Segregation and Racial Disenfranchisement

I decided to do my poem on the Plessy V. Ferguson case. I chose this because this court case showed how bad racism was in the past and how it was unfair to anybody who had even the smallest amount of African blood in them. Plessy V. Ferguson was a case in which Homer Adolph Plessy, a mixed race male, who was arrested and jailed for taking an empty seat in a whites only facility on a railroad car after refusing to move. Plessy refused to move to the other railroad section where non-whites would be forced to sit. These sections were separated from the white only section. However, this section was in a much more poor condition than the white only section. This represented many of the different segregated facilities such as water fountains, bathrooms, schools, and any other social places.

My poem focuses on how Plessy was rejected his rights and how it affected the people of the black communities. It begins with the horrors of the dawn of the Jim Crow Era, then the racial segregation between whites and blacks causing such a disturbing image that these segregated facilities were unequal in many ways such as the conditions of these facilities showing that separate was not equal. I later describe Homer Plessy as a mixed raced man who was seven-eighths white and one-eighths black. Though he was mostly white his skin color had caused his arrest. I wonder if he had a lighter skin color would he had been arrested for refusing to move?

This Court case makes me sick because of how unfair “seperate but equal” really was. The fact that the court had rejected his argument and denied that his rights were violated is disturbing. Another reason why this makes me upset is because it did not help others in the black communities, it made segregation worse and caused more troubles for the black community.

Cruelty and Money

In Zong M. NourbeSe Philip repeats a line “This is a story that can only be told by not telling.”(191). How is a story told without telling? Philip uses different techniques to tell this without actually telling it. Philip humanizes her writing “I mutilate the text…I murder the text.”(194) She is saying this because it was how the African people had been treated on the ship during the slave trade.

The fact that these people were objectified and had been listed as cargo was demoralizing. These were human beings that were put on a ship and became an object of trade. Many of the slaves on the ship were not accounted for and were categorized as if they were produce, the slaves had names that will never be remembered because they were considered objects. Philip states “They would be paid for murdering 150 Africans… Neither captain Collingwood nor those who had helped in the massacre could be charged with murder, since what was destroyed, being property, was not capable of being murdered.”(191). They had the ability to kill people without any consequences, basically killing innocent people for money. The way people were turned into objects showed how little they cared about these human beings just because the color of their skin and where they from.

The way this book is written is quite confusing, in Zong 1 the writing starts with the repeating of water and one day. Is it someone asking for water or is it describing the sea surrounding the ship? Many of the African people on the ship had died from thirst and starvation or other natural causes, but mostly they were killed for insurance money.


  1. What could the names at the bottom of the pages mean?
  2. Does Philip’s technique of writing have a different effect when reading? Why or why not.

Hi, my name is Chris Knickerbocker

I am a senior at SUNY Cortland pursuing a Bachelors degree in Mathematics. I am from Buffalo NY living in a small town called East Aurora where I attended Highschool. I came to Cortland my sophmore year after One year at Erie Community College. I originally was Born in Guatemala and move to the United States at the age of four after being adopted. I plan on graduating in May and taking a year off to figure out what I want to go for grad school and later pursue the career that is best fit for me.