After finishing the novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett, I believe that the author was trying to make a point in his writing. I might not know from personal experiences, what black people in society go through today or have went through but, within the novel there was a bunch of parts that highlight black people and possibility what is an everyday situation to them. The main character, Not Sidney Poitier might have been different than others due to his skin color, but at times in the book it seemed that people only saw him as different due to his skin color. They defined him as being black and not due to the person he is.
In the novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier there were a few times where because of Not Sidney’s color of his skin he was treated differently than others. For instance, when Not Sidney was leaving Atlanta to go to Los Angeles Not Sidney saw in his rear-view mirror, “…a flashing blue bubble atop a black-and-white country sheriff’s patrol car” (46). Not Sidney described that he was terrified as he watched the officer come over to his driver side door. The officer did what any officer would do and asked for his license and registration. When Not Sidney went to grab his information the officer proceeded to say, “That thar be far nuff, n*****! Sitch on back straight and git out the veehickle!” (47) When Not Sidney tried to explain to the officer that he was just doing exactly what he asked, the officer just started to freak out and continue to say “Ya’ll done heard me na, boy! Move na! Move yo black a**. Na, git out chere, right na!” (47) The officer kept yelling at Not Sidney telling him to shut up and do as he says even though that’s exactly what Not Sidney was doing. He then proceeded to arrest him and when Not Sidney asked why he was getting arrested the officer told him, “Well, fer one thang, sassin’ an officer of the law, which around here is the same as resistin’ arrest. Now, there’s speedin’ and failure to stop immediately when I turned on my light. And then there’s bein’ a n*****” (48). The officer used the excuse of Not Sidney having colored skin for one of the reasons he is being arrested. This just shows a person who feels as people with color are different than people who aren’t ones of colors and feel they should be treated differently.
When Not Sidney was in grade school, Not Sidney had a situation he took to his principal, on how his teacher did sexual things to him he didn’t want her to do. When approaching the principal about it he just laughed at him. Not Sidney tried taking this situation to more drastic measures and went to the superintendent. When Not Sidney told the superintendent everything that happened, she decided to call the principal to see his point of the story Not Sidney gave. When she hung up with the principal her response was, “then the sound of her voice came back and now it was laughter, crackling, witch-crackling laughter… She hung up the phone, looked at me, and laughed harder” (43). In this exact situation, if Not Sidney wasn’t a man of color not only the principal but also superintendent would have treated the whole situation differently. They probably wouldn’t have laughed the whole thing off like it was no big deal and actually try to help Not Sidney when he just went to them for help.
On the other hand, later in the novel when Not Sidney was dating, he was invited to his girlfriend’s house for thanksgiving dinner. At one point of the night Not Sidney heard something that his girlfriend’s parents were saying about him, ‘“He just bought it. Paid cash for it. He’s somehow involved with Ted Turner, but none of this is clear. What is clear is that he can buy and sell everyone we know a couple times over.’ ‘But he’s so dark,’ Ruby said. ‘He’s so f****** rich is what he is.’ Ward paused. ‘I knew there was something about that boy I liked.’ ‘He’s so black.”’ (144-145) After finding out about Not Sidney’s wealth the father looked passed the color of his skin, but the mother still was worried about it. When the parents first meet Not Sidney, they first judged him by his skin color, not even knowing if he is a good guy or not, but instead they went right to the color of his skin.
In class we also watched a movie called the Defiant Ones, where Sidney Poitier played the role of Noah Cullen, who was a man of color and was previously arrested and on a jail bus. In the movie Noah was chained to a white man who played John Jackson otherwise known as Joker. Since the two of them were chained together they were forced to do everything together until they were able to unchain themselves from each other. Having said that when the two men didn’t agree with each other they started to fight. There was one fight they landed on the ground where this little boy pointed a gun at the two men. When the little boy hit his head on the rock from falling, he woke up to Noah trying to make sure he was awake and the little boy started to freak out and ran to Joker. Even when the little boy took them back to his mother, his mother was still very wary of Noah. When the mother made food for Joker, Joker had to specifically had to tell her to give Noah some food and coffee also. This film took place in the late 1950s, so people had different says about people of color then present day. That scene gave me the idea as a viewer that in that time period, all people see in a person is the color of their skin.
In the novel Everett is trying to portray a message, in showing his readers exactly what might happen to people of color. According to the Bedford, intersectionality is “a theory positing that identify is grounded in multiple, intersecting social categories and that discrimination and oppression are compounded at the crossroads of such categories.” In using intersectionality in his novel, he is showing readers what it’s like, and how people of color might be treated. Since I don’t know from experience how a person of color is treated, I personally don’t know how it feels to be in a situation like that. But it seems to be something that’s worth bringing up if Everett uses more than one examples in his novel.
Everett is trying to show the readers by his writing how people treat others of different race. The definition of race, according to the Bedford is, “A term commonly used to classify or distinguish human population on the basis or hereditary, observable physical characteristics, particularly skin color, but now primarily considered a social or cultural construct by anthropologists, scientists, scholars, and literary critics.” People of different race, are being treated differently; most people do not realize that they are because they aren’t in the same situations. Knowing so Everett is making a point and trying to make his readers aware of our surrounds, most importantly that there is another world outside of our own.