African diaspora refers to the people living in Europe, Americas, Asia and Middle East who trace their origins to African continent. For the purpose of this work, African diaspora hereby discussed comprise of African Americans living in the United States. The Africans who live in the present day United States started migrating into the country in 15th century as slaves. They were sold as slaves in the Caribbean through the Triangular trade route. The slave trade, commonly known as Transatlantic Slave Trade, supplied much needed labor force to the rapidly growing industries in European colonies. Central America was specifically a strategic destination for slaves. As America industrialized and developed in the beginning of 19th century, slaves were sold to rich Europeans as cheap labor in industries. The industrial revolution in America saw a sharp rise in slave trade as slaves were needed in cotton farms in the South. By 1840, enlightened black people started the cry for emancipation of slaves. The cry eventually bred the abolitionist movement. American territories were divided over slave trade, resulting into secession of 34 Southern territories that supported slavery. This secession was the genesis of American Civil War that eventually gave birth to the United States of America. By the time USA was being formed, many slaves had been freed and became citizens. Later, many more African immigrated into the US to join their family members sold as slaves, and that is briefly how blacks came to settle in the US.
Richard Wright was an African American author who wrote many of his books with a racial theme. He published a collection of short stories titled Uncle Toms Children. Some stories in the collection are about his own life journey as a black young man coming face-to-face with racism in America. The first story in the collection is called The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch. In the story, Wright recounts of several episodes when he experienced ill-treatment levered against him or other blacks by whites. In the first encounter, he quarrels with two white friends and sustains deep cuts. In another episode, he gets his head bruised with whiskey bottle by two white men in a car. Although other stories are not about him, they are a representation of the life that black people led in the face of racist America. In Fire and Cloud, Black people experience a fair period of harmony until they plan demonstrations against whites. It follows therefore, that progress can only be seen when order and harmony are emphasized on. This paper is founded on the principle that black Americans have gradually developed socially and economically due to maintenance of a clear and balanced mindset.
In having a clear mindset, harmony and a state of balance are imperative for the African diaspora. Harmony can only be created if African Americans cultivate the aspect of golden mean. In philosophical terms, golden mean is the middle state between two directly opposite sides or extremes. In other words, its the central point between excess and deficit. In Aristotle ethics, the golden mean is represented as Eudemian ethics. Compiled by Aristotles friend Eudemia, Eudemian ethics emphasize of the virtue of goodness. In general, Aristotles ethics do not consider ones actions as the reflection of their ethics. Rather, they look at a persons ethics as a product of his actions (Krault). To exemplify Eudemian ethics, Aristotle provides that a technical worker knows what to do to avoid excess while at the same time preventing deficiency. Courage, according to Aristotle, is a balance between two extremities: cowardice and recklessness. A courageous person has fear to some degree and bravery to another. He knows when to run from danger and when to approach a challenge (Krault). Courage is a virtue and so is modesty. In other words, Aristotle considers all virtues as means or balances.
With regards to African diaspora, having a balanced mindset is the basic ingredient in their development since the 1900s. They have maintained moderation in many instances that provoked their anger. They have been subjected to extreme racial segregation but have approached the challenge with moderation it called for. Even in the story Fire and Cloud, Taylor, the protagonist Afro-American in the story, leads his people into moderation even in the hardest of times. Its only after the police capture and beat him up that he tells his son Jimmy Wes [sic] being waiting for too long, all we do is wait, wait we take everything they put on us! We take everything! Everything! (Wright 171). However, he restrains himself and his son from mounting a fight on the whites, since it could result to more bloodshed. Together with other members of his church, Taylor matches down the street only to find the support of white people in their demonstrations.
Christianity is seen in Fire and Cloud as the guiding principle in maintaining harmony in the black estate. Christianity finds its roots in the Bible. After the death of Jesus Christ, his disciples took up the task of spreading the gospel that Jesus Christ had started. These disciples plus their converts made up the Christian body. Since then, Christianity has seen many transformations to include Protestantism and Catholicism. Further, there are both Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians. Both types have a lot in common. Members acknowledge the presence of God in their midst, they pray simultaneously, dance to a common rhythm and sing simultaneously. Christians in a congregation are also led by one person who is the gospel minister. The congregation usually follows the direction of the minister in many aspects like partaking the Holy Communion and a myriad other social activities (Anderson 5). A similar ideology to Christianity is Communism. In Communism, people carry out daily activities in harmonious manner. They embrace togetherness and sharing. A communist society is characterized by collectivity. In addition, there is no class system and both the rich and the poor co-own communal property (Hatziprokopiou 1).
Christianity and Communism are seen as to work together and also antagonistically in BRINGING African emancipation in Fire and Cloud. In theory, both have overlapping doctrines. Christianity teaches that all people are created equal before God. Therefore, the rich and the poor in the society are entitled to equal rights of property ownership. On the other hand, Communism advocates for declassification of the society. All people, regardless of their wealth, are treated equally before the law especially in ownership of property. The people have equal powers to produce goods and gain political power in communist system (Hatziprokopiou 1). In Christianity, there is a source of moral reference upon which faithful base their ethical standing. Similarly, Communism is guided by certain doctrines endorsed by the framers of the ideology in the Soviet Union. However, there are marked differences between Communism and Christianity. Christianity does not collectivize people on any material ground. It only considers them equal as long as they are spiritually connected to Christ. On the contrary, Communism collectivizes people on the basis of material production and political power.
Fire and Cloud is one of the short stories in Uncle Toms Children. The plot begins with Reverend Dan Taylor nostalgic recall of the past. He drives on a gravel road looking over high rising buildings belonging to the white. He also thinks of tension that lurks in the air especially that a group of black communists, called the Reds is plotting to march against the white leadership of a town. When he approaches his home which doubles up as his church, his son Jimmy tells him that the Mayor and Cheifa Police are in the houses parlor waiting to see him (Wright 134). At the same time, Jimmy tells Taylor that a word has been given in the streets for blacks not to march because there would be trouble (p. 134). Taylor sends Jimmy to tell a group of black boys to avoid trouble. Jimmy also tells his father that Deacon Smith and other Deacons were waiting for him in the basement, while Hedley and Green were waiting for him in the Bible room. He makes a plan to get all the groups out of his home without them seeing each other.
Taylor opened the door of his church only to find a crowd of sorrowful believers. They tell him that they have been frogged into the church by the Mayor who sternly warned them against marching. He leads them into a lengthy prayer. Taylor goes to the Bible room to meet Hedley and Green who want him to have his name included in the demonstrations handouts. He refuses the request although his name could attract a mob of five thousands easily (Wright 142). He proceeds to the parlor to see Mayor who threatens him if the people continue marching. Taylor tells him that if the people were not hungry, they wont march. In another room, Taylor meets with church deacons including Deacon Smith to discuss about the marching. At the same time, a car pulls over the church compound and Taylor is forced into it by six white men. He is driven into a bush where he is thoroughly beaten.
On getting back home, Jimmy is infuriated by the actions done to his father and plots revenge. His father restrains home because it would lead to more bloodshed. May, Taylors wife, nurses his wounds while his brother Bonds enters the house with bandages all over his face. Bonds reports that his wife and children have been assaulted by white police. On getting to the church hall, Taylor finds that other members of his church have been assaulted too. Taylor lets his son form the people into a matching layout. They match down the street as the gathering swells up with black and poor white picketers. Mayor rushes towards Taylor and tells him to prevent his people from causing trouble. With confidence, Taylor answers: there ain gonna be trouble, yoh Honnah!(p. 179). As the crowd chants freedom songs, a baptism of joy swept his eyes and finally he says that freedom belongs to the strong (p 180).
Fire and cloud is the title of this story. The title is drawn from the Bible in the book of Exodus. When the children of Israel were moving from Egypt to the land of Canaan, they marched on foot day and night. And since they did not know the way, God led them by using a cloud during the day and a ball of fire during the night. Similarly, the blacks march down the street is symbolic of redemption. As the fat black woman sang so the sign of fire during the night, N the sign of cloud during the day, A-hovering over, As we journey on our way, the black congregation solidly marched past white police without fear. First, the people applied Christian teachingsin most of their activities. They were inspired by the children of Israel who embarked on a perilous journey in pursuit of freedom. The song gave them courage in the face of desperation. Wright used the title to imply that Christianity helped the blacks to remain peaceful, be courageous and to conquer oppression.
Taylor is the main character in the story. He has strong values that prove productive in the long run. He is modest in character, and knows how to work within his limits. He tells his son to avoid trouble at all cost. He knows that the whites were provoking them by keeping them off the streets. When he is tormented by the white police, he does not take revenge because he understands his limits. The blacks did not have an organized army, and even the Reds did not have a clear strategy of demonstration. Taylor comes out as a staunch believer of Christ. He uses the gospel to perpetually calm down his people who are very agitated to mount a resistance against the whites. He prevents this from happening, and perhaps saves many lives that could have been lost in the course of struggle.
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