Identity through ‘Fate’

Throughout book three of Native Son, all I could think about was identity. So often in the world, identity is found through other people. In this story, we see Bigger identified through a white lens. Bigger was called a ‘Negro Rapist’, ‘jungle beast’, and a ‘grinning southern darky’. Throughout Native Son, we have seen Bigger be labeled as something that is bad by not just others, but himself as well. The news, which is run by white people, is using their voice to dehumanize Bigger, as well as the rest of the black community. Warning them that they are not meant to be there, with all of their ‘freedom’.

In today’s society, black people are still identified by others. The news tends to cast a shadow of doubt over black people no matter the reason they are on. During the peak of the BLM movement, I can recall when there would be a black person who passed away or did something good for the community and a mug shot would be shown instead of a normal photo of them. This is a real and current example of how black people can be portrayed for not themselves, but the community as a whole. In 2014 there was a song released called Don’t Shoot by The Game and featuring many other black artists. The song came out directly after the Trayvon and Mike Brown shooting. There is a lyric that describes the situation that happens in not only Native Son but also in the real world. The lyric reads ‘News say we’re looting, paint pictures like we some animals’. This was undoubtedly true. During the BLM movements, protests, and demonstrations, the news would show the bad parts of those events, not the peaceful aspect.

The point I am trying to make is the importance of how we view ourselves. From the time we are born, people put identities on each other. Be it girl or boy, or by race, people will always put a label on something to make their understanding of things simple and easy. That being said, I believe that this is all tying back to how Bigger’s mother told him she never wanted to have him. Since childhood, he has had the identity in his head of being useless and unwanted. So, in a way, I do wonder if his committing such an awful crime was simply due to an underlying cause of wanting attention.