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Fast Acting In Small Doses
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Fast Acting In Small Doses
As Crazy As They
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Historically Speaking
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Reflection
Obsessed With Race

     When discussing the issue of race relations in the 1960's-70's of the United States, very specific U.S. cities spring to mind through the literature and mediums that critique and explore this theme in history. In Sons of Darkness, Sons of Light, the world is New York City...a massive playing field for the eruption of serious social change. The city is one of diversity, impersonal consideration, and a myriad of people so mismatched that authors are constantly writing about them. The setting of the novel is vital to its critique of American Society as a whole, though literature rarely shows us a view on racial injustice centered anywhere but large urban areas. However, history has shown us that in order for significant changes to take place in a particular area, there has to be large, concerned numbers. This novel tells a story of great hordes of people with common frustrations and desires bonding together for the sake of creating a change, which has its positive and negative effects.
     Anytime a population joins together with a common goal, the ability of individuals to function within that goal is greatly increased. Without the argument or skepticism of fellow humans, what would hold a person back from completing his or her dream? New York City is a prime example, in that nomatter what grudge with society or frustration with the system of life is innate within you, there are going to be a large number of people who agree with you. The challenge is finding them and unifying your efforts. Take, for instance, the novel... the minorities in this particular city have extreme differences, and really, completely different reasons for opposing the enemy. One thing they do have in common is that the white man is keeping them from doing something they sincerely want to do. Together, the random individuals representing the Italians, the Africans-Americans, and those arriving from as far as the Middle East...they will rise together despite their differences and join hands in an effort to battle their common enemy.
     Now, addressing the real question. Is this racial injustice that was so prominent in these select U.S. cities such as New York City something that people should be tackling on a huge level, or is it something better approached on a smaller, more specific set of progressive steps? What has proved more effective through history- violent revolution or quiet meetings? The answer to this question answers them all on the surface, yet there are much deeper conclusions to questions of peace and war when human nature is a factor- which it always is! History has shown us the benefits of violent "points being made" for the same reasons that the nightly news shows us shootings and serial rapes. History downplays the success of peaceful agreement and we are shown on our own televisions that none of the major networks are really concerned with the fact that presently, China and Zimbabwe are not engaged in a bloody battle for the control of Rhode Island. Honestly, what would most people rather hear about? As a minority on this issue, I would rather hear about quiet meetings, but only if they are successful. Along with most other people in the nation, I believe that after several tries with one process, lack of success means lack of continuation. This applies in the novel very early on, as the hopelessness infests itself in the mind of Barton, who is supposed to be responsible for manifesting a calm and peaceful accomplishment between races in the city. His character is tired of the slow and heavy lack of success, and his desire for an impulsive, large-scale attack on the problem is made painfully obvious. The process, however, does not necessarily fly both ways.
     During this violent fight for equal rights, the individuals involved can be so caught up in "an eye for an eye" that even when a peaceful opportunity for progression is handed to them, they would not see it as an open door, but rather, fifteen steps in directions of the backward persuasion. For them, the only way to see the game through to the end is to create impact that often takes real human lives. The oppressed feel their lives are threatened by the looming enemy anyhow, so why not fight? This returns the quest for an answer back to the idea of history and what humans have chosen to document. The existence of human life as a whole throughout "forever" has been a fight for the desires of individuals. Sharing a common goal does not deter from the fact that things happen in the world because someone wants them to, and finds a clever way of making it happen, despite the odds. Perhaps what this civil rights fight needs is a little bit of subtlety that contains both violent uproar and intellectual, "civilized" conduct to keep everything under control.
     Take, for example, the slowly fading Italian mob of the novel. The Don feels as if his power is slipping away, and he blames the white man. The mob itself is a prime symbol of violence handled in a very organized and straight-forward way. There is no chaos in which specific ideas and desires expressed can be lost. The points these men (and few women) are trying to put across tend to get across swiftly and with fewer bullets lodged in missing organs. What New Yorkers, both black and white, need to do is to come to an understanding that embraces human nature instead of fighting against it. This battle can be won in a series of small, painless paper cuts, because with this in tact, the enemy will not feel his suffering until his hand of power has been completely removed from his body. 
     Revolutionaries need to be sneaky, but careful....daring, but with a platform of rationality. This is not a new idea, and history has proven its success many a time, even if the only thing that hits the books is the talk of what guns were being pointed through windows when important men were palavering around a card table in the basement. "An eye for an eye" is simply an excuse for lack of creativity, and there is nothing less productive than a pong game of revenge tactics.

Katherine Kennon (2005)