Racism against African Americans led to housing discrimination in Chicago during the 1950’s. Housing Discrimination is clearly seen in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, which depicts Mr.Lindner, a White American, offering to buy a house that the Youngers recently bought with a financial gain to the family.
When the Youngers refuse to sell their house, Mr. Lindner fails to understand that the Youngers want to live in a desirable neighborhood because of the racism he feels toward African Americans suggesting that African Americans repeatedly faced discrimination because there was a lot of racial prejudice during the time the play was set.
Mr.Lindner does not understand the Youngers because of his belief that he is superior to them because of his higher social status and race. When Mr.Lindner offers to buy the house that the Youngers recently bought, they are insulted because Mr. Lindner believes that they can be paid off. When Walter kicks him out, Mr.
Lindner demonstrates his lack of understanding by saying,“Well- I don’t understand why you people are reacting this way.
What do you think you are going to gain by moving into a neighbourhood where you just aren’t wanted and where some elements-well-people can get awful worked up when they feel their whole way of life and everything they’ve worked for is threatened” (119). He refers to the Youngers as “you people” which creates a division between them and himself and is not very inclusive. Mr. Lindner fails to understand the Youngers because of his need to discriminate them.
Despite the racial prejudice that Mr.Lindner feels towards African-Americans, he could understand the Youngers if he realized that they are honest and hardworking people who want to raise their family in a desirable housing condition.
Walter tells Mr.Lindner that he works as a chauffeur and that Mama and Ruth work in other people’s kitchens, which describes how hard-working the Youngers are. He also mentions that his father was a laborer. However, instead of coming to the realization of the Youngers as hard working people, Mr. Lindner is confused. This is shown when he keeps on turning to the contract. Walter describes how the Youngers are honest people when he tells Mr.Lindner, “ And we have decided to move into our house because my father-my father- he earned it for us brick by brick. We don’t want no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbours. And that’s all we have to say about that. We don’t want your money” (148).
Even after Walters speech, Mr. Lindner demonstrates his lack of understanding when he turns to Mama and asks her to think about his offer. When she also refuses his offer he says, “I sure hope you people know what your getting into”(149). Mr.Lindner’s opinion about the Youngers is still the same because he never stops calling them “you people”. He has also seen the housing conditions that the Youngers are living in since he has been to their home twice. Even though he has been given many opportunities, Mr.Lindner ultimately fails to recognize that the Youngers are hard working and honest people. Mr.Lindner’s failure to understand that the Youngers are hardworking and honest people despite their race is meant to propose that African Americans went through tremendous amount of discrimination.
During the 1950’s, African Americans started moving into white neighbourhoods. White Americans had the opportunity to sympathize with Black Americans given the conditions that they had to live in, but did not. This lack of sympathy enabled the hurtful system of housing discrimination to continue even when people saw the horrible housing conditions that African-Americans had to live in. Lorraine Hansberry is suggesting that to understanding other individuals, people must let go of their initial bias and try to sympathize with the other person.