Donald Goines Black Girl Lost (1973) and Nathan McCall’s Makes Me Wanna Holler (1994) are two works written by male authors who have first hand knowledge about the African American experience. A difference between the two works is that McCalls story is an autobiography of his life growing up in the streets/ghetto and Goines is a fictional story about growing up in the streets/ghetto, but from a young black female perspective. Although Goines Black Girl Lost is not an autobiography, he and McCall share similar struggles and hardships in their backgrounds that give them the motivation to write about the black experience. Both authors have been praised for the “realism” in their writing (Lamb 1997,OCAAL 1997). Goines has been specifically recognized by critic Greg Goode, for his “ghetto realism” w/o glamorization (OCAAL 1997).
Black Girl Lost (Goines 1973) and Makes Me Wanna Holler (McCall 1994), both give a voice to the African American minority. The African American and minority themes: “The Dream” and “Choice / Self Determination” are very significant in the two texts. The right choices have to be made and one must continue to have self- determination in order to reach “The Dream”. In the two texts, both characters make plenty of good and bad choices and continuously try to have self- determination in order to achieve “The Dream”, but their choices and determination led the characters to very different places. There are three variables that may not cause, but can contribute to the African American not being able to achieve “The Dream” by causing conflict in their choices and self- determination. The three variables are: family and friend environments, individual needs and anxieties, and low motivation among minority members. Some of the variables are causes and consequences of prejudice
Comparing Social Class in Baby of the Family and Black Girl Lost
Social Class in Baby of the Family and Black Girl Lost
Socioeconomic indicators such as education, income, and occupation are measures of social class (Social World). The novels Baby of the Family (Ansa, 1989), and Black Girl Lost (Goines, 1973) are examined to determine the intricate role one’s environment plays in dictating the type of life one leads. “The class you are born into and raised in, class is your understanding of the world and where you fit in. It’s composed of ideas, behavior, attitudes, values, and language . . .” (Social World). The contrast will analyze the affect assimilation, resistance, and the environment has on social ranking.
“Ratios of people of color, as well as women, are often much lower in socioeconomic status” (Social World. In Black Girl Lost, Goines’ Sandra is born to a dysfunctional family in dismal surroundings. She is a product of a single parent home of which is headed by her mother, Sandie. According to research, women who are heads of single parent homes tend to incur increased stress, lack of social support, and financial strain (Social World). These factors could be arguably what drove Sandie to retreat into alcoholism. It is the common belief that the environmental situation one is born into is replicated. Sandy desperately avoided any comparison to her mother to dispel the cycle. “I just don’t like for anyone to call me Sandie. That’s my mother’s name, and I don’t want to use her name no way” (Lost 31).
In Baby of the Family, Ansa’s Lena, the youngest child of a middle class family, is born into a life of privilege with all the advantages of wealth. The novels contrast by giving an account from either side of the spectrum; growing up privileged verses gr…
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… that one is born into greatly affects social class in society. The strong contrasts between Lena and Sandra’s situation show how assimilation calls for the abandonment of old lifestyles and conformity to the mainstream ideals. Environmental surroundings, ethnicity, birth, and the degree of assimilation all affect where one will end up in regards to socioeconomic ranking.
Goines, Donald. Black Girl Lost. Los Angeles, California: Holloway House Publishing Company, 1973.
Ansa, Tina McElroy. Baby of the Family. San Diego: Harcourt Brace