The asks “What right do you have

The play Dutchman by Amiri Baraka takes place in 1964 during a significanthistorical time, the Civil Rights Movement.

The setting takes place on a NewYork subway train with two main characters: Clay and Lula. Clay is a well-dressedyoung African American male who gets interrupted on the subway train by a whitewoman named Lula. Lula begins to challenge and profile Clay’s image because of hisskin color. In fact, she asks “What right do you have to be wearing athree-button suit and stripped tie?” and states “Your grandfather was a slave;he didn’t go to Harvard.” Dutchmanshows representations of the struggle of inequality, racism, and violenceduring the Civil Rights Era.  Dutchman also shows a biblical allusionto Adam and Eve. To begin with, Racial inequality is “a disparity inopportunity and treatment that occurs because of someone’s race” (

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)Racial inequality began before the Civil Rights Movement but didn’t get wide recognitionuntil leaders in this era began to speak out. Some of these leaders were MartinLuther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Andrew Goodman. A good film andsecondary source that provides more information of this time is PBS’ “Eyes ofthe Prize”. It’s an older documentary series that analyzes the struggle forcivil rights. It also includes secondary sources of interviews, essays, andmilestones of survivors who lived through the era.

Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman relates to inequality with theremarkable statements she makes to Clay. Lula states: “Everything you say iswrong. That’s what makes you so attractive. Ha. In that funny book jacket withall the buttons.

What’ve you got that jacket and tie on in all this heat for?And why’re you wearing a jacket and tie like that? Did your people ever burn witchesor start revolutions over the price of tea? Boy, those narrow-shoulder clothescome from a tradition you ought to feel oppressed by.” Lula makes theseharassing uncalled statements to Clay because she has more opportunity and sayso as white woman. All African Americans went through this same struggle untilthe U.S. Supreme Court declared the “separate but equal” doctrine.             Furthermore,racism was another problem during the time when Amiri Baraka wrote Dutchman.

Racism is the thought of beingsuperior over another race, which Lula showed towards Clay. Lula is constantlyharassing Clay on the subway and at this point in the play, she is makingcomments about taking her out to a party. After the talk about the party, shestates: “I lie a lot. It helps me control the world.” She is clearly in controlof the conversation because she’s a white woman. Lula says: “I told you I lie.I don’t know your sister.

I don’t know Warren Enright.” She continues to takeadvantage of Clay simply because she could. A famous example of racism would beRosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. This occurred inAlabama in 1955 on a bus.

Montgomery had a policy of having a reserved sectionfor whites in the front and blacks could be in the back. However, it was okayfor the bus driver to ask an African American to move for a white to have aspot. This is what happened when Rosa was on the way home from work and sherefused to move. Rosa lost her job due to this and the black society decided toboycott. “Over the next half-century, Parks became a nationally recognized symbolof dignity and strength in the struggle to end entrenched and racial segregation”( I found a great secondary source that flows with her arrest. Thinglink.

comcontains historical pictures of Newspaper’s that has Rosa Parks arrest in 1955and segregation. I hope one day our society can look past skin color and loveequally. Secondly, Violence and hatred occurred very frequently towardsblacks. However, in Dutchman Clayturns violent towards Lula after all her disgusting comments.  Clay “slaps her as hard as he can, across themouth, Lula’s head bangs against the back of the seat. When she raises itagain. Clay slaps her again.

” Lula says: “You fool!” and then he pushes heragainst the seat saying “I’m not telling you again, Tallulah Bankhead! Luxury.In your face and your fingers. You telling me what I ought to do.” He finallystands up for himself although that was very looked upon during this era. Ithink he had a bunch of courage to do this and attempt to stop the violence andhatred towards blacks. This goes back and reminds me of the other historicalleaders who did the same such as Martin Luther King Jr.

Together we can allmake a difference if we stand up for what is right. Nextly, I’m a firm believer in Christ and it caught my eye tofind that there’s a biblical allusion to Dutchman.I didn’t see the allusion at first until I read it on http://hkkamboj366.blogs. allusion is an indirect reference that can be in all pieces of workincluding a speech, text, song, or poem. Dutchman’sallusion refers to Adam & Eve out of the bible. Clay represents theimage of Adam as he is easily influenced and tolerates Lula. Lula is the representationof Eve who gets to him very easily and brought out his violence towards her. Lulaalso represents Eve because she spends the whole entire play luring Clay toher. This is significant because Eve forces Adam’s life to an end by making himleave the Garden of Eden.

            To end with, Dutchman was a well written play that everyone should read! It waswritten in a significant time, the Civil Rights Era. Amiri Baraka made merealize how life was for African Americans. Blacks went through harshtreatments and hatred including inequality, racism, and violence. Althoughthings have changed drastically for colored people in society, I believe we shouldcontinue working on uniting and bring discrimination and violence to an end.



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