All American Boys and To Kill a Mockingbird: Portrayal of Racism

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Racism in All American Boys
  • Racism in Contemporary America
  • Conclusion


“Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow violence still remains.” (Lee 218). For centuries, racism has been a major discussion all over the world. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, and places all over America sum up this major conflict in society and continues the conversation. Racism is a recurring theme in To Kill a Mockingbird, All American Boys, and America today.

Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird

Racism is a major theme in To Kill a Mockingbird. Racism comes in to play in this book when Tom Robinson, a black male, is accused of sexually assaulting Mayella Ewell, a white female. Back then, during the great depression, racism was still huge in Maycomb, Alabama and the word of white folk was valued greater than one of the black folks. There was a trial that occurred to test the fate of Tom Robinson and it was brought to the jury that “She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man. Not an old Uncle, but a strong young Negro man. No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards.” (Lee 272). It didn't matter the facts though, Tom was automatically guilty because of his skin color whether he was really guilty or not. Another instance where racism was seen in this book was when Atticus is defending Tom. Atticus took the job to defend Tom Robinson and he said, 'If I didn't, I couldn't hold my head up in town, I couldn't represent this county in this legislature.” The white folk in Maycomb county didn’t agree with Atticus defending Tom and judged him deeply for it. He was treated as a disgrace when really he should have been treated as a hero. Racism also showed its face at the jail cell Tom was being held in one night. A bunch of white folks came up to the jail to bother Tom. If a white man where the one who raped Mayella Ewell, he would, of course, pay the price but he wouldn’t be harassed like Tom was. To kill a Mockingbird touches a lot on racism in that matter and gives a different perspective to readers and carries on to the book to All American Boys.

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Racism in All American Boys

Moving on to All American Boys where racism is also a huge theme, there are a few specific instances where racism was more prominent. The first moment was the night Rashad, a colored teen, was profiled by a white cop and beaten to a pulp because he seemed like a thug who was up to no good. This just goes to show that assuming something about someone can affect many people greatly. Rashad wasn’t only profiled by the cop though, Rashad was also judged and profiled by the world when they released photos of him. Rashad stated “There was a cabbie who straight up said he wouldn't pick me up if he saw me at night. That really pissed me off.”. The cabbie judged him off his race and the clothes he wore just as the rest of the world did. This is a form of racism because he would deny Rashad a ride because of his skin color. Another time racism occurred in All American Boys was when lockers where being checked for evidence of vandalism and they only checked non-white colored kids’ lockers. Racism is all over and in All American Boys represents how the world handles it and how it continues.

Racism in Contemporary America

Racism has died down a lot over the centuries but even in today's time in America, it is still occurring every day whether it's just judging someone on their skin color or taking actions on them based on their skin color. For example in 2017 Mr. Green, a black police officer off duty, was shot by a white police officer without reason. The off duty police was confronting a dangerous man with his firearm lowered just in case for protection, which he wasn’t planning on using unless necessary. He was told to drop his weapon by the on duty police and complied. Another police officer recognized him and said he was also the police. When Mr. Green, the officer off duty, got up and showed his badge he was told to get down again and without letting him have the chance, the white police officer fired and fortunately only hit him in his arm instead of fatally wounding him. The white police officer says “I’m not a black officer and I haven’t grown up in the same experiences as some of them have. Then again, some of them haven’t grown up in the same experiences I’ve had.” but his use of force was unjustifiable and Colonel Hayden, the police commissioner, said, “You hate to believe, that it only happened because they were African-American.” This comes to show that based on appearance and skin color people are so quick to categorize other people on their skin color.


The world is full of racism and even while it has evolved over time and has become less common than it used to be it is still a major topic of conversation. The reader can see from the book To Kill a Mockingbird how racism has been going on for so long and in All American boys it gives a little more of a current perspective of what it looks like today. In real-time, the readers gained a little more information on real-life events recently that racism occurred. Racism will always be a part of the world and there isn’t much prevention of it. The world can take a stand against it but it will always be a conversation worth having because, in reality, it will never go away. 

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