According to James, Ruth’s behavior and beliefs were often contradictory. "White folks, she felt, were implicitly evil toward blacks, yet she forced us to go to white schools to get the best education. Explain
Answers 1Add Yours
James remembers how his mother often sought out things that were Jewish, even though she outwardly rejected her past life as Rachel Shilsky. She exhibited contradictory feelings, and shocked James when she spoke fluent Yiddish with the merchants in Manhattan's Lower East Side, where they went to buy their school clothes. When choosing a public school for her children to attend, Ruth ensured that they attended predominantly Jewish public schools, even though getting to these schools were often very far away. The McBride children were nearly always the token blacks in their classes, and as James grew older he became increasingly confused about his own racial identity. Once, he even remembers asking if he was black or white, to which Ruth responded: "You're a human being...Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody...If you're a nobody... it doesn't matter what color you are."
The emphasis on the recurring theme of education is directly connected to the idea of self-determination. When Ruth stated that education was the way to make something of oneself, she recognized its power to set one along the road to opportunity. In her fixation on education, Ruth exhibited the immigrant mentality of those who strongly believed they could remake themselves with the opportunities America afforded. Ruth provided her family with all of the things America - and New York City - had to offer. In doing so, she pushed her children to engage in the world and learn how to move upwards in society.