Essay on the Connection Between Othello and the Ongoing Protests in the United States
Number of words: 926
The protesters look tired, out of breath but their will is stronger that anything else and so they continue to match forward and shout even louder. The riots that have sprung out in the streets of Washington DC, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Louisville and other cities across the State, is an unavoidable response to centuries of racial injustice and oppression to the black community. it is difficult to miss the similarity that this phenomenon has to the play Othello by Shakespeare. The following arguments thus seeks to uncover the connection between the treatment of Othello and the ongoing protests and riots in the United States.
The struggle of the African Americans to acquire equal treatment like their counterparts has yet to yield any success. The current uprising of riots that has hit the great nation is a solid prove of the prolonged marginalization of the colored race. For a long time, the blacks have had to live in the shadows, unrecognized and unacknowledged. The election of the first black president, President Barrack Obama, was a wheel turning moment that created an ease in the justice wheel for the African Americans (Smith 120). Even so, the black society has continued to be disrespected to the point that they have been branded by a racist name, the Negros. Similarly, Othello, from the play Othello by Shakespeare, is not respectfully recognized by the venetians. Characters like Rodrigo and Lago use defamatory phrases like; a barbary horse, the moor, the old black man and the thick-lips to refer to him. This shows us that the blacks at that time were treated differently and unkindly, just as the black community today (Harris 37).
The justice system in the country is among the many sectors that have propagated the racial inequality and oppression. The United States had come to a halt on May 25th 2020, when George Floyd, an African American man, was brutally killed by the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Harris 22). This is not the first record of police brutality against black men as many others have had to go through this unjust system. From Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery to George Floyd, the excessive force and injustices on the black man has continued to spur rage and anger. This is quite similar to how Othello is treated when he is forced to defend himself to the Duke. It is quite unfair that even though Othello is a successful figure, Brabantio believes that he is unfit to marry his daughter Desdemona, purely because of his race. The legal system at that time also denies fairness to the moor, as the Duke believes his own kind rather than the well-spoken black man.
The fairness of one’s skin also becomes an important factor and the reason behind the acceptance of Othello as Desdemona’s husband. It was widely believed that a person’s honor and even his flaws and errors was attached to their skin pigmentation. During the trial, the duke gives Brabantio an assurance that his daughter would be safe as Othello’s husband, solely because Othello was fair than black, ‘and, noble signior, if virtue no delighted beauty lack, your son-in-law is fair than black’. This is similar to the current situation in the US because all of the victims of police brutality seem to be African Americans even though crime rate is spread equally among the two races (Smith 115). It is not news that the blacks have been stereo typed as having connection to criminal activities such as; violent gang organizations, drug dealings and robbery. This general believe is the reason why unnecessary killings have occurred in the past and in the present. Until these pre-existing prejudices are gone, more black Americans will continue to suffer under the existing rules and laws.
The uprising riots ongoing in different cities in United States is a reaction to years of unfair and cruel treatment that the black community has experienced under the wider and growing American civilization. The unfriendly attitude of the white man towards the black man has over the years doubled to the extent that many brown or black men have been tortured, tormented and even murdered without any hope of getting justice (Harris 22). The justice scale has since tipped over to one side, in favor of the white civilians. In the play Othello by Shakespeare, Othello becomes a targeted victim who is manipulated by those he considers allies (Smith 104). It is clear from the beginning that his downfall is inevitable because he is surrounded by people who do not respect him or his position simply because of his heritage. Here we also see the scale of justice tilt as the likes of Lago, who doesn’t believe in the promotion awarded to Othello in the military, manages to destroy his confidence and his ties with Desdemona.
In conclusion, sending armed officers to stop the riots and protesters isn’t the solution to this problem. The battle of achieving equality is one that has existed longer than it is necessary and the only way to accomplish this is by reforming the justice system, so that it considers all people regardless of race or color. Then and only then will the issues mentioned above, of injustice, oppression, police brutality and murders will come to an end.
Harris, Rachelle D. “Shakespeare’s Othello: The Esteemed, Reviled, Shunned, and Integrated?.”
Smith, Ian. “We are othello: speaking of race in early modern studies.” Shakespeare Quarterly 67.1 (2016): 104-124