The Entanglements of Cultural Victimization and Cultural Healing within the Dominant White Apparatus: Tayo in Leslie Silko’s Ceremony and Bigger in Richard Wright’s Native Son

Sameer M. Al-Shraah


The dominant white culture in the United States of America has always assumed the role of supremacy that victimizes other ethnicities and minorities and looked upon them as inferiors and unworthy of the privileges white people enjoy. Although the maltreatment of the Other-the non-white- differs from one ethnicity or minority to the other, it has always had sheer negative impacts on individuals as well as communities. This paper aims to show the victimization of African Americans as a community in America represented by the atrocity of Bigger and the victimization of Native Americans represented by trauma of Tayo. This paper will tackle the issue of victimization of the two communities-African American and native American-in general through the tough life journeys of the two protagonists of Richard Wright’s Native Son and Leslie Silko’s Ceremony and will try to show two different faces of maltreatment by the mainstream culture, but eventually same negative effects on both communities, African Americans and Native Americans. Thus, many Native Americans are subject to the mainstream culture instrumental policies that convince underprivileged ethnicities that they are integral part of the texture of the American society in time of national need. The irony is that such attitude is only meant to recruit non-whites to fight for the interest of the white supremacist apparatus. Silko eloquently displays patriotism and loyalty as the citizen who is eager and willing to fight and die for his people and country, and in that sense many Native Americans enlisted in the military so as to assert their masculinity. This, in fact, shows the negative effects of the pressure of white supremacist ideologies practiced against non-whites that they choose to act against their desires and choices in the hope that they will be accepted within the American social fabric. Finally, this paper explores some of the solutions available for the victimization and the atrocities of ethnic Americans, such as the communal support and the reconnection to one’s heritage and cultural roots to heal the damaged self-image and psyches of ethnic Americans.


Cultural Domination, Ethnicity, Identity, African American, Native American, Victimization, Heritage

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