At dinner one evening my sister raised questions about affirmative action, a topic that was just covered in school. She was probably 14 at the time, which means I was 12. At the time this idea seemed ridiculous, because these people are black they are given more opportunities? Isn’t this in some ways a form of oppression to deem it necessary to give these citizens “extra help” implying that they would not be able to achieve the same result without the different standards? My father noted that although lines need to be clearly drawn, as is the case with everything, certain people, regardless of ethnicity, are not given the same opportunities from the start, which in turn could have a negative affect on their opportunities in the future.
This idea relates best with the Kolvenbach essay, which claims that “justice requires an action-oriented commitment to the poor with a courageous personal option”. The essay goes further to say it is our duty as Christian men and women to promote justice within our society. Kolvenbach states that “injustice is rooted in a spiritual problem, and it’s solution requires a spiritual conversion of each one’s heart and a cultural conversion of our global society so that human kind might exercise the will to change the sinful structures afflicting our world.” If this were indeed done it might be possible to think that systems that are put in place to assure equality, such as affirmative action, might not be necessary.
As far as Huck Finn is concerned, throughout the novel we are clearly introduced to certain acts and ideas of racism. First and foremost, Jim is a slave, although this speaks for itself I think it is important to reiterate that the idea behind slavery is that slaves (aka black people) are second class, they were meant to be treated inhumane. In fact, throughout the novel anytime Jim or another black person does anything that would remotely insist they could indeed function just as everyone else it did not go unnoticed. Further, we can see Huck’s growing sympathy for the underprivileged Jim, after all he is merely a nigger, how could he know better.
Huck absolutely realizes when his actions reflect racism and notes to the audience an apologetic view or some sort of remorse. I may be wrong but I don’t think Huck ever go further to actually apologize to Jim, according to Smiley, Huck’s mere recognition of his actions is not enough. She claims that just because these actions are noticed does not mean they no longer hold racist effects or intentions and that simply recognizing this is not enough. I, personally, do not think Huck’s intentions are malicious nor do I think that when he does begin to develop a conscience he has been “saved” by God and now feels it is his duty to be kind to Jim. Rather, I think that Huck notices qualities about Jim that are appealing as well as realizes they can and do indeed share a friendship.