Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Big Smoke: “Color Line”

[The Big Smoke reading group]  
 
In "Color Line" from Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke, Jack Johnson explains that he has no plans to give Sam Langford, another black boxer, an opportunity to fight him. According to Johnson, "there is no money colored  / fighters mixing it up." Thus, Johnson has no incentive to compete again Langford, whom Johnson had apparently easily defeated in the past.

Usually discussions about the "color line" concentrate on the separation between black people and white people. Ironically in this poem though, Matejka addresses how "business" can lead to distance between a black boxer and another black boxer.


No doubt, people have their opinions about Johnson based on this poem. But let's consider something different. Based on this poem, what's one thought you had about the larger implications of the "color line" or prominent racial boundaries?    

16 comments:

Elijah Person said...

In Adrian Matekja's poem 'color line', Jack Johnson is explaining how the white fighters refused to fight him, not only because he was black, but because they were scared of losing to a black man. On the other hand, Johnson refused to fight with black men because there was no money in black fights. He thought like a businessman, if there is no money involved then don't waste his time.

Jarron Sorrell said...

When Fredrick Douglas published to the North American Review, an article entitled "The Color Line", the cultural context behind the phrase's meaning could be interpreted both literally and metaphorically.
The social, ethical, and political curtain that separated whites from blacks offered few incentives for either to want to engage as equals. Matekja's poem "Color Line" is a simply an episode of a much larger picture.

TheOkami1113 said...

When Fredrick Douglas published to the North American Review, an article entitled "The Color Line", the cultural context behind the phrase's meaning could be interpreted both literally and metaphorically.
The social, ethical, and political curtain that separated whites from blacks offered few incentives for either to want to engage as equals. Matekja's poem "Color Line" is a simply an episode of a much larger picture.

Tyler Johnson said...

In the next installment of Jack Johnson's story, "The Color Line", Jack conveys details surrounding the subpar nature of black prize fights. He describes the common disdain white boxers have for black fighters, and their refusal to fight him in particular both due to his skin's hue and for fear of the disgrace that would be associated with suffering a defeat at the hands of a black man. On the flip side, Jack finds black fights distateful, due to the prominence and wealth that black boxers due not possess, so he does not accept fights with people of color. So he in turn rejects his own kind as surely as the white fighters reject him. It's this double standard that makes Jack Johnson such a compelling character, one grounded in gritty reality. He is a brutal yet intelligent business man, and harsh as it seems during this period in time black fighters are in general bad for business. No matter how selfish and cruel his actions, one cannot dispute his cunning.

Trion T. said...

This poem made me think about how even though there is a color line due to past differences, we (African Americans) can sometimes advocate this color line in the way that we treat each other. Then people tend to think that "they're violent towards even their own, so I know they will be violent towards me." They then dub the whole African American race as violent and uncivilized. A little respect towards one another could go a long way in demolishing the color line in my opinion.

Jordan Hardman said...

Jack Johnson is a talented boxer. He is so talented that white boxers won't fight him but he won't ffight back boxers. He knows where he can make money at and he is trying to make it big. If it wasn't for this time period he would probably be the greatest of all time but he is stuck at the place he is now.

-Jordan H.

Xavier Morrison- Wallace said...

Racial boundaries were placed to keep minorities from doing great things and winning. Even though Jack Johnson has gone through a difficult life, he makes breaking this color line seem easy by being very determined. With determination, when those below the color line rise up and start doing great things and winning the boundaries will start getting weaker because of the little holes that were made by the people puncturing the color barrier.

Isaiah Blackburn said...

Jack Johnson seems to live by a double standard. On one side, he wants to fight all of the prominent white fighters to prove that he is the best. HE says that they won't fight him because he is black and they know that they'll lose. On the other hand, he refuses to fight Langford because there is no money in it.

MyVampire15 said...

In "Color Line," Adrian Matejka shows how Jack Johnson felt when he fought other white boxers. He describes how white boxers fight him because of the color line. But he says that one boxer that he would not draw the line with because he is weak, basically.

Phillip Goens said...

Color line was about the race of white man, and how he is threading them with his strength. He doesn’t want to only fight black boxers, but wants to fight all boxers. He know that the white guys know, that he would win in a fight. He wanted to challenge them so bad, so he can prove to the world that he was the best.

Amir Rasmussen said...

In Adrian Matejka's poem "Color Line" Boxer Jack Johnson talks about the color line or separation of White and Black Boxers. He explains how he would hardly fight white boxers because of this color line and there was no money in black fights. He also explains white fighters did not even want to fight him in fear of losing to a black man. He reigned supreme and was dominant in the black boxing busines. My thoughts on larger inmplications the color line is that it created a hostile form of behavior forcing blacks into their own category and forcing them to fight only one another an one would conclude they would develop hostile feelings amongst one another which may have led black on black violence today.

jingolder said...

It seems like Matekja's intention was to show how smart of a business man Johnson really was. People were angered because Johnson was a business man before he was a civil rights leader, but he was only doing what needed to be done to make money as a black fighter in his time. The fear of a white fighter losing to a black fighter probably made for a better storyline to stir up audiences, and produced more ticket sales.

Jelani Brown said...

One prominent thing about the color line drawn between society is that nothing is forgiven. Slavery happened over hundreds of years ago; although it was a terrible time, I say we should stop the color line separating whites and blacks because the first step to solving any mistakes in the past is forgiveness.

John Kriha said...

In this poem, it is becoming clear to the reader that Johnson that he wants to be the Heavy-Weight Champion of all the boxers. Johnson feels that he undoubtedly is the best of the colored boxers and he wants a chance to prove to society that he can beat the white champions as well. However at the end of the day he feels he will never get the credit he deserves because becoming champion wont change the color of his skin.

Rubin Logan said...

The color line is a good poem because it shows that black people should not waste time trying to better than the next man although that is what black men do today. Johnson wants to be the best and beat every other race rather than his own because we are not getting anywhere, or in johnson terms "not getting any money", if we fight and try to beat ourselves.

Nicholas Rawls said...

This is the first I've heard of the "color line", but from this post, the definition I can't exactly follow through with. The most prominent racial discrimination has to be black/colored and white, but what about other racial boundaries? "Color line" could be the color of yellow, which asians are associated with or even black, which, well, seems obvious...
-Nicholas Rawls