whom were black, while others were white. The black table, as he calls it, is a table, that was and still is, present in his school’s cafeteria, that accommodated the black students only depicting no more than racism in schools. According to Graham, although efforts have all along been made to help fight against it, racial discrimination is still there and is everywhere and above all, it is not good. However, a working criterion, different from Graham’s, need to be put in place in order to fully arrest the issue, failure to which it will be out of control.

Graham points out the existence of racism. In his story, the ‘black table,’ as portrayed by his fellow black schoolmates is no more than racism. These students always met for lunch in groups which could be distinguished by the color of their skin. For this case, the table where the black students shared during their lunch break was referred to as the black table symbolizing racism among students. As his story unfolds, it is evident that it was not only the black table but also the Italian, Jewish, and Irish, among other tables. This is symbolic because all these tables depict the extension of racism. The different localities imply its spread around the world. Graham’s visit to his old school signifies a way of relating the racism during the past and the present. It is worthy noting that racism is still there, just like the table. Racism is not good as exposited below.

Though, a young student, Graham could not give a way to it. Instead, he tried to fight against it by all means even if it caused hatred from his racists’ students. For instance, Graham posits that, “I would never consider sitting at the black table” (Graham Para 7). This follows from his view of racism as bad and therefore need not to be accepted. I concur with him on this stand basing on the consequences that are attached to racism. First, it leads to the limitation of everything. It does not allow people of diverse language or colors to interact and as it is known, it is through interaction, that a lot of areas have been developed like the area of business and tourism. This is what Graham avoids. In fact, he says, “I was afraid that by sitting at the

Black table I’d lose all my white friends” (Graham Para 9), which implies that racism is a barrier to friendship creation. The more racist one is, the less the friends, and vice versa. However, Graham’s way of solving the racial problem is subject to criticism as expounded next.

Racism is a key barrier of development and for a person, conversant with this fact, like Graham, need not to single him/herself out of the racists as a way of solving the problem. This step is more of a problem than a solution because avoiding the racists does not imply the solution of racism. Graham claims that he cannot sit on the table of the blacks. He is ever with the whites showing how he hates racism but through this, is he helping the racists? Not at all, but exposing them to more racial problems. Instead, he ought to interact with them teaching them on how they need to interact with the rest like him, which does not deprive him of his stance as an anti-racist. This criterion stand out as a working solution which, once implemented, can help get rid of the black table and hence racism.

Works Cited

Graham, Lawrence. The “Black Table” is Still There. Longman Reader, 1991, 9th Ed.

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