There's racism and then there's institutionalized racism. Here's the difference: regular old racism is like your brother saying that he could beat you at Monopoly any day, while institutionalized racism is like him rigging the game so that he always wins. There's the injustice of Jim Crow, which would have kept Sadie and Bessie Delany from sitting next to their grandfather on the bus. There's the Japanese internment camps created during WW2, which imprisoned American citizens without trial. And there's the countless subtle ways that classism and racism are enforced through backhanded laws and societal stereotypes. As with most things, Sadie and Bessie learn that living well is the best revenge—and boy do they live well.
Questions About Injustice
- Why are Jim Crow laws so strange to Sadie and Bessie as kids?
- In what ways is institutionalized racism used to hinder minority communities?
- Why are Manross and his fellow black veterans not accepted with open arms by white Americans?
- Why does Bessie become so involved in political activism?
Chew on This
Having Our Say highlights the irony of Jim Crow: that many white people had little ill will toward their black countrymen until the law said otherwise.
The greatest injustice faced by African Americans in Having Our Say is that they are not awarded a similar status to European Americans, despite having worked as hard (if not harder) for it.