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The main purpose of this paper is to compile an overview of the whole concept of race and culture in America. This will be based on the impacts on dance that Shirley Temple had. Shirley Temple was a child star that was of great help in the U.S. when there was depression and served as a great ambassador. Shirley Temple and Bill Bojangles in 1935 performed a stair dance that became famous and later was filmed under the name The Little Colonel. The relationship that exists between race and culture has been clearly explained in the performance. In addition, at the course of the paper, the focus will be to critically analyze the relationship between Shirley Temple and Bill Bojangles during their performance and how people perceive the two. Over several years, there have been varied views by people including Shirley Temple herself about race and culture; therefore, in this paper, such views will be expounded, and explanations of the pros and cons of the same will be made. In addition, such people’s perceptions will be clarified. People of various races and cultural background views will also be of essence in this research paper.

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Theoretical Approach

Theoretical ideas to be explored in this research are racism, discrimination due to an individual’s race, cultural beliefs, and respect development rather than bias. For several decades, there have been several perceptions by various individuals on the whole concept of race and culture. For instance, there have been questionable shootings about a black teenager by the name of Trayvon Martin. This is according to the views of white Hispanic teenager. This has then inspired me to contemplate on American black youths, students, leaders of the community, and their perception towards race and culture. It is evident that although we may think that we have come through a long way with issues related with race and culture, we still have a long way to go. At some point DuBois WEB stated that the main issue of the twentieth century was the color line (“The Culture of Race” par.2). As much as the twenty-first century gets into the second decade, the colors still pose a problem. Therefore, in an attempt to ensure total dismissal of racism and assume that it never exists, people have assigned various names to represent racism. Some of such names used include racial disproportionality and terms like racial disparity. In the dance, there has been equal treatment at the stair. However, the black audiences have mixed reactions over the performance. This is as a result of the fact that the blacks knew the level of racism that Robinson had faced from a small girl. Therefore, from these views, the stair dance has had enormous impact on American’s perception of racism and culture as well.

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From this research, I will be able to broaden my knowledge on race and culture. This will be more specific through clear analysis of the stair dance performance by Bill Robinson and Shirley Temple. In addition, I will be able to deduce on concrete differences and similarities that existed between the two individuals and realize how they managed to work together setting aside their racial and cultural backgrounds. This will also enable me to understand how both black and white Americans perceive the whole idea. During the research, I shall be able to understand the current undertakings in place to ensure that racial discrimination is completely eliminated in schools, workplaces, and even our surrounding communities where we live.

It is worth noting that race and culture are two terms that refer to groups, people, and their groups of classifications, although the two differently classify people. Race refers to the classification of individuals or people based on their ancestral geographical locations, physical appearances, and other heritable characteristics. On the other hand, culture refers to the classification of people based on their beliefs and related values that may include religion, spirituality, their language, region, and their livelihoods (“Difference Between Race and Culture” par. 1). Race comes as a result of characteristics that are acquired through genes, and most of them are physical in nature. For instance, if your parents are black, then by default you become black; if they are white, by default you become white. On the other hand, culture is not genetically transmitted; instead, this comes out based on how people express themselves on matters related with spiritual believes and how they perceive certain issues. Therefore, it is important to state that culture is not related to individual characteristics but instead tells about individual’s way of life. Under race and culture there are numerous conflicting issues such as discrimination. This arises because people may criticize others based on their races and at times may brand them with various names that may be unpleasant leading to racism.

As for culture, individuals may criticize others based on their religions, traditions, and even beliefs. In the long run, this may lead to cultural wars among people of varied cultural backgrounds. Therefore, to avoid conflicts of such kind, respect to other people’s cultures and races should be developed. It is necessary for people to know that race is how they perceive and feel about race but not who we are. People have in the past judged others due to their external characteristics and due to the various passed oppressions that the nonwhites have gone through in the USA. The past effects of discrimination have led to the continued obsession in America about race. For people who grew up in other countries such as Canada and Jamaica mostly among friends from multicultural backgrounds, being in America is a big shock on their sensibility of people perception. To date, people have had perception that people with different skin color and hair have some special characteristics as they merely look different.

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In the USA, there exists a culture of race because culture is heavily defined by numerous elements of race. There have been numerous discussions on culture and race, and this have been heavily expounded on the way people socialize with those who only look like them just as in melanin expression. In the dance, Robinson thought Shirley his elegant dancing routines joyfully. During the performance Shirley is only 6 years, while Robinson is 50 years; in the past, Robinson had undergone terrifying racism. Therefore, in 1980, some of the blacks even at some point told NPR that Robinson had taught Shirley how to feel the dance instead of counting down on it. To Robinson, Shirley was a darling, and to Shirley, Robinson was Uncle Billy (“Shirley Temple And Bojangles” par.2). This is a clear indication of how the two were comfortable with each other. In addition, Shirley was a young girl, and, according to her, there was no need of treating the black people differently as she believed that they were the same and deserved fair treatment. This is a clear indication of how parents should play their role in educating their children on the significant of treating everyone fairly and equally. From the behavior of Shirley, as far as race and culture is concern, it is evident that parents have great influence in ensuring that racial discrimination is eliminated. At the period of the performance, Robinson was among the first black performers and became a cult figure for even President Franklin, Roosevelt, and Will Rogers. Towards the end of the performance, some of the blacks said that they did not know how much Robinson had undergone racism during Shirley’s childhood. For instance, when they were both at the palm spring working on the movie, she stayed in a private room, while Bill stayed in a room that was above the drugstore. However, despite such kind of separation, Shirley considered Robinson a real and best friend. According to Shirley, Bill Robinson was her best friend who treated her equally, and that was the most essential thing for her. This is a good lesson to all of us even today that racist views are not good for communication. In addition, it is essential to treat each and everyone of us fairly and in a friendly manner setting aside race and culture.


From the dance, it is evident that Bill Robinson and Shirley Temple have played a vital role in ensuring elimination of racial discrimination. In their performance, they forgot that they come from different cultural backgrounds, thereby showing a superb dance. These are the kind of people that are needed even in the current society to ensure elimination of racial discrimination. In addition, from the performance, it is evident that Shirley’s parents are an example of the most useful people as they helped train their children on the significance of treating their neighbors fairly. It is worth noting that to ensure that racial discrimination is eliminated, it is necessary to start from home. Parents should always emphasize on the needs and significance of living well and treating neighbors fairly and equally. This way, if children are taught about race and culture right from their young age, they will definitely grow up knowing that it is essential to work well with your surrounding people.

In the twenty-first century, everyone around the world tends to think that race and culture have no effect on how people live together. However, that is not the case nowadays, as racial discrimination is still common. In the dance, the event took place at the twentieth century, and it could be believed that by now racial discrimination should be a non-issue. During the performance, the audience appeared satisfied and inspired by the performance of Bill Robinson and Shirley Temple. However, as much as there were people who seemed to criticize the performance, a good number of them appreciated the young girl’s attitude to people from different races and cultural backgrounds such as Bill Robinson. Towards the end, Shirley Temple admitted openly that Bill Robinson was her best friend and wished everyone appreciated such kind of friendship.

Right from Bill Robinson renowned performance in 1935 till his death in 1949, Shirley fully loved him as he never at any point in time regarded her as a small or young girl. Robinson worked hard to ensure that he uplifted Shirley and mold her to become as good as he was, although Robinson had earlier been subjected to racism that did not hinder him from working well with Shirley. On the other hand, Shirley has appreciated working with people like Robinson who are not selfish and are willing to train. As such, to ensure total dismissal of racism and assume that it never exists, people have created names to represent racism, including racial disproportionality and disparity. In the dance, there has been equal treatment at the stair. However, the black audiences have mixed reactions over the performance. This is as a result of the fact that the blacks knew the level of racism that Robinson had faced from a small girl.

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