Rachel and Racism

Angelina Grimké, via The Ubuntu Biography Project

It is a known fact that for decades African Americans were not treated with the respect nor the kindness that they deserved, solely because of the color of their skin. They faced countless acts of violence and harassment due to discrimination that was unfairly assigned. This discrimination still presents itself in society today, however it is only because of the many influential African American figures in history that society has evolved and begun to accept African American people as equals.  

One of these incredible figures is Angelina Weld Grimké, the writer of Rachel, a drama written in 1916 about the intense amount of hatred that African Americans face. It follows a young woman named Rachel, who has big dreams of helping children and raising her own someday. She is optimistic, nurturing, and upbeat until the reality of discrimination sets in and she realizes that her dreams are all too unrealistic. It is not only heartbreaking and extremely depressing, but also demonstrates the pain and torture that African Americans suffered through, even though they are just as human as any other human being.  

The reason Angelina Weld Grimké had such an impact on the world through her writing is because she took experiences that were unique to African Americans and turned them into influential art. Grimké grew up being told that as an African American woman, her life would amount to nothing, and she would be a housemaid and nothing more. This inspired Grimké to use her writing to express this oppression in an emotional context that would better communicate the inequality between African Americans and White Americans.  

However, unlike most African American influencers, Grimké didn’t approach the topic with an objective point of view with a statement of human rights and how humans should be treated. Rather, she appealed to the audience by simply taking an innocent woman’s life and describing in great detail what happens to that womans hopes and dreams when racism comes into the picture. The sadness and hopelessness the audience experiences leaves them in the shoes of an African American and causes a message of human rights and equality to ring in their heads for quite some time.  

America still has a lot of growing to do in regard to the rights of African Americans. This has especially been brought to the publics attention during this past year. But it is pieces like this and writers such as Grimké that allow this growth to occur and change closed minds into open hearts, without forcing hate or anger upon them. Grimké’s bravery on the subject of African American people’s journey in America will never be forgotten.