Ernest Gaines has roots of five generations of Black rural Louisiana sharecroppers and he has been studying their stories from their oral traditions his whole life. In this novel, he uses a creative narrative style where he allows numerous characters tell their own 80 year life story about the racism that they and their ancestors endured. One must remember, after 250 years of slavery, Black people got what after the Emancipation Proclamation? Absolutely nothing and a lot of negative treatment such as lynching, virtual slavery through sharecrop exploitation, brutality, and 24/7 humiliation and persecution for the next 150 years. Gaines mostly stayed away from dealing with Whites in his novels Catherine Carmier and In My Father’s House, but in this novel he lays it all out. Today’s conservative right-wingers pretend that the only reasons Blacks have huge poverty and unemployment rates is because they are unwed, lazy, and genetically possess low IQ’s. Gaines presents other causes in this novel.
I have enjoyed reading several of Gaines' books recently. They provide a keen insight into racism from the black point of view. In "A Gathering of Old Men", a group of elderly black gentlemen, beaten down all their lives by systemic racism, rise up and become men in a stirring act of defiance.
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