Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Uncle Jed's Barbershop

Uncle Jed's Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell is a book about sticking to your goals and accomplishing your dreams. Sara Jean's Uncle Jed has a lifelong dream to open up a barbershop, but he had to raise the money to do so first. However, Sara Jean gets sick, and Uncle Jed gives her family money for the surgery, even though this will delay his dream of opening a barbershop. The book takes place in the South in the early 1900s, and gives the reader a glimpse at racism, segregation, sharecropping, and the general life of a Black person living during this time. The tone that the author uses to describe these conditions is really similar to the tone used in Leon's Story, she provides the facts without accusing anyone. When Uncle Jed finally has enough money saved up to start working on getting a barbershop together, one of his friends comes over to break the news- his bank just declared bankruptcy and Uncle Jed has lost all his money- it's the start of the great depression. However, throughout all these hardships, Uncle Jed continues cutting hair, continues working towards his goal, and slowly but surely, he starts saving money all over again. At the end of the story he finally opens his barbershop and people from all over the county come to honor him.

I think this book is a great way to discuss segregation, sharecropping, and the conditions in the Jim Crowe South with the younger grades, as well as the economic situation during the great depression and the economic situation today. The book also strongly promotes saving money, and working little by little to solve a longterm goal.

Domains of Social Justice:
1. Self Love and Acceptance: One of the main themes in this story is to believe in yourself and follow your dreams- I think that's a huge aspect of accepting and loving yourself!

2. Respect for Others: Throughout the whole book, the author highlights moments in which people show each other care and respect. For instance, when Uncle Jed gave his hard earned money to Sara Jean for her surgery, or during the great depression when Uncle Jed continued traveling around the county and cutting hair, even though most of his customers couldn't afford it. In turn, his customers share with him whatever food they have.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: The author delicately touches upon topics such as racism, segregation, and delivers this information in such a way that it influences the reader to think about the injustices, without attacking any group of people.

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