During the Civil Rights Movement there was a lot of hatred and violence between the black community and the white community all because of skin color. When Whitney Moore Young, Jr. states, “Together, blacks and whites can move our country beyond racism and create for the benefit of all of us an open society, one that assures freedom, justice, and full equality for all”, Whitney means that if all the hate is put aside, the community, even the entire country, can overcome anything. Racism can make or break a community or just a simple friendship.
In The Secret Life of Bees, a novel by Sue Monk Kidd, worlds collide during the time of prejudice and racism. In the novel, a young girl tries to find herself within a black family, and learns more than she expected about herself, then she would anywhere else. She sees how even she, herself, has evidence of slight racism in her mind. When racism takes over of a society, it does not just change the mind of one person. It changes the mind of many, causing relationships and friendships between people to falter or grow.
Racism can cause a dilemma with relationships between people and cause them to be at a thin line. When Lily and Zach are eating lunch after a day of work, Zach explains his dream job and what he plans to accomplish in the future. When Lily hears about it she cannot believe it. She has a sense of annoyance. Without even knowing it, she is being a bit of a racist when she states, “I’ve just never heard of a Negro lawyer, that’s all. You’ve got to hear of these things before you can imagine them” (Kidd 121).
Lily does not realize she is putting Zach down by saying the statement above. Zach became defensive and stood up for himself, but surprisingly did not hold a grudge. It was more of him teaching Lily a lesson that the most famous and intelligent people do not get where they are by being unoriginal and uncreative. They get where they are by imagining what has never been seen before. Right around when Lily and Rosaleen first get there, Lily has a thought that suddenly seems to prove to her that she does have some prejudice in her and she is not as open-minded as she thought.
Her thought after meeting August is, “Since I want to tell the whole truth, which means the worst parts, I thought they could be smart, but not as smart as me, me being white” (Kidd 78). Lily suddenly feels like she has learned a lesson about herself by meeting August and the Boatwright sisters. Until this point, she has understood racism as an act whites only committed towards color people. Nevertheless, Lily respects and feels devoted to August, and this respect and devotion begins to grow the relationship between August and Lily into something similar to a daughter-mother relationship.
This only proves how racism can make or break a relationship, because you can either offend or learn from what you are doing and thinking. Racism does not just go one way and it never will. Everyone as different thoughts and everyone feels differently about certain things. It is a way of life almost. Lily discovers this once she begins living in the Boatwright house when June makes a statement, “But she’s white, August” (Kidd 87). When Lily overhears June make this comment, she becomes angry and thinks how absurd it is to dislike someone for their skin color.