Praying for Sheetrocks subject is racial discrimination. Already with the thesis, there is racial tension that is being described by the author (Greene, 99). As the author says Before the whites came, before the blacks came, the Indian elderly must have sat, relishing in memory their fine moments, inwardly reveling, just as today, on high, small concrete balconies overlooking the Florida beach, American elderly people sit on foldout aluminum chairs and look to the horizon from their high perches, while the ocean wind ruffles their hair.
In the coastal beauty of McIntosh County, Georgia, which were isolated, lived rural residences who were black. They sustained quality that apparently lacked municipal services, which was actually basic. They even lacked lucrative employment ten years after the establishment of the Civil Rights Movement. There is a point of racial discrimination that is trying to be proved. Reading about the residents experiences, especially those who were often courageous, stubborn and uneducated Thurnell Alston is an experience that is eye opening.
Thurnell made efforts to gain equal rights. These efforts began when he was just a young boy. This was followed by many pleas to help in the plantation during the rainy seasons; Sheriff Tom Popell ignored them and during that time many blacks were not working due to lack of employment and even the families were starving. Tom Popell was very unsympathetic because he assumed that the only way you can control the Negroes was to keep them hungry. From that point, Thurnell began to keep track of the attacks on his dignity, and that of his community, against the time that he would be capable of action (Greene 103).
The racial tension, which was at that moment prevailing in McIntosh County is evident in a way that many white and blacks that were living in that community knew each other at that particular time due to the strong ties that they had with their ancestors. Most of those whites were the descendants of the owners of the plantations and most of the blacks were direct descendants of the slaves who used to work for the whites in their plantations. The author notes that when angry groups of blacks and whites faced each other, everyone would know everyone elses name and addresses, and know their mamas. For such a community that is related very closely, it is seemingly surprising to find out that the majority of the whites and the blacks spent their time in segregation from each other. They lived lives which were untouched by cultural and social changes that had actually spread the whole of America between the 1950s and 1960s (Greene 106).
Thurnell at the age of 26 was appointed to be the first ever black union steward after he had complained to the management of his employer that he had discrepancies in the black and white situation..he felt himself a man among mena novel sensation to him, given his race, his poverty and his youth. He then became a county commissioner. His pursuits were of equality in the local government. A number of young lawyers who had been legally aided, and who apparently were white came to support his course. The agency of legal aid inspired the awakening in politics of the rural community. This led to the complete abolishment of the courthouse legislative system, which was gang dominated by the sheriff. His political clique that was also corrupt was broken up, For most of this century, there was a strange racial calm in the county, consisting in part of good manners, in part of intimidation, and in part because the sheriff cared less about the colors black and white than he did about the color green, and the sound it made shuffled, dealt out and re-dealt, folded and pocketed beside the wrecked trucks and inside the local truck stop, prostitution houses, clip joints and warehouse sheds after hours. (Greene 111).
The county began living off rackets that included drugs and at that point, both Thurnell Alston and the sheriff were trapped in sting operations that were Federal, separately. According to a restaurant owner, the benevolence of the sheriff is described: if you werent careful, hed be your best friend. The sheriff who was white was able to talk his way out of the issue but apparently the commissioner who was black, Thurnell Alston was put behind bars and that was the end of him. Nevertheless, in the making, there was a revolution that was legal. The young lawyers could now awaken the community by giving them copies of the Constitution. They even helped in the revision of the selection system of the jury and procedures that are opened to elect blacks to the education board. The city was redrawn by them and even the county voting districts so that freely chosen black men could attain office countrywide in more than a century (Greene 113).
In this imaginative work of nonfiction the author concludes; Of course, it is not enough, but it is a beginning. The descendants of the Scottish settlers start to view the descendants of the African slaves not as aliens in their midst, and not as white servants, but as neighbors, colleagues, partners, fellow Americans (Greene 115).
The author is successful in proving her thesis all through the story. It is evident that even almost at the end of the story, where two official leaders are arrested by the Federal operations; the one who was white was able to talk his way out of trouble, while the other one who was black, with the same offence was put behind bars. That is evidence of racial discrimination as the case was treated under that basis. On the other hand, which is a positive note, the thesis of the author is not fulfilling as eventually, all the communities, regardless of race, can now live together among each other and do almost everything together. They now interact; work together and there is equal treatment amongst all of them. There is hope of something better, as gone are the days of racial discrimination.
I liked the book as it is a real account of the life and the struggle in a place that is tiny. First, the characters of the very remarkable book are like those of Faulnerian. I think the book is also stylish as Greene is able to catch the pitch of a certain voice, the heat that is simmering and the tension of the human contact which is different. Though, she also captures the unity which is essential of the human experience of this beautiful in an insidious manner, treacherous land having its own history that is both bloodstained and docile.
Greene, Melisa F. Praying for Sheetrock: A Work of Nonfiction. 1991. Print
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