Racism has been a very prominent issue most commonly between black and white people. Although it is the most known, it is not the only example of race discrimination. It occurs among other ethnicities and backgrounds of people also. Sometimes race can occur because of people’s views on things, such as religion, age, or even gender. In “The Wife of His Youth” racism and some forms of discrimination are present in the story, but surprisingly it isn’t one race against another. It is black on black racism, or more specifically the mulattos, having light skinned complexion, and the darker skinned blacks.
In “The Wife of His Youth,” there is an organization by the name of the Blue Veins who is supposed to be a society of “colored” people. “Its purpose was to establish and maintain correct social standards among a people whose social condition presented almost unlimited room for improvement. ” (The Wife of His Youth 624) Unfortunately, this group showed favor to those whose skin was lighter. Basically, they could pass off as white in society despite there being arguments that the complexion of the skin just was a coincidence and there was no favoritism being shown toward them.
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The first sign of racism I discovered was the actual name of the organization. “Blue Vein Society” in that time, would automatically suggest people who were a lighter complexion. In some white people, if they were pale enough, it would be possible to have seen there blue colored veins. The name itself is showing some types of discrimination, by suggesting to blacks of darker complexion that a requirement to even be considered for the group was to be light skinned. So, there was definitely racism because of the person’s color of skin.
The mulattos felt like there were more privileged because of their complexion and held a higher position then the blacks of darker complexion. The discrimination against the darker blacks brings up the issue of if there is racism within a race. I would say most definitely! Color did matter, especially to the mulattos. Mr. Ryder for example struggles with issue of accepting his slave wife despite her dark complexion. In the story, it is said “she looked like a bit of the old plantation life summoned up from the pasty by the wave of a magician’s wand. ” (The Wife of His Youth 627) When he irst considers not accepting her, it is because of her the way she looks and more specifically, her skin tone. That itself is an example of racism against your own race. It seems that mulattos were blessed and cursed. They were blessed because they could blend in easier with white society, but at the same time they had to decide was it worth turning their backs of the people of darker complexion who would already accept them as they are. “The Wife of His Youth” showed that racism could exist in other ways. In this case, it showed that there was racism and some discrimination against one’s own race.
The story depicted these images through the Blue Vein Society and some inner conflicts of Mr. Ryder. The Blue Veins having only mulattos in their group, and Mr. Ryder having to deal with his past. Racism still exists today, but it is not so out in the open. It comes in forms of one race against another, same race, religion, gender, and many other issues. Works Cited Chestnutt, Charles W. “The Wife of His Youth. ” The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Ed. Henry L. Gates and Nellie Y. McKay. 2nd ed. New York. 626-32.