Invisible Man

Sports Mascot or The Survival of Sambo? 12th Grade

In American culture today the pressure to fit into the societal norms is more prevalent than ever. By establishing very clear standards for “fitting in”, the dominant culture makes the idea of approval seem easily achievable. However, unknown to minorities is the rigidity of the standards and how frequently they are mocked when attempting to conform. This ridicule is often perpetuated through the use of racial caricatures -- descriptive visual devices that exaggerate certain aspects of individual races in order to create humor. In the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, cultural standards are often reinforced through the use of the “Little Black Sambo Doll” -- a racial caricature that changes the body of a Black Man into a monkey, to fit the “animal-like” stereotype of a black man, solely to entertain the beholder (SparkNotes). Though he does not recognize it, throughout the novel the Narrator is seen by the White community as the Sambo Doll. This view further dehumanizes him and allows the White culture to keep their power over him. Similarly, the Cleveland Indians’ “Chief Wahoo” is just one of these many caricatures, seen by many as: “A dehumanizing red ‘Indian’ cartoon wearing a wide, big-toothed grin. A cartoon caricature...

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