The theme of the story, “The Bluest Eye” written by Toni Morrison, demonstrates the connection between the self-esteem of African-American people (beauty and ugliness), racism and hate. The reason why this theme is discussed was because, we can go back to the origins of African-Americans, it relates to the African diaspora, Jim Crow era, and how people negatively look at blacks today in society, and white supremacy destroyed black imaginary.
But before this goes on furthermore, the audience needs to understand the importance of the dominant society which strongly removed the identity of African-American. Claudia and Maureen play perfect roles during the story. They show examples of the comparison of a darker, and lighter-skinned woman, and most people look at “light skin” being better than the dark skin. As this continues, both black men and women need to learn to how to appreciate their appearance and not be taught what is wrong and right about African-American identity.
Before the enslavement of Africans, the ethnicity itself of the people was noted to be worthy, valuable, and rare. So that was why many Europeans came to specifically West Africa to capture the skilled Africans. West Africa was known for providing farmers, teachers teaching astronomy, mathematics, developing their own medicines, and also had the best architectures workers of the land. After Africans were being kidnapped, being brought to the new world, during the cycle of the middle passage, Africans were “seasoned” meaning to have their cultures erased with white practices.
They were taught that Africans were no longer Africans, now a slave, and will be enslaved to work on the plantations that they are sold to. It was a horrible process for Africans, after being kidnapped, beaten, separated from families, and sold into slave, it changed the whole mindset of Africans, and a bunch of new generations started during slaves, which were now “African-American” being finally born. As African-Americans were born into slavery, slave masters taught their slaves southern lifestyles, which made blacks look and sound ignorant.
Ever ince the dominant society (Europeans domination) negatively changed African and African-American’s identity and who they stand today in society, also slavery made blacks to hate their own people, history, cultures, and physical characteristics. So before people start to discuss the stereotypes of African-Americans, slavery, and reconstruction started the trend. As the Europeans domination of African-Americans was stated, “The Bluest Eye” includes ways in which different white beauty standards changes the lives of black people, especially black women.
Implicit messages that being white (meaning trying to fit with whites), is everywhere, leaning that white supremacy is good. First, the way it is demonstrated is that when Claudia got a white baby as a gift, she was comparing it to herself. She didn’t like it because, she looked down at her skin color. She was taught that white is better than black skin. Now with the idealization of Shirley Temple, the consensus that light-skinned Maureen is better looking than other black girls, the ideal of white beauty in movies that she’s sees, ands Pauline Breedlove’s preference for the little white girl she works for her daughter.
Adult women have learned to not like their own bodies, and teach this hatred to their children. Mrs. Breedlove shares that the conviction that Pecola is ugly, and lighter-skinned Geraldine curses Pecola’s dark skin tome. So Claudia remains free from this worship of whiteness, and she imagines Pecola’s unborn baby as in its blackness. The hint is that once Claudia reaches adolescence, she will learn to hate herself too. The person who suffers most from the white beauty standards is again Pecola.
She connects beauty with being loved and believes that if she possesses blue eyes, the cruelty throughout her life will be replaced by affection and respect. This hopeless desire leads to to a disaster, suggesting that the fulfillment of the wish for white beauty may be more tragic than the wish to impulse itself. Like white supremacy what introduced in the first paragraph, most of the African-American characters in the story have been taught to believe that whiteness is the paragon of beauty.
The characters are repeatedly being subjected to images of whiteness offered through movies, books, magazines, toys, and of course advertisements. Early into the story, Pecola gushes over Shirley Temple’s beauty, and later on Mrs. Breedlove spends her days at the movies admiring the white actresses, wishing she could be in their place. The association between beauty and whiteness pushes the idea of beauty beyond the body’s exterior, making it a signifier of one’s value and worth. Many characters in the book believe their beauty means who they are in society, community, and family.
In conclusion, to make this clear, it wasn’t only Europeans that kidnapped Africans during enslavement, also other Africans were forced by slave owners to capture their own kind. Slavery is the reason why African-Americans today look at themselves as low values and want to fit in with white people just to feel like they’re above, however, some white people still look down after changing their appearance to more whitish only because of their skin color. It is very sad to see a young African-American to not appreciate herself sue to a doll that was a different skin color than hers.
African-American men are practicing segregation (still today) with the mentally of a “house slave” and an “uncle Tom”. Also African-American women are willing to accept who they are. Many feel like their history, cultures, and people aren’t as valuable as European history. Despite of the negative and positive impacts of blacks, other ethnicities are falling into this category too. It is a dream to have everyone love who they are, learn not to hate, be prejudice, and unite as one nation in the United States of America.