At the Dark End of the Street Book Review

The problem of racial discrimination is a cornerstone for many American authors. At the dark end of the street is a critical look about the African-American movement for equality and legal status during the Jim Crow system in the United States. The author Danielle L. McGuire describes the history of the real struggle of the national minority for equal rights between the black population and the white Americans. Moreover, many American authors devote their works are to this subject. At the same time, most of them focus on the achievements of outstanding personalities of that era, Martin Luther King Jr., for instance. In turn, McGuire chooses the history genre to tell the stories about ordinary African-American women who suffered from violence in daily life. Exactly, these women made a significant, yet unvalued contribution to the fight against racial discrimination in the US.

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In her work, McGuire describes the women’s role in the struggle for the rights of national minorities through the prism of the sexual aspects of racism. Many contemporary researchers of racial discrimination has forgotten or ignored this part of unfair treatment. The author states that African-American women were often victims of violence by white men. Thanks to such practices, the white population declared its advantage over the African-Americans. For instance, the description starts with the story about Recy Taylor, a 24-year- old woman, where seven armed white men kidnapped her and then six of them raped her. The woman’s destiny was brutal; however, this case lead to Rosa Parks’s involvement into the investigation. The author describes this case as a crucial point in organization of women’s civil rights movement. In fact, it is rather difficult to perceive the stories described in the book, especially those that tell of the African-American woman’s beating in the police, or group violence, which was an absolute reality at that time. However, precisely these stories affirm the African-American women’s exceptional role in the struggle for equal civil rights of all the US residents.

McGuire’s work is a narrative story of women who somehow take part in the resistance movement of the Jim Crow system. There were those women among them who spoke in defense of rights (such as Rosa Parks), as well as those who were victims of violence (for instance, Recy Taylor). The achievement of this work is an open description of the facts because the author is not ashamed to say unsightly truth about the white Americans’ attitude to African-American women. For example, one of the stories tells about the situation with Ella Ree Jones, an African-American student, who refused to stand up and let a white man sit down in a bus. Despite the fact that the girl was sitting in the back of the bus, as it should be under the existing rules of those times, the bus driver still reported the situation to the police. The police took the girl into custody and beat her seriously, which was a common practice at that time. Telling similar stories, McGuire not simply speaks about the statistical data. The author on real examples rather shows the trends of discriminatory policies against women, thereby asserting their exceptional role in the struggle for civil rights.

McGuire’s book is noteworthy because the author, unlike the ideologists of the movement for American citizens’ equal rights, did not choose the ‘right’ personalities. McGuire took into account women who undergo unfair treatment, regardless of their financial or social statuses, which is generally not typical of other authors. For McGuire, it was important to show the truthfulness and African-American women’s open suffering, and not create a revolution ideal to imitate the descendants. This approach captures the book. After all, the historical realities of the civil rights movement closely interweave with the ordinary women’s real stories, which nevertheless played a significant role in building a modern American society. This approach is important not only because women deserve to be a part of the story, but also because women were extremely important for that particular period in the American history. Women more often used public transport, so this demonstrates that they were more likely to face discrimination problems in everyday life. . Thus, ignoring women’s role in the struggle for civil rights is not possible.

Another merit of McGuire’s work is the interviewing of women who have been victims of sexual violence or other types of racial discrimination. Therefore, the author tells personal stories, and provides photographs of African-American women, many of whom are still alive. Using such an approach, McGuire emphasizes that these women are real, and they have contributed to the struggle for equal rights for themselves and their descendants, which means they deserve the public’s attention and a free voice in history. Of course, the African-American male partners shared all the hardships of their women’s situations. Therefore, in general, McGuire tells an objective history of the movement for civil rights without creating an image of African-American women’s sacrifice.

At the same time, there are some drawbacks in the book At the dark end of the street. For example, the fact that the African-American women’s role in the civil rights movement has been somewhat leveled largely, corresponds to the trend of general female discrimination that characterized the American society of the time. However, the author does not criticize the general public attitude to the women’s role. The author also avoids male leaders’ criticism of the African-American movement; in fact, everyone has forgotten many of the African-American women’s names because of them. Despite the fact that the book aims for affirming the exclusivity of the African-American women’s role, the author nevertheless does not openly criticize the perpetrators of the women’s leveling both in general and in individual cases.

Another drawback of the book lies in the author’s somewhat ambivalent attitude toward the factor of the African-American’s freedom. Therefore, McGuire argues that African-American women were the white men’s property, and did not have the right to dispose of their own body. This attitude prompted women to struggle for liberation from dependence on the whites. At the same time, this approach seems somewhat ambiguous because African-American women were initially free and independent, but then their right for freedom disappeared. This means that women were not objects by nature, since they were born as free people in not free conditions. McGuire does not succeed in a truthful description of this fact, and therefore after reading the book, it seems that the author takes an African-American woman’s dependence on a white man as a given.

Nevertheless, the book At the dark end of the street should definitely be recommended for reading. McGuire’s work is an exclusive effort aimed at justifying the African- American women’s role in the fight against racial discrimination and equal civil rights. The criticism of the book is clearly superior to its positive factors. McGuire tells that the movement would hardly have achieved a success, but for the ordinary women’s exceptional stories. Thanks of McGuire’s work, these women, who suffered deprivation of the right to vote, now finally got their rights in history.