Study Guide

Having Our Say Foils

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Throughout Having Our Say, we are shown two different approaches to dealing with racism. Let's call them "Good Cop, Bad Cop."

The "Good Cops" are those who prefer to beat racism through exceptionalism. This is a humble approach, focusing on education, accumulation of wealth, and community support. You can count Sadie and Henry—along with political figures like Booker T. Washington—as die-hard "Good Cops."

"Bad Cops," on the other hand, are those who aren't willing to put up with injustice. While "Good Cops" might be willing to ignore discrimination in the hopes of moving past it, "Bad Cops" refuse to be the type of person "who would let white people push him around" (5.21.21). We'd label Sadie and Nanny as "Bad Cops"—W.E.B. Du Bois is a great example of a political figure who takes this approach as well.

As we've learned from every Law and Order episode ever, you have to have both a Good Cop and a Bad Cop to make a difference in the world. On one hand, education is quite possibly the most important part of the growth of a community. On the other, you'll never stop being pushed around unless you stand up for yourself every once in a while. To his credit, Henry realizes this, saying, "We need leaders like [Du Bois], he is good for our people. But we can't all be like him" (5.21.20).

Although there's a great deal of tension between these two viewpoints within Having Our Say, both are necessary for the growth of the black community.

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