They all dealt with oppression differently some used it to their advantage, some people used it to hurt others, some made something of themselves, and some did nothing to make themselves better. In Black Freedom Fighters in Steel, George Kimbley was the first man that I read about who stuck in my head while the whole time while reading this book. His mother had taught him at a young age by watching and observing how she dealt with the white people. She used trust as a form of power. If you could get the white folks to trust you and hold certain secrets between you, then that would go a long way back in the day.
As a young child George did not go that far in school because he always thought he was a bright kid and could easily remember information after reading it one time. George would go up to the eighth grade and start his life as a working man. He would play along with how the white people who treated him bad and make them feel uncomfortable. He would teach them a lesson by embarrassing them in front of their peers. He would show the white people that he was unaffected by their words and would bury those feelings deep down even if it hurt he wouldn’t show them that it was affecting him.
Teaching the white people that their words do not affect you is a great way to deal with the oppression. George using trust as a way of dealing with the oppression came when he was working the ice wagon. He was working with a guy named Adam’s, and he would walk to the people’s houses and if they had the money he would leave the ice for them but if they did not have the money he would take it and walk to the next house. Well George would watch this and use this to his advantage. George would walk up to those houses that did not have the money and he would bring them the ice.
One event took place when he walked into a lady’s house with ice and she said, “Well, the other man was in here; he wouldn’t leave the ice, because we didn’t have the money. ” And I says, “Well, I can’t take it back. Oh, I know how hot it is and all, and if I let you have this ice and they find out, they’ll fire me and I don’t want to be fired. ” “Oh, I won’t tell anybody and I would leave the ice” (pg. 16-17). He would use this trust to show the white people to not stereotype him or any black person just because of their skin.
He did this to show them that he is a caring person and is a good person and will help out someone no matter what color their skin is. While working at the mill he fought to get the black man into the union and once that he got them into the union, he did not want them to get any favors. He simply wanted every man working there to earn their way on their own merit. No hand-outs for anybody but for everyone to be brothers. George Kimbley did not want favoritism for African American’s, but give them a chance to prove what they could do and not judge or think down upon them because of the color of their skin.
The second man that I read about was Curtis Strong. One word that can describe him is rebel. He was an outspoken man and he did not let any problem go unattended on his watch. Curtis said, “I often wondered why blacks take so damn much of that before they rebel. I realize, though, that we had been conditioned for untold number of years that you did have a place” (pg. 89). He used his mouth to fight the black man’s fight whether it was against the Klu Klux Klan or a possible labor dispute for the church. Curtis was a very vocal man and was an involved man in anything that had to do with the struggle of the black man.
Curtis Strong worked in the coke plant during the war. It was a hot and unsafe area to work in for any human but he chose that job to become a leader in the union. This type of job was where the majority if not all the African American’s worked in. The black workers lead by Strong, formed the Sentinel League in 1943. Later on Curtis would be elected as the Griever and that was the man who would fight for the workers if they felt they were being treated unfairly or if there was a problem in the workplace. Using this job title, Strong would go on to fight for the black workers and more importantly for black people around the world.
The way the broke down discrimination in the coke plant was by having wildcats. The coke plant was the heart of the steel company because without the coke you can’t have steel. So if everyone would leave the coke plant which was the black workers, which would cause other parts of the steel mill which was the white workers, to close down also because nobody was in the coke plant to work. Curtis understood power and that it took power to make change. Being able to have that kind of power was quite the advantage for Strong as a Griever.
He knew that the coke plant was the key to the steel company and if he felt an injustice towards the black workers he would shut down Gary Works by these wildcats. Jonathan Comer was the final person in the book that I thought dealt with oppression very well. Jonathan got a job at the mill as a chipper. He didn’t like the job as a chipper and wanted to get a raise. He applied as a maintenance worker but he was told that it was not a black man’s job. Him signing that line to get the job made everyone angry because a black man had tried to get another job besides the chipper.
Management had ways of not allowing the blacks to go further up in the workforce. After being denied the position, Comer talked to the superintendent melter and he told Comer, “He didn’t want colored on his turn,” Comer said. “He said, ‘You see, I haven’t been here that long, and I have to make a name for myself, and I don’t want you messing up. Colored people just don’t think keenly enough like white people do in this type of work. Maybe someday they will, but I just don’t want you on my floor’” (pg. 125). After that conversation made him extremely angry, he learned that he could use the grievance procedure to help me fight his battles.
Later on he applied for another spot that had opened up and he had gotten. Most of his life he spent as a union activist, spending most of his days battling job segregation. He fought oppression though grievances and held the grievers job for thirteen years. From the movie Boyz N the Hood, the first person I will talk about that shows the use of oppression is Doughboy and how he dealt with it. Doughboy was raised by just his mother and she never seemed to want to pay him any mind. He just seemed like an inconvenience to her. Doughboy had a step brother named Ricky and their mother always showed more favoritism towards Ricky.
Not having a man around the house and having his mother talk down on him; Doughboy never was able to make anything of himself. He always was getting into trouble and showing nobody respect. You see throughout the movie how he oppresses women and other people. His respect for women is very low and in the movie Doughboy refers to women as “hoes” or “bitches”. When he is released from prison, there is a scene where all the guys at the party rushed to grab the food before the women at the party could get a chance to make their plates first and shoved the women out of the way.
Trey sees that and he tries to get Doughboy to catch on that women need to be shown more respect. As soon as Doughboy’s sees what Tre is doing, he says “Ho's gotta eat too. ” Then Shalika says: “Who you callin' a ho', I ain't no ho'. ” Doughboy says: “Oops, I'm sorry, bitch. ” Doughboy’s mother then smacks him for the rude remark. That was his first run in with his bad manners towards women. Another incident when you see the respect for women thrown out the window is when doughboy was arguing with Shalika again while they were all sitting in his car on Crenshaw.
Shalika says, “Who you callin' a ho', I ain't no ho' and “Why is it every time you talk about a female you gotta say bitch, ho, or hootchie? Doughboy says, “Cause that's what you are. ” Not having a father around to be a role model like Tre had with Furious shows with how Doughboy interacts with anybody throughout the movie. You even see how he talks to women when they walk down the street and he is trying to have sex with them and he shouts disrespectful things towards them. Doughboy in my opinion has accepted the oppression from his mother, that he is nothing but a waste of space and he does nothing to better himself his entire life.
Officer Coffey shows how he has dealt with oppression by oppressing others around him like Tre or how he talks about African Americans throughout the movie. He comes in and you think that since he is an African American he will want to be trying to help his own people out and make his community better. But after Furious house was broken into and he shot at him, he calls the police. They take over an hour to get there and when they show up Officer Coffey has a doughnut in his hand and just casually walks up like nothing happened.
He uses nigger to describe the kind of people that are walking amongst the streets. Furious doesn’t like it and they exchange a couple words about how Furious should have shot him because it would have been one less nigger on the streets. Furious sends Tre back inside and the officer Coffey says, “Something wrong? ” Furious says, “Something wrong? Yeah. It's just too bad you don't know what it is... Brother. ” I think that while growing up Officer Coffey experienced some bad things and he has held that against the black people in the movie.
Another part in the movie where Officer Coffey shows off a deeper meaning behind his hate towards the young black folks is when he pulls over Tre and Ricky after the dispute that happened when everyone is on Crenshaw hanging out. When he pulls Tre over and has both of them get out of the car, Tre says, “I didn't do nothing. ” Officer Coffey says, “You think you tough? ” Then pulls a gun on Tre, Officer Coffey says, “Scared now, ain't you? I like that. That's why I took this job. I hate little motherfuckers like you. Little niggers, you ain't shit!
I could blow your head off with this Smith ; Wesson and you couldn't do shit. Think you tough? What set you from? Look like one of them Crenshaw mafia motherfuckers. ” When he says that to Tre it showed me that there is a deeper meaning to why he needs that much control over someone. His childhood could have been a troubled one and he is using his new power of being a police officer to take it out on anyone who is in his way. The third person I will talk about is Shalika. Shalika is a black girl that is shown throughout the movie and Doughboy is always talking down to her.
She is the only one that ever says anything to Doughboy about saying the demeaning things towards women. As I mentioned early in the Doughboy section, when they are getting ready to eat Doughboy is calling her a ho then when she tells him that she isn’t a ho, he calls her a bitch. She doesn’t take kind to that talk towards her and she tries to defend herself. But like most women being talked to like that, they pretty much just sit back and take it because it has always been like that in their lives. Another incident came when they were in the car on Crenshaw and Doughboy was talking bad about women again.
Shalika is trying to stand up for herself throughout the movie but not much changed. In conclusion, oppression is dealt with in many ways. More people from the book seemed like the succeeded through the oppression rather than the movie. The people from the book worked harder for what they had and wanted to achieve. Not many people in the movie wanted to really do much with their lives but Tre and Ricky. Living in an oppressive area is hard and some may not handle it well but I think that the Black Freedom Fighters in Steel showed the best ways on how to deal with oppression.