The Green Book Teaches a Lesson about Segregation

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While watching The Green Book, a movie based on a true story that takes place in the
1960s, one can gain a deeper understanding of the meanings of two profound words in American
history. These two words are “racial segregation.” According to Britannica, racial segregation is
the “practice of restricting people to certain circumscribed areas of residence or to separate
institutions (e.g., schools, churches) and facilities (parks, playgrounds, restaurants, restrooms) on
the basis of race or alleged race.” In order to better understand racial segregation, one must take
the time to learn about African Diaspora, the spreading of Africans across the world, especially
in the Americas. The Africans, who survived the excruciating long, painful boat ride from Africa
to America, were made to work in plantations under horrid conditions. In Latin America,
hereditary slavery was not practiced.

However, the United States practiced hereditary slavery,which is why the African-American race
had been suppressed from their very start. After slavery was abolished, African-American families
were poor and the vast majority of them became sharecroppers. This, however, segregated African-Americans
from the racist, white supremacist society that had no qualms about segregating people by the color of
their skin. This led to laws, such as the infamous Jim Crow Laws, that continued to segregate
African-Americans in the United States, especially in the southern part of the nation. Racial segregation
has always been at the core of America, making not only slavery but also racial segregation an American institution.
Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the United States had never been a place of true equal opportunity
for African-Americans.

Racial segregation is prevalent in The Green Book as Dr. Shirley, a famous, African-American pianist,
travels alongside with Tony Lip, an Italian-American bouncer from New York, in order to perform at concerts
in the “Deep South.” Dr. Shirley, at one point, is arrested and brought to the police office for no apparent
reason. Fortunately, Dr. Shirley is helped by Tony Lip, who pays off the corrupt, racist police officers who
arrested Dr. Shirley. Another time when Dr. Shirley was in trouble was at a local, southern bar where white
men were abusing and mocking Dr. Shirley simply because he was a black man. Luckily, Tony Lip was able to
intervene and save Dr. Shirley from a seemingly difficult situation. These two scenes prove that
Dr.Shirley was mistreated solely due to his race. Perhaps the most eye-opening scene from the
movie was when Dr.Shirley was refused meal service at venue at which he was supposed to
perform. The manager of the venue argues that Dr. Shirley cannot eat with the white people as
“that is simply not how things are done down here.” This statement causes Tony Lip to suggest
to Dr.Shirley that it is not worth his time to perform for “white trash,” who practice racial
segregation. Furthermore, the movie director makes it a point to portray racial segregation by
showing the kind of run-down hotels Dr. Shirley had to stay at simply because of his race.

Dr. Shirley has an eye-opening moment when he sees racial segregation at a plantation where only
African-American workers are working. It becomes apparent to Dr. Shirley that “his people” are
subjected to a different life than his own life. This makes Dr.Shirley emotional as he thinks about
his own racial identity. All in all, racial segregation, an American institution, and racial
discrimination are brought up several times throughout “The Green Book.”
Since racial segregation is an American institution, it is important to realize that racial
segregation continues to be a problem. Nowadays, housing discrimination segregates African-Americans
from residing in certain areas. This not only leads to segregated residential areas but also leads to
segregated schools, libraries, and communal centers. This explains why African-Americans, in many cases,
are still not given access to a good education. This must change as one of the only ways to
achieve economic success in life is through a good education.

These economic issues create a cycle that sets African-Americans up for failure. Furthermore,
African-American families cannot afford good quality healthcare and health insurance. This
explains why African-American women continue to have more labor complications than women
of any other race. In order to ensure that African-Americans are able to live in safe communities,
receive a good-quality education, and obtain top-notch healthcare, segregation must be
systematically broken down. This is a seemingly difficult task as segregation is an American
institution. All in all, the history of Africans in America, the movie The Green Book, and the
current state of troublesome affairs for the African-American community call for more
integration and less segregation.