This past week I read the book Zone One by Colson Whitehead. In this blog I will address the theme of death and the racial bias that Colson Whitehead shows the reader they could have had when they read the book. Throughout the book Whitehead explores how the survivors of this plague view death and their belief that they controlled their own future. The characters saw this plague as a chance for them to escape having to relive the mistakes they have made in their life in what would be the afterlife. “The death of the afterlife was not without its perks, however, sparing Mark Spitz the prospect of an eternity reliving his mistakes and seeing their effects ripple, however briefly and uselessly, through history” (282). This shows how characters such as Mark Spitz saw the plague, that caused humans to become stragglers or skels, as way for humans to avoid having to die and relive their mistakes for eternity in the afterlife. Also, since the plague happened, Mark shows us how the characters view their future as something that they can control now. “The future was in the clay in their hand” (81). Whitehead showed us how death became an important factor in the lives of the characters and how it helped them continue to survive and believe they were in more control of their future rather than causing them worry as it can in the lives of individuals in our society today. Also, Whitehead showed us how the average reader can have racial bias without even realizing it. Near the end of the book, Whitehead informs the reader that Mark Spitz, the main character, is an African American male. Based on our class discussion and my own personal experience reading this book, it exposed a racial bias in a lot of my classmates and myself because we assumed that Mark Sptiz was white male. I thought it was very interesting how Whitehead can make the reader step back and re-evaluate themselves and examine why they may have a racial bias. On the website, https://theundefeated.com/features/black-americans-overwhelmingly-say-unconscious-bias-is-a-major-barrier-in-their-lives/ , it says that people can have racial bias and “they might not realize they’re giving more attention to one person than the other, because they’re more accepting of who they are or naturally gravitate to that person”. Also, on the website https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2019/10/uncovering-unconscious-racial-bias-lecture-examines-stereotypes-and-their-impacts , it says “research has shown that biases buried beneath our awareness can powerfully shape how we see”. This made me really think about how when I was reading this book I could have thought Mark Spitz was a white man because I could be more accepting of who I am personally and may gravitate towards that without even realizing or being aware of it. Do you think you could have an unconscious racial bias that changes the way you see things without even realizing it?
Source for Image: https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/beyond-colorblindness-addressing-racial-trauma-and-racial-bi/