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Writing to Unite the Races

            It is hard enough to get your point across to a neutral audience, but for early black writers, a racial climate that suggested their inferiority was an extra obstacle that they had to overcome. Booker T. Washington and Ida Wells both, in some way or another, were writing against oppression in America. Their target audience was the actual beneficiaries of that oppression and somehow they were able to create progress by writing at these people. Retrospectively analyzing their work, a reader can see that both writers were penetrating a disconnecting layer of racism between themselves and their audience by consciously tailoring their message so it would fit in with popular beliefs about race of the day.
             Ida B Wells, a southern born journalist, wrote "A Red Record" to inform her Northern readers about southern lynching in a way that would inspire them take action. Since her audience was Northern and white, they were not completely in-tuned with the frequency and severity of southern lynching so she had the task of opening, for them, a window to Southern racial injustice. As she set up an idea of the south, she chose to report the facts about the south in an objective style, as if she were reporting the news about another country. She did not say "us" in reference to black people she said "the negro" and that form of objectivity helped validate her argument in the eyes of white people who may be less receptive to a stronger black opinion. She gave an educated estimation of murders by lynching over the 30 years after reconstruction, 10,000; this helped give her reader a realistic scope of a racial savagery that they knew of but did not know to what extent. Her neutral strategy played to her advantage because neutrality does not warrant as much conflict as a more bashful article would. Objectivity does not make a reader want to discredit her assertions (and maybe do the math and figure out that 10,000 in 30 years is a very high number); objectivity actually sounds like the truth so it made her point more valid.

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