The constraints described in “The Invisible Man” imply we live in a country that is divided by race, ethnicity, religion and class (prejudices towards differences). A person’s life is then heavily shaped around these perimeters. Some in the minority unfortunately try to deny these barriers to entry of the American elite by ignoring warnings and repressing past and present disparities and replacing them with hope. This behavior is brought forth by the natural defiance of a human to not be made believe that he is inferior, and from the confusion between the meanings of the laws of desegregation and social integration. The story of the Invisible Man describes the hardship and reality this path leads an African American, and in reality to many Minority-Americans.
The first thing our reading points out is how divided Americans are and the reasons. The most basic fact is that the majority of American citizens are white of European ancestry. As in any other country, the majority rules. In this country the majority also enjoys the contributions of their minority (from slaves to modern sweat shops, to the front lines of war, music, sports, etc). To keep receiving these benefits laws are set that enable for such activities to occur. Americans will bend over backwards when some economic or political interest is made relevant to them (WTO’s real intentions for example).
However, it is taboo for a white person to assimilate into a minority culture making minorities non-American. Since 1607 whites have been melting together and have homogenized the American way of life. The laws for the American way of life place the Northern Europeans on the top with all other whites under them, then all other minorities and last the black man. This can be seen throughout all of our business and political establishments.
Minorities are still urged to give it their best, but their best in never respected. Even when blacks or other minorities make it into political positions of prestige, they must always watch their backs and be careful not to be discharged for not conforming.
If minorities, especially blacks, do decide to conform, whites ridicule them further. They are not treated with the same comradery or given access to memberships of facilities that foster the most successful of Americans. They are psychologically abused by being made feel that they are doing the right thing but not good enough. Examples of achievements by other blacks are hung before them. But when they make it, they realize that there is nothing for them. All other races also ridicule the conformant. They label him a sell out and a hypocrite. The African-American is then put into a no-win situation.
Unlike other minorities blacks born in America do not have a culture to fall back on, be proud of, and call their own. There is a missing link between the African and the black born in America. White Americans do not have a culture, but they pretend to have one by flaunting their power, money and possessions. The African American was denied the practice his own African culture during the time Africans first arrived in this country. Then there were hundreds of years of attempts to assimilate into the American culture, which increasingly burned the bridge to Africa. Today they are told that they do not have a culture unless poverty is considered one, or that what they do practice is not a socially acceptable culture (by whites of course). This leaves blacks in America nowhere. All blacks in America have to call their own is the horrifying memories of their ancestors within the last three hundred years. All they have to look forward to is the continual destruction of their race in America. In the end, the black middle class is made to feel invisible, as if they do not exist. And the poor black class is looked at as the enemy of our America.
Our forefathers tried to warn blacks, but the passages of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments have confused many into thinking that whites do want to assimilate ( just not all of them). Unfortunately there is a misconception about these laws. These laws are desegregation laws, not social integration laws. But because they did not say, they were viewed as the ticket to being American. But recent hate crimes tell the truth.
Many whites today do not consider themselves racist. They feel that they are equal and fair. But they are blind. Their upbringing has systematically taught them that they have unspoken privileges and that they must always protect them. Until they are willing to admit that they are racist and that they must do something, the equal distribution of power to all races and ethnicity’s will not occur. The United States tells the world it stands for freedom and equality. But we know that the unspoken truth is that their will always be a barriers to education, access to capital and economic freedom for blacks and minorities.
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison