Essay Question: How does the poet feel about the form of discrimination they explore and how do they try to make the reader feel?
Dominique D. Cooper
By Dominique D. Cooper
"I. too, am America," (line 18). Langston Hughes, in his poem, "I, Too," makes people believe that these words hold true for all Americans of all colors. Mr. Hughes explores African-American discrimination through the eyes of a man, that despite adversity, never stops believing he is an American.
This poem was written in 1924, when African-Americans were considered second class citizens in America. Many Americans felt African-Americans could be servants, but could not be president. Less than 50 years after the abolition of slavery, segregation was at its climax. African-Americans, including Langston Hughes, were constantly facing adversity. Langston Hughes wrote about discrimination that African-Americans faced, using the rhythm of jazz and blues and the voice of African-Americans across the nation.
Langston Hughes felt that all people, no matter what color, were equal. He did not like the discrimination that divided races and people. He spoke in first person throughout the poem showing that these thoughts were his. "I too, sing America," (line 1). He spoke directly to the reader challenging the negative preconceptions that Americans had about African-Americans. "They send me to eat in the kitchen, when company comes," (lines 3-4). Langston Hughes believes that discrimination is a way of dividing us. He uses the word brother to show that he believes we are all a family. Lines 3-4 show that he thinks race discrimination is a way of splitting up the family. He did not like this, and wanted it to change. "Nobody'll dare say to me, `eat in the kitchen' then," (lines 11-14). With these lines Mr. Hughes shows the reader a world where we no longer divide people. He shows us a world without the discrimination that he loathes.
Langston Hughes wants the reader to think about what African-Americans were facing the day that he wrote this poem. "They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes," (lines 3-4). Mr. Hughes shows the reader how African-Americans were not thought to be worthy enough to sit and eat at the table, like white Americans. "I am the darker brother." This metaphor shows that sitting at the table was a privilege for the lighter brothers, or the white people in America. Langston Hughes makes us think about how at this time, America was truly a family divided by color and not living up to our founding fathers ideals about equality. He makes us want to challenge this division, and attempts to change our perception.
"Tomorrow," (line 8) symbolizes the futures, and changes the direction of Langston Hughes' poem. With this one word, Mr. Hughes gets us to stop thinking about today...