Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Big Smoke & the Anisfield-Wolf Award

[The Big Smoke reading group]   



Earlier in the year, Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke was honored as an Anisfield-Wolf Award recipient. The Anisfield-Wolf Awards "recognize books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and human diversity."

Question: based on what you've read in The Big Smoke so far, what's one notable thing about the book that assists with understanding "racism" or "human diversity"? Why or how so?

 Basically, we're trying to think and write through some of the ways that the selection committee for the Anisfield-Wolf Award may discussed and then ultimately awarded Matejka's volume of poetry.

25 comments:

Isaiah Person said...

i think they looked at his book because when bear gardens started loosing their popularity they turned to colored fighting for Entertainment. They were forced to fight so that they could eat, if they didn't fight they'd starve.

Ricky Wells said...

One notable thing about the book is the "naming". Throughout the book Jack Johnson is called anything and everything, but his name. I find that being racism, because to me they didn't recognize him as an equal.

Ricky Wells

Deonte Young said...

Throughout the book it showed how it was to be black and famous. and with this new found fame he was still discriminated against

Joshua Bowens said...

I feel like in a sense Adrian Matejka embraces human diversity.He paints a picture of how Jack Johnson is portrayed as this " African American superstar" who dates and uses "trailer park trash" Caucasian girls at his dispense and it's okay. But, during this time period interracial couples where unacceptable, but where made acceptable because of who Jack Johnson was.

Christian Watts said...

The issue of labeling was one great area Adrian Matejka conveyed to readers as far as racism. Blacks as a whole were never innocent. The best example, is shown in the poem chicken and other stereotypes, where the crew was innocent and had proof but the police knew in their heart because they saw black, they were guilty.

Christian Watts

Xavier Robinson said...

I noticed how the racism he received progressed as he became for successful. As black men we have to face all the odds to become successful. When we do we receive the worst criticism. This all is tied back into how much racism Jack Johnson received because being a successful black man is a threat to society.

Phillip Goens said...

I noticed that thought the book Adrian Matejka showed a lot of discrimination because of the way he wrote this book. Also how he described the book, he takes a 1 person look, at how being a successful black man can be a danger to society. This is how he showed some problems that were caused in Jack Johnson’s life. As the book goes on he starts to relate to the “race” issue more.

J.Shaw said...

Adrian Matejka made the realization of human diversity and racism very clear in his book with Jack Johnson dealing with the issue of being famous yet black. Often times famous people are viewed as perfect with no problems but in all actuality they are just like every other individual. Yes Johnson was famous, but he still had to deal with racism like all other blacks during this time period; and I believe the many examples used were good representations of how racism and human diversity should be understood.

Robert F said...

This book made me actually realize how much blacks are being discriminated against. I mean, I feel like most people know discrimination exist, but they do not know the extent it is carried at. In a way, this book logs multiple occasions where discrimination takes place, and that itself is eye opening.

Robert F.

Anonymous said...

Lucas Reincke said...

One important quality of that this book highlights is how people of color have such an uphill battle to face with the society norms of racial segregation and disenfranchising an entire ethnic group just because of the color of their skin and not taking into the account of the quality of their character.

Dross84 said...

In the poem "Chicken and other stereotypes" it talks about how an officer of the law pulled Johnson over because he is black and the officer is under the assumption that blacks love chicken so he thinks he stole a chicken which he didn't. This is racism because he believes he is a thief and likes chicken because he is black

Jelani Brown said...

In my opinion I think the one notable thing that shows racism in this book is how it's told. The book is told by the person who is dealing with the racism since Matejka wrote it as a man being treated as if he were a mindless predictable animal.

Elijah Person said...

In the book, The Big Smoke, there are multiple accounts of discrimination toward Johnson. Matekja's sook of poems shows how white people would not fight with Johnson due to fear of losing to an African American. He helped to educate his readers on the racism that many people over look everyday.

Jamal Sims said...

One facet of the book that I found notable in understanding racism is the name calling of Jack Johnson. In this poem, Jack Johnson was one of the world's best fighters during his time and yet did not receive the respected he deserved and earned. He was called many degrading names and was even compared to an animal. The "Black Beast" is an example.

Jeremiah Blackburn said...

One notable thing about racism in the book is the fact that Jack Johnson refers to himself as the "Negro heavyweight champion." I feel like this is racist because he doesn't consider himself the overall champion. Instead he separates himself from the fighters of other races.

Trion T. said...

One notable thing or poem rather, that assists with understanding racism is "Chicken and Other Stereotypes." There are so many negative stereotypes associated with being black, and they haven't changed even since Johnson's time. Even when people say that African Americans are good at sports, its still a bash at us. Such a poem gives rise to the notion that these kinds of stereotypes, for all races, will go on quite possibly forever.

Deandre Howard said...

The book showed extensively how race effected expectations and perceptions--a primary theme in the book.

-DeAndre H.

jingolder said...

The book shows racism in all aspects of life, and gives you a look into a black man's life growing up in a racist world. It gives you a great look at how cunning a black boxer had to be to become successful in that time.

Tyler Johnson said...

Race was a central theme throughout this book, prevalent in virtually every scene and in every characters life. It was especially apparent to me during the interactions Jack had with his own kind and his disdain for them, showing how deep the discrimination ran, so deep that one would disregard one of his own while suffering the same insults at the hands of others.

Jordan Hardman said...

I believe that the author portrays I believe that racism is evident in the book and Jack Johnson shows more and more racism every time he accomplishes something in his own life. I also think that the author has done a good job in explaining the racism against Johnson because it is all things that have happened in real life.

Jordan Hardman

I finished this comment last night but i forgot to hit send and closed the laptop. I woke up to it not sent. I didnt want this to count against me.

Isaiah Blackburn said...

The most notable thing that I have recognized is the two parallel worlds that Jack Johnson lives in. One world sees Johnson as a talented, rich boxer. The other fails to acknowledge his credentials because he is black.

John Kriha said...

A notable thing that can be taken from this book is the constant struggle Johnson faces to be seen as an equal. Like Johnson said, becoming a champion didn't change the color of his skin. However, in the sport of boxing, no one could look down upon Johnson and other black males as inferior. This book is a extended comparison between literal fights in the ring and a fight against discrimination.

Barry Ford said...

Matejka assists with understanding racism in "The Big Smoke". He brings up many situations and scenes where racist words and assumptions are made against Jack Johnson. He also shows how Jack deals with these situations.

Rubin Logan said...

throughout the entire book, it talks about racism and inequality but johnson doesnt let it break him down. It shows we should keep moving and keep our confidence no matter what. Discrimination and racism will always exist but the important thing is to not let it break us down or stop us.
Rubin L.

Quentin Wilson said...

His book gave a different picture of he still had success as a boxer he was still discriminated against. He continued to win fights but was not still respected. He tells us of his many racism encounters, but he still manged a good career.