Racism and Discrimination

While recently, many people can agree that everyone deserves equal opportunity and rights regardless of race, color, and origin; this was not the case as near as three decades ago. The texts and films discussed below in this paper share a common theme, racism, and discrimination. Although discrimination has significantly reduced in recent times, it was more in the periods these books are based. Oppressive rights enacted by the discriminators were aimed to keep certain groups segregated with fewer opportunities. Therefore, this paper will look to discuss instances in the selected reference material that display cases of racism or segregation. By using quotes and relevant illustrations, the article will aim to show when such measures were used and the effects they had on the subjects. Additionally, the paper will demonstrate the harmful effects of these techniques.

Abina and the Important Men is a book based on court records from a West African case. A woman named Abina is wrongful sold into slavery and took her master to court to fight for her freedom. The theme of racism is evident as the book is based on a time when British colonialism in Africa was at its peak. Despite the abolishment of slavery more than thirty years prior, influential British landowners continued to exploit helpless Africans by enslaving them. As Abina attempts to explain her troubles to her lawyer, she says, ‘it was never about being safe. It was about being heard.’ This statement depicts how Abina did not care about her safety. She would instead prefer her message to be heard. The racism was so prevalent that getting physical harm was not an issue for her. Throughout her court cases, she has flashbacks of how she was mistreated. She remembers how ‘they held her down and cut her beads.’ Despite substantial evidence supporting her case, these ‘important men’ still manage to derail her attempts to search for freedom. Unfortunately, she does not lead to winning the case a second time after sheer determination and help from her trusted lawyer. It shows how, despite her apparent innocence, she still could not face a fair trial. It was because the judges of the trial were racist themselves and corrupt. The landowners were powerful; hence the judges were obliged to take heed to their claims. Abina faced a lot of suffering in her journey, at one point being described as someone with no history. She was traumatized by the experience faced, and her only wish was for her story to be known (Getz & Clark, 2016).

Born a Crime is a factual written by a South African, Trevor Noah, born and raised during the apartheid regime. Apartheid laws favored white supremacists and ensured that black communities were slaves and remained weak. Noah was born to a white father and black mother at a time when such marriages were punished by imprisonment. Due to the indiscretion in his birth, Noah’s father neglects him and opts to move in with his second wife. Noah’s mother is forced to hide him from the world, keeping him indoors for the majority of his early life. Noah goes on to say, ‘You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all’ to describe the racist measures in place. He also explains how the colonizers ‘forced’ their religion on the South Africans (Noah, 2016). The public-school Noah attends practices segregation as different races did not mingle. His light-skin appearance also puts him in a difficult predicament as he is unable to identify with a specific race. As he grows older, the apartheid regime ends, but the segregation continues. The primary effect on black communities is that they remained in poverty and crime rates soared. For example, Noah describes his grandmother’s area of Soweto as ‘designed to be bombed.’ He also claims the overturning of the apartheid system was called the Bloodless Revolution. It was because ‘very little white blood was spilled’ while ‘black blood ran the streets.’ Noah claims that the system was designed to show that race mixing was not a typical event (Noah, 2016).

For this reason, the regime feared that in case the races interacted more, it would derail their system as the races may help each other grow. Although the conditions faced in these times were often unbearable, Noah believes that they supported the black community lift themselves. An example is the black-market, although illegal, which provided food for many poor households.

Sarah Polley’s documentary called The Stories we Tell investigating her families’ secrets. Polley is born from extramarital affairs her mother, an actress, has with her director. This fact remains a secret to Polley until she realizes a few years after her mother dies. Polley’s mother dies when she is eleven, and she faces discrimination from her siblings at this time. She is segregated and ridiculed by her siblings, as it is evident from a young age that she does not resemble her mother’s husband. She was teased for years without knowing the fact that she was had a different father from her siblings. When she turns eighteen, she decides to discover the truth herself and attempts to uncover the identity of her birth father. Later, she finds her father’s identity as a director who had worked with her mother. As a young girl, the discrimination she faced helps shape her up to the woman she became. Hence, after her mother’s death, she is often lonely as she does not see eye to eye with her siblings. In school, her peers also followed the trend employed by her siblings. However, according to the documentary, she believes that the difficulties she faced played a part in making her character stronger and more resilient (Polley et al., 2013).

In conclusion, the racism and discrimination proved to have similar effects on their subjects. Some of them include lowering self-esteem, increased crime rates, and unequal opportunities to minorities. However, these cases provide a form of motivation to the citizens facing such conditions to be better. It also serves as motivation to the modern-day minority groups on how to deal with similar scenarios. Even though the cases of discrimination are not as evident as back then, they still exist. Therefore, these instances serve as an inspiration for minorities to work harder. Additionally, it shows oppressors to realize the significant consequences of their actions.


Getz, T. R., & Clarke, L. (2016). Abina and the important men: A graphic history. Oxford University Press, USA.

Noah, T. (2016). Born a crime: Stories from a South African childhood. Hachette UK.

Polley, S., Lee, A., Polley, M., Gulkin, H., Buchan, S., Buchan, J., … & MacMillan, R. (2013). Stories we tell.

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